Sunday, January 28, 2007

Myth-busting

Ten myths about the Iraq War dealt with on Strategy Page.

1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal
3-Sanctions were working
4-Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran
5-The Invasion Was a Failure
6-The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda
7-Iraq Is In A State of Civil War
8-Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam
9-The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe
10- The War in Iraq is Lost
(via Instapundit)

2 comments:

wodge said...

1. Everyone who knows the context of the "chemical weapons" found in Iraq knows that claim is a joke. There were a few chemical weapons artillery shells dating back to the Iran-Iraq war, scattered in ammo dumbs with conventional shells, which were likely not operational due to age, which US intelligence admits the Iraqi's didn't even know were there. The belief that there was WMD's represents one of the great failures of US intelligence. The "everybody knew they were there" is actually a myth, there was conflicting evidence (yellowcake anyone?) often coming from unreliable sources (Chalabi) which intelligence agencies were split on.

2. I generally agree in that I think the idea of "illegal war" is basically pointless. I note that many of the people who say we needed to go to war to enforce UN sanctions and UN ceasefires generally have little use for the UN in other cases, but here we are.

3. Saddam was isolated, his military a shadow of its former self, and the US & UK could work the UN to keep sanctions in place. Greater resources could have gone to tracking down oil for food violators, and when that story broke it might not have been lost in the news cycle.

4. The dissent in Iran is due to the economy and chaffing at religious rules, nothing to due with Iraq. The author doesn't actually address how the fact the new Iraqi government is dominated by Iranian supported religious parties doesn't help Iran. There are increased efforts against Iran because they've as much as admitted their working on nukes, and running their mouth about the holocaust and Israel.

5. This is, and will be, up in the air for a while. If a working government takes shape, it might still work out. There were no WMD's, we weren't welcomed with flowers, sectarian violence dominates the country, the government is run by pro-Iranian religious leaders. Plenty of people saw what might happen with the insurgency (Shinzeki), and were ignored. That's the actual lesson that should be learned here.

6. More Americans dead in Iraq then 9/11. Recruiting in Anbar province. Waves of angry, bitter Iraqi refugees scattered around the world who might make the next generation of jihadists. Anger at the western world in muslim countries. A loss of American good will from post 9/11. On the other hand, it does seem there is finally some outrage against the suicide and indiscriminate tactics of Al Qaeda.

7. In 30 years of fighting, ETA has killed more then 800 people. The Troubles in Ireland account for about 3,000 total in about the same amount of time. In 2006, there were anywhere from 16,000 to about 30,000 dead Iraqi's (the low figure is official government statistics.) On top of that, coalition dead, and about 2 million refugees. The levels of violence are between the former and the later are not in comparison. Well the civil war debate basically comes down to a semantics arguement, the level of violence marks it as a serious conflict.

8. Most Iraqi's might agree. It's hard to say whether he's been replaced by anything better.

9. Madrid and London, both in countries with troops in Iraq. Poll results show that the war in Iraq has had a huge effect on muslim public opinion throughout europe (www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22989-2254764,00.html.) Of course there were problems before, it's impossible to ignore the effects the war has had since.

10. Iraq has democracy like the Palestinians have when they voted in Hamas, but we didn't seem to happy about that. Again, the Iraqi government is split along sectarian lines, with the largest parties Shia religious theocrats who are in bed with Iran, and whose militia are fighting the US. Yeah, it takes time to work out the problems, but has the Malaki government shown the willingness and ability to work them out? I hope that they've begun to, but they haven't yet. The Sunni's are involved with the insurgency (the author says "part" like it's a small percentage), the shias have the death squads (in the security forces and are part of the government), the Kurds want to drive everybody out of Kirkuk and only barely want to be part of the country anymore. Polls show that the majority of Iraqi's want us out sooner then later. They've had elections but there is no functioning government. And the thing is that US decisions have directly made worse many of these problems, while ignoring other. Why did we send home the civil servants again? Why isn't there a deal to share oil revenue? These things have nothing to do with the MSM (damn them for questioning our government) or the out of power for most of the conflict democrats. Through if this thing falls apart, I'm sure that's who revisionist historians will blame.

NoolaBeulah said...

1. All the western secret services thought that the WMD were there. In any case, it's the capacity and will to make them that counts; both were present. In any case, I have never thought that WMD were the reason for going in.
2. No disagreement.
3. Everyone was complaining that the sanctions were cruel and ineffective. And in fact, all they did was cement Saddam in power.
4. Actually, I would tend to agree with you here. It has given Iran another theatre to work in and the American difficulties in Iraq have strengthened the opposition.
5. Agreed. There are lots of lessons here, though one of them is NOT "never do this again".
6. I would tend to agree with you again, though I believe the gain of going in is greater than the loss in prestige, which is limited to certain circles.
7. It is not a civil war, though you are right that, in the end, it is a question of semantics. The violence is bad, and is going to get worse before it gets better.
8. That is true now. The future may hold something better. Mind you, I don't think it would have been terribly different if Saddam had stayed around to die in his bed.
9. It's also impossible to calculate the effect of the war. Islamic terrorism was here in any case. It was growing, in part because the West, well, the Americans, had not reacted to previous outrages. Not reacting to attacks on you is worse than reacting unwisely.
10. The US made many mistakes. They don't have the experience of the British, and it showed. Whatever happens in Iraq will not be to our liking; it's just that there's bad and there's worse.

Very good comment, by the way.