Friday, November 11, 2005

# Posted 1:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RETURN TO FALLUJAH: Bing West is a former Marine and assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration who went with the Marines into Fallujah. He has now written a harrowing account of the violent, house-to-house battles for control of that city. A while back, West got the chance to talk about his book on After Words, the book discussion show on C-Span 2.

Thanks to the magic of podcasting, I got to listen to West even though I missed the original broadcast. (The URL for the After Words podcast is: <http://www.c-span.org/podcast/aw_feed.xml>. For a full list of C-Span podcasts, click here.)

West describes the intensity of the battles for Fallujah in a way that makes you tense and angry just listening to him. In urban combat, there is no choice but to go house to house, fighting at almost point-blank range. Each house is a darkened maze that renders every soldier in it vulnerable to brutal surprise. As West wrote last month in the WaPo,
Fallujah first leaped to national attention last November when it became the scene of the fiercest urban combat in the past 35 years. During that battle, 100 Marine squads engaged in more than 200 firefights inside small, dark cement rooms against suicidal jihadists. A single such ferocious gunfight between police and gangs anywhere in America would receive overwhelming and immediate press attention. The Marines did that 200 times in one week in Fallujah.
But the courage and competence of the US Marines gets little attention because it is so commonplace. We faithfully count the number of soldiers killed in Iraq, but give little recognition to their incredible heroism and bravery. Perhaps that would be a better way to honor their sacrifice.
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