Over 10,000 American and Iraqi troops have moved into position for an attack on Fallujah. Inside the city, there are thought to be some 5,000 armed Baath Party, al Qaeda and gangsters ready to resist. The anti-government terror attacks in the Sunni Arab areas have increased as the showdown approaches. The government has been, in the Arab style, extremely patient in negotiating and holding off with the use of force. Negotiations continue with the tribal and religious leaders in Fallujah. In the nearby provincial capital of Ramadi, assassination and threats have nearly destroyed the pro-government administration of the city. So the troops poised to clean out Fallujah will have to deal with Ramadi as well. The government has indicated that the legendary Arab patience is just about exhausted.
The anti-government forces also depend on propaganda, some of it coming from sources outside the country. For example, a recent opinion survey by American academics concluded that over 100,000 Iraqis have died, mostly from coalition air attacks since early 2003. Iraqi government surveys of hospitals indicates under 20,000 civilian deaths from war related causes. The 100,000 figure is the result of several rounds of estimates. But it comes out to over 180 civilian dead per day since the invasion. Any reporter imbedded with American troops knows the extreme care taken to prevent civilian casualties. Nearly 200 civilian dead per day for over 500 days would have led to an avalanche of "atrocity" headlines. As the old saying goes, in wartime, the first casualty is the truth.