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Monday, September 27, 2004

Collateral Damage

In his column today for the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl compares the U.S. dilemma over what to do about Fallujah to Israel's 2002 Jenin offensive.

Diehl writes, at the time of the Jenin offensive, "Images of flattened houses and civilian casualties soon filled the world's television screens: Palestinian spokesmen claimed, falsely, that thousands were being massacred. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan declared himself 'appalled.' President Bush publicly called on Israel to withdraw 'without delay.'"

Two years later, with the help of targeted killings of militants, the violence Israelis have had to suffer has dropped by more than 70 percent, Diehl reports. In 2002, 228 Israelis died in suicide bombings. This year, there have only been 10 suicide bombings and 53 Israeli deaths. Jenin only cost 22 civilian lives, according to Diehl's sources. Sometimes, a military option works.

Diehl is ambivalent about whether a full-fledged attack or continuing negotiations would better resolve the Fallujah situation. He notes several distinctions. Among them: "Thanks to decades of investment in human sources as well as high technology, Israeli forces know who their enemies are and are very good at finding them."

Furthermore, Diehl notes, the U.S. isn't merely seeking to stop bombings. We must also foster a viable political situation.


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