The more radical sect of Iraq’s minority Shiite population – the sub-minority – has committed the now common terrorist error of underestimating the United States. They were openly critical of the idea of establishing a democratic nation in Iraq. They were calling for theistic state based, of course, on their version of Islam.
They saw our inaction to their opposition as weakness rather than strength of principle. We were not going to hunt them down and lock them up or kill them for disagreeing, that is not what we do, that is not what democracies do. Perhaps it stems from a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of democracy, or perhaps it come from the apparent ease and comfort with which some followers the religion of peace default to violence to make their political points, but they chose to take the issue beyond debate. In Fallujah, with inhuman barbarism, they went from political opponents to military opponents. That is the choice they have made. And now is the beginning of the consequences of that choice.
There were three basic options for a U.S. response to the brutality in Fallujah. We could have done nothing – not very likey. We could have turned the city into a crater – a comforting thought in the moments of outrage and anger immediately following the incident. The third was a more patient deliberate and determined approach. Shut down the city and engage the enemy. That portion of the the sub-minority that does not chose to melt into the sand but elects to stand and fight will be going toe to toe with the U.S. military and an Iraqi force fighting for their own freedom.
Will we suffer casualties, unfortunately yes. Will all of the enemy be captured or killed, probably not. Will the battle be won and the enemy disrupted and rendered impotent yes. Has the Iraqi Shiite sub-minority effectively written themselves out of the future of a democratic Iraq, yes. But it was their choice to do so.