Sunday, November 07, 2004


Today (Sunday 11/7/04) all is in place for the final assault tomorrow on Fallujah and other cities West of Baghdad. Fallujah, Ramadi and surrounding villages, and Samarra are already under “anything moving may be shot” orders and Allawi has declared Marshall Law throughout Iraq except for some areas of the north.

Intense preparations for the battle of Fallujah have been underway for the past month.

“You will be making history... Forty years from now, 100 years from now, they (people) will be talking about the battle of Fallujah,” said Major General Richard Natonski, the top commander for the Marines Corps First Division.

He’s right they will. But which “they” is he talking about, the Iraqis or Americans? One hopes that Rich, who has a BA in History, is familiar with Texas and the “Battle of the Alamo” and does not make the mistakes of the Mexican imperium. [I'm sure that he will too engaged to read this post but others with Centcom will. ]

After he was captured, when asked to justify his massacre of Fannin’s men, General Antonio López de Santa Anna spoke about the military doctrine of the day. He said no one should expect his commanders to restrain troops when storming a place, any more than they would have when the Duke of Wellington took San Sebastian. The General added that he gave his enemies opportunity to surrender multiple times but each time they had refused and instead chose to fight to the death. He also clarified his legal position by stating that the Mexican Congress had passed a law providing that no prisoners should be taken and that as an officer he was merely obeying the provisions of the law and was therefore not culpable.

Sound familiar, Major General N.?

The point of this short history lesson isn’t to critique Santa Anna’s defense of his actions, but rather to point out what resulted from his misunderstanding of his opponents. Mexico, with a much superior military numbers and leadership, won the battle of the Alamo but ultimately lost the war.

After news of the defeat of the Alamo reached the small towns of Texas, “Remember the Alamo” became the rallying cry for Texians everywhere (see disclaimer below). This eventually contributed to the defeat and surrender of Santa Ana at the battle of San Jacinto. Texas became a free and independent Republic and Santa Ana eventually returned to Mexico to continue his rule as a dictator.

Sun Tzu (The Art of War) provides timeless insight into military strategic decision making, and his lessons should be heeded:

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting,” said Sun. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” He reiterates that strategy and tactics are not one and the same, “The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.”

CLEARLY STATED – Remember that most Iraqi fighters, and perhaps the majority of the general public in Iraq, consider this a battle between “independence” and “foreign invaders”. To “win” in Fallujah requires a different skill set than the ones US policy makers, acting through the military, have employed to date.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Sam Houston, “Texas (Iraq) has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."

disclaimer: the author’s foreparents, living in Texas since 1830, fought on the side of the Texians in places in Texas including the battle of San Jacinto and may have a biased view of historical events

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