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November 26, 2004

Greetings from Fallujah!


by L. Reichard White
Preamble:

April 28, 2003: U.S. soldiers kill 18 Fallujah school children.

Act I

April, 2004: In the attack on Fallujah, which ended after 3 weeks in defeat of the "coalition":

"U.S. forces bombed the power plant at the beginning of the assault; ...The town was placed under siege; the ban on bringing in food, medicine, and other basic items was broken only when Iraqis en masse challenged the roadblocks. ... After initial instances in which people were prevented from leaving, U.S. forces began allowing everyone to leave except for what they called 'military age males,' men usually between 15 and 60. Keeping noncombatants from leaving a place under bombardment is a violation of the laws of war.

"The main hospital in Fallujah is across the Euphrates from the bulk of the town. Right at the beginning, the Americans shut down the main bridge, cutting off the hospital from the town. ... This hospital closing (not the only such that I documented in Iraq) also violates the Geneva Convention.

"In addition to the artillery and the warplanes dropping 500, 1000, and 2000-pound bombs, and the murderous AC-130 Spectre gunships that can demolish a whole city block in less than a minute, the Marines had snipers criss-crossing the whole town. For weeks, Fallujah was a series of sometimes mutually inaccessible pockets, divided by the no-man's-lands of sniper fire paths. Snipers fired indiscriminately, usually at whatever moved. Of 20 people I saw come into the clinic ... only five were 'military-age males.' I saw old women, old men, a child of 10 shot through the head...

"One thing that snipers were very discriminating about every single ambulance I saw had bullet holes in it. Two I inspected bore clear evidence of specific, deliberate sniping. Friends of mine who went out to gather in wounded people were shot at. When we first reported this fact, we came in for near-universal execration. Many just refused to believe it. Some asked me how I knew that it wasn't the mujahedin. Interesting question. Had, say, Brownsville, Texas, been encircled by the Vietnamese and bombarded ... and Brownsville ambulances been shot up, the question of whether the residents were shooting at their own ambulances, I somehow guess, would not have come up. Later, our reports were confirmed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and even by the U.S. military.

"The best estimates are that roughly 900-1000 people were killed directly, blown up, burnt, or shot. Of them, my guess, based on news reports and personal observation, is that 2/3 to 3/4 were noncombatants."

- "Fallujah and the Reality of War," Rahul Mahajan, CounterPunch, Nov. 6, 2004

Act II

"A hospital has been razed to the ground in one of the heaviest U.S. air raids in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Witnesses said only the facade remained of the small Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the center of the city. ... A nearby medical supplies storeroom and dozens of houses were damaged as US forces continued preparing the ground for an expected major assault."

- "U.S. strikes raze Fallujah hospital," BBC, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004

"In a series of actions over the weekend, the United States military and Iraqi government destroyed a civilian hospital in a massive air raid, captured the main hospital, and prohibited the use of ambulances in the besieged city of Fallujah."

- "Fallujah: U.S. Declares War on Hospitals, Ambulances," by Brian Dominick, Antiwar.com, Nov. 10, 2004

"NEAR Fallujah, Iraq Nov. 12, 2004 Hundreds of men trying to flee the assault on Fallujah have been turned back by U.S. troops following orders ... 'We assume they'll go home and just wait out the storm or find a place that's safe,' one 1st Cavalry Division officer, who declined to be named, said Thursday. ... Army Col. Michael Formica, who leads forces isolating Fallujah, admits the rule sounds 'callous.' But he insists it's key to the mission's success.

"'Tell them "Stay in your houses, stay away from windows and stay off the roof and you'll live through Fallujah,"' [Army Col. Michael] Formica, of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade, told his battalion commanders in a radio conference call Wednesday night. ...

"Troops have cut off all roads and bridges leading out of the city. Relatively few residents have sought to get through ...On Wednesday and Thursday, American troops sunk boats being used to ferry people ... across the river. ..."

- "GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return," Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2004

"Insurgent attacks across Iraq stretched American forces to their limits yesterday when rebels appeared to be in control of at least two cities, and the operation in Fallujah entered its most dangerous phase. ... Some of the toughest street fighting encountered so far erupted during the day as rebels reemerged in areas already secured by U.S. Marines in the north of the city. Gunmen resumed positions on the roofs of mosques which had earlier been cleared...

"'I'm supposed to shoot into the houses before our troops go in,' said Marine Cpl. Will Porter..."

- "U.S. troops stretched to limit as insurgents fight back," Robin Gedye, Nov. 13, 2004

"Her shins, shattered by bullets from U.S. soldiers when they fired through the front door of her house, are both covered by casts. Small plastic drainage backs filled with red fluid sit upon her abdomen, where she took shrapnel from another bullet.

"Fatima Harouz, 12 years old, lives in Latifiya, a city just south of Baghdad. Just three days ago soldiers attacked her home. Her mother, standing with us says, 'They attacked our home and there weren't even any resistance fighters in our area.' Her brother was shot and killed, and his wife was wounded as their home was ransacked by soldiers. 'Before they left, they killed all of our chickens,' added Fatima's mother, her eyes a mixture of fear, shock and rage."

- Slash and Burn, Dahr Jamail, November 17, 2004

"Journalists with the troops speak of a city that is gradually being devastated. Scarcely a single house does not bear some form of weapons scar and many have been rendered uninhabitable.

"Tactics handed down from years of urban warfare in Israel mean that troops sometimes search rows of buildings by punching holes through walls with high velocity bullets rather than moving from house to house through doors, thus reducing the risk of booby traps and increasing the element of surprise."

- "U.S. troops stretched to limit as insurgents fight back," Robin Gedye, Nov. 13, 2004

"The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer [Bilal Hussein] stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of [Fallujah] ... In the hours and days that followed, heavy bombing raids and thunderous artillery shelling turned Hussein's northern Jolan neighborhood into a zone of rubble and death. The walls of his house were pockmarked by coalition fire.

"'Destruction was everywhere. I saw people lying dead in the streets, wounded were bleeding and there was no one to come and help them. ... U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house,' he said. ... Hussein moved from house to house dodging gunfire and reached the river. ... 'I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river.'

"He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. ...'I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim.'"

- "AP Photographer Flees Fallujah," Katarina Kratovac, Nov. 14, 2004

"No outside aid has reached civilians in the city since the offensive began last Monday, and yesterday U.S. forces kept an Iraqi Red Crescent aid convoy of seven trucks and ambulances waiting at the main hospital near a bridge on the edge of the city. ... Reports from within Fallujah yesterday said bodies lay in the streets, homes and mosques were destroyed, and power and telephone lines were down. ...

"However, [Marine] Col. [Mike] Shupp said the Red Crescent did not need to deliver aid to civilians in Fallujah and questioned whether there were any. He said: "There is no need to bring supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people. ...

"[U.S.-chosen Iraqi Prime Minister] Mr. [Iyad] Allawi also said he doubted reports of civilians in the city. This contradicted accounts from residents inside the city ...

"'Our situation is very hard,' said one resident [Abu Mustafa] contacted by telephone in the central Hay al Dubat neighborhood. 'We don't have food or water. My seven children all have severe diarrhea.'

"'One of my sons was wounded by shrapnel last night and he's bleeding, but I can't do anything to help him.'

"It is thought about half of Fallujah's 300,000 people fled the fighting in the city. ... In April, 2,000 U.S. Marines fought for three weeks and failed to take Fallujah. This time, six times that number were sent ... Major General Richard Natonski of the U.S. Marine Corps: 'We had the green light this time and we went all the way.' ... [M]ore than 20 different types of planes were used in bombing swarms ... as U.S. soldiers began clearing weapons and fighters from every one of Fallujah's 50,000 buildings, bands of insurgents were still roaming freely in some neighborhoods."

- "Bodies litter streets in rubble of Fallujah," Calum MacDonald, Nov. 15, 2004

"[T]he command in Baghdad thought there were at least 2,000 insurgents, and perhaps as many as 5,000. But the coalition forces have failed to find large clusters and now think that there might have been less than 1,000, military sources said yesterday. The senior defense official said some generals now think there might have been 600 or fewer."

- "U.S. suspects many insurgents have fled," Rowan Scarborough, Nov. 12, 2004

"Fallujah has been under relentless aerial and artillery bombardment and without electricity since Monday. Reports have said residents are running low on food. An officer here said it was likely that those who stay in their homes would live through the assault, but agreed the city was a risky and frightening place to live.

"U.S. military says it does all it can to prevent bombing buildings with civilians inside them."

- "GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return," Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2004

"You read about precision strikes, and it's true that America's GPS-guided bombs are very accurate when they're not malfunctioning, the 80 or 85 percent of the time that they work, their targeting radius is 10 meters, i.e., they hit within 10 meters of the target. Even the smallest of them, however, the 500-pound bomb, has a blast radius of 400 meters."

- "Fallujah and the Reality of War," Rahul Mahajan, CounterPunch, Nov. 6, 2004

"Once the battle ends, military officials say all surviving military-age men can expect to be tested for explosive residue, catalogued, checked against insurgent databases and interrogated about ties with the guerrillas. U.S. and Iraqi troops are in the midst of searching homes, and plan to check every house in the city for weapons."

- "GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return," Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2004

"[A]ll the excuses Mr. Bush gave for attacking the people of Iraq were either wrong or lies. ... We'll only mention in passing that the domestic price for 'our' sarkar attacking Iraq, a country with no WMD, no al-Qaeda links, and no connections to 9/11 so far has been $87 billion, a good chunk of our civil liberties and 1,239 or so American soldier's lives, not to mention a minimum of approximately 8,000 more wounded and/or maimed."

- L. Reichard White, "The Only Way to Make Your Vote Count," Oct. 31, 2004


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L. Reichard White has made his living as a professional gambler for over thirty years and specializes in games theory and self-motivation in enterprises with uncertain outcomes. His current studies include the evolution of lying as part of modern enterprise, the ethnology of rebellion and the role of prediction in personal psychology.  You can find some of his other work at NEXIALIST N+E+W+S, or search Google for "L. Reichard White"

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