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Debunking Iraq Myths

Peter Wehner has a piece at Opinion Journal today that is not only a "must read," but it is a "must print it out and pass it around." In it he tackles the various myths surrounding our action in Iraq that have become conventional wisdom.

Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world, and form a unity government despite terrorist attacks and provocations. Yet for some critics of the president, these are minor matters. Like swallows to Capistrano, they keep returning to the same allegations--the president misled the country in order to justify the Iraq war; his administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments; Saddam Hussein turned out to be no threat since he didn't possess weapons of mass destruction; and helping democracy take root in the Middle East was a postwar rationalization. The problem with these charges is that they are false and can be shown to be so--and yet people continue to believe, and spread, them.

He then takes each one by one and puts some facts to the myths. Efforts like this one to set the record straight are incredibly important, not just for the purpose of reasserting political advantage, or even for the greater cause of restoring truth and accuracy, but for future instruction. The lessons that we can learn from the action in Iraq, and especially from the lead up to the invasion, are invaluable for what they can teach us about what may or may not be effective in future similar scenarios. But those lessons only have value if they are based on an accurate picture of what actually occurred.

I have argued previously that another reason the record on Iraq should be set straight is so that voters in 2006, and especially 2008, can decide " on which side of the decision-making equation they want their leaders to err in this post-9/11 world." As Wehner points out, there was plenty of evidence to convince even John Kerry that Saddam posed a grave threat. Voters should be reminded that Democrats, when faced with such evidence, not only failed to act, but many of those who initially supported the president's decision to act, later withdrew their support. This is why Democrats, and their supporters in the mainstream media, have such a stake in rewriting the history of Iraq.


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Comments (17)

I tell you one site that ex... (Below threshold)
Drew E:

I tell you one site that exists only to perpetrate those myths icasualties.org ... is there a mirror "Good News from Iraq" site?

In light of this, voters... (Below threshold)
Lee:

In light of this, voters have to ask on which side of the decision-making equation they want their leaders to err in this post-9/11 world.

No errors. Period. Your suggestion that there have to be errors is an unacceptable answer. This country deserves better.

Getting rid of the clowns who are so "error prone" is a good start. The Republican party has been proven to be liars who will stoop to anything to get their political and religious agenda forced through the pipeline.

Apologizing for their lies while suggesting some amount of "errors" are a given, is unacceptable.

I see 'Lee' has crawled fro... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

I see 'Lee' has crawled from under his rock again. You made the statement, now show the proof of even one lie told by the administration to justify invading Iraq. Every statement made by the president has now been proven true. I suggest that before you make a bigger fool of yourself, if that is possible, that you go back to the 90's and read the statements the Klington's were using against Iraq. The only difference between President Bush and the previous administration is that he had the guts to do something while the dim-wits continued to hide under their rocks with the other slugs. In case you live in the city, a slug is a slime covered worm like creature that is totally worthless and makes a mess wherever it goes. Perfect match to a dim-wit.

Lee,That has to be... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Lee,

That has to be the most ignorant, naive thing you've said on this blog. And that's quite an accomplishment considering your track record.

I would sure love to live in your perfect little world where errors never happen. Unfortunately, I grew up a long time ago and had to deal with the real world. I hope you do too someday.

In your linked piece, 'Rev... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

In your linked piece, 'Revisionist History' Bush is quoted then much as he uttered today as urging then "A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region."Feb 26,2006
and today "As this new unity government takes office," Bush said, "it carries with it the hopes of the Iraqi nation and the aspirations of freedom-loving people across a troubled region." May 22,2006

Three and half years later, how does vision from hope to hope square with the reality of killing grounds and corruption -ridden country that Iraq has become, since the invasion, in your equation. Americans are and were not so concerned about the resons for going to war (There was a dog's breakfast as I recall). But the main one, as we all know, was simply regime change. In Dubya's words .to do Saddam which he first voiced a few days after 9/11. But in comparison with the the new regime, Saddam's stable regime, in retrospect, impossibly as it looked then, has qualities that the present regime can not conjure up, including one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians and another two thousand plus Americans who would still be alive, and a few hundred billion dollars that could have been used more sanely and less recklessly for the benefit of our citizens. Give it more time..I know will be the answer...but Americans have an attention deficit disorder...and the war they remember most is Vietnam, and the shining example for freedom that Vietnam was to become in the war on communism ..This is the history that Americans are reminded of..everytime George W talks of his hopes for the mission in Iraq, against the reality of the real Iraq.

sorry, my error in the fi... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

sorry, my error in the first Bush quote..It was Feb 26, 2003 , pre-invasion.

Folks might like to read th... (Below threshold)
Atu:

Folks might like to read the point-by-point fact check of Mr. rove's underling that counters His OPinion Editorial piece.

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/05/23/peddling-false-claims/

I prefer to Facts to 'Opinions' everytime, no matter how uncortable

Atu, Los Angeles

Atu, So if the int... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Atu,

So if the intelligence about Iraq's WMDs was all a construct of the Bush administration's manipulation of the intelligence agencies, who was feeding this false information to the Clinton administration? I didn't see an answer to that on the page you linked to. The simple explanation as to why the Clinton administration was on record in 1998 and 1999 about Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, was because that was the assessment of the intelligence agencies at that time. So now we have people covering their ass with statements that they weren't comfortable about how the intelligence was gathered, not that it was wrong. All that shows is these folks know how to work the system to their advantage.

Steve You also forgot the 2... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Steve You also forgot the 20 to 30 thousand terrorists that would still be alive,not to mention where Kadahfi's weapons would now be? plus at the rate Saddam was exterminating them, there would probably be another 300,000 "civillians in unmarked graves somewhere in the desert! So it isnt all big bad FRAT BOYS FAULT.

"The problem with these cha... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"The problem with these charges is that they are false and can be shown to be so--and yet people continue to believe, and spread, them."

lol

Like Iran making Jews wear badges, like Saddam having WMDs...

Steve Crickmore, <blo... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Steve Crickmore,

Saddam's stable regime, in retrospect, impossibly as it looked then, has qualities that the present regime can not conjure up, including one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians and another two thousand plus Americans who would still be alive. . .

Weren't you watching when they dug up the mass graves Saddam's stable regime filled? We now know Saddam had corrupted UN, French and other officials with money from the phony oil for food program. You have no way of knowing what Saddam would have done after the UN sanctions were removed, and without knowing that, there's no validity to your argument about how many more would be alive.

The fact is that there is now an elected Iraqi government running Iraq. What the people of Iraq do with that gift is up to them. Who's to blame if they squander away their own freedom?

Seizing on news of viole... (Below threshold)
Neo:

Seizing on news of violent outbursts that roiled Iraq's infant government, Bay State Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday called for an international summit to help stabilize the country and accused President Bush of moving too slowly to extract American troops from a "quagmire."

Will somebody hit this twit with a 2 X 4.

Sen. Kerry .. there is this thing called sovereignty. We really don't like to trample on it too often, but after all the frickin noise you have made about illegal this and that .. this is exactly what you are now proposing. These guys have got a government, thank you very much. They don't need your help, unless Teresa wants to write a big check.

To think that this clown came so close to being President of the United States and Leader of the Free World. It appears that his talents extent only as far as to arrange a meeting.

Under the bus, Please.

No errors. Period. Your ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

No errors. Period. Your suggestion that there have to be errors is an unacceptable answer. This country deserves better.

Hmm, so you expect human perfection, which as we all know is an absolute impossibility?

Got it.

As long as you're reasonable and all...

Getting rid of the clowns who are so "error prone" is a good start. The Republican party has been proven to be liars who will stoop to anything to get their political and religious agenda forced through the pipeline.

You mean like --- GASP --- putting it up for votes?

I wish the left would do the same and stop using judicial fiat.

Three and half years later, how does vision from hope to hope square with the reality of killing grounds and corruption -ridden country that Iraq has become

Whoa. "Corruption ridden country Iraq has BECOME"?

That's as truthful saying New Orleans first became inefficient and incompetent under Nagin.

. But in comparison with the the new regime, Saddam's stable regime, in retrospect, impossibly as it looked then, has qualities that the present regime can not conjure up, including one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians and another two thousand plus Americans who would still be alive, and a few hundred billion dollars that could have been used more sanely and less recklessly for the benefit of our citizens.

Actually, going by any humanitarian groups listing of what Saddam did in an average year, the death toll of Iraqis would be several times higer. And the only "qualities" that Saddam that this regime lacks is that they are less likely to abduct people in the middle of the night and torture them for not praising the leadership enough.

but Americans have an attention deficit disorder...and the war they remember most is Vietnam, and the shining example for freedom that Vietnam was to become in the war on communism ..This is the history that Americans are reminded of..everytime George W talks of his hopes for the mission in Iraq, against the reality of the real Iraq.

Why not mention the humanitarian shithole Vietnam became almost the moment we left? Again, more Vietnamese died in the 2 years after we left in the 10 years prior.

Why doesn't the left just admit that they don't care if those "darker-skinned folk" live or die, since that is the central thesis of most criticisms? Bush has done more for human rights than any President since Truman.
-=Mike

Saddam's stable regime, ... (Below threshold)
Neo:

Saddam's stable regime, in retrospect, impossibly as it looked then, has qualities.

Some qualities.

"Mr Wehner is deputy assist... (Below threshold)
groucho:

"Mr Wehner is deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives".

Do you think there could be some objectivity issues with this piece? As always, consider the source.

Mike: "Bush has done more ... (Below threshold)
groucho:

Mike: "Bush has done more for human rights than any president since Truman."

Good God man, get some help!

There were three reasons fo... (Below threshold)
Peter:

There were three reasons for eliminating Saddam-not just the main one cited by so many-i.e. WDM.

Certainly WDM was a critical issue. Intelligence throughout the world lead to the conclusion that he did indeed have WDM. Politicians left and right agreed that he was a real threat with such weapons. Read the quotes down through the years-even way before Bush was on the scene. Not only did we expect that he had them, he wanted us to believe that he had them. He could have easily avoided all sanctions and war, including the death of his two monster sons, by simply indicating that he did indeed not have them-that he had destroyed them. But he wanted this cat and mouse game to make us think he had them-and to make Iran think he had them. Even his generals assumed that he still had WDM-read the New York Times article on that.

Bust did not lie about WDM-but it certainly was not the only reason to invade Iraq. WDM was feared, but it was Saddam (and indeed all those in the Middle East who promote hate) that are the real weapons of mass destruciton.

2. What about the unbelievable atrocities commintted by this maniac? Can't the world step in to stop a monster from killing hundreds of thousands of his citizens? Talk about WDM-mass slaughter of anyone who stood in his way. Isn't that "mass destruction"? Can any American stomach just how brutal this regime was? The atrocities are really beyond human comprehension. Thousands were not just lined up and shot-they were tortured in obscene ways before they died. We know how his regime put families in acid vats, plastic shredding machines, the gassing of the Kurds, the draining of the southern swamp lands, the paying for suicide bombers in Palistine, etc. etc. Just these facts should have been enough for America-no the World-to step in and crush him. Even worse, his sons were possibly more sadistic than he was and were just waiting to take over and continue the hightmare for the people of Iraq. Talk about liberals being humanitarians, what about the people suffering horrible deaths by the thousands?
It WAS the moral thing to do to stop this butcher.

3. By far the most important reason to take him out-transformation of the Middle East mind frame.
For centuries, the Middle East has been ruled by tyrants who kept their people in misery and fear, and ruled with iron fists. Whether Arab countries were ruled by brutal dictators or radical Islamic clerics, the end result thoughout the region has always been deprivation, poverty, fear, hate. Those few countries in the region that have had benevolent dictators, leaders who distributed some of the oil wealth to their people, have become beacons of hope, with educated and properous citizens. But the many nations that have always been held in captivity by ruthless dictators have led to the current state of affairs we now have.

Saddam killed millions of people during his wars, and his butchering of his own people. He stole the wealth of Iraq for himself and his family (what did he have, 80 or so palaces?), or doled it out to his followers.

If Saddam were eliminated and Iraq did indeed become a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, I agree with the assessment that the entire region would evolve into viable force for world peace. The bordering peoples would see how Iraq was transfomred into a propserous country, trading with the rest of the world.

Thus, in essence, this war in Iraq is a grand test-a test so vital to world interests, that the
results will dramtically change the world for the better or worse.

Many Americans, and certainly people througout the world, do not seem to really see the importance of success in Iraq. Indeed the whole world should be helping us there-in full force.

Why? Because failure there will only illuminate what might happen in the future. It may be a future that no reasonable person will want to see.

If the Middle East is allowed to sink futher into depravation, with Islamic maniacs ruling vast portions of the reason, it will only be a matter of time before they do indeed strike us here, or other western nations. Chemical, biological, or even nuclear bombs may be used to decimate those peoples who the radicals have been taught to hate.

Does anyone doubt what the reaction will be from the ravaged countries?. The Islamic nations will suffer horribly from the retaliation. But this is what the terroists want. They hope to create a truly global holocaust, with plans to spread their warped philosophies and hate.

We could pull out of Iraq and the Middle East now, and these maniacs would proceed to solidify their base of hatred there in the Middle East. They would not simply go away and leave us alone (does anyone recall that 9-11 was only the second attempt to bring the World Trade Center down-they weren't simply trying to blow up the basement back in 1991). We clearly would pay a diastrous price if we turned our back on them now.

This whole experiment reminds me of Nazi Germany before World War II. Churchill tried to warn the world of the building war machine that Nazi Germany was becoming. He was virutally laughed right out of Parliment. The rest of the world and Britain simply went about ignoring the pending disaster. We all know what almost happened-we came very close to losing our entire civilization to the most vile regimes, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan (66 million peope died because the world did not want to confront evil). The human mind cannot fathom the evil that would have befallen the world if we had not stood up to those monsters.

Guess what-they're back?

Bush did the right thing. If you don't think so, you are making a critical error that will yield
catastrophic results for you and your loved ones for years to come.




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