As Inkwell readers know, the Other Charlotte and I belong to the “Falluja Delenda Est” school of thought. (Credit: It was the clever folks at National Review who first dredged up the apt and now much-quoted remarks of the Roman Cato, who believed the Punic War would end well only with the destruction of Carthage: “Carthago delenda est!”)

We delenda ests are pretty blue these days. The US, as you know, has turned over the keys to the city, which is dominated by radical cleric Sheik Muqtada, to a former Saddam general — but wait, we learned he wasn’t a very nice man, asked for the keys back and now have given them to a nicer general. Let’s face it: The month-long siege of Falluja was a disaster.

“Despite vowing to ‘capture or kill’ the renegade sheik, the United States has refrained from using force against him or to launch an all-out assault on the Mahdi’s army,” the Washington Times reports in a front-page story headlined, “Senior Fighters Escape Fallujah: Al-Sadr’s loyalists attack US in Najaf.”

In a masterful understatement, TWT reporter Rowan Scarborough notes that the siege of Fallujah “has produced an inconsistent allied war policy.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Pipes suggests that our best hope in Iraq may be “a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman” and that the fast replacement of outgoing Fallujah strongman Saleh with incoming Fallujah strongman Latif suggests that the race to fill the slot has already begun. This is depressing. But we can’t win if we can’t lay siege.

Writing in Salon, John Dizard suggests that the administration is going wobbly on neocons and that a major neocon is on the way out with more to follow.

As Mickey Kaus notes, in a headline that says it all: “Out: Kerry Panic/ In: Iraq Panic.”