What if different decisions had been made?
Before answering the question in the title, this discussion paper reviews what happened in Fallujah since April 2003 and then, stage by stage, indicates alternative actions that could profitably have been followed. In each of the six stages, we have included the views of informed Iraqi and non-Iraqi specialists as to what other courses of action – unused options - could more effectively have addressed the situation in Fallujah and reduced violence. The objective is not only more humane forms of military activity in any part of the world, especially in insurgency situations, but also more effective restoration of conventional civil life. The final section summarises the options into 5 main categories and offers lessons identified that could be put into practice in insurgency situations.
Methodology: Following a period of research drawing on a wide range of different sources, including international media, governmental and non-governmental reports, film footage, eye witness accounts as well as detailed questions put to military diplomatic religious and civil society experts on Fallujah, an initial report was drawn up. It formed the basis of a one day seminar in London in June 2005, the purpose of which was to engage those with extensive experience in the fields listed above in critiquing our findings and adding new insights and perspectives. This document has benefited greatly from their contributions.
Background: the situation in Fallujah
Milestone 1: March/April 2003 Invasion
Milestone 2: Killing of US contractors, 31st March 2004
Milestone 3: US assault on Fallujah, 5/6th April 2004
Milestone 4: Stalemate, April 2004
Milestone 5: Launch of Operation Phantom Fury, 8th November 2004
Milestone 6: After the November 2004 attack
Summary of lessons identified and proposals