silver sage

opinions from the high desert

14 Iraqi War Myths


The primary mission of TROP is to document and publicize the violence that takes place in the name of Islam each day. It is not to necessarily defend coalition action in Iraq or make political endorsements. We wrote the following article as a means of responding to the large number of inquiries and challenges that we receive concerning Iraq.


Outrageous claims are often made in the Islamic world and even in the West concerning what is taking place in Iraq. The more misguided believe there to be some sort of crusade against Muslims, as if all of the Muslim-Americans have been killed off and fresh blood is needed overseas. In fact, only one Muslim lost their life in America to any sort of revenge attack following 9/11, and this was at the hands of a White-power felon who hardly represents anyone other than himself. Other foolish conspiracy theories and fabrications have been repeated so often that they have settled as fact in the minds of the misinformed. These echo with violent repercussions in Iraq, so correcting such myths can only save lives.


With this in mind, we present (and hopefully discredit) the 14 biggest myths of Iraq:

1) Americans have killed 100,000 Iraqi Civilians


The most immediate cause for suspicion of the claim that 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed by coalition troops is that this number materialized half-way through the war and has stayed unchanged in the year since, indicating either that its own proponents have little confidence in the figure, or that about 200 civilians really were dying each day from a genocidal pinpoint campaign that somehow evaporated overnight.


Iraq is not an inaccessible backwater. It has a modern communications infrastructure, as well as hospitals and morgues. It is simply unfeasible that 200 civilians could die everyday from violence that was undirected at them without the media finding out about it. The group, for example, meticulously traces news sources for any death, from which it (presumably) culls redundancy and then posts the totals. It found that there were a little over 7,000 civilian deaths from the effects of war (mostly at the hands of Isalmic terrorists) during the most intense stages of conflict.


Even this statistic is highly exaggerated, since the enemy there is not known to fight in uniform. In all probability, the immense effort of coalition forces to avoid civilian casualties was quite successful and the true number is between 2,000 and 3,000, perhaps lower.

[ed. note: In fact, a more recent (11/28/05) analysis shows the number of civilian deaths incurred as a direct result of coalition action to have been less than 1,000].


So where did the figure of 100,000 come from? It was created from a popular interpretation of a politically motivated article that appeared in The Lancet in October 2004, in which an anti-war researcher surveyed an outrageously tiny sample of households that were disproportionately located in the violent Sunni triangle (2/3’s of the deaths were reported in Fallujah).


The survey did not rely on any means of verification, nor did it define terms that would preclude deaths at the hands of the terrorists. This last part is important because in the month of July, 2005, for example, terrorists killed over 600 Iraqi civilians while Americans killed none. For the first five months of 2006, terrorists killed about 3,000 Iraqi civilians, while only 36 were killed collaterally by the Americans.


So woefully unreliable was The Lancet survey that it actually begrudged a 92argin of error – meaning that its conclusions could be closer to 8,000 deaths, which would put it in line with other news sources, although it is doubtful that many of these could be attributed to cluster bomb mishaps, since such incidents were both rare and highly publicized.


The figure of 100,000 civilian deaths is not employed out of accuracy, but rather expediency. Public sympathy can be manipulated by arbitrarily inflating the number of civilians killed in the conflict. It obscures the fact that nearly all of the deaths of innocents are occurring at the hands of the very people that coalition forces are trying to stop, as well as the fact that the civilian death rate was far higher under Saddam, and would be much worse in a future without a stable security force to support the democratic government.



2) Insurgents only want an end to the Occupation


According to this myth, the insurgents are so repulsed by the presence of foreign troops in their country that they are forced by conscience to take up arms and kill fellow Iraqis by the hundreds each month. If the Americans were gone, then the insurgency would evaporate and these Iraqis would respect their democratically elected government.


In the first place, these would have to be extremely dimwitted insurgents, since their own murderous rampage is the sole reason that American troops remain. The democratic Iraqi government is clearly working toward self-sufficiency, but its efforts are being undermined exclusively by the terrorists, hence the need for external support. Clearly, there are ulterior motives involved that are not as palatable to Western tastes.


The impartial observer will also note that the insurgency is conspicuously and curiously limited to 20f the country (the so-called Sunni Triangle) even though all of Iraq is technically under occupation. Why isnt the resistance spread evenly if it is truly an Iraqi insurgency, and not merely a Sunni ploy to regain hegemony under the guise of freedom (or the banner of Jihad)?


In fact, virtually all of the suicide bombers (who cause the most damage) are not Iraqis at all, but instead come from places like Saudi Arabia, where the lives of Iraqis are not highly valued.


The al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, al-Zarqawi, has declared war on the Shia majority in remarkable disregard for Sunni Iraqis, who previously benefited from the impressive patience shown by the Shia and Kurdish groups that outnumber them four to one. Perhaps al-Zarqawi has such little concern for anyone in Iraq because he is from Jordan, and has no personal stake in the welfare of either side.


Although anti-war and anti-American propagandists search desperately for appealing terminology that will legitimize the violence, the fact remains that the vast majority of Iraqis have chosen to live peaceably under their own chosen democratic government



3) Fighting Terrorism Simply Creates More Terrorists.


There is some merit to the argument that it doesnt take much to inspire the holy warriors of Islam to suicide bombings and other acts of violence in the name of Jihad. The very fact that many of these misguided Muslims can be manipulated into leaving a country such as Syria, where the dictator has willfully slaughtered tens of thousands of suspected Islamic fundamentalists to retain power over the years, only to travel to Iraq and engage in the slaughter of innocent Muslims (most of whom havent completed the Hajj) is pretty good evidence of just how vulnerable Islamic radicals are to the misinformation tactics of secular puppet masters.


Still, al-Qaeda had no problem attracting thousands to its training camps well before America started fighting back in the war on terror, and it is a fact that these sociopaths have to live somewhere. If no country feels that it can safely harbor terrorists without facing severe consequences, then their numbers will naturally shrink.


Since America made terrorism a national defense issue, rather than a legal matter, and began building allies in the battle, totalitarian regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq have been overthrown and replaced by democracies. The world is no longer threatened by Saddam Hussein, or forced into guessing games regarding his WMD programs. Syria has been pressured into ending a very brutal occupation of Lebanon, and elections have been held there, as well as in Egypt. Libya has given up its WMD program and surrendered its stockpiles. Islamic terrorists are under pressure across the globe now from Pakistan to the Philippines.


There is no perfect solution to terrorism, but the passive approach taken in the 1990s obviously has far harsher consequences for citizens in the West. Our policy of non-confrontation and appeasement was rewarded with successively bolder attacks against military, diplomatic, and civilian targets, culminating in the loss of 3,000 innocents on 9/11.


For 1400 years, Islamic terrorists have always found reasons for hating and killing unsubmissive infidels, in keeping with the teachings of their religion. No amount of appeasement will ever change this.



4) The War was About Oil


There are two flavors to this argument. The first was popular before the war, and held that the United States would invade Iraq and take the oil. Given that this hasnt happened, and that the Americans are helping to rebuild Iraq (against insurgent attempts to thwart the process by destroying pipelines and terrorizing the population), this is no longer believed by anyone except the most hopeless anti-American conspiracy nuts.


The more reasonable version of the argument is that Americas only interest in Iraq is to see that the countrys oil reaches the international market. The problem with this theory is that the only thing keeping Iraqi oil off the market prior to the war was American-supported sanctions.


The sanctions wouldnt have been there if Americans were only interested in oil. Nor would America have gone to war over oil, since it would have been far easier to simply drop the sanctions if oil was really the issue.


As it turns out, the only people selling their souls for oil were the Europeans who were paid millions in oil allotments by Saddam to moralize against the war. Fortunately for them, they aren’t American, therefore no one in Europe actually cares.



5) The War is based on a lie. Bush Lied about WMDs


George W. Bush never claimed to have been to Iraq. Rather, both he and Tony Blair deferred to intelligence reports and, at the same time, complained that their sources were limited by the fact that Saddam would not allow inspections under the agreements that ended the Gulf War; nor would he respect numerous UN mandates to allow unrestricted monitoring.


Though rare, there are some in the world who allege that Bush knew the reports were wrong (in some mysterious fashion), but went to war under false pretenses anyway. This would certainly qualify as a lie, but it also defies common sense and probably speaks to the ignorance, delusion, or dishonesty of the person making such an assertion.


For obvious reasons, first-term American Presidents do not send troops into combat with a primary justification that they know will be proven false before the next election. Neither do second-term Presidents for that matter, since the fallout would have devastating consequences for their political party, to say nothing of personal conscience.


Ironically, those most critical of America over the relative absence of WMDs also happen to have been the most sympathetic toward Saddams manipulative shell games that made the war necessary in the first place. Their shallow and unbalanced moralizing gave the dictator confidence that the American President would never follow through with his threats to hold his government accountable under the WMD inspections agreements that it signed. Saddam never believed that he would wind up in a spider hole or on trial.


Had the world united against Saddam Hussein and required that he honor international law, then the war would never have happened and the good people of Iraq would still be living under his sublime and gentle hand.



6) The Insurgents are Freedom Fighters, in the Spirit of 1776


This belief has its roots in the multicultural mindset that compels many Westerners to interpret the actions of non-Westerners through the vocabulary of moral equivalence. Since Americans dont kill for religious purposes or to satisfy the craving of a murderous minority that wants to reclaim autocratic power, it therefore follows that our enemys motives must be unrelated to these interests as well.


Disingenuousness is a critical ingredient for proponents of this position. They must remain intentionally naïve to the true motives of the terrorists, disregarding the call to Jihad, for example (which obviously inspires the suicide bombers) while drawing attention to the portion of insurgent propaganda that is designed to appeal to Western sensibilities.


The reality in Iraq is that the insurgents leaders are mostly elements of the old regime that are sheltered by small pockets of the Sunni community. They cynically use Islamic theology to inspire fellow Sunnis from outside Iraq to join the Jihad. Since the Sunnis benefited disproportionately under Saddam Hussein (at the expense of 80f the Iraqi population) many are sympathetic to the true motives of the terror leaders, which is to reestablish the sort of tyrannical rule that worked to their narrow advantage in the past.


True political freedom in the form of democratic rule is obviously antithetical to the interests of this minority, so they employ the most barbaric tactics to undermine the constitution and thwart the peoples efforts to define their own government. They arent fighting for freedom, but rather for minority rule and subjugation. This makes them the polar opposite of the American Revolutionary.


There are true freedom fighters in Iraq, of course. They are the tens of thousands of police and Iraqi soldiers who take enormous risk each day to keep their democratic government in power. Unfortunately, their sacrifice doesnt serve the political interests or the romantic needs of the critics, so the same sympathy is not extended to them as to their homicidal foes.



7) 500,000 Iraqi Children Perished because of American-supported UN Sanctions


The fact that this [conveniently round] number originated with Saddams government while it was engaged in the very process of building nearly one hundred opulent palaces for the dictator in various parts of the country makes it extremely problematic. If the government had the wealth to pursue such idle pretensions, then it certainly could have afforded medical supplies for children, particularly since the money came from the oil-for-food program. Obviously Saddam had other priorities, which were beyond the control of the U.S. government.


Before taking Saddam Husseins statistics at face value, consider the source. One of the few promises that he ever kept was when he told that the wife of one of his ministers that he would return her husband to her after the woman begged him. His minister had been arrested and tortured for daring to suggest in a cabinet meeting that perhaps Saddam should step aside temporarily in 1982 as a political ploy, then resume power after the international objective (of peace with Iran) was established. The mans body was chopped into pieces and delivered to his wife in a black canvas bag the day after she begged for his return.


The Americans cant force a dictator to provide for the welfare of his people, although they can topple him from power rather than praise or condone his behavior, as the humanitarians were doing. It is extremely curious that the very people claiming to be most concerned about the plight of children under sanctions should be most horrified over the effort to remove the man responsible for the suffering.


Suspicious as well is that those who rely on the unsubstantiated figure of 500,000 deaths from sanctions also happen to be least concerned over the tens of billions that were skimmed out of the oil-for-food program in the form of bribes from Saddam. This is because the lives of these children are only as valuable as their usefulness to the anti-American cause.



8) Iraq is a Winner for U.S. Democrats


Democrats have certainly tried their best to capitalize on the natural ambivalence that often accompanies modern wars waged by Western powers, realizing that they benefit from their own efforts to make Iraq unpopular. Comparing American soldiers to Nazis and wildly extrapolating every misstep of the war from Abu Ghraib to a mishandling of the Quran has had a demoralizing effect both on those fighting in uniform and the resolve of the American public. Iraqis are now suffering in ways the Afghans are not; despite the common presence of foreign troops.


The potential political reward from a successful insurgency has seduced some Democrats into disingenuously assisting the enemy. Ted Kennedy, for example, virtually fed the radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, talking points about Vietnam in the spring of 2004, even as the religious leader was engaged in a murderous uprising that left hundreds dead.


In fact, the shadow strategy is to frame the war using terms (such as “quagmire”) that are often used retrospectively to describe Vietnam, where America faced an enemy that merely wanted to subjugate and kill the locals and their immediate neighbors, rather than wage global Jihad against infidels. The practice of meticulously keeping a running tally of American dead, in fact, was unheard of until Vietnam activists realized midway through the conflict that such a ploy could weaken public support for foreign sacrifice.

Vietnam was a loser for a divided America, and if Democrats can successfully associate the two conflicts in the nations consciousness, then Iraq will be a loser as well both for us, the Iraqis, and the hopes of pro-reform advocates in the Middle East.


So, on the surface this would appear to be a winning issue for Democrats. But wait The party rejected anti-war candidates in 2004 for a full ticket that voted in favor of the war. In all likelihood, the 2008 Democratic nominee for President will also be someone who supported the war and refuses to articulate an exit strategy. Even prominent party leaders such as Harry Reid have scoffed at the notion of timetables for removing troops rightly explaining that it would merely encourage the enemy.


The problem for Democrats is that their murky opposition to the war is fueled only by the success of terrorists, usually in the form of barbaric and cowardly attacks. Retreat in the face of terrorism may have short-term electoral benefits, but it will merely strengthen the general impression that Democrats are soft on terror, and this will not be good for the party in the long run nor for the rest of the world.



9) They are Insurgents, not Terrorists


The word insurgent is a loaded term that confers legitimacy since it is neutrally defined as one who opposes authority. It is broad enough to apply to any American who votes for the Green Party, for example, as well as the citizen who bombs a government building in Oklahoma City in the middle of the day.


Obviously, it is intellectually dishonest to categorize Ralph Nader loyalists alongside those who use violence to overthrow a democratically elected government, so narrower terminology is not just appropriate, but morally imperative.


We modestly suggest that those who commit violent acts of terror against a democratic government and its citizens be known as terrorists.



10) Anti-War Activists are truly Motivated by the Human Cost of War


Anti-war activists often pretend that the killing in Iraq began the moment American bombs started falling, and will end the minute coalition troops leave the country, but mass graves uncovered from the Saddam era, and present-day terror attacks against ordinary Iraqis are clear indicators of the odd mixture of insincerity and ignorance that characterizes the peace movement.


In fact, true sympathy for the Iraqi people would have to run pretty thin among those pressing for the premature removal of peacekeeping forces. Leaving innocent people exposed and vulnerable to the forces of terror or a bloody civil war hardly qualifies as a humane gesture. Neither did these activists appear visibly moved by the plight of more than 300,000 – 600,000 missing and murdered Iraqis under the Baathist regime.


Obviously, the language of compassion is a mere artifice for deeper political and social motives, which can be anything from anti-American bigotry to the complex insecurity in the Muslim world toward free and open societies. The Islamic third world is awash in state-sponsored propaganda that rarely presents the truth for fear of nurturing demands for internal reform. Europe, for its part, has no religion, and depends on anti-Americanism to fill the void by providing common purpose, zeal and moral superiority. Facts would only get in the way.


Just as the lives of tens of millions in the gulags of the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Vietnam and Africa were inconsequential to the anti-Western Left, so are the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis to todays generation of useful idiots.



11) Iraq is a Disaster


The terror attacks in Iraq provide an excuse for political opportunists to label the country a disaster. This, in turn, inspires more violence and works against the resolve of those fighting the terrorists.


Apart from the terror, Iraq is a stable country where educational and economic opportunity is now afforded to the 80f the population that was denied basic rights under the dictatorship. Schools are open; electricity and clean water are reaching new areas; and the torture chambers and rape rooms have been closed. Oil is flowing, and the revenue is not being skimmed away from the people via corrupt practices as it was under Saddam. A free and open democracy now exists at the heart of the Arab world, which means long-term regional stability as surrounding countries are pressured into democratic and human rights reform.


Iraqis have been given an enormous opportunity to benefit from the overthrow of tyranny, and American blood has been shed to make it so. The only thing that will squander the opportunity and make the sacrifice in vein is if the terrorists win.


Criminals and Fedayeen have been killing about 500 Iraqis a month over the last year mainly police and other security forces. Each high-profile attack invites sanctimonious hand wringing from opportunists, who are assisted by the medias natural inclination toward bad news. When attention is isolated on acts of violence, their significance becomes exaggerated and context is lost.


But lets put the numbers in perspective


Eighteen times as many Americans die from alcohol-related incidents. In fact, the death rate from terror in Iraq is about eight times lower than the number of Americans dying from tobacco-related causes even taking the population disparity into account. This is also true for obesity-related mortality, which is poised to overtake smoking as the top cause of preventable death.


The residents of fourteen of the eighteen Iraqi provinces enjoy a much lower crime rate than nearly any American city, and the other four provinces average fewer murders per capita than New York Citys worst year under David Dinkins.


Though the number of Iraqis dying from terror attacks is both tragic and preventable, it is almost incomparable to the number of those killed under Saddam. The people in the West who use the attacks for their own propaganda purposes (in exactly the way that the terrorists intend) are playing directly into the hands of those whose intention is to turn Iraq – and the Middle East – into a genuine disaster that will have enormous consequences for the rest of us.


12) America is Waging a Crusade against Islam


Opponents of the coalition effort to topple an autocratic regime and see that representative government is installed successfully in its place are always careful to tailor their rhetoric to fit the audience. In the West, for example, it is chic to accuse the United States of supporting democracy in the Middle East simply because the presence of open and accountable governments there improves the long-term security of Americans (as if only non-American countries are allowed to act in the self-interest of their citizens).


However, the anti-democratic strategists in the Arab world have long understood that religion is the key to manipulating and arousing the passions of the people.


Such opportunists were quick to exploit Bushs use of the word crusade in reference to the battle against terrorism, but neglected to inform their audience that unlike Jihad, which is never divorced from the historical context of Islamic warfare (either against sinful desires or obstinate infidels), crusade has become a secular term in modern language that merely denotes a quest for some exalted goal, in this case the eradication of those plotting to kill innocents. (For example, the comic book figure Batman, which first appeared in 1939, has long been known as the “Caped Crusader,” but the series obviously has nothing to do with religion).


Likewise, when Bush answered in the affirmative when asked whether he believed he acted in God’s will to improve the lives of Iraqis by liberating them from murderous dictatorship, the dialogue was quickly embellished by his detractors. Rational people would be more alarmed by a Christian who says he doesn’t act in God’s will, of course, or claims that God wants him to eradicate the innocent rather than help them, but Western critics went Hollywood to conjure up the spooky image of a dangerous religious fanatic who acts unpredictably according to voices in his head. Manipulators in the Muslim world tried to convince the masses that this was evidence of a religious plot. At the very least, both groups tried to draw moral equivalence between the deliberate targeting of civilians by the terrorists in the name of Allah and the aggressive measures that secular coalition troops often take for the sake of protecting the people from such religious and criminal sociopaths.


This propaganda makes it all the more difficult for people in conspiracy-laden Islamic societies to see that America is a pluralistic country with no interest in spreading any religion by the sword. Thus, Muslims who express little if any sympathy for the actual victims of Jihad are misled into exhibitions of outrage over the false impression of a medieval-style Crusade, and the “Religion of Peace” ironically finds itself allied with the very terrorists who are killing fellow members of the faith on an almost daily basis.


Self-defeating as well is that since the Quran instructs Muslims to be in a constant state of war with non-submissive infidels, believers often assume that other religions are at war with them, even if it isnt the case. Even Muslims who publicly condemn the slaughter of thousands each year in the name of their religion almost always reserve their harshest rhetoric for any act of self-protection on the part of infidels outside the faith, be it military or legislative.


In other words, when Islamic terrorists attack America, it has nothing to do with Islam. But when America responds by attacking terrorists or restricting visas, then suddenly it is all about Islam. The Muslim world has always been able to convince itself that it is the victim in any conflict, no matter how much hard data has to be ignored to keep the myth alive. The real Crusades, for example, exist independently of fourteen centuries of relentless Jihad, and 9/11 is actually believed to be a plot against Muslim people rather than a compelling reason for Muslims to take responsibility for the preachers of hate who inspire such violence.


Truth is not defined by mere force of belief, however, and if the Islamic world is to progress beyond rampant paranoia and shallow conclusions, then it must begin to foster broadmindedness and balanced opinion. The American government is not waging a war against Muslims and neither are its citizens. Even in the aftermath of 9/11 there was no outbreak of mosque burnings or sectarian attacks in a nation of 300 million. Anti-American groups such as CAIR and Jihad Unspun are perfectly free within Americas own borders to propagandize against their host country and inflame world opinion, but their freedom to do so should completely undermine their very message that Muslims are under any sort of persecution at least in the minds of reasonable people.



13) America Started the War


In fact, the war began in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Instead of officially ending, hostilities were suspended in 1991 with a conditional armistice. In order to retain personal power, the Iraqi dictator had to agree to unrestricted weapons inspections by the UN, among other things.

Over the course of a dozen years, Saddam violated every part of the agreement that he thought he could get away with, much to his own people’s misery. Even so, he was given every opportunity to avoid war, including an eleventh hour offer of safe passage out of the country and a life of luxury in exile.

He continued to flout the terms of the armistice by barring inspections, which must be considered a blatantly unnecessary provocation by those who now believe that he had nothing to hide. Unless international law isn’t meant to be respected (which is an entirely different debate), the UN had no choice but to authorize military action to enforce its own resolutions.

Therefore the war wasn’t started by America. It was insisted on by Saddam Hussein.


14) Saddam had No Ties to Islamic Terror


Saddam had plenty, in fact, even if he wasn’t behind 9/11, which no one in the Bush Administration ever claimed (contrary to another popular myth).


The Iraqi dictator conspicuously harbored elements of at least seven known Islamic terrorist groups in his country prior to the 2003 war, which had been responsible for the deaths of 811 people, including 36 Americans, and 2,667 injuries (source: Richard Miniter, “Disinformation”). This included Abu Abbas, the killer of Leon Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro in 1985, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda operative who engineered the death of an American diplomat in Jordan in 2002.

This article appears on an excellent site that I would highly recommend that you check out…


July 24, 2006 - Posted by | Social and Politics

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