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Monday, June 16, 2008

Liberal Lies, Misunderstandings, and Misconceptions About Iraq

Over the weekend, I wrote this piece about common liberal misconceptions about some of the most controversial GWOT techniques. Since that was received relatively well, I have decided to do a follow up about similar misconceptions that liberals have specifically toward Iraq.

1) No one knows what victory is so we can't tell if we are doing well because we won't know if we ever win.

This is a misconception on many levels. First, as long as violence is down and the trajectory on violence continues downward we are winning. In other words as long as everyday brings less and less violence that means we are winning. Furthermore, the reduction in violence has been combined with significant political progress. This progress has not only been seen in many of the so called benchmarks (slowly more than half have been reached), but it also includes significant progress locally in many parts of the country. Locals in places like Ramadi have taken the bull by the horn. They have turned on AQI and other militias and they have restored order mainly on their own. Folks that used to be allied with the enemy are now allied with us and they are now patrolling local streets as part of newly minted police forces.

Furthermore, victory has always been defined as an Iraq, at peace with itself and its neighbors, a stable, self functioning government, capable of defending itself, and an ally in the GWOT. While this maybe a broad and vague form of victory, and one that was demeaned as impossible as late as last year, it is one that is now very close to being achieved. The simple fact of the matter is that the central government has recently not only taken on AQI but the Sadr militias. Maliki's government has shown leadership in taking on the terrorist elements within its borders, furthermore it has begun to function in every way as a representative government of all the people of Iraq.

2) Sunnis and Shias have been fighting for more than a millennial and we are only getting in the middle centuries of bad blood. When things were at their darkest in the war in Iraq, this certainly seemed to be the case. In fact, in the last year and a half this simply is not true. For the most part, Iraqis have chosen peace. We have simply not seen the sort of retribution that we used to see for ethnic cleansing. Furthermore, the central government has begun to function as a coalition of all factions. The military and the police have all begun to function professionally with mixes of each sect.

The reality is that liberals simply saw the Iraqis, and Middle Easterners in general, as some sort of savages that had no understanding of humanity. They saw these folks not as human beings, but as blood thirsty savages that only want to kill and torture those that they view as different. They saw Iraq as some sort of a place where the only motivation for most is the bloodthirsty revenge of prior wrongs perpetrated upon their brethren. That's the way my liberal friend described the situation last August as violence was just beginning to subside and the continued decrease in violence has proven him, and everyone else that holds this opinion, WRONG.

3) Violence has only subsided because we have more troops on the ground. We can't keep those troops there forever and as soon as we reduce our troop levels we will see violence spike again.

First, we have already begun troop withdrawals and violence has continued to drop despite the troop withdrawal. Second, and much more importantly, this view totally misunderstands the counter insurgency strategy employed by General David Petraeus. The clear, hold and build strategy is about a lot more than an increase in troops. It is a totally new way to fight the insurgency. It wasn't merely an increase in 30,000 troops that lowered violence dramatically, but much more, the new way in which we fought the insurgency. Rather than spending most of their time in forward operating bases and taking on search and destroy missions, the military spent the majority of their time out and about among the population. They effectively took the fight to the insurgents. After the insurgents were cleared, there was enough forces left locally to maintain law and order. This doesn't necessarily require an extra 30,000 troops. It was a whole new way of thinking.

4) The terrorists wear no uniforms, they look like everyone else, and thus we will never know who they are.

This is of course only said by those with absolutely no military training. Of course, the terrorists are fighting an asymmetrical war. Of course, they make it more difficult by trying to blend in. Of course, they fight and live among civilians again making it more difficult to defeat them. All of this is true, however they aren't the first to use such techniques, and they can be defeated if countered effectively. Combinations of house to house searches, good intelligence from the locals, and effective interrogation techniques can, and much more HAVE, identified the terrorists. As I told my liberal friend when he asked exactly this question,

if you ask a terrorist if they are a terrorist you either find out right away or are lied to

Either way, effective interrogators can figure out if someone is a terrorist.

5)Iraq is a diversion. There were no terrorists there until we got there, and the sooner we get out of there the sooner we can move onto focusing on the real GWOT.

Whether or not Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was or was NOT in Iraq prior to our invasion is still an open debate. It is NOT debate that Saddam Hussein supported terrorists of all stripes from all sorts of terrorist groups. Furthermore, Iraq formed a nexus, along with Iran and Syria, of three terrorist enabling countries side by side. We simply weren't going to win the GWOT with those three countries standing side by side in their previous form.

More than that, whatever the prior make up of Iraq before the war, it is of little relevance now. Only those that hate Bush actually think it matters. Whether or not we drew terrorists to Iraq or they came on their own, they are there now. Leaving gives them a victory, a place to launch attacks from, and a new sphere of influence. Furthermore, it will increase the power of Iran and Syria as well. If this is not vital to the GWOT, what exactly is?

6) Bush lied and people died.

Not only has there never been any reputable proof that this is true, the statement belies all logic and usually it is totally disingenuous. First, if Bush lied, then so did hundreds of politicians that said the same thing. That means that Tony Blair lied. It means Bill Clinton lied. Frankly, it means that much of Congress lied. Not only is this simply impossible, but those claiming it are totally disingenuous. They either give a pass to every other politician that said the same thing, or they make up some sort of cryptic Machiavellian reason for why they were duped.

7) Iraq is putting a strain on our troops and for the health of the military troops must be pulled out immediately.

During any period of prolonged war the troops are strained. They were strained during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Despite all those repeated strains on the military ours is still far and away the best military in the world. The thing that strains the military more than anything is losing. If anyone wants to really strain the military, then what they should do is pull them out before they get a chance to win.

8)Our military has done all it can. It has performed fabulously and it is time for us to pull out and let the Iraqis decide their own future.

This is one that you will hear from Barack Obama a lot. This is the most obscenely theoretical argument you will ever hear. The military has not done all it can. Violence is down but it needs to be dropped much further. The Iraqi military and police have shown great progress but they aren't ready to function totally on their own. The government and their society are all showing great promise and they all have come a long way. That is entirely because they continue to maintain the support of the U.S. If we pull out then chaos ensues. The reason that we are succeeding is because if detailed and well thought out plans of military personnell that have each spent significant time on the ground in Iraq. None of them believe that pulling out is proper. The only folks that say that are politicians and pundits that make these statements from the comforts of places far from Iraq.

9) If you are in favor of this war go fight, and if you aren't you are just a chickenhawk.

This is a very common argument. It will come out of the mouth of any liberal at any moment. Of course, this is nonsense. If the only people that can speak out on military matters are those that served, then no one could voice their opinion on anything unless they were in the field. Only teachers could make education policy. Only doctors could make policy in health care, etc. Of course, the world doesn't work that way. You don't have to go to war to support the war with legitimacy.

10)Saddam acted as a counter to Iran, and all the Iraq war has done is strengthened the Iranians hands. The new government will wind up being a puppet to the Iranians.

Some of this is incredibly naive and others incredibly simplistic. It is just unbelievably naive to think that we could allow to equally evil, though in rivalry, regimes counter balance each other and somehow make that work in the long term. Yes, Saddam hated the Iranians, and yes, his presence weakened their presence. Talk about unintended consequences. Are liberals really saying that we could afford to, in the long term, allow to equally evil regimes next to each other without having that blow up.

Second, Iran's hand is only strengthened if we lose in Iraq. If Iraq is transformed into the democracy we are now building then that weakens Iran's hands. The last thing a totalitarian government wants is a democracy as a neighbor.

Finally, Iraqi politics and society is far too sophisticated and complex for a puppet government to emerge for any long period of time as long as the democracy continues. While Iraq is 60% Shia, not all Shias want a strong alliance with Iran. The secular Shias, about 20-30% of all Shias, don't want any such thing, and of course no other group wants it either. No government would maintain any popular support for more than one election if they were seen as in bed with the Iranians.

11) Things are going so well that we can then pull them out.

Once liberals are through with every other excuse and explanation for why we should pull out of Iraq, they leave the absolute most disingenuous for last. They admit everything you are saying is correct and then use that as the basis of their argument, pull out. This is total nonsense. Things are going very well, however they are not going anywhere near well enough to pull out. Whether liberals like it or not, in order to succeed, their will be some sort of military presence in Iraq for a long time. I have already explained why it is vital to succeed. In order to succeed, the only thing that we can do is continue to support the strategy that has been so effective for over a year.

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