Hugh Hewitt has posted a letter from a Marine in Fallujah which gives some insight into the strategy there:
We are approaching a very significant phase in Fallujah. Very soon, we will execute the first "joint patrol" into the city. The concept is that Marines and elements of the new Iraqi force will enter the town together. To suggest that the cessation of hostilities is fragile is an understatement. The environment is very fluid and one day things look better but the next we gather intelligence that suggests we are making a mistake. The leadership has gone way out on a limb here making a tremendous gamble that the course of action decided on will bring some degree of stability to this area.
Of course, in order to allow the Fallujans a chance to stabilize themselves, we must eat a little crow. We know that people are running around the city proclaiming that the Marines were defeated and the insurgents stopped us. To our dismay, this has even been picked up by our own media. Again, I can barely stand to read it. However, we fully realize that the only way the Iraqis will take control of their own destiny is to regain some of their long lost self image/national pride. They were crushed by Saddam brutally for 35 years, the last 12 of which, the US also had its way with them. They saw us cut right through the worlds 4th largest military in 1991 and then enforce no fly zones along with limited offensive actions against them with impunity for the next 12 years. Finally, we destroyed a regime and occupied their country in less than 3 weeks last year.
Regardless of whether or not the Iraqis hated Saddam, all of these elements above resulted in a tremendous amount of shame in this culture. Later, when we captured Saddam and put pictures and stories in the media of him surrendering like a lamb and sticking his tongue out for doctors, that was further humiliation. Until they start to feel some pride in themselves as a nation, we cannot expect them to want to vest themselves in its future. If that means we have to stand by and let them strut, that is what we will do. It is very hard to swallow as there is not a Marine here who does not know in his heart that we could have taken the entire city down if we were allowed. The whole environment requires discipline and confidence.
This is pretty much in line with what I was thinking: the idea is to put the Iraqis in charge of their own security. A lot of bloggers think the administration has gone soft on Fallujah. While I think putting the Iraqis in charge is the right idea, I'm worried that looking weak could make things worse for us, even if it's better for Iraq. However, as I've said before, I hope the commanders in the field know what they are doing.
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