It was reported on Sunday that the Marines have taken Fallujah. Now this isn’t like when the Marines took Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal, but Washington wants us to think that. The truth is that this battle did almost nothing to shorten our troops’ stay in Iraq.
The Department of Defense reports that 38 U.S. troops were killed and 275 wounded in the ongoing operation in Fallujah. 60 of the wounded could return to duty. Without our incredible medical care, we might have lost a couple of hundred troops; as it is over 300 casualties in less than a week is bad enough.
Remember, this is just our losses in Fallujah. According to Defense Department reports, another 17 soldiers were killed in the rest of Iraq. Depending on which report you read, we lost either three or four helicopters, several tanks and who knows how many other vehicles.
Now I was in the Marine Corps and it really tears me up to see these losses, but what is even harder to cope with, is that these deaths and wounds were for almost nothing. Washington kept telling the country and the enemy that we were going to attack for weeks. Therefore, any of the top enemy commanders who wanted to, could walk away from Fallujah long before any fighting started.
We claim we killed anywhere from 600 to a 1,000 of the enemy fighters, but there has been no count on the number of innocent civilians we killed. Just like in Vietnam, you see a leg lying there and you just know that leg belonged to an enemy soldier. No way could that leg have belonged to an old man or woman or some teenager in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
You drop a 500-pound bomb or a 155 artillery round on a house, you’re lucky if you can identify a leg. Sure we killed a lot of the enemy, but to put a number on them and no number on the civilians killed tells us a lot. We haven’t a clue as to whose body parts we were counting and we really don’t want to know. Civilian deaths are hard on troop morale.
Will taking Fallujah get our troops home faster? Only the ones coming home in a box or shipped to some state-side hospital. How about enemy troop strength, did we cut that down? Iraq has a custom of "blood feuds" and by destroying a huge city like Fallujah (Pop. 300,000+), we very well might have increased the number of fighters against us.
Before this war, all we talked about was how Saddam destroyed whole towns and villages of those who opposed him and now we are using that same tactic.
The world sees a lot more of the fighting going on in Iraq this past week than we see here in the States. All of our coverage is approved by the military and we only see what they want us to see. The world on the other hand sees only what we don’t want our own citizens to see. If there is a dead child, you know the rest of the world is going to see that little body over and over again.
We are in a War on Terrorism and the rest of the world watches in horror as American troops bomb, fire artillery, use tanks and attack helicopters and jets against a city whose claim to fame is that it has over two hundred houses of worship.
We are losing this War in Iraq and I believe, even though we took that city and killed several hundred Iraqi fighters, we have lost this battle. There is no way that we could win, when we displace hundreds of thousands of innocent people, kill who knows how many innocent civilians who couldn’t leave for one reason or another, and destroy much of a huge metropolitan area.
The whole world sees what were are doing and they have to ask is the price the innocent people had to pay worth it so that the United States could kill maybe less than a thousand Iraqi freedom fighters? How many of those Iraqis died defending their own homes? Wouldn’t most Americans do the same and fight, if a foreign power was destroying their home town?
Jim Glaser [send him mail], a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Commander of VFW Post 3869, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is James-Glaser.com.