Wednesday, November 10, 2004

# Posted 10:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER QUAGMIRE: Two days ago, Dexter Filkins of the NYT described Fallujah as a "frightening urban battlefield" and saw little hope of swift progress. The WaPo is now reporting that Coaltion forces have basically taken over the city. Belmont Club concurs, providing its usual in-depth analysis of the situation on the ground.

Meanwhile, Dexter Filkins is still warning us about how hard it will be to make any progress in Fallujah. His description of the battle seems to be directly lifted from Stanley Kubrick's Oscar-winning film, Full Metal Jacket:
They fired 35 or so 155-millimeter artillery shells, 10 shots from the muzzles of Abrams tanks and perhaps 30,000 rounds from their automatic rifles. The building was a smoking ruin.

But the sniper kept shooting.

He - or they, because no one can count the flitting shadows in this place - kept 150 marines pinned down for the better part of a day. It was a lesson on the nature of the enemy in this hellish warren of rubble-strewn streets.
In the evasive manner of a professional, objective correspondent, Filkins suggests that Coaltion forces aren't making any progress but never says so directly. In order to convey a sense of futility, Filkins closes his report by describing how a probable sniper escaped from American forces after an epic battle:
Somehow, through a volley of gunfire, whoever it was got away.

At 5 p.m., the marines finally crossed Highway 10 and searched the smoking remains of the two buildings. At 5:30 p.m., a sniper opened up on them.
While there's nothing wrong with conveying the atmospherics of urban warfare, Filkins does owe us an explanation of how Coalition forces managed to occupy so much of the city so quickly and at relatively low cost.

Of course, exposing the negative mindset of American journalists isn't the same as demonstrating that things are going well in Iraq. In all probability, a significant number of insurgents escaped from Falluja. Meanwhile, deadly attacks continue in other cities. I just wish I could depend on the nation's paper of record to give me a somewhat better sense of what's really going on.
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