Facts About Iraq: Five Arguments For The Anti-War Movement




I


f
there’s anything opponents of the Iraq War can be sanguine
about, it’s that a huge chunk of the electorate voted for Bush
without knowing the facts. 


According
to an October 2004 study from the University of Maryland: 


  • 47 percent of
    Bush supporters believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction 

  • 20 percent believed
    that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11 

  • 55 percent believed
    that Iraq gave al-Qaeda “substantial support” 

  • 68 percent of
    Bush supporters believed that world opinion either favored or
    was evenly divided on the Iraq War 


More
good news: the study found that a majority of Bush supporters would
have been against the war had they known the facts. So the goal
of the opposition ought to be to confront the Administration’s
onslaught of baseless assertions. Here are five


points we
should focus on: 




  1. This is not a humanitarian mission.

    Rather, the war has
    become a veritable bloodbath. The website iraqbody count.org has
    counted at least 15,000 documented civilian deaths. A study by
    the

    New England Journal of Medicine

    found that 28 percent
    of the Marines and 14 percent of the Army soldiers it interviewed
    said that they had killed noncombatants. The war might even be
    far worse than these studies show. A Johns Hopkins University
    study estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths as a result of the war.These
    studies exclude mass arrests and widespread destruction of homes
    and property. This is what Bush dubbed “freedom on the march”
    and Dick Cheney called “a success story.” 




  2. There was no transfer of sovereignty.

    The press lifted
    this term wholesale from the Administration. Iyad Allawi, the
    current supposed leader of “sovereign” Iraq, reputedly
    a Baathist hit man, was a CIA asset for years. The highlight of
    his career was a botched coup attempt that led to over 100 executions.
    His government has no authority over the 160,000 strong occupation
    force (not even to try them for crimes committed in the sovereign
    Iraq). It had no authority to reverse the draconian economic “reforms”
    of the Coalition Provisional Authority or to reallocate the reconstruction
    contracts signed by the CPA, which heavily favor U.S. corporations
    in spite of immense Iraqi unemployment. 



       Yes,
    the Iraqi ministers can and occasionally do demur, but it has
    become patently obvious who the Administration envisions running
    the new Iraq. It has already diverted reconstruction funds to
    build the largest U.S. embassy in the world out of one of Saddam
    Hussein’s gargantuan palaces. The U.S. delegation to Iraq—headed
    by Iran-Contra notable John Negro- ponte—includes regional
    hubs throughout Iraq and retains significant authority over Iraq’s
    main ministries. Even if by some miracle the elections are a “success,”
    the newly elected leader will head an “interim” government
    dependent on the U.S. and lacking any prospects for long-term
    legitimacy. 




  3. The only thing that is on the march is economic liberalization.

    Everything the Administration’s hard right ideologues
    would like in the U.S., they’re getting in Iraq. This includes:
    dropped tariffs; the potential for foreign ownership of nearly
    all of Iraq’s state owned industries, with no legal barriers
    to capital flight or requirements to reinvest profits in Iraq;
    and a flat tax. 




  4. The situation is deteriorating.

    The human rights catastrophe
    described above ought to call into question the Administration’s
    apocryphal description of this “success story.” The
    reality of the situation is far different than the potemkin village
    we see on television. A study conducted in September by a private
    security company in Iraq found that insurgent attacks were far
    more pervasive than has been reported. Large swaths of territory
    remain under the control of insurgents or no government at all.
    At the time of this writing, Allawi has declared a national emergency,
    imposing curfews around the Sunni areas. After chaos rocked the
    once tranquil northern areas in and around Mosul, Kurdish authorities
    took matters into their own hands, calling in their own militias. 




  5. We are not fighting the terrorists where they are.

    We’re
    ushering in an unprecedented wave of anti-Americanism and the
    facts and figures show it. The most comprehensive study so far—taken
    earlier this year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project—showed
    a precipitous rise in anti-American attitudes in the Arab world.
    Another study by Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institute attributed
    this to U.S. foreign policy. A November report by the Pentagon’s
    own advisory board said that “Muslims do not ‘hate our
    freedoms,’ but rather they hate our policies.” 


Resistance
groups and militias have proliferated in Iraq since the invasion.
It’s impossible to keep such groups contained, making the rest
of the world more vulnerable. As for international groups, such
as al-Qaeda, the evidence suggests that Iraq has been a galvanizing
force. A recent study by the International Institute for Strategic
Studies warned of a proliferation of al-Qaeda members since the
war began. In April, the

New York Times

reported Islamic
militants all over Europe openly using the war to galvanize religious
extremists against the U.S. The result is obvious: terrorist violence
skyrocketed in 2003.





Josh Leon is
a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in



Because
People Matter, News and Review,

and Uwire.com. He plans community
speaking events on national issues.