From one perspective, there’s nothing to decide: armies mark advances by flying national flags.
But if we’re there to liberate rather than to conquer, is the symbolism of casting down the Iraqi national flag and hoisting ours the right symbolism? Does it make it easier for the Iraqis who eventually have to set up the post-war government? This news story suggests that the flag-raising was a local initiative and that operational doctrine for this campaign is otherwise.
Perhaps Lt. Col. Collins’s order that no flag but the Iraqi flag should be flown could profitably be made a general order to the allied troops. I wish I had more confidence that this question had been thoroughly staffed out and made at the Presidential level, rather than leaving the choice to field commanders or having it run on the auto-pilot of Standard Operating Procedure.
Update Several readers report having seen accounts that “no US flags” is in fact the general policy. That leaves the origin of this incident a little bit murky.
Second update Yes, “No flags” is policy. Here’s the Newsweek story.