What will be the consequences of the US withdrawal from Falluja?

So, we laid siege to Falluja. That did not work out so well, so we asked for a cease fire. WE asked for a cease fire. Well, it was not really that much of a cease fire, but it did give us time to gather our wits and come up with a solution. We withdrew from Falluja, and called upon the experience of a Baathists ex Iraqi general to take control of the situation and end the stand off.

So, IMO, I think we caved. The US military would have suffered unacceptable casualties if we went into the city, and we would have been seen as demons to the world for cutting off the city and allowing them to starve. So, we folded to them. Instead of paying the price in the short term, we showed the freedom fighters/rebels/insurgents that if they are stubborn enough, they can beat us down. Ill times ahead for the US forces in Iraq IMO.

The consequences for the US will be increased pressure from Iraqis for us to get the hell out. It’s an important distinction to make that we did not cave to terrorists, but rather that we caved to a civilian militia.

It’s a very important step both for the Iraqis and the Americans. The situation showed that we may know when to quit after all. It also shows that Iraqis can muster enough solidarity to resist the occupation without resorting to blowing up medical centers and oil pipelines, which is a big step toward a legitimate Iraqi government.

Nitpick: There is no such thing as a “civilian mitilia.” It’s a contradiction in terms. A militia can be private, it can be irregular, it can be illegal, but it can’t be civilian.

It may be an easy distinction for you, but Bush, Blair etc have spent months telling us that the resistance is all coming from terrorists, fundamentalists, er Saddam loyalists, am I missing anyone, and that ordinary Iraqis who happen to be pissed off at the occupation are not a factor.

So, by their definition, terrorists win another one is the only message that you can take from this.

You’re correct, of course. I was using the word civilian to describe someone who was not being paid to fight, either by a terrorist organization or a hostile government. Using the term might not have been correct in a literal sense, but it was the best way I could think of to describe the difference between the fighters in Falluja and most of the “resistance” we have seen so far, which have either been Saddam loyalists or foreign terrorists. If it were either of these that we were confronting in Falluja, a pullout simply would not have happened.

I think that everyone, including Bush, understands that these fighters were NOT Saddam loyalists, and certainly not foreigners. They were pissed off Iraqis who in most other respects were normal people. This might feel like defeat for military minded people, who see only that we backed down and don’t care who we actually backed down from, but I think that politically it was a major breakthrough. Even Bush seems to understand the importance of this, because he downplays the military significance of the pullout. He may not grasp that this could actually be one of the best turns the occupation has taken so far, but at least he understands that leaving Iraqi citizens to themselves can sometimes be the best course.

I predict this will work out about as well as asking tribal warlords to surround OBL in Tora Bora.

Gee, I wonder who the people in the rest of Iraq sympathize with, the US military or the Fallujah irregulars, regardless of their religion? The example set is that a revolt against the foreign occupiers by semi-organized civilians and some Iraqi Army vets with a pile of AK-47’s can succeed, city by city. This can only embolden the people in other, nearly-as-restive places to try it too. If the US couldn’t even control one city, they can’t control them all, will go the thinking. The simultaneous release of the prisoner-abuse photos can only help fence-sitters think of the US as occupiers, not liberators.

It isn’t as though Gens. Abizaid and Sanchez, or whoever made the call, had a real choice, though. They could have waded into urban combat, something horrible that no army wants to do and which would have gotten who knows how many people killed, or pulled back like they did. They gave up whatever chance there was remaining of suppressing the insurgency militarily in favor of a hope of guiding it in a constructive direction by the hypothetical new Iraqi government.