Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rarely Discussed Efforts to Bring Stability to Fallujah

Fallujah was the main center of Sunni and al Qaeda insurgents at the start of the war. It is a major city in Anbar province. If you recall, it was the city were the bodies of the four burned and mutilated contractors were hung from a bridge, and it was the site of a major offensive by the Marines some time ago.

Today, Marines are operating in Fallujah, both with military partrols and with civilian reconstruction efforts. The military aspect of operations is what takes up 99% of all reporting. Rare is the time when you read an article that touches on the reconstruction effort or civilian life in outlying cities in any depth. I remember last year one reporter for MSM said, and I paraphrase, "there are many good things happening in Iraq, but we don't report those things out of fear that they will become the target of insurgents." That is not an indictment; she was being very sincere.

Today, we get that very rare look into the civilian side of Fallujah, as well as some of the reconstruction efforts. The author of the In Iraq Journal interviews Marine Staff Sergeant Tyler Belshe who works for Civil Affairs.

The interview is very frank, open, and not sugar coated. It discusses the successes, the failures, and the limits of what the Marines can do in Fallujah. It shows the problems of dealing with Iraqi's who want to live in peace but who are under constant strain from gangsters, for lack of a better term, and who are still evolving to the point where they have the collective internal confidence to stand up and say "no more." I walked away from reading the interview with the belief that what the Marine's are doing in Fallujah is to buy the time for that change in collective paradigm while helping it along with good works. Its a slow process built on each small success.

I won't cherry pick quotes from this one. Because the topic and message is so nuanced, you really need to read the whole interview in context. You will find it here.

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