Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


According to a recent report by the New York Times, the Iraq "resistance" before the just completed Fallujah assault numbered between 8,000 and 12,000 rebels, counting foreign fighters, the network of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and home-grown insurgents.

In one week in Fallujah about 1,200 insurgents were killed and another 1,000 taken prisoner.

In other words, about 2,200 insurgents were subtracted from the 8,000 to 12,000 estimated total - for a subtraction of about 18% to 25% of all insurgents in one week.

Not a bad week's work. Not bad at all. That suggests that if the insurgents keep up the fight in Mosul, Baquba, Kirkuk and Suweira, their total numbers should be getting pretty darn low in a few more weeks.

Their total number should be getting pretty small well before Iraq's upcoming election day.

Unless, like Maureen Dowd and other Timesfolk, one believes in the spontaneous generation of Iraq insurgents from sweaty underwear and husks of wheat.

UPDATE: This tendentious Associated Press report presents almost no support for its proposition that because the recapture of Fallujah has not "broken the insurgents' will to fight," it may not "pay the big dividend U.S. planners had hoped" and, instead, "has sharpened divisions among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, fueled anti-American sentiment and stoked the 18-month-old Sunni insurgency."

It does not appear to be at all necessary to break the "insurgents' will to fight" and the AP cites not a single American military source as saying the US was counting on such a development in Fallujah. Indeed, the allied position seems to be well served by the insurgents fighting openly and vigorously - that way a lot of them die in combat with the far more formidable allied forces, or are captured, as happened in Fallujah. As noted above, recent most pessimistic, estimates put the total number of insurgents at 12,000 presumably now minus the 2,200 killed and captured in Fallujah activities. If that trend continues, simple arithmetic shows that the insurgency will be soon broken even if the allies have never "broken the insurgents' will to fight." One can, instead, break the insurgents.

The AP argument that the Fallujah action "has sharpened divisions among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, fueled anti-American sentiment and stoked the 18-month-old Sunni insurgency" appears to be nothing more than a warmed-over version of the standard "Arab street" nonsense that the mainstream media and their eternal and often nameless analysts have been serving up about Afghanistan and Iraq for years. The Afghan elections went forward just fine in the face of that country's inflamed "street." If a big portion of the 12,000 trouble makers in Iraq can be sent to their maker in the next weeks, those elections will go just fine, too.

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