Losing Fallujah in 2004: Who’s to blame?

The Washington Times/UPI reports on a “secret intelligence assessment” of the 2004 battle for Fallujah which suggests the reason for the loss was political pressure as a result of – you guessed it – media coverage (h/t: Memeorandum):

A secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows that the U.S. military thinks that it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to “political pressure” that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents.

“The outcome of a purely military contest in Fallujah was always a foregone conclusion — coalition victory,” read the assessment, prepared by analysts at the U.S. Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center, or NGIC.

“But Fallujah was not simply a military action, it was a political and informational battle. … The effects of media coverage, enemy information operations and the fragility of the political environment conspired to force a halt to U.S. military operations,” concluded the assessment.

It added that the decision to order an immediate assault on Fallujah, in response to the televised killing of four contractors from the private military firm Blackwater, effectively prevented the Marine Expeditionary Force charged with retaking the town from carrying out “shaping operations,” such as clearing civilians from the area, which would have improved their chances of success.

A copy was posted on the Web last week by the organization Wikileaks, which aims to provide a secure way for whistleblowers to “reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations,” and says it favors government transparency.

Although a spokesman for U.S. Army intelligence declined to comment on the document, United Press International independently confirmed its veracity.

The authors said the press was “crucial to building political pressure to halt military operations,” from the Iraqi government and the Coalition Provisional Authority, which resulted in a “unilateral cease-fire” by U.S. forces on April 9, after just five days of combat operations.

I can’t say it any better than Captain Ed, who posted this after reading the story:

The propaganda efforts worked. The Marines withdrew and the terrorists made Fallujah the center of their oppression over the people of western Iraq. It took months for the US to mount another offensive, this time with media embeds to counter the propaganda that the Western press seemed eager to indulge. In November 2004, the US finally cleared Fallujah, but not before losing a lot of credibility with the Iraqis who felt abandoned to the terrorists.

This is just a repeat of the Peter Arnett story. In the first Gulf War, Arnett famously repeated without any hint of skepticism the notion that the US bombed a baby-milk factory instead of a weapons factory. Years later, Eason Jordan would admit that CNN cooked its reporting to curry favor with Saddam Hussein, and would occasionally just read copy into the camera provided by the Saddam regime as though it was CNN’s own. Rather than treat the Al-Jazeera propaganda with any skepticism at all, the Western media instead regurgitated it while insisting that American military sources could not be trusted to provide honest accounting of the fight.

We saw this at the time, and tried to point out the contradictions. It cost the lives of American Marines and soldiers, and it cost many more Iraqi lives. The media lost Fallujah, and had it not been for the determination of the Bush administration, they would have lost the entirety of Iraq to al-Qaeda terrorists as well.

This is just another on a very long list of examples of the media’s dereliction of duty when it comes to war reporting. The media’s hardline anti-war/military stance, coupled with the sensationalism of selling a “hot” story, strikes again – and in the process, cost the lives of both Marines and innocent Iraqi civilians, not to mention – as Ed stated – damaged our trustworthiness in the eyes of the Iraqi people, which had devastating repercussions of its own on down the road.

Not only has the US been waging war against Islamofascism, but along with that has been involved in another war – the information wars. Between what the mediots report, some of which comes from Islamic propaganda as well as anti-war Democrats (sometimes of the “anonymous” variety) who supposedly “support the troops but not the war” (gag), the battle has been an uphill one, much like the war in Iraq. I’m certainly not saying the US has been perfect in Iraq – it hasn’t, but we’ve done far more good than the bad things the mediots love to regurgitate – and in some cases, embellish to a significant extent, as Bob Owens notes here and Gateway Pundit wrote about here back in mid-December.

We’ll win the war in Iraq, but as long as the MSM remains strongly anti-war/military, the information battle will be the longer one because, as it turns out, winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people has not been quite as difficult as winning the hearts and minds of our own damned media.