In the comment section, Redbeard asks:
Since the insurgents will always melt away and hide when we invade a town, might we be better off NOT pulverizing cities and trying to get them to field a candidate in the upcoming election?
This is a very good question, and I think that there are a couple of answers. First, the insurgents seem unlikely to be interested in fielding any candidates for the January elections. These are not nice people, and the effects of their rule over Falluja and other areas has been dreadful. Not everyone can be brought into the fold of liberal democracy, because not everyone is willing to accept the basic principles of a republican government. The insurgents who controlled Falluja don’t seem interested in any sort of cooperative effort with the Occupation; they want it gone, and they want those who have supported it gone, as well. Thus, I think that any effort to bring them to the table is bound to fail.
Second, while the Occupation will probably fail if we employ conventional tactics to root insurgents out of strongholds like Falluja, it will certainly fail if we allow insurgents to hold on to such areas. An inability to maintain control over wide swaths of Iraq will render any elections pointless, and will provide a strong incentive for other groups, themselves skeptical of the new government, to take steps similar to those of the Falluja insurgents.
So, we’re damned if we do, and even more damned if we don’t. An administration marginally less criminally inept than this one would have realized this in April, and taken care of the Falluja problem then. Such an administration also would not have telegraphed the punch against Falluja for a good three months or so, thus giving the insurgents plenty of time to prepare, escape, and build public sympathy for their cause.
Worst War President Ever. Not excepting LBJ.