Into the Sunni Triangle

Mop up operations continue in Fallujah, and the extent of the foreign jihadis’ involvement in the city comes to light. Iraq has attracted martyrs to al Qaeda’s cause, and American and Iraqi forces are helping them on their way to martyrdom.

Allawi said up to 400 insurgents have been captured, including fighters from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Morocco, but he gave no figures.

The First Infantry Division’s Task Force 2-2 has captured five foreign fighters and killed five, officers said, adding that many foreign fighters appeared to be fleeing. A group of men in Afghan dress were seen running away, the officers said. ”They’re leaving the native Fallujans to die in place,” Natonski said. The detainees included Palestinians, Jordanians, and Saudi Arabians.

The insurgents and terrorists that have fled Fallujah appear to be gathering in Ramadi, a town thirty miles west of Fallujah. General Natonski explains how denying Fallujah to the insurgency and the flight of fighters from the city exposes them to Coalition attacks, ”When they’re moving they’re vulnerable… They no longer have the sanctuary they used to have in Fallujah, where they could rest, refit, resupply, and go back out.” Unlike Fallujah, the jihadis will no longer have established fighting positions and months to prepare their defenses. Not that they were much help in Fallujah anyway.

Elements of the 2nd Infantry Division are occupying Ramadi, but the situation in the city is by no means secure. Coalition forces are able to conduct operations in the city to ferret out suspected insurgent strongholds, but the city will need to be cleared to dislodge them. Terrorists continue to use mosques as bases of operations, in violation of international law.

“Ramadi is really out of control, and they needed another infantry battalion in the city,” said Lt. Col. Justin Gubler, commander of the First Battalion, 503rd Infantry, at Combat Outpost. Up to 150 foreign fighters are in the city, he said. “We’ve seen an increase in their proficiency and their will to fight.”

Increasingly, troops are coming under fire from gunmen who either shoot from mosques or use them to hide after attacks, Colonel Gubler said. Under orders, soldiers cannot raid the mosques unless they are being used by insurgents for hostile purposes. But in the past 10 days, his troops have raided five mosques: Three were found to have been storing weapons, he said.

One mosque contained 50 sticks of TNT, 51 pounds of black powder, 88 mortar rounds, 30 artillery rounds, five rockets, and several machine guns. Inside another, troops found wires connected to a transceiver and running outside the building and into a youth center next door, attached to high explosives. That bomb was defused, and commanders suspect insurgents planned to destroy the building and blame a supposedly mistargeted American airstrike.

As was the case with residents in Fallujah, the insurgents are beginning to wear out their welcome with the locals in Ramadi.

While acknowledging the ferocity of the insurgents, Colonel Gubler draws optimism from some local residents who say they are growing weary of the foreign fighters who take over their homes. “We’re going to win the war,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Operations are being conducted in Mosul. Elements of an Iraqi Brigade and the Stryker Brigade are retaking police stations overrun by insurgents and conducting operations in neighborhoods where insurgents have been most active.

Baghdad, Baiji, Samarra, Baqubah Tal Afar, Lutafiyah and other towns are reporting an up tick in violence since the assault on Fallujah began. Coalition forces remain in control of the cities but assaults on police stations, Coalition forces and civilians are increasing. Military commanders believe this is an attempt to relieve pressure on the insurgents in Fallujah and create the perception of the power of the insurgency among the Iraqi people. At best, the attacks succeed in occupying police stations and murdering policemen and civilians, but the insurgents are quickly driven out and are alienating the local populations in the process.

The Washington Post reports an example of the brutality of the insurgents. The Iraqis security forces have shouldered a great deal of the casualties in an attempt to rid the nation of terrorists, and are a specific target as the insurgents recognize the Iraqi Security Forces are the real threat to their cause.

Interior Minister Falah Naqib grew emotional during a news conference in Baghdad while describing the killing of a Mosul police officer. “Yesterday in Mosul, they abducted a wounded member of the police from the hospital,” Naqib said. “They dismembered him.

“He was wounded,” he repeated. “They dismembered him, and then his remains were hanged in a public square until his fellow policemen were able to secure his body.

Close to 1,000 members of the interim government’s security forces have died in the insurgency. Intimidation of those who remain is a prime goal of the guerrillas. Naqib said that threats are directed not at recruits but at their family members. Kidnappings of recruits are also on the rise.

We are now witnessing the conquest of the Sunni Triangle, an event long overdue twenty months after the fall of Saddam’s regime. Wretchard refers to this operation as The River War, as the cities where insurgents are active are situated along the major rivers of Iraq. These cities sit astride the “rat lines” that provide a logistical chain from Syria and Iran to the insurgents in the heart of the Sunni Triangle. The map below will illustrate Wretchard’s point; his labeling of the conflict as The River War is apt.

The Sunni Triangle region of Iraq was supposed to be the operational area of the 4th Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the division was denied permission to deploy from Turkey in the north and sat out the initial invasion. Regime loyalists, criminals and Saddam sponsored terrorists melted away from the battlefield during OIF and sought refuge in the Sunni Triangle.

Political solutions to the problems in the Sunni Triangle were sought by the Iraqi Governing council and the Interim government, but these attempts have failed. The Coalition and Iraqi government have demonstrated to the Iraqi people that the political options have been exhausted and have assembled Iraqi Security Forces able to participate in operations to establish government control. While the delayed timing of the pacification has fueled the resolve of insurgents, it has allowed the efforts to crush the insurgents to take on an Iraqi face. The Iraqis are committing to restoring order to their nation and have a stake in the outcome. While there is little doubt more American troops would have helped with restoring order sooner, it is beneficial in the long run with having the Iraqis actively participating in the restoration of order and their own liberation from the brutal coalition of terrorists and Saddam loyalists.

(Note: the map used in this post has been copied from Global Security. The cities and towns when insurgent activity and Coalition responses have been reported are marked by a red dot.)

Click on the map for a larger image.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.


  • Ryan says:

    This is a very misleading article. Exactly the opposite is true about the foreign fighters. Out of the 1000 insurgents captured in Fallujah, only 15 of them were foreigners making up 1.5% of the rebel fighting force. 98.5% suggests that this is an almost entirely Iraqi guerrilla movement.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    What is misleading, Ryan?
    True? What is your source? Atrios? What about the dead fighters? Don’t they count? You really need to stop making statements without sourcing them.
    There are almost 10 battalions operating in Fallujah. In this article, one battalion reports 5 foreign fighters KIA, 5 captured (I suspect this is really at the company level as reporters often get military formations wrong in their reports). That is ten right there. Other reports I have read had battalion KIAs from 50 to a hundred.

  • Beard says:

    Bill, when you include a hyperlink to something like the map, could you have it open in a new window, so I can have it open while reading the original message? Thanks.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Good idea. I do not know how to do this….right click on the map and choose ‘open in new window’. I will see if I can figure this out for the future.
    If anyone know the answer, please let me know.

  • weihsung says:

    The saddest thing is that our media makes a big deal about Marine shooting a wounded enemy combatant, and does not put into perspective the kind of enemy we are fighting against. As much as we want to get info, but for the sake of victory, I think they should return to the days when reporters only get things screened by CENTCOM.

  • Ryan says:

    What is misleading is that you are saying there are fighters from other Arab countries and making it sound like they’re the majority when less than 2% of the captured of the captured in Fallujah were from foreign nations. My source is the LA Times. It appeared on Drudge Report too. It was published in other newspapers also. I will source everything from now on but if I didn’t have a source, I wouldn’t write it.

  • Ryan says:

    Nobody is sure how many of the killed were foreign fighters but the identity of the captured should give an indication into the composition of the fighting force in Fallujah.

  • Beard says:

    weihsung: There are two reasons why our troops, and indeed our entire country, must be held to higher standards than our opponents. First, we are fighting for the rule of law and civilization, while they are fighting against it. If we violate the principles of law and civilization, we undercut the cause we are fighting for. Second, we face a steep up-hill battle to convince the Iraqi people that we are fighting *for* them, not just to occupy their country and steal their oil. Things that shows our troops behaving like brutal occupiers, such as this crime or Abu Ghraib, do our cause immeasurable damage in the minds of the Iraqi people.
    It’s true that this means that terrorists are more free than our troops are to inflict violence on others. We have to cope with that constraint and win anyway. That’s the point and purpose of military discipline. (One of the points, anyway.) Failure to maintain that level of discipline reflects not only on the individual perpetrator, but on the entire chain of command. And it should.
    In many ways, it is inconvenient and uncomfortable for the media to display our shortcomings for all to see, but this is actually one of the great strengths of our country. We are tempted to abandon it at our grave peril. One of the founding principles of our country is that people in power need to be continually examined and criticized by the people, who can remove them from power if necessary. Freedom of the press is necessary for that to happen.
    By maintaining that sort of negative feedback, mistakes are identified and corrected, one way or another, before they amplify into disaster for the country. Of course, in the mean time, the criticism can be very uncomfortable. But it is necessary.
    And this is particularly true in this case. Victory in Iraq will not be a purely military victory. Victory will be a political victory where the Iraqi people end up with control of their own country, taking responsibility for themselves, and maintaining a civilized environment for themselves. Keeping secrets like these would only allow problems to grow, and would make achieving that goal more distant.
    And it is distant enough already.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    No where did I say or imply the foreign terrorists are the majority. You read that into this article yourself. Please do not impress your biases onto my writings. I think it is an excellent idea to source claims such as that and encourage you not to make these claims without doing so.
    You are assuming what that Marine did is criminal. By the rules of war it is not. Soldiers are trained to “double-tap” through the objective and it is perfectly legal. It would only be criminal if the Marine did this after the objective was secured. I know this because I was an infantryman and remember my training.
    The problem is the media does not understand this, and not matter what explanation is given after the airing of this video, the damage is already done. This is why video from the battlefield should be screened prior to airing.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    What about killed, Ryan? No discussion there. And if you read my prior posts, the Fallujans were angry the foreign fighters were leaving the locals to fight on their own. One reference had 20 foreigners executed by the locals for abandoning thier post.
    The number cited in that article is 5%, BTW. That would be 50 foreign terrorists captured. But I think this methodology is seriously flawed.

  • Beard says:

    I haven’t watched the movie and I don’t know the details of what happened there. What I heard was that several wounded fighters were left, secured and unarmed, after a previous group of US soldiers had killed a number of others. When a follow-up group, including an embedded reporter, came to the survivers, one of the soldiers killed one of the unarmed, wounded men. There may be extenuating circumstances I don’t know about, but the first impression based on what I do know is not good.
    On a different note, I have now read the Executive Summary of the ISG report you recommended, and the first few pages of the 450-page volume I of the Full Report. Thank you for recommending them. My comments in my next message.

  • Justin B says:

    This story in the Seattle Times echos the sentiments that only 5% of the captured are foreign, however, it states:

    Commanders cautioned that the task of identifying foreign militants is not an exact science. Of the 2,000 to 6,000 fighters that some officials estimated were holed up in the city at the dawn of the battle, the U.S. thinks at least 1,600 are dead. But estimates of the death toll among insurgents have varied widely; many bodies remain trapped in rubble or have not yet been recovered in the streets.

    Most of the insurgents “sanitized” themselves, officials said, removing identification and clues to their nationality.

    So, my response would be, let’s let Allah sort them out. Really, what is the point of where they are from? They were either foreign fighters or former regime elements, but they ain’t either anymore… they are dead and can sip tea with Arafat. We have not killed all of them yet. The foreign fighters went to Fallujah for a Jihad and may have been more willing to fight to the death than the locals. The foreigners were also more seasoned and may have been less likely to surrender.

    The people that are surrendering are either A. poor fighters B. poorly disciplined C. less believing in their Jihad D. less believing in the cause in general or E. simply not dead yet . So the more believing, more disciplined, better fighters are not going to accept being captured. Also, everyone is quick to point out that Iraq is a much more secular nation than most others, so maybe their people don’t find being a martyr as appealing as the foreigners and are more likely to give up as the command and control breaks down. Many of the people of Fallujah have reported they were conscripted into service or used as human shields by the insurgents. Conscripts would likely surrender as soon as they had the chance (like the entire Iraqi military did in GW I including to CNN crews). But the insurgents executed people on the spot, so you better make sure the real foreign fighters are gone before surrendering or they are going to execute you. The ones being captured have the least solid beliefs or something to live for besides Jihad.

    Allah does not like people that surrender to the infidels, that I know of, so as the Soup Nazi would say, “No virgin for you. Come back one year!”

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Releasing the video is irresponsible as it does not place the actions in context. It should only have been done after a review of events preceding the action.
    Yet again our media has provided free propaganda to the enemy without considering the safety of our troops.
    I doubt we will agree on the results of the ISG report as you do not view the chem and bio weapons as threatening and were content with the charade of containment. I hope you surprise me.

  • Ryan says:

    I don’t think you can really blame the media for that. It’s their job to report what they see and not sanitize it. I think it’s the right of the American people to see what’s really going on in Iraq. You’re right though. It did provide a propaganda victory for the enemy and that is very unfortunate. I’m sure if NBC had a video of an Iraqi insurgent executing an injured American, they would have shown it. They’re just trying their best to be balanced. Is it your suggestion that NBC should not have shown the video or reported that they had it?

  • Beard says:

    Thanks again for recommending the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report on Saddam’s WMD efforts in Iraq.
    Everyone: Read the Executive Summary (19 pages): //
    Here is what I get from that report:
    (1) Saddam Hussein, the individual, controlled Iraq and its policies. He determined what happened, for better or (often) for worse, based on his beliefs about the world (often inaccurate).
    (2) Saddam wanted survival, power, and WMD as part of that. He wanted WMD especially for the fight against Iran. (Don’t argue with *me*! That’s what ISG concluded.) He was also interested in using them against Israel and to consolidate power among Arab states, but those were secondary.
    (3) Regardless of what he wanted, by about 1996 it had become clear that he couldn’t get it. It was clear that the UN sanctions were the major block, so his priority became to have the sanctions removed. He was willing to destroy any remaining stockpiles and much relevant equipment and supplies in order to avoid potential embarrassment that would have ensured the continuation of sanctions.
    (4) Saddam was very good at keeping resources for himself and his government, while allowing the economic impact of sanctions to fall on the Iraqi people. The Oil For Food (OFF) program was instituted to try to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people, without giving resources to Saddam. He found very effective ways to expoit it to get more resources for himself and his efforts. [I’ll write a later message about the OFF program.]
    (5) He did everything he could to get sanctions removed, including bribing European governments. He failed.
    (6) While Saddam clearly had the desire for a nuclear program, it ended in 1991, and Iraq’s nuclear capability decayed substantially from then to now.
    (7) Saddam also had the desire for chemical and biological WMDs, but those were also ended, and the stockpiles were destroyed. Some work in related areas took place in order to maintain relevant human expertise, and other work went on so that some pieces of relevant equipment could be in regular use in Iraq. But it was more important to Saddam to avoid being caught with WMDs, which would defeat his priority to end sanctions. While he might have been able to start accumulating chemical and biological weapons in months to a few years after the end of sanctions, he had not started yet, and had no specific plans to start.
    Bottom line: Sure he had desire, but he didn’t have the capacity, and he wasn’t in any position to get that capacity as long as sanctions were in place. And the US, as a permanent member of the Security Council, was in a position to make sure that sanctions stayed in place as long as we liked.
    Furthermore, since Saddam’s priority was get sanctions removed, if we had insisted on unfettered ability of the inspectors to inspect, he would have buckled. He didn’t have anything to protect from them, and he wanted sanctions removed. (Of course, he could have acted irrationally and refused, but even then he could not have withstood American troops with UN authority to compel inspections.)
    In my opinion, the big mistake was to allow Saddam to refuse the UN inspectors access. (That happened on Clinton’s watch, so I am willing to put a significant part of the responsibility on Clinton. I wonder what the reasoning was.)
    Even so, in 2002, Saddam gave the inspectors access again. They should have had a chance to take full advantage of it. Now we know what they would have found: Saddam was a toothless lion.
    But instead, after promising that he would never engage in nation-building, Bush flip-flopped [sorry: I had to do it], invaded Iraq, and forced the USA to take responsibility for the biggest, hardest job of nation-building this country has ever taken on.
    Many people, including a number of Democrats I know, supported Bush in invading Iraq, under the belief that there was an imminent danger of actual attack. Not that it was ruled by a bad guy who would like to attack us sometime in the future if only he could play his political cards right.
    [As one of my favorite fictional characters, a government assassin, says, “We don’t kill someone just for being an SOB. It’s too hard to know where to stop.”]
    The ISG report does not, in any way as I read it, exonerate the Bush Administration from exaggerating the threat of Saddam and Iraq and leading us into an unnecessary war.
    I encourage other readers to read the ISG report and draw their own conclusions.

  • Beard says:

    Let me clarify my position on showing that movie.
    I don’t think the press should have been censored by CENTCOM.
    But I also don’t think that NBC should have shown the movie. We don’t show videos of terrorists decapitating innocent captives. (In at least some cases, not even Al Jazeera shows them.) We should not show this, for essentially the same reason.
    The event should be reported accurately, but without showing the movie. Congressional and military investigators should be able to get copies of the tapes for investigation purposes.
    We can’t afford censorship, but I wonder whether any of these people have ever heard of “good taste” or “good sense”.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    You are wrong, sanctions were failing, the US and Britain could not maintain sanctions without the approval of the other members of the UNSC. Sanctions had to be voted on and France, Russia and China who were bought off, as the ISG reports states and you ignore, were prepared to drop sanctions.
    Saddam was prepared to restart his program and had everything in place to do so. The report was very clear on this. The ISG report also showed that Saddam was violating the UN resolutions up to the day of the invasion.
    Again, you repeat the “imminent threat” line which the president never said. Find it. You won’t, because he never said it. He said: “we cannot wait until Iraq becomes an imminent threat”. But leave it to liberals to chant the meaning of “not”.
    I did not expect us to agree on this issue, and really do not wish to rehash this subject yet again. The point of the ISG report was that the US was not completely wrong about Saddam’s capabilities, intentions and motives. Saddam did have items to hide. We were wrong about a lot of Saddam’s capabilities, but the only way to know for sure was to depose Saddam, who spend 12 year deceiving the UN.
    Concerning flip-flopping, you have to admit 9-11 changed the equation concerning our foreign policy. You cannot act like 9-11 did not change the calculus.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I do blame the media, they released the tape without conducting a review of the actions, considering the impact on American troops in combat, or placing the event in context. It is a flagrant attempt to scoop a story and get ratings. In order for “the American people to see what’s really going on in Iraq” they need to accurately report this event, not splash the video on camera without consideration of the items I mentioned above.
    Beard has a pretty good take on this which I mainly agree with (see above).

  • Beard says:

    Correctly anticipating my response, Bill wrote: “I doubt we will agree on the results of the ISG report as you do not view the chem and bio weapons as threatening and were content with the charade of containment.”
    If you read pages 13-19 of the ISG report, the parts that cover Chemical and Biological weapons, you will see nothing that threatens the USA in an imminent or strategic sense.
    The evidence shows that containment was not a charade. It had actually worked to prevent Saddam from building or accumulating WMDs, of any of the three kinds.
    Yes, he was a bad guy. Yes, he had aspirations to do bad things to various people, including to us when and if he could. Yes, he was clever in exploiting every bureaucratic loophole that existed, and creating new ones illegally even where they didn’t. Yes, he was trying everything he could think of to get sanctions removed. Yes, if he had succeeded in doing that, he would have gotten more freedom of action. But he didn’t.
    He had nothing. Nothing that threatened the United States, in any meaningful strategic sense.

  • Beard says:

    Bill wrote: “You are wrong, sanctions were failing, the US and Britain could not maintain sanctions without the approval of the other members of the UNSC. Sanctions had to be voted on and France, Russia and China who were bought off, as the ISG reports states and you ignore, were prepared to drop sanctions.”
    I don’t know chapter and verse on this, but it is hard to imagine that UN sanctions had an automatic sunset clause. In which case, it would have required the passage of a resolution to drop sanctions, and the US has a veto, regardless of what the others want. If you have a reference that shows that sanctions could be dropped for *lack* of passage of a new resolution, then I am wrong. But I doubt it.

  • The Battle of Fallujah: A Comprehensive Briefing (v3.6)

    There’s a very significant battle going on in Fallujah right now. Here’s a power-packed briefing to help you keep track of what’s going on as things develop, and give you the background to understand the whys and hows as well as the what.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    You stick with the “imminent” thought, and there is the difference. We could not act as we did concerning our enemies after 9-11. Make no mistake, Saddam was our enemy. He attacked our soldiers daily, attempted to assinate a president, and paid terrorists to kill civilians.
    Again, I am sure we disagree on this.

  • Beard says:

    Bill wrote: “The point of the ISG report was that the US was not completely wrong about Saddam’s capabilities, intentions and motives. Saddam did have items to hide. We were wrong about a lot of Saddam’s capabilities, but the only way to know for sure was to depose Saddam… ”
    As far as I can tell, we were completely right about his intentions and motives (both bad). We had plenty of evidence that his capabilities were minimal, the evidence to the contrary was known to be unreliable, and we knew (or should have known) that we had time and other options to make sure of the situation, rather than going to war.
    The problem with saying, “We had to invade to make sure”, is that the general principle takes us where we definitely don’t want to go. Do we need to invade Iran? Do we need to invade North Korea? Do we need to invade France? There’s plenty of potential threats in all three places, and we won’t know about them for sure until we conquer them, right? Or is it that we already know that North Korea has nukes, so we won’t invade them?
    The problem with invading Iraq on such a flimsy basis is that it undercuts so many of our efforts in the rest of the world. Certainly North Korea and Iran will rush to make sure they have enough verifiable nukes to keep us away. Does that make you feel safer? Certainly our friends are less likely to help us out diplomatically in the future, because they see us as a loose cannon.
    We’ve irrecoverably spent a lot of valuable credibility, not to mention money and lives, in order to verify something we could have found out at a much lower cost if we hadn’t decided to go it alone. So it goes.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I was trying to impress the idea that we only know some of the intel was wrong after the invesaion, and admit that was poorly phrased. Again you are not taking into account IRaq’s actions from 1991 onwards. These actions count.
    You think he could be contained, the ISG report shows that containment would have ultimately failed. As soon as he was declared clean or when sanctions were dropped, he would have been up to his old tricks.
    I’m not going to get into the rest of it; “going it alone”, could we have contained Iraq, Iran instead of Iraq, “flimsy evidence”, our actions in Iraq is making NK and Iran arm (even though their program existed for decades prior to our invasion of Iraq), etc. Frankly, this argument is so tired. We are so well beyond the point of whether we should or should not have acted in Iraq, and there is little chance we will see eye to eye on this. We’re there now and my concern is winning.

  • What? says:

    “It’s their job to report what they see and not sanitize it.”
    Reporters, editors, and producers all have to exercise judgment in dispensing of their job. I call this use of judgment the “editorial function.” A part of the editorial function is and has to be a concern for the ethics of impact and the ethical prioritizing of seeing justice served before serving ratings or the rush to get the story out and first. I recognize the press is a business, but is also part public service and has to act responsibly and ethically.
    Rushing the tape to air in this case was something I regard as a lapse of judgment and ethics. NBC could hold the tape and give a copy to the proper authorities with the understanding that if a suitable review and investigation is not started immediately than the tape will be released immediately. If a fair and proper investigation is done to the satisfaction of the media and the soldier is exonerated than NBC would have no business showing the tape. If found guilty than and only then would it be ethical for them to go with it, caveat the original condition that a through and impartial investigation be convened immediately.
    Here’s the deal folks, in world of grown ups the responsible media my scenario I outline is a no brainer. The world we live in doesn’t have many grown ups and our culture has lost an understanding of ethical imperatives nearly altogether.

  • Ryan Scott says:

    We have just seen the murder of a humanitarian aid worker and the biggest story out there is this Marine in a mosque in the heat of battle. Where is the outcry about Margeret Hassan? Where is it written in the Constitution or why is it the media stand that American democracy must be perfect all the time or we are morally identical to thugs and terrorists?

  • Fallujah and Ramadi

    Is the Battle for Fallujah and outlying Ramadi a microcosm of the War on Terror? Deny sanctuary in one area, the terrorists regroup in another and the battle then moves there? We waited too long to take Fallujah back…Saddam “loyalists,”…

  • Beard says:

    Bill: OK, I’ll concede your point about the use of the phrase “imminent threat”.
    I found a website, Spinsanity (//, that appears to have done an even-handed study of the question. It’s worth a read.
    Nonetheless, it is quite clear that the Bush Administration encouraged people in the belief that we were acting to prevent a threat of attack, by Iraq or terrorists receiving weapons from them, that could happen at any moment.
    For example, President Bush said, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. ”
    This comes from a very powerful speech that Bush made on 10-7-02, appealing for Congressional authority to attack Iraq. (// There is a lot that is persuasive and compelling in that speech. The big problem is that, according to the ISG report, many of the “facts” that he confidently asserted in that speech have turned out to be wrong. [Whether he himself was misled, and by whom, or whether he was misleading the American people, remains an open question.]
    Here is the final paragraph from the Spinsanity column:
    “As we have pointed out before, many of the arguments for war made by the Bush administration were deceptive or false. However, critics who make it appear that the Bush administration’s case relied primarily on claims of an imminent threat distort a more complex argument that painted Iraq as an intolerable, but not imminent, threat. Those unfair attacks do not make it legitimate for Bush supporters to jump on any critic who uses the phrase, however, or claim that nobody in the administration ever suggested Iraq could pose an “imminent threat.” Complexity is not an excuse for cheap shots from either side.”

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I was not trying to jump you for using the phrase ‘imminent threat’, I hope I did not give this impression and apologize if I did (although I cannot see how you would get this from what I wrote). Your research on this is admirable.
    There is much we disagree on, but I find you to be a worthy debater. I enjoy our discussions. You honestly defend you positions and (like me I hope) conceed points when evidence demonstrates them inacurrate. I think we are both interested in the truth, but we are approaching it from different perspectives and from different ends of the political spectrum.
    Again, I will disagree on the ‘misled’ part as intel is a difficult, often very inacurrate business, particularly when trying to penatrate a closed regime like Saddam’s. The Senate Select Intelligence Committee asserted that there was no misleading on the intel on the 2002 NIE and the lead up to Iraq. Again, I think the nature of risk assessment, particularly against actors with a track record of brutality and deception, has changed after 9/11. Again, I do not claim we were 100% correct on the intel, but we were not 100% wrong either.
    I happen to believe that in the end, Iraq is worth it, Saddam had to be removed at some point, and the Middle East requires a shakeup. I think the pluses outweigh the minuses, and obviously you see it the other way. Fair enough.

  • Beard says:

    I also enjoy our discussions. You approach these questions with intellectual integrity and respect for the truth, which I greatly appreciate, even though we disagree on a variety of issues.
    It has always seemed to me much more profitable to discuss important things with intelligent people I disagree with, rather than joining a mutually supportive chorus or wasting my time on abusive sloganeering (whether it’s for or against my side).
    There’s the strong possibility that one or the other of us, and quite likely both, might actually learn something.
    Thanks for your work on this site.

  • nice post, bill – in case no one has answered your question on how to get the link to open up in a new window, add target=”_new” after the link – in this case, it would be


  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks & thanks for the tip. I think this is now working for this map.
    Thanks for the kind words and I agree with you here on debating intelligently with those of an opposing view. Our mutual admiration session is over, now let’s have at each other’s throat…er…continue the debate 😉

  • Bill K says:

    The Marine did the right thing. If that were my son, I would hope he would shoot first and ask questions later. Especially knowing that he had been shot in the face the day before AND that it is commonplace for the terrorists to bobby-trap bodies with explosives for soldiers who are coming to clear and secure a battlefield.
    The media operates in the 1960s every war is Vietnam mentality. They think we lost that war (which we didn’t because our stated mission was to stop the pandemic spread of Communism across S.E.A., but I digress) and they think they are the reason for it. Ever since, they look at all global conflicts through this prism and they will do what they can to defeat war, including denigrating our troops and blaming America first. They are not worthy to shine that Marine’s boots, carry his jock strap, or wash his undergarments. They are vermin who have the backbone of an amoeba.

  • The battle expands to the Sunni Triangle

    Now that we’re mopping up in Falluja, the ragtags are stirring up trouble in multiple cities of the Sunni Triangle, as shown by red dots on this map from Global Security: Read more at the fourth rail.

  • Paul Linsay says:

    Little Geen Footballs has a link to the full video of the Falluja shooting. The Marine definitely shoots one of the terrorists but there is another one right behind him who is alive and isn’t shot, in fact, holds up his hands, then pulls his blankets away and shows his wounds. This, AFTER the shooting. Makes you think that the Marine saw something that is obscured by the sight lines in the video. A gun? Certainly not a grenade since the video would have ended right then and there.

  • Anguisel says:

    OMG! Get over the whole “Bush Lied” doctrine.
    EVERYONE IN THE WORLD has the same intelligence. Kerry himself said Saddam was a threat. We went to war based on numerous considerations. ONE of those reasons turned out to be false. Granted it was a big reason but consider…if you where president and you where given the same information maybe you would make the same decision? I would.
    Remember many people really believed Saddam had stockpiles of WMD.
    If your arguement is that IF he did infact have WMD then it was OK to attack Iraq then we did the wrong thing why? Because we had access to a crystal ball that told the future?
    Hindsight is a wonderfull thing. Too bad you can’t use it to make decisions eh?
    Yes we made a mistake about WMDs. It sucks. It makes us look bad. Fortunately to me I never thought that was the only reason to invade Iraq. France has WMD and I wouldnt say to invade them. It is the overall picutre you have to look at. Saddam was a threat that needed to be dealt with and he was. Do you really think he was not? Tell that to our soldiers who where shot at daily in violation of the truce.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram