Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005

Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, has a must-read piece today. Titled Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005, the article encourages us to go into 2006 with our facts straight as US presence in Iraq continues to be the dominant issue in American politics.

Cole addresses the following "myths":
1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces.
2. Iraqi Sunnis voting in the December 15 election is a sign that they are being drawn into the political process and might give up the armed insurgency.
3. The guerrillas are winning the war against US forces.
4. Iraqis are grateful for the US presence and want US forces there to help them build their country.
5. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, born in Iran in 1930, is close to the Iranian regime in Tehran.
6. There is a silent majority of middle class, secular-minded Iraqis who reject religious fundamentalism.
7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East.
8. Iraq is already in a civil war, so it does not matter if the US simply withdraws precipitately, since the situation is as bad as it can get.
9. The US can buy off the Iraqis now supporting guerrilla action against US troops.
10. The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq.
It's certainly enlightening to read Cole's perspective on the guerrillas not "...winning the war against US forces" as my brother-in-law was just deployed to Iraq and there's nothing better to hear. I just hope that statements like this don't give the neocons the stupid idea that this somehow legitimizes our continued presence in Iraq.

But Cole is very balanced and, while citing the reality that most Iraqis no loner want us in their country, also points out that we have "...a responsibility to get out of Iraq responsibly and to not allow it to fall into that kind of genocidal civil conflict."

"Good things and bad things are happening there," writes Cole. "The American public cannot help make good policy, however, unless the myths are first dispelled."