Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Turning Point...

Every war has decisive battles that change the course of that conflict, and (ultimately) history. During the Civil War, the pivotal engagements were fought at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. With Meade's victory in Pennsylvania, and Grant's simultaneous capture of the Vicksburg (and with it, control of the Mississippi River), the fate of the Confederacy was sealed, and preservation of the union was assured.

Almost a century later, the decisive campaigns of World War II occurred in 1942, at El Alamein (British forces under Montgomery ended Rommel's threat to Egypt and the Suez Canal); Midway (where the U.S. Navy smashed a larger enemy force, putting Japan on the defensive, and beginning the low, hard slog to Tokyo Bay), and Stalingrad, where the Red Army finally stopped Hitler's Legions.

When the history of the Iraq insurgency is written, I believe the Battle of Fallujah will be remembered as the decisive engagement. Make no mistake: our military forces won a stunning victory when they stormed the terrorist stronghold last November, as NRO's Michael Ledeen observes:

Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because
the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill
considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill
through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at
the heart of their global recruitment campaign. As captured terrorists have told
the region on Iraqi television and radio, they signed up for jihad because they
had been told that the anti-American crusade in Iraq was a great success, and
they wanted to participate in the slaughter of the Jews, crusaders, and
infidels. But when they got to Iraq — and discovered that the terrorist leaders
immediately confiscated their travel documents so that they could not escape
their terrible destiny — they saw that the opposite was true. The slaughter — of
which Fallujah was the inescapable proof — was that of the jihadists at the
hands of the joint coalition and Iraqi forces.

Thirdly, the brilliant maneuvers of the Army and Marine forces in
Fallujah produced strategic surprise. The terrorists expected an attack from the
south, and when we suddenly smashed into the heart of the city from the north,
they panicked and ran, leaving behind a treasure trove of information,
subsequently augmented by newly cooperative would-be martyrs. Above all, the
intelligence from Fallujah — and I have this from military people recently
returned from the city — documented in enormous detail the massive involvement
of the governments of Syria and Iran in the terror war in Iraq. And the high
proportion of Saudi "recruits" among the jihadists leaves little doubt that the
folks in Riyadh are, at a minimum, not doing much to stop the flow of fanatical
Wahhabis from the south.

Click here for Mr. Ledeen's full article. As he reminds us, freedom is on the march. While final victory has not been secured, it seems more certain now than in the dark days following 9-11, when those noted strategists at The New York Times editorial board warned of a possible quagmire in Afghanistan. As Mr. Ledeen points out, the tidal wave of democracy is now reaching the darkest corners of the globe. And for that, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the Marines and Soldiers who won the Battle of Fallujah.

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