Debunking Iraq Myths

Peter Wehner has a piece at Opinion Journal today that is not only a “must read,” but it is a “must print it out and pass it around.” In it he tackles the various myths surrounding our action in Iraq that have become conventional wisdom.

Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world, and form a unity government despite terrorist attacks and provocations. Yet for some critics of the president, these are minor matters. Like swallows to Capistrano, they keep returning to the same allegations–the president misled the country in order to justify the Iraq war; his administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments; Saddam Hussein turned out to be no threat since he didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction; and helping democracy take root in the Middle East was a postwar rationalization. The problem with these charges is that they are false and can be shown to be so–and yet people continue to believe, and spread, them.

He then takes each one by one and puts some facts to the myths. Efforts like this one to set the record straight are incredibly important, not just for the purpose of reasserting political advantage, or even for the greater cause of restoring truth and accuracy, but for future instruction. The lessons that we can learn from the action in Iraq, and especially from the lead up to the invasion, are invaluable for what they can teach us about what may or may not be effective in future similar scenarios. But those lessons only have value if they are based on an accurate picture of what actually occurred.

I have argued previously that another reason the record on Iraq should be set straight is so that voters in 2006, and especially 2008, can decide ” on which side of the decision-making equation they want their leaders to err in this post-9/11 world.” As Wehner points out, there was plenty of evidence to convince even John Kerry that Saddam posed a grave threat. Voters should be reminded that Democrats, when faced with such evidence, not only failed to act, but many of those who initially supported the president’s decision to act, later withdrew their support. This is why Democrats, and their supporters in the mainstream media, have such a stake in rewriting the history of Iraq.

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