Tuesday, November 16, 2004

# Posted 1:34 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A COSTLY VICTORY IN FALLUJAH: Yes, but for whom? As of yesterday morning, 38 American soldiers were dead. American officers claimed to have killed between 1,000 and 1,200 insurgents.

I have no idea if those figures are credible. The incentive to exaggerate success is obviously tremendous, given the political significance of this operation. I don't distrust the military, there are always favorable and less favorable estimates, and it is often the former that get publicized. (Besides, given that the US military adamantly refuses to count civilian casualties, one wonders how it can count the dead insurgents.)

During first eighteen months of the occupation, both the military and the American media did their best to measure the success or failure of the occupation in political terms, rather than Vietnam-style body counts. Yet suddenly, that conventional wisdom is no more. Commentators on left and right seem to agree that destroying enemy forces is far more important than occupying enemy territory. If the insurgents live to fight another day, they can simply retake Fallujah when American forces return to base. If the insurgents die, they can't.
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