Dozens of embedded reporters re-enlisted this week, and hundreds of newspapers breathlessly recounted the invasion of the insurgent stronghold (which turned out to be not quite as strong as expected), as if it was the turning point in the war. The embeds were far from the scene, however, when several other rebel centers exploded in death and fury.
And they are completely missing from the American tragedy unfolding this week at the military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where most of the seriously wounded U.S. troops in Iraq are taken. As of early Saturday, according to hospital officials, at least 412 U.S. military personnel had been airlifted to the facility from Iraq since Monday, forcing them to add beds and expand their operations.
And the pace is only quickening. The number of arrivals this week stood at 227 on Thursday, for four days, but has jumped to 412 in just the two days since.
To be fair to the brave men and women serving in Iraq, shouldn't the press place a few embeds at Landstuhl? While American fatalities receive major play in press accounts, you have to look deeply to find the numbers on the wounded and maimed. You don't get airlifted to Landstuhl for a nick or scratch. A hospital spokeswoman told Stars and Stripes today that most of the damage came from burns, blasts and gunshots, with spinal and brain injuries and "traumatic amputations" among them.
As bad as it is in Fallujah, imagine if most of the rebels had actually stood and fought? Having been warned for weeks of the coming attack, and knowing it would be tied to the results of the U.S. election, many melted away, perhaps to Mosul. Of course, if the assault had not been postponed until after the White House was re-secured, perhaps that mass flight could have been prevented (not that any newspapers I've seen are pressing this point).
And summing up the real tragedy of the fight taking place in Fallujah NOW, as opposed to a few months ago:
Jackie Spinner, the Washington Post embed with the Marines in Fallujah, said in an online chat from the battleground (the mind boggles) on Thursday: "No one I've talked to believes that solving the Fallujah problem will end the violence in Iraq. But, as one Marine officer told me, not solving the Fallujah problem will not end it either."
Well, that just about covers it.
Yes, it does. Hundreds of badly wounded, dozens of Americans killed and for little other than to allow the Bush Administration to "feed the beast" of proclaiming pyrrhic victory. Richard Meyers is becoming a small-scale Westmoreland or Douglas Haig, meaningless butchery.
We destroyed Fallujah, and managed not to save a damn thing.
A few months ago, American Newspapers asked themselves about how they cheerleaded this war to begin with? Yet they continue to spout the Administration line that clearing Fallujah NOW, after months of warnings, will change things for the better. All the "mercury" that is the resistance did is move on to other locations, like Mosul, and not a thing will change.
Thanks to the incompetence of the Bush Administration we are now in an unwinnable situation in Iraq. The only question is when and if we will finally recognize it and whether the blame will be placed squarely upon where it should.