General Conway Says Fall of Fallujah Makes US and Iraqi Policy Look ‘Weak’

Military Times reported yesterday on comments made by former Marine Corps Commandant James Conway at a Heritage Foundation panel on the resurgence of Al Qaida in Iraq. Their choice quote is that the fall of Fallujah makes US and Iraqi policy “look weak.”

Having watched the video of General Conway’s full remarks, I encourage others to do the same. Conway gave a great deal of context on the Iraq War that isn’t reflected in the quotes. That said, his view on Al-Qaida’s strategy is worth repeating:

“We fought and died taking those cities,” Conway said Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation. Conway became the Marine Corps commandant before retiring as a four-star general.

“It causes Iraqi and U.S. policies to look a little weak and confused in the wake of how hard we fought to get those cities back in the first place,” Conway said.

“In some ways, the al-Qaida grand strategy is vindicated,” Conway said, referring to the organization’s desire to wait out American forces.

I agree that Al Qaida’s strategy has been vindicated in some ways. But to understand what that means for us, we need to acknowledge the full context in which American forces were waited out:

All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.

That’s Osama bin Laden speaking in 2004. As far as he let on, we wouldn’t have paid nearly the same costs but for our chosen reaction to his attacks.

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