For a second week, the city of Fallujah is the scene of haunting images that will shape the war in Iraq and world perception of it -- and of the United States. Last week, pictures of the mutilated bodies of U.S. citizens hanging from a bridge shocked Americans. Today, the Arab world is seeing images of a mosque under U.S. helicopter gunfire and dead Iraqi civilians by the score.
Al-Jazeera says it has one of the only TV crews in Fallujah, and is broadcasting video of dead Iraqi civilians throughout the Arab world. Correspondent Ahmad Mansur is reporting that U.S. "occupation forces" are targeting residential areas with missiles. "Twenty-five of those killed were from one family," he said. The network is also running these "exclusive" grisly photos of dead children in Fallujah.
The countrywide fighting in Iraq today -- the worst since the fall of Baghdad -- comes on two fronts against U.S. troops, and brings signs of sympathy between two separate insurgent Iraqi factions: Sunni Muslims and the movement of the Shiite cleric Moqtadi al-Sadr. It's frightening to think how these violent images from Fallujah of civilians under attack by U.S. forces, never mind a missile-torn mosque, might further unify insurgents and lead to even more wide scale violence. It's been a sick joke for some time, but today's developments make the president's "Mission Accomplished" photo-op from last year all the more absurd.
Here are a few excerpts from Bush's speech aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln almost a year ago. See for yourself how his claims stand up: "In this battle we have fought for the cause of liberty and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment. Yet it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians."