By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2005, 7:20pm PT  

I've seen the excellent piece by Juan Cole on the "Top 10 Myths about Iraq in 2005" linked by several blogs already, so perhaps you've already seen it. Either way, I think it's well worth linking to here and I recommend you give it a quick read if you haven't already. As Cole points out, there are many complexities in the Iraq situation, which don't necessarily translate well to the sound bites we're accustomed to in the "rough and ready, two-party American political arena."

Cole explains some of those complexities in a very straightforward and informative fashion. Amongst the one or two of the myths that jumped out at me, personally, and have been driving me crazy when I hear them repeated by wingnuts on both TV and in comments here...

7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East. The constitution made Islam the religion of state. It stipulates that the civil parliament may pass no legislation that contradicts the established laws of Islam. It looks forward to clerics serving on court benches. It allows individuals to opt out of secular, civil personal status laws (for marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance) and to choose relgious canon law instead. Islamic law gives girls, e.g., only half the amount of inheritance received by their brothers. Instead of a federal government, the constitution establishes a loose supervisory role for Baghdad and devolves most powers, including claims on future oil finds, on provinces and provincial confederacies, such that it is difficult to see how the country will be able to hold together.

Got that? Okay, good. So --- wingnuts --- please spare me the crap about how wonderful it is that your man Bush has finally brought democracy and freedom for all to the Middle East. You may be willing to bullshit yourselves, but please don't bother to try and wipe that stench off on me.

In another section of Cole's rather fair and rather balanced assessment, from which both "sides" of the American political food-fight are bound to harvest fresh ammo, is this:

far more Sunni Arabs support the guerrilla movement today than supported it in September of 2004, and more supported it in September of 2004 than had in September of 2003.

Got that one, too? The "terrorists" are increasing, not decreasing vis a vis this pathetically run charade.

Finally, the myth that "The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq" is quickly dispatched by Cole as "simply not true". But the still-more maddening piece of this bit of treacherous wingnut mythology, refers back to the point above about the increasing insurgency. In giving the real history of the Bush Administration's various flip-flops throughout the American occupation in regards to holding free and fair democratic elections in Iraq, Cole points out how the Bushies played their cave to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani (who had demanded free elections back in late 2003) in order to avoid troubles that might effect Bush's own election back here in America. The results of Bush's personal political power play meant the insurgency was allowed to grow worse, so Bush might be allowed to be elected in 2004:

Soon thereafter, Bush caved and gave the ayatollah everything he demanded. Except that he was apparently afraid that open, non-manipulated elections in Iraq might become a factor in the US presidential campaign, so he got the elections postponed to January 2005. This enormous delay allowed the country to fall into much worse chaos

Lovely. And Team Bush has the unmitigated gall to accuse Democrats of "playing politics" with the Iraq War?! Puh-lease.

Check out all 10 of the myths as explained by someone who actually knows what's going on on the ground. How refreshing.