Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The ethics of fighting in Fallujah

Jeffrey Tiel has some "ethical reflections" on Fallujah. A sample: "So far American doctrine seems perfectly reasonable. Yet the American military is seemingly unwilling to exercise its power. Once the offer to extract the local population is satisfied, full military power may be used against the defenders. Why, e.g., would ground troops engage in small arms fire with the defenders on the outskirts rather than employ heavy artillery and heavy bombers on the town? A town that engages in widespread rebellion should be threatened with total destruction unless unconditional surrender is accepted. Once that demand is rejected, the town should be obliterated with the aim of entirely consuming the enemy and anyone foolish enough to remain with him. This level of destruction makes it an "ill-bargain" for other potential insurgents to consider rebellion. Notice that following World War II, one did not find German and Japanese insurgencies even though weapons and training were far more readily available. The reason for this is that the threat of complete destruction was not idle, and the people were tired of war. Current American warfighting doctrine in the name of being ethical actually motivates the people to support continued hostility."

Discussions - 3 Comments


While I agree in principle with your analysis, and would myself advocate the use of maximum firepower, it is an unfortunate truth that military actions are fraught with political restrictions. This is especially true in the current political climate with the Democratic leadership looking for any excuse to undermine the resolve of the Bush Administration. The media continues to be their (the Democrats’) willing ally and any "atrocity" committed by US forces will be magnified and blown completely out of proportion. This means, unfortunately, that US forces are stuck using the minimum necessary force to achieve and objective, rather than the massive and overwhelming firepower of which they are capable.

Christopher Whitaker

The situation may be a little more complex than Mr. Tiel recognizes. Reports from the scene suggest that non-combatants do not, in fact, have the option of leaving the area of combat. The alternatives they actually have may be to be killed by the combatants within the city for attempting to leave or to be killed by the Marines for staying, a Hobson’s choice.

Further, failing to leave the combat area does not, in fact, nullify the non-combatant status of civilians so long as they take no active part in hostilities.

I agree that the excessive even unprecedented scrupulousness with which the U. S. approached the major military campaign which removed Saddam Hussein has created major post-war problems. They’re problems we may be stuck with.

Didn’t Vietnam teach us that political pandering and war do not mix! Fallujah needs crushed now instead of later. If America does not stop worrying about the feelings of the world and focus on winning the war, we will capitulate to violent Islam.

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