Top 10 Myths of the Iraq War. In no particular order. There are more, but ten is a manageable number.
1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Several hundred chemical weapons were found, and Saddam had all his WMD scientists and technicians ready. Just end the sanctions and add money, and the weapons would be back in production within a year. At the time of the invasion, all intelligence agencies, world-wide, believed Saddam still had a functioning WMD program. Saddam had shut them down because of the cost, but created the illusion that the program was still operating in order to fool the Iranians. The Iranians wanted revenge on Saddam because of the Iraq invasion of Iran in 1980, and the eight year war that followed.
2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal. Only according to some in the UN. By that standard, the invasion of Kosovo and bombing of Serbia in 1999 was also illegal. Saddam was already at war with the U.S. and Britain, because Iraq had not carried out the terms of the 1991 ceasefire, and was trying to shoot down coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone.
3-Sanctions were working. The sanctions worked for Saddam, not for Iraq. Saddam used the sanctions as an excuse to punish the Shia majority for their 1991 uprising, and help prevent a new one. The “Oil For Food” program was corrupted with the help of bribed UN officials, and mass media outlets that believed Iraqi propaganda. Saddam was waiting out the sanctions, and bribing France, Russia and China, with promises of oil contracts and debt repayments, to convince the UN to lift the sanctions.
4-Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran. Of course, and this was supposed to make Iran more approachable and open to negotiations. With the Iraqi “threat” gone, it was believed that Iran might lose its radical ways and behave. Iran got worse as a supporter of terrorism and developer of WMD. Irans clerical dictatorship did not want a democracy next door. The ancient struggle between the Iranians and Arabs was brought to the surface, and the UN became more active in dealing with problems caused by pro-terrorist government of Iran. As a result of this, the Iranian police state has faced more internal dissent. From inside Iran, Iraq does not look like an Iranian victory.
5-The Invasion Was a Failure. Saddam’s police state was overthrown and a democracy established, which was the objective of the operation. Peace did not ensue because Saddam’s supporters, the Sunni Arab minority, were not willing to deal with majority rule, and war crimes trials. A terror campaign followed. Few expected the Sunni Arabs to be so stupid. There’s a lesson to be learned there.
6-The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda. Compared to what? Al Qaeda was a growing movement before 2003, and before 2001. But after the Iraq invasion, and especially the Sunni Arab terrorism, al Qaeda fell in popularity throughout the Moslem world. Arab countries cracked down on al Qaeda operations more than ever before. Without the Iraq invasion, al Qaeda would still have safe havens all over the Arab world.
7-Iraq Is In A State of Civil War. Then so was Britain when the IRA was active, and so is Spain today because ETA is still active. Both IRA and ETA are terrorist organizations based on ethnic identity. India also has tribal separatist rebels who are quite active. That’s not considered a civil war. This is all about partisans playing with labels for political ends, not accurately describing a terror campaign.
8-Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam. Most Iraqis disagree. Check election results and opinion polls. Reporters tend to ask Iraqi Sunni Arabs this question, but they were the only ones who benefited from Saddams rule.
9-The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe. The Moslem unrest in Europe was there before 2001, and 2003. Interviews of Islamic radicals in Europe reveals that the hatred is not motivated by Iraq, but by daily encounters with hostile natives. Blaming Islamic terrorism on Iraq is another attempt to avoid dealing with a homegrown problem.
10- The War in Iraq is Lost. By what measure? Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. Part of the Sunni Arab minority continues to support terror attacks, in an attempt to restore the Sunni Arab dictatorship. In response, extremist Shia Arabs formed vigilante death squads to expel all Sunni Arabs. Given the history of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is working through its problems. Otherwise, one is to believe that the Arabs are incapable of democracy and only a tyrant like Saddam can make Iraqi “work.” If democracy were easy, the Arab states would all have it. There are problems, and solutions have to be found and implemented. That takes time, but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years. If the war goes on longer, the politicians have to scramble to survive the bad press and opinion polls. Opposition politicians take advantage of the situation, but this has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with local politics in the United States.