November 18, 2004
IRAQ: FALLUJAH ASSAULT A MILITARY VICTORY WITHOUT PAYOFF?
** Assaulting Fallujah was probably "inevitable" but may also have been "the easy part."
** Skeptics say Iraq will be no more secure after the "battle without winners."
** "Graphic images" of the shooting of an insurgent "could be a new nightmare" for U.S. forces.
'If Fallujah is lost, Iraq is lost'-- Though many dailies considered the showdown in Fallujah to have been "inevitable," not all agreed whether the "expensive military victory" in the "battered... crippled" city would serve the larger end of stabilizing Iraq or instead turn out to be a "Pyrrhic victory" and a "political defeat." Calling Fallujah "the operational headquarters of Islamist terrorism" and chaos its "handmaiden," Canada's nationalist Ottawa Citizen declared the offensive was necessary "to bring law and order to Iraq." Papers in Australia and New Zealand agreed that "it was a battle that had to be fought" because the prevailing situation was "intolerable." For the city to have remained "beyond the writ" of the Iraqi interim government (IIG) "would have been catastrophic," leaving it in control of terrorists who "will do absolutely anything to reduce the country to a state of chaos" to disrupt the planned elections.
'Fallujah falls, Mosul explodes'-- Other analysts, noting "intensifying violence" and insurgent attacks in Mosul and elsewhere, termed the operation a "limited military success" and predicted that "the guerrilla war will continue." Despite their "awe-inspiring" firepower, U.S. forces faced "the eternal dilemma" of guerrilla warfare: "the winner never really wins and the loser never really loses." Writing in the conservative Times, one British columnist averred that "nothing in Iraq has so illumined the folly" of the occupation as the "suppression of Fallujah." U.S. troops will not be able to hold it "for any period of time" and the new Iraqi army, he added, had proved itself "virtually useless." India's right-of-center Tarun Bharat noted, as did many outlets, that the aim of the offensive was not merely a "triumph over the Sunni terrorists" but also to create "a conducive atmosphere" for elections; Turkey's mass-appeal Hurriyet said U.S. plans would be turned "upside-down" if Sunnis react to the assault by boycotting the January vote.
'Sowing dragons' teeth'-- The killing of a wounded insurgent by a marine and other "atrocities" resulting from the battle, some critics held, will "destroy confidence and stir up hatred" among Iraqis. Citing the indispensability of "winning hearts and minds...to cut the ground from under the terrorists' feet," a German broadsheet forecast that "these pictures of an 'execution' will have the opposite effect." Similarly, the center-left Irish Times concluded the footage of the mosque shooting "will deny the U.S. any propaganda value attaching to its assault" on Fallujah. The insurgents, said Saudi Arabia's pro-government Arab News, "hope that the fighting will produce enough collateral damage and be sullied by enough acts of brutality" to exact a "heavy political price" on the U.S. and IIG. Considering damage to the city and "the Pentagon's admission" that attacking Fallujah would not end rebel attacks, a UAE daily argued that "one is compelled to question the objectives behind launching the assault in the first place."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 74 reports from 36 countries November 13-18, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "In The Line Of Fire"
The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (Internet version, 11/17): "It is only a few days since a dozen U.S. television networks refused to broadcast the film 'Saving Private Ryan' because its violence and bad language were deemed too much for public consumption. So it was ironic as well as shocking to see graphic footage...showing a U.S. marine killing an injured and unarmed Iraqi at close range in a Fallujah mosque on Saturday. It is right that the U.S. military has launched an investigation. Its findings should be delivered quickly and with the maximum possible transparency. It is true that war is a dirty business--one reason why opponents of the Iraq invasion warned so strenuously against it. It is equally true that no people has a monopoly on morality--confirmation of that came yesterday with news of the cruel, and presumably premeditated, murder of Margaret Hassan. Reports from Fallujah say the marine in the mosque shooting had earlier experienced Iraqi fighters 'playing dead' or corpses being booby-trapped. But there is no excuse for what looks like the illegal execution of a wounded enemy combatant. Such incidents have always taken place in battle. But this one, unusually, was caught live on camera. It may yet come to rank alongside the infamous photograph of the execution of a terrified Vietnamese in Saigon in the 1960s. The Fallujah image is all the more extraordinary since it was captured by a cameraman 'embedded' with the marines, who seem to have regarded the killing as so normal that they did not try to conceal it. It takes little effort to imagine its impact--without the self-censorship that kept the actual moment of death off our TV screens--on Arab and Muslim viewers."
"The Americans Are Sowing Dragons' Teeth In Iraq"
Chris Bellamy, professor of military science and doctrine at Cranfield University, wrote in the center-left Independent (11/17): "A frightened, tired and shell-shocked young U.S. marine, concerned that a wounded Iraqi left behind in a mosque might be lying on a compression mine, clutching a hand grenade or concealing a pistol, makes a split-second decision and allegedly shoots him in the head.... This incident has...focused attention on wider questions about the strategy adopted in Iraq, and globally. The 'pre-emptive' tactic adopted by the young marine mirrors the strategy of America itself.... Even though a quarter of a million civilians may have fled the city, it is unlikely that all the dead are insurgents, and foreign fighters appear to be relatively few in number. Comparisons with Vietnam War 'body counts' are inevitable.... For all the hype about 'effects-based operations' the U.S. approach appears to be thoroughly attritional. The U.S. command appears to believe that the supply of suicidal Baathists, jihadists and foreign Islamist fighters, and Iraqi nationalists who just resent foreign occupation, will eventually be ground down to zero. By effectively eliminating the insurgents, according to one retired U.S.general, the 'fellow travellers' can be made to see the handwriting on the wall. It seems they have not seen it yet. With Fallujah largely subdued, U.S. forces, with limited Iraqi government help, have moved to Mosul and Baquba. Meanwhile the British forces, mainly deployed in the south of the country, have striven to avoid sowing seeds of longer-term discord. They have been defending themselves quite effectively, but ceasing fire the moment the attackers withdraw, rather than exploiting opportunities to inflict more casualties. Inevitably, this 'softer' approach, with the ultimate objective in mind, invites criticism, and is alien to the U.S. forces for whom'force protection' is paramount. But across the country, in Fallujah, and now in Mosul and Baquba, the U.S. forces may have sown dragons' teeth. In Greek mythology, dragons' teeth, once planted, grow into fully-armed warriors. We must avoid doing that any more in Iraq."
"A Wrecked Nation, A Desert, A Ghost Town. And This Will Be Called Victory"
Simon Jenkins opined in the conservative Times (11/17): "In Vietnam the Americans destroyed the village to save it. In Iraq we destroy the city to save it.... Nothing in Iraq has so illumined the folly of this occupation as the now completed suppression of Fallujah.... The assault on Fallujah was billed as the defining battle of the war. The conquest would make possible the January elections, talisman of the entire occupation.... Without Fallujah under control, it was argued, elections would be hopeless. Yet hopeless too must be the holding of Fallujah. Such cities cannot be subjugated by American troops for any period of time. The new Iraq Army, virtually useless in the assault, cannot take their place. They would desert en masse, as 400 reportedly did during the siege. The only Iraqi troops prepared to fight the Sunnis are their sworn enemies, the Kurdish peshmerga irregulars. To leave them garrisoning Fallujah would be madness. As for the repopulation of the city from which 90 per cent of citizens are said to have fled--this will bring back the guerrillas and put the Americans under renewed attack. The Russian general, Kutusov, called Moscow 'the sponge that will suck Napoleon dry.' Sunni Iraq is taking on the same function for the Americans. The insurgency has now spread west, north and east, to Ramadi, Mosul and Samarra. Guerrillas supposedly driven from Samarra in a furious battle just two months ago are now back. Aerial bombardment was this week deployed against the small town of Baquba just north of Baghdad, with inevitable civilian casualties. How long before the battle for Baghdad resumes, and its inhabitants again hear the drone of spy planes and the roar of 'shock and awe'? In this part of Iraq there is no Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to call the al-Sadr bandits to order, as in Najaf and Karbala. Fallujah may have been destabilizing the Sunni triangle, but the manner of its suppression will not restabilize it. It will merely shift more of the varying geometry of power to the Mujahidin and from the sheikhs and local gangsters grown rich on stealing 'reconstruction' money. Iyad Allawi's aides are talking openly about the elections being impossible. This is the opposite of what Fallujah was supposed to achieve. Whether the Fallujah assault is more counterproductive than the rest of the neocon strategy for Iraq is moot. Even the most ardent interventionist must find its ineptitude astounding. The Pentagon's handling of the Sunnis seems designed to ensure that they boycott elections and thus speed the break-up of Iraq."
"The Fall Of Fallujah"
The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (11/13): "A snobbish tendency among the British considers the American armed forces to be trigger-happy and unwilling to engage with the enemy at close quarters. The past five days in Fallujah should have disabused the doubters, at least as far as the U.S. Marines are concerned. There, fighting street by street, they have all but gained control of a town that...has been the dreaded heart of the Sunni 'triangle of death'.... It is a remarkable passage of arms and a significant setback to the Iraqi insurgents and the foreign jihadis who would reverse the agonising transition from dictatorship to democracy.... Other parts of the country, most notably the northern city of Mosul, came under attack. Fallujah may have fallen, but the war against terrorism has still to be won. That struggle will increasingly become the responsibility of the Iraqi National Guard and police force, whose training is an allied priority. The guard has played a supporting role in the reduction of Fallujah. Given the formidable nature of the target, that is not surprising. A battle-hardened professional force was always going to take precedence over an embryonic army when it came to confronting the core of the Iraqi insurgency. Some two and a half months before elections are due, the task for the allies remains to create conditions that allow nationwide participation in the first fully democratic exercise in Iraq for decades. There is still much to be done. But the assault on Fallujah, conducted by the Americans and Iraqis, with British support, is an important morale-booster to those struggling to throw off the poisonous legacy of Saddam Hussein."
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (11/18): “On the one hand, the summary execution of a wounded and disarmed man in a mosque by a U.S. marine. On the other that of a humanitarian aide who devoted her life to Iraq, by an Iraqi radical.... Her murder, like that of any other hostage, cannot be justified except in the eyes of those who want to exacerbate the terrorist situation in Iraq under the travesty of resistance against the occupiers.... Like the acts of torture in the Abu Ghraib prison, the summary execution in Fallujah is not just a ‘blunder,’ it is a crime that must neither be hidden nor excused. And this is not just a matter of morality, but of strategy. Faced with an insurrection, the difference between victory and defeat lies in the battle of ideas and the population’s rallying to one’s policies. These Islamic acts of barbarity elicit nothing but revulsion from a majority of Muslims. This revulsion must not be undermined by actions or crimes committed by those in charge of fighting barbarity.”
"The Scale Of Horrors"
Bruno Frappat argued in Catholic La Croix (11/18): “Horror is coming out of the shadows. The battle of Fallujah has left hundreds dead. The exact number will never be known.... The characteristic of these morbid wars which are being waged in Iraq, Chechnya or Africa...is that they turn every individual into a potential target, a pawn in the game of propaganda, pressure and bartering.... The hostages are not picked because of their power, their influence or their capacity to do harm, but because of their innocence. Our horror must never diminish in front of the perversity of those who wage the war of terror.”
"The Easiest Part Of The Job"
Patrick Sabatier observed in left-of-center Liberation (11/16): “The battle of Fallujah was a victory for the U.S. Army. And for George W. Bush.... But is this military victory a political victory? Or is it a vain demonstration of force, which will not advance the cause of Iraq’s pacification? In more than one way the battle of Fallujah was a metaphor of the second battle of Iraq.... America’s military superiority has broken the resistance...as it did the army of Saddam Hussein.... The barbaric regime that reigned in Fallujah leaves no room for doubt about the terrorist goals of the resistance. It was necessary to disarm these groups. But the fall of Fallujah may be the easiest part of the job. The real challenge will be to retain control of the city.... Fallujah has become a ‘martyr’ that may re-enforce Sunni hostility towards the coalition, and which has already pegged Allawi as the Americans’ puppet. The resistance leaders disbanded before the offensive...and like the Hydra, they have already grown new tentacles elsewhere.... It was probably necessary to squash Fallujah, the capital of a terrorist ‘caliphate’. But the question of Iraq will not be resolved through the exclusive use of devastating force. The solution is as much political as it is military.”
"The Law Of The Weakest"
Charles Lambroschini noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/15): “In Fallujah, the Americans are facing the eternal dilemma of guerrilla warfare. The winner never really wins and the loser never really loses.... This latest success of the Americans in Fallujah will necessarily be followed with other difficulties.... With violence being confined to the ‘Sunni triangle,’ it is surprising that the tremendous fire power of the U.S. army has not been able to get rid of a ‘handful of rebels’ as some American generals are saying, the same who are contesting Rumsfeld’s approach.... The fact is that in guerrilla warfare, the advantage goes to the lightweight.... The strategy used in Iraq is not going to succeed: in all wars one needs a strategy that is more than just politics. And so we ask ourselves the same questions over and over again: will the American army be able to restore a sort of peace for the January elections? Javier Solana and Kofi Annan have their doubts.... President Bush had no other choice but to order the assault on Fallujah. But he may pay a high price and discover the law of guerrilla warriors: when faced with a stronger opponent, the weakest warrior disappears only to return later elsewhere.”
GERMANY: "Justified War And Cruelty"
Mariam Lau commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/18): "The insurgents in Iraq are not the people's army, although more and more Iraqis support them. They are not defending their country against an occupying army; nobody authorized them to do that. Many of them lost privileges they enjoyed under Saddam, and others like the Jordanian Zarqawi use Iraq as a site for jihad--nobody officially asked them to do that. They cut heads, kill dozens of Iraqis, most of whom are Muslims, capture engineers, humanitarian aid workers or soldiers, and hide in mosques, because they know that democracies cannot afford to fight them there. It is not clear yet that the prisoner who was shot by the soldier pretended to be dead and then tried to attack the soldier.... The leadership has nothing to hide--that was the message of the measure to embed journalists, a lesson of the Vietnam War. It shows that the military believes in the idea of a justified war."
"Abu Ghraib Part II?"
Axel Vornbaeumen argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/18): "Pictures can be untrue, as they just show a part of what is going on and therefore distort reality. But the pictures taken in the mosque will remain in our memory. Abu Ghraib reloaded? If we take them seriously, they are worse than Abu Ghraib, because it comes after the horror pictures from the prison, where U.S. soldiers were ready to forget minimal moral standards. They are worse, because the public discussed Abu Ghraib--but parts of the U.S. Army have apparently missed the discussion."
"Two Victims Of One War"
Martina Doering observed in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (11/18): "The killing of Margaret Hassan, the CARE bureau chief in Baghdad, is shocking. She was married to an Iraqi and was a converted Muslim, spoke Arabic and felt like an Iraqi despite her British passport. And despite the various threats she continued her work for CARE in Iraq. It was inconceivable that she could be taken hostage or even killed. The U.S.-led war in Iraq resulted in the ousting of Saddam--and a murderous spiral of violence. A state is faltering and prone to plunge in horror and barbarism.... Nothing and nobody is secure any longer in Iraq. Margaret Hassan's death as well as the murder of the nameless Iraqi prisoner by a U.S. soldier symbolize that."
Ulrich Ladurner noted in center-left, weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (11/18): "Fallujah was meant to fall to pacify Iraq. The city appears to be occupied now, but there is no peace in sight. The war is spreading elsewhere. Fallujah was supposed to fall to make clear to Sunnis that they must participate in the political process ordered from outside. The result is that they are even less ready to do that after the death of thousands of their religious sisters and brothers. Does anybody really believe that one can force an entire ethnic group to cast its vote by bombing it?... War is brutalizing society. This can only be stopped by a complete destruction of the enemy. But that is not possible in Iraq, where the enemy is standing in every corner. The moment you hit him he disappears and emerges somewhere else. It is an endless and cruel game, in which occupiers and those who are occupied show ever more hatred. That is the only way one can explain the shooting of an injured Iraqi by a U.S. soldier."
"Shot In the Head"
Guido Heinen opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/17): "Something happened in Iraq that could quickly turn into a new nightmare for the U.S. forces.... The pictures are awakening oppressive associations of smiling GIs at My Lai, of children burnt by napalm bombs, and isolated prisoners in Guantánamo. It is not the horror about the crime itself that made these pictures so well known, but the horror about the perpetrators: soldiers of our closest ally, fighters in the name of Western culture and freedom. And this culture is the basis of our horror, since it has laid down rules and limits for combative actions in modern international law.... But the United States is already on the defensive. With an area in Guantánamo that is free from international law, it has proven that it can relativize international law and that it knows how to systematically violate human rights. This is a fundamental and not a 'PR' problem. It is now up to the U.S. government whether the dead in the mosque in Fallujah will turn into a new icon of anti-Americanism. But we must give the United States this chance."
"The Shadows Of Abu Ghraib"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (11/17): "These are highly symbolic pictures that discredit the United States again and undermine its moral claim to lead. And a second Abu Ghraib would be the worst that could now happen to the Americans, for the United States is at a crossroads. Fallujah has fallen...and it is looming on the horizon that the fight for Fallujah can turn into something like a repetition of the Iraq campaign in miniature. The battle will quickly be won, but the war seems to get lost, for the Americans bought their military success on the anger of the Iraqis at the destruction of their cities.... But especially during an asymmetric war, it is indispensable to win the hearts and minds of the people to cut the ground from under the terrorists' feet. These pictures of an 'execution' will have the opposite effect. They destroy confidence and stir up hatred. America must now focus its attention on Fallujah's reconstruction. If it fails to win political support, the city of ruins and other cities will turn into nests for new terrorists."
"Battle Without Winners"
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf had this to say (11/17): "The expulsion of insurgents has been successful, but the clout of the insurgents seems to be unbroken, as demonstrated by the vast number of attacks in Mosul and Baquba.... No one speaks any longer of a decisive strike against the resistance, and the combat action is transferring from Fallujah to other cities. But the destruction of Fallujah was a high price for this.... If resistance can be broken only by razing entire suburbs, the calculations of terrorists, not the ones of the Americans, will come true. The war in Iraq has been often compared with the war in Vietnam, but the Sunni triangle rather resembles Chechnya. The guerrilla war forces the Americans to take even tougher measures without achieving a real breakthrough. And the population is being crushed between the fighting."
Arnd Festerling judged in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/17): "Crimes, accidents, 'collateral damage,' this is the result of military logic. In Fallujah, a stronghold of resistance and Islamic terrorism in Iraq, something had to happen. That is why the military got the order to capture the city. The soldiers did this, but nobody seriously believes that this victory brought the hoped-for peace closer to Iraq. The fighting continues in Ramadi, Mosul, and Baquba, where the rebels, who escaped Fallujah, have allegedly gathered. And in Fallujah, those who want it, can now register for elections."
"A Pyrrhic Victory"
Left-of-center Nuernberger Nachrichten opined (11/17): "What is prematurely celebrated as a military great job, will soon turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory, similar to the events in Baghdad one and a half years ago and the martial 'Mission Accomplished' fuss. The answer to the question of what the Americans want to achieve in Iraq confirms in an objective manner their failure. Top terrorists are to be captured, but they disappeared and continue to be active. The killing of kidnapped Care Director Margaret Hassan is evidence of their cruel, criminal energy. The uprising in the Sunni triangle was supposed to be crushed but is now escalating the situation in dozens of cities. Spread of democracy? The immeasurable suffering that was inflicted on the population and the most recent human rights violations (following the torture scandals) are evidence of the fact that the battle for support was lost."
"Political Time Bomb"
Centrist Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger of Cologne argued (11/17): "We must fear that the video sequences that show the killing of a wounded Iraqi by a U.S. soldier… demonstrate the reality of the war. The outrage at this could have the effect of a political time bomb. International support for the war on which Bush is increasingly dependent will collapse after all in view of these pictures."
"Pictures From The Mosque"
Center-left Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of Essen held (11/17): "For the United States, the pictures from the mosque are more than a problem. Solidarity with the insurgents will rise in Iraq. For extremists in the Arab world it the alleged war crime is a propaganda gift."
"Only The Most Recent Horror"
Center-right Flensburger Tagblatt noted (11/17): "The pictures of shootings shook the world already during the Vietnam war and forced the United States to withdraw in the end. In Iraq, a similar development is going on. The deliberate killing of a wounded Iraqi by a U.S. soldier is only the most recent horrible indication of a war that is increasingly distancing itself from the Geneva Convention and human rights. The military investigation of the incident will not change this."
Right-of-center Pforzheimer Zeitung noted (11/16): "We should have doubt about the strategic success of the storm on Fallujah. It may be possible that the terrorists have been driven out of the city, that their caravans were driven to other cities. But with it the U.S. forces did not achieve what they wanted to achieve: to contain resistance. The insurgents will now try to get a foothold in other cities. Terrorism is now releasing its children."
"The War Will Go On"
Guenter Nonnenmacher argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/15): "The unrest and the fighting that has now broken out in other cities of the Sunni area, but which have also spread to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul allow the assumption that the guerrilla war will continue even after the capture of Fallujah. The question is what is the political price for the limited military success. The Sunnis, who are afraid that they will lose their early supremacy over Iraq, will now be even more hostile to the new order in the country. It is true that the Americans hope--at least this is what President Bush said in a radio address--that calm will dominate in after the elections in January. But this was deceptive before--when the current transition government was installed. In Iraq, different conflicts are mixing up and are escalating. There is the guerrilla war against the occupation, but there is also the struggle for the future distribution of power between the religious groups and tribes. In this country without a recognized law and order and without a tradition of peaceful conflict settlement, the situation will continue to be bloody for a long time to come."
"Fallujah And The Evil Spirit"
Rudolph Chimelli editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/15): "The latest figures from Fallujah destroy the legend that the uprising was the work of a few desperadoes of an Islamic International that kept the Iraqis in fright. No one dares to claim any longer that this military move aimed at gaining the hearts and minds of Iraqis. But even the official reason that 'Operation Fallujah' is trying to bring peace to the country for the elections in January is becoming increasingly hypocritical. While the fighting in the destroyed city is ebbing, the revolt starts somewhere else. This rebellion...is primarily the expression of national resistance to international occupation. The military success of the offensive is questionable, and its political failure almost certain. The Sunni Arabs, who make up one quarter of the population, are threatening to boycott the elections and their representatives are withdrawing from the institutions. But it is no surprise that the evil spirit from Fallujah, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, escaped like Osama bin Laden. Some experts doubt that he was ever in the city. Many do not believe that he is playing the leading role that is ascribed to him. And it is not even certain that one of his legs is missing."
"After Fallujah's Fall"
Walter Roller judged in right-of-center Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung (11/15): "The fate of Iraq will not be decided in Fallujah. Even if it is possible to get permanent control over the city, resistance that is carried out with naked terror against the U.S. occupiers will continue and--be it in Ramadi or Baquba--flare up with a similar symbolic force."
"The Winners Are The Losers"
Right-of-center Braunschweiger Zeitung noted (11/15): "Even though the Americans have fully captured Fallujah, they are, nevertheless, the losers of this battle. Terrorists and murderers of hostages have escaped in droves and will carry the fighting to other cities. Mosul is only one example. But the pictures of brutal fights will stir up new hatred of the occupiers--not only among the Iraqi civilian population but also in the entire Arab world. What did the Americans want to achieve in Fallujah? They wanted to create the preconditions for the elections in January. But once the dust of the war has settled, sadness, debris and tears will become visible. And we will look in vain for enthusiasm for democracy according to the U.S. model."
ITALY: "The Shiites’ Silence On Fallujah’s Dead"
Alberto Negri commented in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (11/18): “War crimes in Fallujah? Almost everything taking place in Iraq is in violation of every moral and religious law, civil code and international convention. Terrorist groups claim the right to put anyone to death. The guerrillas exploit fear in order to gain the support of the population. The occupying forces have killed many more civilians than soldiers. The methods being used remind Iraqis of the old regime; they don’t reflect a new order of democracy. Not everything that happens in Iraq...is on the same level, but put together these incidents lead to a dark picture--that of a dirty war.”
RUSSIA: "Brutes In Fallujah"
Vyacheslav Tetekin in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/18): "Clearly, the U.S. army is stuck in Fallujah. Enraged, the Americans take it out on the peaceful population, destroying the city house after house, block after block...and as they do so, they dub everyone an insurgent. They are holding back on the scale of a humanitarian catastrophe in Fallujah, with all information rigidly censored by the military (as is always the case with the 'free' United States). But the truth will out. The sights of the ruined city evoke memories of World War II, the days of the Nazi invasion of the USSR, when hundreds of German warplanes bombed out Soviet cities in cold blood. The scene of a GI shooting a heavily wounded Iraqi in a mosque splashed over TV channels across the world.... Those outrages are a direct result of the U.S. voter support for Bush. Unfortunately, Fallujah is only the beginning."
"Ruins, Shock And Awe"
Ivan Groshkov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/15): "Apparently, the U.S. army command has erred again. Eager to avenge the death of some of their own who were beheaded by the Zarqawi group, the Americans have not only lost their chief enemy, but let violence spread to other Iraqi cities, including Baghdad."
AUSTRIA: "Inside The Barbarians' Country"
Ernst Trost commented in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (11/18): "It is like a contest where the order of the day is to top the 'normal' horror news from Iraq with reports of even more terrible atrocities. All the while one has to be careful not to be dulled by the flood of such bad news from the barbarians' country. In Fallujah the cameramen dare to go into the center of the artillery fire and it becomes obvious how merciless the fighting is that is going on there. That the shooting of a helpless wounded Iraqi leads to a war crime investigation is owing to the circumstance that the terrible deed was filmed by television people. But what happened when no journalists were present? For the marines in Fallujah, everything that moves is an enemy, and deadly dangers are lurking everywhere. And that is not just true for the 'liberated' city. When Bush optimistically ordered his troops to go into Iraq in the name of freedom and democracy, he did not dream that this would open at least a side gate to hell."
Foreign affairs writer Markus Bernath wrote in independent Der Standard (11/18): "The case of Margaret Hassan demonstrates what a perfidious effect the reality of the Iraq war, that has been going on for 20 months now, has on the parties concerned and how it is being used. Allegedly, it was the group around terrorist boss Zarqawi that distanced itself from the kidnapping of Hassan: 'In the real Islam, no women and small children are killed. We only kill those that fight against us and our people,' said a message that was signed 'Al-Qaida in Iraq.' With this, the Zarqawi group that is responsible for quite a large number of decapitations has set its own--questionable--moral standards. Probably the marine in Fallujah, whose shooting of a wounded man is now under investigation, was in a similar situation: soldiers were being injured through booby traps while they were trying to retrieve the dead bodies of insurgents."
BELGIUM: "A Bitter Victory In The Ruins Of Fallujah"
Richard Werly wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (11/17): "What should one think of the American military's brutality? In the case of Fallujah, generals at the Pentagon never promised a clean war. Not without reason: such an assault in a hostile urban environment on rebels who control the city can only be murderous and horrible, with summary executions and a lot of collateral damage. That is why the Americans' tactics were first and foremost to keep TV cameras away, which did not prevent gruesome images from getting to the entire world. However, one should not forget what kind of rebels the GIs were fighting. Since they took control of most of the city, U.S. soldiers have discovered a lot of horrors: cells whose walls were stained with blood, CD-ROMs with images of executions, corpses of men executed by a bullet in the back, etc. Fallujah was the hostage-takers' sanctuary. To dislodge such kind of fanatics, the U.S. Army had to hit hard. That is what it did."
"Peace Far Away"
Foreign editor Jean Vanempten concluded in financial daily De Tijd (11/13): "There is every sign that the war in Iraq is entering its second stage and that peace is farther away than ever. The war is increasingly revealing a religious nature. Not only because foreign terrorists like Jordan's al-Zarqawi give it a fundamentalist dimension, but also because the American forces clearly don't care about religious symbols like mosques. The latter were shelled mercilessly in Fallujah--during Ramadan! It happened with Allawi's blessing, but he owes his authority to the American occupiers. When the smoke over Fallujah has disappeared, the real destruction will become visible. Not only the number of victims is important, but also the question whether the spiral of violence won't escalate further."
CROATIA: "What After Fallujah?"
Kresimir Fijacko commented in Zagreb-based, government-owned Vjesnik (11/16): “The explosion of violence throughout Iraq, including Baghdad, is certainly the expected consequence of the fall of Fallujah. If they will be held at all (and everything that is happening right now has the goal of enabling them), the elections be regular ones? It is understandable that Bush wants a situation in which he will be able to say that the Iraqi people have elected their own government, and that Iraq has, finally, received democracy even though the price has been high. However, realities are warning: before any peace in Iraq, it will experience a new escalation of war and violence which will, logically, endanger the hoped-for elections and their legitimacy. The Pentagon is sending new reinforcements, and American military assessments say that 140,000 American soldiers in Iraq 'should be enough.' The real question is: enough--for what?”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Fallujah Is Only Beginning"
Petr Pesek commented in the right-of-center daily Lidove Noviny (11/15): "The offensive in Fallujah has ended successfully from a military point of view.... However, it is necessary to finish what was not achieved in Fallujah--to capture the leaders of the underground terrorist networks including the butcher Zarqawi. This cannot be accomplished without an unexpected, snap attack. And as long as there will be other attacks launched all around Iraq, the elections can hardly be conducted in relative peace."
IRELAND: "Inquiry Must Decide If Killing Was Punitive Or Preventative"
Tom Clonan wrote in the center-left Irish Times (11/17): “The NBC footage of the apparent execution of an unarmed and wounded Iraqi prisoner by an American soldier on Monday will deny the U.S. any propaganda value attaching to its assault on Fallujah.... However, unlike the calculated and cold-blooded murder of Western hostages by terrorists such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his Tawhid and Jihad accomplices, it may well be argued in any forthcoming military investigation that Monday's killing took place during the heat of battle.... Among the key legal provisions governing the use of force in such circumstances is that of justification.... In Monday's incident, however, the U.S. soldier who opened fire did not do so immediately. He opened fire after making a number of observations to his colleagues about the prisoner.... These actions will no doubt bear further scrutiny in the coming weeks.... U.S. forces will continue to be exposed to increasing levels of physical and psychological stress.... As the cycle of violence in Iraq deteriorates and as hostages such as Margaret Hassan are brutally murdered, one can only hope that President Bush's cabinet reshuffle will bring about wiser counsel as to the manner in which military power is used as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy."
Influential liberal De Volkskrant commented (11/15): "The offensive against Fallujah once again demonstrated the efficiency and the power of the American army are awe-inspiring.... The American marines are now more trained to fight against the guerrillas.... But the Americans have now taken several centers of resistance but the overall security situation in Iraq has not improved considerably. It is of great importance that the overall security situation be improved otherwise the January elections will be jeopardized. In order to rescue those elections there is also a political battle to be won. In the preparation phase the United Nations was given an important role but that has not been reflected very much so far.... There are literally seven UN election experts in Baghdad. The insecure situation is keeping UNSG Annan from sending more. But Annan is also not managing to put together the UN troops to protect the UN staff. President Bush announced that he would travel to Europe as soon as possible in order to strengthen transatlantic ties. That is a laudable aspiration. But it might be more urgent for the president to have a good talk with the chief of the organization that is to provide the necessary support for Iraqi elections."
NORWAY: "Victory In Fallujah -- But So What?"
he newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (11/16): “The suffering of the civilian population and the material damages are so enormous that the fighting will have definite long-term effects, both health-wise, psychologically and economically. In addition we now see clear signs that the dissatisfaction with the war and the methods are taken advantage of by the groups that lost their power when Saddam Hussein’s regime was run down last spring.... What’s tragic is that the statistical mortality rate in Iraq was very high already before the war, not least because of an ineffective and brutal dictatorship, an inadequate health-system, and poor nutrition. Several of these issues were the result of the UN boycott, and the fact that Saddam Hussein was removed, has led the way for it to be abolished. Now, however, it hard to see it any other way than that the situation has worsened--in a country where the war continues, where the stability that should have followed the change of regimes is still lacking, and where the processes of a normal society are located far into a more and more uncertain future.”
POLAND: "Phantom Fury"
Mariusz Zawadzki wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (11/13): “As the operation nicely dubbed 'Phantom Fury' nears an end, it is a good time to ask whether it was worth it.... A week has passed, hundreds of mujahedin have been killed, American casualties are minimal, the city is almost seized and naturally almost ruined. The capture of Fallujah was supposed to enable the Sunni parts of Iraq to conduct elections. It was the main goal of the attack. Meanwhile, the chances for [elections] are now perhaps even more remote. The influential Council of Ulemas...called upon the Iraqis to boycott [the elections], and the biggest Sunni party withdrew from the government as a protest.... For the time being, it looks like the pacification of Fallujah breathed into the rebels the spirit of combat and strength instead of being a blow to them.”
ROMANIA: "Preparing A Bloodier American Offensive"
Foreign policy analyst Bogdan Comaroni commented in independent daily Ziua (11/18): "The images showing the assassination of an Iraqi prisoner were broadcast on purpose. No one is so naive to imagine that the incident is unique, that only one American soldier shot in cold blood a defenseless prisoner.... The answer might be found behind the resignations of John Ashcroft and Colin Powell, the assignment of the first woman of color, Condoleezza Rice, as a Secretary of State, and the strengthening of the position of Bush’s ‘hawks’.... Those images seem to prepare other nations for a bloodier American offensive, with which those who resigned did not agree. After wining the elections, it’s obvious that the president of war is preparing his terminators for a radical solution in Iraq.”
SPAIN: "War Of Values"
Conservative ABC commented (11/18): "The Pentagon's reaction has been immediate. They have opened an investigation. It's urgent to first certify the truthfulness of the images, and after that, the identity of those involved in the alleged murders with the objective of applying penal responsibilities. It's evident that, as happened in Abu Ghraib, we are facing isolated issues that, if unfortunately are true, tarnish the clarity and success of some of the operations that have been achieved to deactivate the dangerous sanctuary of terror that Fallujah was. The fight against terrorism needs the use of force. The development of the democratic process opened in Iraq demands the defeat by arms of the Baathist elements that, allied with al-Qaida, are trying to destabilize with terrorist violence the difficult viability of the government of Allawi. For this reason, these objectives must subordinate themselves to a minimum of legality. The Iraqis have to see that in the Americans are allies that will let them recuperate their freedom. The opposite, not only would be wrong because of its injustice, but, in practical terms, an absolute stupidity."
Left-of-center El País held (11/17): "The military victory of the U.S. forces in a devastated Fallujah can quickly turn into a political defeat.... After the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, these violations of international law will cause the U.S. to lose still more support among the population, Arab regimes, and worldwide public opinion.... Using these methods the U.S. won't ensure a minimum peace with the minimum acceptable conditions for the predicted elections on January 27. In Fallujah, the U.S. has shown that it will continue determinedly with its main mistake: the belief that military force solves everything."
"Fallujah Falls, Mosul Explodes"
Independent El Mundo had this to say (11/14): "The most devastating part about what has happened in Fallujah is without a doubt its unproductiveness. The U.S. has not dismantled the net of those that harass the occupied troops nor has it managed to arrest al Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who, according to Washington, manages the threads of the resistance and whose annihilation or capture was the main objective of this operation. Some that think that Zarqawi incited his followers in a recording over the internet last Friday, and never was physically in Fallujah. But it is more probable is that he left the city before the offensive began, as the public announcement of the invasion was not very effective towards the goal of capturing a fugitive. Far from suppressing the rebellion, Fallujah's battle has extended it to the suburbs of Baghdad and to other Sunni populations. The most worrying case is the northern city of Mosul.... But a new slaughter in Mosul would serve to swell the legend of the slippery Zarqawi and to break out new craters in the Iraqi volcano."
TURKEY: "A Pyrrhic Victory"
Oktay Eksi opined in the mass-appeal Hurriyet (11/17): “The U.S. media, even those that try to pursue objective journalism, are using the same rhetoric in their coverage of Fallujah coverage. For instance, a CNN International report about the ongoing operation claimed that Fallujah was about to be ‘liberated’ by American forces. This is an odd report, since the liberator is also the occupying force. This occupation force is apparently trying to ‘save’ a city from its own inhabitants. The recent event in a Fallujah mosque represents another success in ‘saving’ the city. The soldier who shot a wounded Iraqi to death in a mosque was ‘called back’ from his unit--a very grave (!) punishment.... The overall reaction to the Fallujah operation might lead to a boycott of the upcoming Iraqi elections by Sunni groups. If that happens, U.S. plans for Iraq’s future will be turned completely upside-down, as the control of Iraq will fall entirely into the hands of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds. Given the situation, the Fallujah outcome should be considered a Pyrrhic victory for the United States.”
ISRAEL: "Don't Learn From The Americans"
Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in independent Ha'aretz (11/17): "It should be hoped that after the tough battle in Fallujah is over, and the Americans have a chance to draw lessons, they will reach the conclusion that it would be best to end the practice of preaching morality to the whole world, for instance through practices like the release of an annual report on the human rights situation in the occupied territories. These reports long ago became detached from reality, and are powerful evidence of the hypocrisy that makes it permissible for the Americans, and other strong nations, to do that that is forbidden to others.... The Americans found themselves in trouble after failing to quell the insurgents in several cities as the date of Iraqi elections drew nearer. Their answer: using an 'iron fist' in populated areas. When the Russians did this in Chechnya, President Clinton sharply criticized them.... [Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,] Israel Air Force graphs show a steady decline in the number of casualties not involved in terrorism. Indeed, the majority of Palestinian civilians that have been killed or wounded in recent months were hit by gunfire from ground troops. Israel is at least trying to correct the situation and does not preach to others how to behave on the battlefield."
SAUDI ARABIA: "A Tragic Incident"
The pro-government, English-language Arab News editorialized (Internet version, 11/17): "With memories of atrocities in the Abu Ghraib prison still fresh in many minds, the United States armed forces appear to have raised another storm, albeit on a smaller scale. This time the story is that an American marine shot an unarmed wounded insurgent in a mosque in Fallujah.... The incident raises a number of questions. Was it an isolated case, or should we assume that it is part of a pattern? Should we not see the incident as a sign that the pressure of a tough urban campaign is beginning to tell on the American military? And, last but not least, what would the incident do to the reputation of the interim Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that, technically at least, was in charge of the entire 'Phantom Fury' operation.... The insurgents hope that the fighting will produce enough collateral damage and be sullied by enough acts of brutality...to make the U.S. and its Iraqi allies pay a heavy political price.... On one side we have a coalition of Saddamite remnants, non-Iraqi Arab 'holy warriors' and an unknown number of ordinary Iraqis who do not wish the fate of their country to be shaped by outside powers. This coalition has remained united because the U.S.-led coalition and the new Iraqi leadership elite have failed to see and treat it in primarily political terms. On the other side of the conflict one finds a majority of Iraqis that see the forthcoming elections as the first step toward ending their country’s occupation by the U.S.-led coalition. Under the latest UN resolution on Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition will be obliged to leave Iraq as soon as it is asked to do so by an elected Iraqi government. Thus those who want to derail the elections and prevent the formation of a legitimate government in Baghdad are, in effect, fighting to prolong the occupation. And occupation, even by the most benign powers, is bound to provoke violence and counterviolence as well as atrocities such as those witnessed in Fallujah the other day. The occupation of Iraq must end. And the way to end it is to let the Iraqis choose a government of their own."
"Atrocities In Fallujah"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazirah commented (11/15): "The disgraceful scenes from Fallujah are very frustrating. And it does not seem that there is a way out of this tragedy, save through the complete destruction of the city.... What we have seen so far is enough for us to say that the atrocities committed in the city are beyond imagination, and that what is needed now is swift and effective action to save its people, whose only crime is that they happen to be there."
ALGERIA: "Fallujah, The Capital City Of Arab Impasses"
Leading, highly influential French-language Le Quotidien d’Oran commented (11/17): “The resistance fighters of Fallujah are heroes, but they are not sowing the future. They represent a solution by default to a mythology of comfort. They correspond too well to the image of the Arab saying no, which one had hoped had disappeared. They resist and respond to slaps in the face, but they still do not open a way to a moderate future. This applies to the hijacked planes of September 11 and the fireworks of bin Laden. Secretly, they have almost offered us an embarrassing compensation for several centuries' of frustration, but they have mainly been a disaster for us, our causes, our lands, our chances to be heard, our arguments, and our differences of culture and soul. They have turned the world against us, while we would have hoped that they would have turned the world against our enemies. Fallujah today is the capital city of the Arabs because it sums up everything. Among Allawi's mercenaries, the Americans' surgical bombing, and the martyrs' monotonous braveries, the Arab who refuses to be the caricature of an Islamist, a recruited service dog, does not exist--neither he nor his future.”
"Quiet Everybody, We Kill In Fallujah!"
Small-circulation, French-language Le Jour d’Algerie noted (11/17): “Ten thousand soldiers for hardly 157 families, i.e., less than a thousand Iraqis. The United States pulled out all the stops on Fallujah in order to commit in accordance with ‘American law’ the worst kind of abuses against Iraqi civilians.... On the second day of the offensive, the city was transformed into a large mass grave with streets full of corpses, according to doctors' accounts. No appeal was taken into consideration--neither that of the health services nor that of religious authorities, who had requested a truce before the attack in order to allow a civilian evacuation. All appeals were silenced by the logic of the war being conducted by the Bush administration and being taken over by its ally, the Iraqi central administration, which nominated an Iraqi general as spokesperson of operations in Fallujah. Iraqi soldiers help the marines penetrate sensitive places where resistance fighters might be hiding. The massacre is being conducted behind closed doors.”
LIBYA: "Premeditated Murder"
overnment-owned Ash-Shams editorialized (11/17): "The only public crime out of thousands of crimes which found its way into the hands of journalists.... It is unique because it found its way to publication.... The soldiers entered the building. They fired. One of them went and pointed his gun at an old, wounded, and unarmed old man.... They attacked the city with gas numerous times, and when the bullhorns called for families to gather, the men were arrested and taken as prisoners. The women were detained for hours, and anyone who was found wounded was considered a fighter. It is for these reasons that journalists were kept out of Fallujah. The killings in the dark were incompatible with the reporters’ revealing lenses. Credibility is lost in the lack of transparency. All the news is military reporting, designed for external consumption. The aid convoys, which have reached the city, are still waiting outside it. The pictures shown on television belie the news that the city is under control. In fact, there is no battle. There is a series of murders committed against the inhabitants of the Iraqi city. The explosion of violence in other Iraqi cities may be an indicator that Iraqis are feeling the suffering of the people of Fallujah.... Fallujah is not a great Iraqi city, but her people are. Murders against humanity do not become outdated, and brute force does not give them any legitimacy, but, on the contrary, makes them more deplorable and reprehensible. An investigation might be held with few soldiers, and they might receive nominal punishment. ‘Stepping on the necks of Iraqis' will be treated like a traffic violation. If the world is debating the death sentence in its courts, how can it be that there is no reaction in the face of illegal public executions?"
SYRIA: "Unfulfilled Promise"
Khalid al-Ashhab editorialized in government-owned Al-Thawrah (11/17): "President Bush's seriousness in the issue of the Palestinian state is exactly like Sharon's seriousness in the issue of peace and the U.S. Army spokesman's seriousness in his announcement that the killing of a wounded Iraqi by an American solider in Fallujah Saturday will be investigated, but not before the American army kills thousands or tens of thousands of the city's inhabitants, and not before Fallujah has been destroyed and added to the other Iraqi cities that were destroyed by the American occupation of Iraq."
UAE: "Democracy Lies In The Ruins"
The English-language, expatriate-oriented Gulf News commented (Internet version, 11/17): "Crippled by an eight-day offensive, the city of Fallujah is battered and much of it is in ruins. For the United States, the city has been successfully pacified. In order for next January's elections to run efficiently, the use of military rather than political might was deemed justified and necessary. The road to democracy is now clear, says the U.S. ... But has control, in the real sense of the term, really been achieved? With the end of the offensive in Fallujah, violence erupted in Mosul, Ramadi, Baghdad, Buhriz, Suwayra and Baquba, where U.S. troops dropped two 500-pound bombs on the city. With the Pentagon's admission that winning Fallujah would not put an end to rebel attacks, one is compelled to question the objectives behind launching the assault in the first place.... By choosing to use force as the winning formula, the U.S. is simply alienating a whole population in the long run and taking it further away from democracy."
Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab Akhbar al-Arab observed (11/15): "Americans believe that the military campaign in Fallujah is moving in the right direction and is nearing its end, saying that this will mark the beginning of resolving Iraq's outstanding problems..... It is obvious that the U.S. forces will eventually take over control of Fallujah. However, there is no doubt that they will not be able to handle future problems and crises arising from this attack."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Fallujah A Win For Iraqi Freedom"
The national conservative Australian stated (11/16): “Fallujah was not the sandy Stalingrad opponents of the offensive to restore order in the Iraqi city argued it would be. The overwhelming firepower of the United States forces involved ensured defeat for the fanatical street gangs they faced. But while the battle was won with only 38 or so U.S. combat deaths, the overall price of the short campaign is not clear. We do not know how many civilians died in the fighting and how long it will take to rebuild demolished homes and services. And many Iraqis will blame their country's interim government, and the United States, for the destruction.... But while Fallujah will not end the insurgency, it was a battle that had to be fought. To have left the city beyond the writ of the Interim Government would have been catastrophic, sending a signal to the terrorists that they could achieve their immediate goal through continuing violence.... The discovery of a limbless and eviscerated female torso in Fallujah was no random act of sadism, it was a signal to all in Iraq, citizens and foreigners alike, that the terrorists will do absolutely anything to reduce the country to a state of chaos so that the elections are abandoned. The Interim Government and the American military must not let this happen, however many fights like Fallujah are required.”
"Time Runs Short In Iraq"
Defense writer Geoffrey Barker observed in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (11/15): “What does this expensive military victory imply for Iraq's future stability and its progress towards democracy? Probably nothing if Allawi's interim government cannot quickly gain political control over Fallujah and other Iraqi cities resisting the U.S. occupation and the puppet regime. All indications are that this will not happen, that violence will continue throughout Iraq, including Fallujah, and that the Iraqi national elections scheduled for January will be a fiasco imposed at gunpoint on an intimidated and insolent population traumatized by years of repression and violence. Increasingly, the U.S. experience in Iraq is resembling the earlier U.S. experience in Vietnam, the Soviet experience in Afghanistan and the French experience in Algeria.... U.S. hopes of establishing a stable pro-Western beacon of democracy in the Middle East now seem futile. More likely Iraq will continue its descent into vicious domestic turmoil and the sort of brutal authoritarian rule the American-led coalition was trying to displace when it invaded Iraq.”
CHINA: "The Second Iraq War: Fierce Battle In Fallujah"
Wang Wei commented in Elite Reference (Qingnian Cankao), a newspaper affiliated to the official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (11/18): “Fallujah’s people have plenty of reasons to be outraged with the Stars and the Stripes.... Ten thousand U.S. soldiers and 2,000 Iraqi troops, carrying with them the world’s most advanced weapons, attacked a city with ‘3,000 to 5,000’ so-called armed forces.... One can hardly think of a war in which the two sides had such a great gap in strength. One side just wants to win, while the other only wants to postpone the bloodshed and make the greatest possible cut on the enemy’s body.... But all people know that this is a fight without any hope.... When the situation got tense in Fallujah, a city originally with a population of 300,000, citizens were running away like ants before the storm.... A Fallujah citizen said that he saw with his own eyes an ambulance’s windshield pierced by a gunshot. This was definitely not a stray bullet, and the shooter specifically aimed at the chest of the driver. ‘I have been a fool for 47 years’ he said, ‘Before, I thought Europeans and Americans were civilized people.’... Fallujah’s citizens are the people who are suffering the most. The two sides of the war both claim that they are fighting for them, but what they want is just to survive.... Those armed groups...are the oddest opponents in the battle of Fallujah. After being abandoned by the whole world, their leader and pals, these trapped people are using their last strength to mount a desperate resistance in buildings or in the streets. Who are they? What are their names? Do their parents know their whereabouts? Do they have loved ones and are they loved? Nobody knows.”
"From ‘Abusing War Prisoners’ To ‘Shooting War Prisoners’"
Fang Xiangsheng commented on the official intellectual publication Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao) (11/18): “Arabs cannot describe the pain in their hearts after watching the video [with a U.S. soldier shooting an Iraqi insurgent].... The Geneva Conventions have definite rules about the rights of war prisoners.... The U.S. government always poses as ‘guardian of human rights,’ casually pointing at other countries’ human rights situations, and so they should be the model in applying the Geneva Conventions. The U.S. had two excuses for starting the Iraq war, fabricating the lie that Saddam was researching WMD; and improving Iraqis’ human rights situation and helping them to ‘live a better life.’ However, what American soldiers have done in Iraq has given a vivid lesson to those kind people. During the Iraq war tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have died, shot by U.S. soldiers. From the ‘war prisoner abuse’ at Abu Ghraib prison not long before to ‘shooting at the war prisoner’ recently, both of them show the real value of ‘human rights’ in the American military’s eyes.”
"Fallujah: Political Failure Behind Instant Military Victory"
Feng Junyang noted in the official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (11/16): "The U.S. military set three goals before it prosecuted the battle in Fallujah: arresting al-Zarqawi, the leader of anti-U.S. forces; subduing the anti-U.S. base of Fallujah; clearing obstacles for next year’s Iraq election. Except for the second goal, the U.S. has not realized the other two.... U.S. action...during the war...has re-escalated religious conflicts and contradictions that were once settled. If these can’t be removed in the short term, there is the possibility that a large group of Sunnis will boycott next year’s election. Right now Iraq’s security troops are not up to the task of protecting an important city. Another worrisome fact is that if the process of rebuilding Fallujah is slow, the local public will be dissatisfied and this will provide the opportunity for anti-U.S. forces to re-emerge.... The U.S. intelligence departments point out...that the anti-U.S. forces can’t at this time organize a large-scale attack. But analysts believe that after refreshing for a certain period of time, they will quickly come back for another round of fighting. Their next goal may not be to take over a city, but to destroy the Iraq elections."
"What Will Blood Bring To Fallujah?"
Su Bei commented in the official popular newspaper Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (11/15): "First, Fallujah may arouse a new political earthquake in Iraq.... If Sunni Muslims echo their leaders’ calls and refuse to participate in the voting, then the legitimacy of the Iraq election will be greatly discounted. Thus, politically speaking, the battle in Fallujah will possibly cause more trouble. Second, the battle in Fallujah doesn’t mean that the U.S.’ circumstances in Iraq will have change radically.... There will be other ‘Fallujahs’ with other battles against the U.S. ... The worst place is still Baghdad. Besides, more importantly, conquering Fallujah has no real meaning for the U.S. Its major goal is to catch and destroy Zarqawi. Facts show that the militant leader fled long before. Now the battle experience of the anti-U.S. forces has increased and their resistance has increased too. The takeover of the city of Fallujah will, for a short time, deter Iraqi resistance activities. But military force is an ineffective remedy. The U.S. trouble in Iraq won’t cease, and new troubles will appear one after another."
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "U.S. Cannot Win By Ignoring Rules Of War"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post commented (11/18): "The full facts surrounding the killing of a wounded and apparently helpless Iraqi insurgent by a U.S. marine are not yet known. But the video evidence is powerful--and disturbing.... If these facts are supported by an investigation that is now under way, then there will be no doubt that a serious war crime has been committed. Put bluntly, this would amount to murder.... The inquiry should be conducted quickly, thoroughly and transparently. But whatever the result, severe damage has already been done to the U.S. cause. The footage has angered ordinary Iraqis and will no doubt help swell the ranks of the insurgents. It provides the world with further evidence that the U.S. has lost its moral authority.... This is repellent and it makes the tough tasks facing the U.S. forces that much tougher. But the problems have arisen from the invasion and occupation of Iraq--both of which were justified by the U.S. on moral grounds. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the U.S. forces are seen to strictly observe the laws of war. Every time these rules are breached, the battle for hearts and minds becomes even harder to win. The aim of the Geneva Conventions is not to favor either side. It is simply to reduce the suffering of those not taking part in the conflict. And that includes wounded insurgents who find themselves at the mercy of U.S. marines."
"U.S. Forces' Attack On Fallujah Will Only Increase Chaos"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (11/17): "AIt can be seen that the offensive on Fallujah has two objectives. First, the U.S.-Iraqi coalition wants to use military actions to 'bring' the Sunnis back to the negotiation table to discuss the election. Otherwise, the Iraqi election will be imperfect. Second, the U.S. wants to eliminate militants' resistance in Fallujah and to track down and arrest al-Zarqawi's terrorist group and al-Zarqawi himself. However, many people, including the UN Secretary General Annan, question the plan of the Iraqi interim government. They said that Iraq has wantonly engaged in military ventures. It has copied Israel's way of 'replacing one tyranny by another' in Gaza. It will do no good for the election.... The war in Iraq proves that the violent ways of U.S. forces will only set off strong hatred and resistance. Hence, the key to solving the Iraqi issue is not to attack cities and seize territories but to win the hearts of the people."
JAPAN: "Dark Shadow Hangs Over January Elections"
Liberal Asahi observed (11/15): "The U.S. military has taken control of Fallujah in less than a week. However, with anti-U.S. insurgents intensifying their resistance in other cities around the country, including the northern city of Mosul, prospects for the January general elections remain dim. Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi decided to use force against armed rebels in their stronghold of Fallujah in order to ensure the success of the upcoming elections, key to the nation's democratization. However, Iraq's political split is increasingly obvious, marked by a declaration against the elections coming from an influential Sunni religious group. President Bush emphasized Saturday the success of U.S. operations in Fallujah. However, it is uncertain whether the interim government can win the confidence of the local people. The U.S. plans to help Iraq control its own security by increasing the number of Iraqi soldiers and police officers from the current 115,000 to 200,000 by the end of next year. However, the successful containment of insurgents remains in doubt."
INDONESIA: "U.S. And Iraq Troops’ Concentration Splits Up"
Leading independent daily Kompas commented (11/17): “The challenge faced by U.S. troops and Iraqi security personnel now are more complicated than the Najaf attack case last April. The attack of the Najaf base and Shia guerrillas, took place with some difficulties, but the rebels finally surrendered.... The Pope’s concern of the use of violence indirectly criticized the U.S. and Iraqi security personnel that attacked Fallujah, Mosul and Baquba. The temporary government under Prime Minister Iyad Allawi only gave authority to the U.S. troops to attack Fallujah to stop the rebel movement in that city.”
NEW ZEALAND: "Beginning Of The End?"
The Christchurch-based Press editorialized (Internet version, 11/12): "An attack on the terrorists' main base of activities in Fallujah was inevitable. Prolonged attempts to persuade more moderate Sunni leaders to give up the terrorists failed. Allowing the town to remain a pocket of reactionary rebellion was intolerable. The terrorists have, of course, no hope of prevailing militarily against the firepower that the American and Iraqi government forces can use against them in the city. That does not mean, though, that the threat from them will cease. It was necessary for the city to be retaken, but it will almost certainly not be sufficient to end the terrorism. For one thing, the attack was so long in coming that the vast majority of the population had left before it began. Terrorists will have left with them to cause mayhem elsewhere. If the fight for Fallujah succeeds with a minimum of destruction and reasonably quickly, though, there might be some hope that it could be the beginning of the end of Iraq's trials."
VIETNAM: "Fallujah, A Great Challenge And Danger For The U.S."
Thanh Hien wrote in Ha Noi Moi, a daily run by the municipal government of Hanoi (11/15): "The strike into Fallujah is a great military challenge for the U.S. because the city is a stronghold of insurgent forces, which are determined to resist vehemently the presence of foreign forces. It is a political challenge too because if the minority Sunni people are pushed to the side in the post-Saddam Iraq, it will be impossible to establish a convincing political regime in the country.... U.S. officials and military experts know that if the strike into Fallujah prolongs and causes great damages to civilians and their property, the U.S. will get bogged down further."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Shifting Sands"
The nationalist Hindustan Times had this to say (11/18): "The fall of the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah could be a turning point--politically and militarily--for the U.S. war effort in Iraq. But only if the Bush administration is ready for a reality check and acknowledges its naiveté of waging war in the first place with the intention of 'doing the job, turning it over to the Iraqis and getting out,' as George Bush kept reassuring an edgy world.... The Fallujah operation signals a new tactic employed by the U.S.-led forces. Even as the Shias are won over through talks, the Sunnis are brought to heel using force. This may not be such a good idea. Much now depends on the January elections. The U.S.-led operation has already impacted Iraq's political system--or what was left of it by the Saddam Hussein regime. The largest Sunni-led political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, has pulled out of the interim government.... If the leading Shia cleric in Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, appears to favor the polls it's only to ensure the Shia majority gaining power. At the same time, it's doubtful if the Kurdish minority represented by people like Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih will support elections in the event of a Sunni boycott and second a Shia-dominated assembly. Washington will have to tread very carefully."
"Framed In Fallujah"
The centrist Indian Express concluded (11/18): "Ever since it invaded Iraq--indeed, even in the prelude to war--American officials have strained to articulate a democratic, humanitarian sub-text to their engagement in West Asia. To accusations that removing the big bad dictator was merely an excuse to extend American hegemony, they have pointed to a brimming pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: the rewards of free and fair elections and rule of law.... The lone superpower, alas, has already failed that test at Abu Ghraib. And in the familiar whir of arguments rationalizing the marine's act in Fallujah--his fear of booby-trapped bodies, etc.--American spokespersons miss a key point. They are being interrogated not by critics this time, but by dusty pictures being rerun around the world."
"Victory Over Fallujah, What Next"
The Mumbai edition of right-of-center Marathi daily Tarun Bharat editorialized (11/16): "The U.S.-led army may have been successful in gaining control over the Sunni hardliners in Fallujah--that, too, much before the declared deadline. But a mere triumph over the Sunni terrorists was not the sole aim of the Fallujah operation. The operation was aimed at creating a conducive atmosphere for the upcoming elections in Iraq. What plans does the Iyad Allawi government have to realize this crucial objective of the Fallujah operation? Considering the fast-approaching January 2005 elections in Iraq, around 300,000 Fallujah voters need to be quickly registered on the electoral rolls. The American army should therefore ensure that certain parts of Fallujah are safe for the free movement of election officials.... The coalition army also needs to address various issues like the lack of basic civic amenities in this city and other administrative wrangles. It will also have to tackle those terrorists who have fled Fallujah and are likely to perpetrate insurgency in other parts of Iraq."
PAKISTAN: "New American Inhuman Atrocities In Iraq"
Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat remarked (11/18): "The inhuman and ferocious American forces have written a new history of animosity with Muslims. Fallujah was a city of mosques, but according to an American plan all these mosques were destroyed. According to an American TV network the American forces shot at an old man in a mosque in Fallujah and he laid there heavily wounded. The TV network also issued a video showing that this wounded man who was no threat to the American forces, was shot again to death. Because of the publicity of this incident, the soldier was suspended and orders were issued to investigate this incident. There is no dearth of people opposing the Bush policies, and they are bringing to surface incidents such as that of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib. The American forces knew that there are not more than 3,000 resistants in Fallujah, even then they went to each and every house and each and every mosque and brought all of Fallujah to destruction and subjected the innocent people to atrocities. Their inhuman behavior is one of its kind in history and creates a shameful record for the Americans."
"Martyrdom In Mosque"
Second largest Urdu-language daily Nawa-e-Waqt observed (11/18): "Through the severe aggression and terror in Iraq at the onset of his second term, President Bush has proven how far the U.S. onslaught can go if Arabs and Muslims continue to remain silent. The silence on the Ummah, and the killing of an injured Iraqi inside a mosque only shows that there is no obstacle blocking American aggression. Although the U.S. has announced that it would take action against the soldier involved in this incident, it cannot mask its brutality through such superficial measures."
"Bombing Of Fallujah: Why This Criminal Silence?"
The independent Urdu-language daily Din editorialized (11/17): "Fresh U.S. operations in Fallujah, Baquba and Mosul belie U.S. claims that only a handful people in Iraq are against it and that majority or Iraqis support the U.S. ... The entire world knows now that the U.S. and its allies attacked Iraq not to restore democracy or establish peace, but there were ulterior motives behind it. The most obvious of these motives is gaining control of oil and other natural resources of the Middle East after getting a complete hold on Iraq."
GHANA: "U.S. Military Commits Genocide In Fallujah"
Chris Asher stated in the weekly Original Ghana Palaver (11/17): “The worst part of the genocide in Fallujah is the cynical condemnation by the UN Security Council and the U.S. in particular of genocide allegedly committed by the Sudanese government in Darfur in Western Sudan.... With the conspiratorial and collective silence of world leaders, the media, religious organizations and everybody who matters, at the rape of human rights by the 'champion of democracy,' the readiness of the world community to condemn genocide in Darfur while ignoring the genocide committed by U.S. forces in Iraq without anyone raising a voice of protest, the balance of probabilities is that the world community would merely look on as the most powerful nation bullies the entire world into submission.... All Africans [must] take time off their daily chores to look at the images on television at the way U.S. forces subject Iraqi insurgents to bestial treatment.... Africa is calling--the U.S. must answer!"
CANADA: "Chaos Theory"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen reflected (11/16): "The Iraqi city of Fallujah may seem far away, but what's happening there is a stark reminder of why it's in our own best interests to bring law and order to Iraq.... If Fallujah is lost, Iraq will be, too. If Iraq turns into an inferno of Islamist rage and anarchy, the flames could spread across the Middle East.... Fallujah is today what Kabul, Afghanistan, was pre-9/11: the operational headquarters of Islamist terrorism.... Despite the ongoing violence in Iraq, it's not too late. There is an emerging consensus that the U.S.-led coalition misjudged, catastrophically, the consequences of failing to make Iraq secure after the downfall of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime.... Chaos is the handmaid of terrorism and the enemy of freedom. It's that simple."
BOLIVIA: "Savagery In Iraq"
La Paz's leading centrist La Razon editorialized (11/18): "The American war in Fallujah is showing its more cruel and inhuman face.... Successive decapitations were the message against the invasion and have scared the whole world to death.... But TV and photography have become the close eye of humanity and have shown terrible human rights violations against Iraqi prisoners in American controlled jails.... Now that George Bush has won the elections, the war may intensify. And with Powell’s stepping down from the cabinet and the entrance of Condoleeza Rice, the U.S. position could harden even further. Let us hope that such power can serve to stop so many massacres, massacres that should be judged and sanctioned by humanity."
Garnett Roper wrote in the business-focused Sunday Herald (11/14): “In the first place, this is nothing but a revenge killing, tantamount to ethnic cleansing and genocide anywhere else. When the residents of Fallujah mutilated the bodies of four U.S. contractors, the U.S. military wanted revenge. It surrounded Fallujah and slaughtered 700 persons in April of 2004.... This (new) slaughter in Fallujah is one of the most cynical abuses of power in the recent history of mankind. Everyone knows that the timing of the invasion is to suit the political timetable.... Fallujah will become a stench in the nostril of history and the undoing of George W. Bush. The resistance in Fallujah cannot defeat the Americans. But it will prove that America is no different than any of the tyrants of history.”
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|