At least 800 civilians have been killed during the U.S. military siege of Fallujah, according to a high-ranking Red Cross official on the scene. A site has been set up at http://fallujapictures.blogspot.com/ that is archiving pictures from Fallujah, some from news services and some apparently passed on by people on the scene. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for an investigation, after two seperate incidents involving the killing of wounded Iraqis were caught on video.
While I understand that war isn't perfect and that civilians die too, when war is brought into major cities, horrifying reports of civilian deaths are inevitable and ultimately self-defeating, as they tend to create as many -- or more -- enemies than they get rid of.
My estimation on what we've accomplished: Killed about 100 people who would otherwise taken it upon themselves to attack Americans. Killed hundreds of people who felt compelled to defend their city. Now have the ability to enter Fallujah, and can, with many troops and significant danger, occupy it and do reconstruction. Sent a possible message to cities which would openly oppose our occupation. May force some foriegn elements of the resistance further underground.
My estimation on what it has cost us: Over 30 dead, over 300 wounded. Has led to major revolts in numerous other cities, including Mosul. Will lead to the creation of over 1000 new resistance fighters from around Iraq. Should create more legitimate Iraqi resistance to the occupation. Foriegners will likely take a somewhat less visible role in the future, but will still be quite effective in supplying money, arms, and training to Iraqi resistance forces. Makes it clearer that Iraqis, not foriegners, are the core of the resistance. Has cost us over 4,000 Iraqi army and police workers, who have either left their jobs or been killed in recent attacks. Has significantly damaged recruiting efforts for Iraqi police and military, due to growing anger against them and increased fear of collaboration. Increases reconstruction costs and risk of death for reconstruction workers. For many Sunnis, will be tanamount to a declaration of war on their people. Puts pressure on Shi'ite leaders to condemn US actions. Pushes the politics of the whole country towards a more anti-American stance. Undermines the legitimacy of the upcoming elections. Greatly increases the risk of an Iraqi civil war. Creates strong animosity against the Kurds, who are seen as US collaborators. Damages Blair's administration before upcoming elections.
Sure, there is an upside, but there's a helluva lot of downside on this one, too. Bereft of any real strategy, the goal seems to be to kill and kill and kill until the Iraqis are tired of it, but that's a policy that neither Iraqis nor Americans will easily stomach.