Captain's Quarters Blog

« The Year Of Nick The New Guy | Main | French Diplomat Puts An End To Latest Appeasement »

January 17, 2007
The War Of The Fleas

Michelle Malkin has returned from her embed with the US military in Baghdad and has published her first report on her experiences. It's a taste of a series of posts to come, and it underscores the frustration of the troops with both the Bush administration and the anti-war activists:

Modern war in the Middle East is no longer as cut-and-dry as shooting all the bad guys and going home. We are fighting a "war of the fleas"--not just Sunni terrorists and Shiite death squads, but multiple home-grown and foreign operators, street gangs, organized crime, and freelance jihadis conducting ambushes, extrajudicial killings, sectarian attacks, vehicle bombings, and sabotage against American, coalition, and Iraqi forces. Cellphones, satellites, and the Internet have allowed the fleas to magnify their importance, disseminate insurgent propaganda instantly, and weaken political will.

I came to Iraq a darkening pessimist about the war, due in large part to my doubts about the compatability of Islam and Western-style democracy, but also as a result of the steady, sensational diet of “grim milestone” and “daily IED count” media coverage that aids the insurgency.

I left Iraq with unexpected hope and resolve. ...

The troops I met scoff at peace activists’ efforts to “bring them home now.” But they are just as critical of the Bush administration and Pentagon’s missteps—from holding Iraqi elections too early, to senselessly breaking up their brigade combat team, to drawing down forces and withdrawing last year in Baghdad and Fallujah, to failing to hold cities after clearing them of insurgents. They speak candidly and critically of Shiite militia infiltration of some Iraqi police and Iraqi Army units and corruption in government ministries, but they want you to know about the unseen good news, too. ...

Winning the counterinsurgency battle is not just about keeping Iraqis safe. It’s about keeping Americans safe--by sending a message that the mightiest military in the world cannot and will not be outwitted and outlasted by the fleas. On the emblem of the Dagger Brigade are two imperatives: “Continue mission!” and “Duty first!” They are committed to their mission. They deserve our commitment to them.

For those who read Michelle's blog on a regular basis, her "darkening" pessimism had been noticeable of late, and I wondered if her visit would change that or accelerate it. We have our answer, and over the next few days we will start reading about the experiences that changed her perspective.

It's a long post, so be sure to read it all.

UPDATE: Bryan Preston also returns from his travels with Michelle:

Iraq is still very winnable. There are mistakes in every war. Iraq is a hideously complex environment to work in and its complexity has to be taken into account. Communities like Al Salam and Khadimiyah in Baghdad prove that at the end of the day most Iraqis value security and the chance to have a normal life above any notions of jihad and sectarianism, and we can work with most Iraqis to make their country safe. Most Iraqis want our troops there now, just not forever. Our troop morale is very high and they are focused on goals that they believe are attainable and will make Iraq stable. Most of the troops we spoke with support the surge; a minority don’t but it doesn’t seem to be a contentious issue. Democracy in Iraq probably won’t look like democracy here when the fight is over (and presuming that we here at home see it through), but if we correct our mistakes and change the media and political dynamics here, we can and should win. The price of failure is that Iraq would become a true hub for an al Qaeda that would see its “victory” in Iraq as Somalia times 100. Iraqi oil dollars would fuel this new terrorist power as long as Iraq’s oil infrastructure holds out. From secure bases in Iraq, the terrorists’ aims and capabilities would be practically limitless. Faith in America as a war ally would be shaken from Europe to Asian and everywhere else.

So whether we win ugly or pretty, we have to win. And we can.

And of course, be sure to read Bill Ardolino's dispatches from Fallujah at INDC Journal. Start at the top, keep scrolling, and throw a few dollars in the kitty to help him cover the expenses if you can.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 17, 2007 7:18 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The War Of The Fleas:

» Assessing Iraq: Civilian thoughts after first-hand visit from
Bryan and Michelle Malkin have recently returned from a trip with the troops in Iraq.  Bryan recently posted a fantastic assessment of the situation in Iraq, and its various forms, past, present and future: Assessing Iraq This post is mostly about mis... [Read More]

Tracked on January 17, 2007 9:27 AM

» You and Michelle didn’t patrol [EXPLETIVE] from Gun Toting Liberal ™
The blog, “Hot Air” has just proven itself to be just that. As both a blogger AND a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (”OIF”) who is STILL coughing the sand out of my lungs from the SandBox many, MANY months later, I am offe... [Read More]

Tracked on January 17, 2007 12:42 PM


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!