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.
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
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
should focus on:
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
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
We are not fighting the terrorists where they are.
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.”
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
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
People Matter, News and Review,
and Uwire.com. He plans community
speaking events on national issues.