March 21, 2006
A FRIENDLY EMAIL FROM THE PRO-AMERICAN LEFT:
Courtesy of Glenn Greenwald- whom I'm sure you wish you could be, if you ever grow a brain and some integrity- some of your wise words about the opponents of the Iraq War.
"FOR SUCH AN ADVANCED SPECIES, THEY SURE KNOW HOW TO RUB IT IN."-- Marge Simpson
Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen's cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn't rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a "quagmire" were wrong -- again! -- how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong -- again! -- how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error -- again -- and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about "civilian casualties" now seem almost disappointed that there weren't more -- again -- and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American "liberators" were proven wrong -- again -- as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn't stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It's probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.
May they go down nice and tasty...just before you choke on them. Oh, but I forgot, to acknowledge right from wrong, one has to have a sense of right and wrong--and you're a rethuglican. Nevermind.
Well, I actually think that Glenn Greenwald wants to be me, though if so he'd be well advised to stop lifting his stuff from Tom Tomorrow.
But the quoted passage comes from this 2003 post, and actually I think it holds up pretty well. It's not something I'd be bringing up if I were on the left today, though.
Did the antiwar left want us to lose? Quite a few did, and some even admitted it. Emails like this one, and the steady stream of self-satisfied gloating I get from antiwar lefties whenever there's bad news about Iraq, hardly evidence a desire to see America do well, either. No, not all antiwar lefties want us to lose, as I've noted at tiresome length in the past, but most of the ones who email me seem to.
Civilian casualties were, in fact, far lower than predicted. In fact, as I noted in the post from 2003, the antiwar predictions generally turned out badly. But don't take my word for it. Here's an excerpt from Gateway Pundit's roundup on that topic:
* German politicians predicted: "Millions of people in Baghdad will be victims of bombs and rockets."
What happened: The antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters were lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
* Ted Kennedy predicted:"A war on Saddam might also cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with an estimated 900,000 refugees, a pandemic and an environmental disaster as Saddam lit the oilfields on fire."
Actual Result: The oil fields were not set ablaze, no pandemic.
* The UN predicted... It is also likely that in the early stages there will be a large segment of the population requiring treatment for traumatic injuries, either directly conflict-induced or from the resulting devastation. Given the population outlined earlier, as many as 500,000 could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries.
What happened: Again, the antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
* Ted Kennedy also predicted: "The U.S. could run through "battalions a day at a time" and that the fighting would look like "the last fifteen minutes of 'Private Ryan.'"
Actual Results: Although each fatality is a tragic loss for America, this is still one of most successful military campaigns the US has ever fought.
See his accompanying graphics and links. I should also note that despite predictions of 50,000 casualties in the initial invasion, three years later we're at less than 5% of that. And U.S. casualties are falling as Iraqis pick up the load.
The "Arab Street" didn't rise (the Iraqi insurgency, which is a mixture of foreign fighters and Ba'athist holdouts hardly counts, and there weren't riots and insurrection elsewhere in the region, as was predicted -- apparently, we neglected to publish cartoons, which seem to incite more unrest than invasions). As for the French oil merchants and Russian arms-deal creditors, or the strained efforts at moral equivalence, well, nothing's happened to change that.
I had actually planned not to rub this in -- the "antiwar" movement has shrunk to such a pitiful remnant of its not terribly impressive former self that it hardly seems worth it. But, hey, ask and ye shall receive. [You're referencing scripture -- does that make you a "Rethuglican?" -- Ed. Who knows? I thought I was a "leftist opinion site."]
UPDATE: Dodd Harris notes that the part about French oil merchants and Russian arms dealers holds up particulary well, and sends this link to Foreign Affairs on the war:
Judging from his private statements, the single most important element in Saddam's strategic calculus was his faith that France and Russia would prevent an invasion by the United States. According to Aziz, Saddam's confidence was firmly rooted in his belief in the nexus between the economic interests of France and Russia and his own strategic goals: "France and Russia each secured millions of dollars worth of trade and service contracts in Iraq, with the implied understanding that their political posture with regard to sanctions on Iraq would be pro-Iraqi. In addition, the French wanted sanctions lifted to safeguard their trade and service contracts in Iraq. Moreover, they wanted to prove their importance in the world as members of the Security Council -- that they could use their veto to show they still had power."
Yep. Today's antiwar movement: tools of the international oil companies and arms traders. They used to say that kind of thing about war supporters, of course, but that's just another example of the way things have gone all topsy-turvy of late.
ANOTHER UPDATE: "Evil?" Moi? "If you prick him, he does not bleed."
Mike Hendrix has thoughts, too.
MORE: Reader J.D. Metcalf reminds me of one more phony antiwar prediction: "The biggest one of all is 'When Bush is elected the DRAFT WILL BE reinstated.'" Yeah, I saw that claim all over the place.
Also, Australian columnist Andrew Bolt sends more failed antiwar predictions. Click "read more" to read them. I think you'll find it worth your while.
From Andrew Bolt:
If you need to pad out even further your list of dud predictions and gloating over Iraq, this is from a column entitled They Were Wrong which was published in the (Melbourne, Australia) Herald Sun on 13 April, 2003. The ABC referred to is Australia's version of the BBC. SBS is another taxpayer-funded broadcaster.
Overseas, too, anti-war propagandists luridly dreamed of American honour drowning in Iraqi blood. These are now many of the same people sneering that Iraq has plunged into anarchy, and will forever be a sleazy ``puppet state'' of the US. How lovingly they linger on news of looting.
Iraq may indeed go sour, although with effort, help and much time, it probably won't. But however Iraq turns out, we at least know it is no longer a threat. And whatever troubles it faces, they will not be greater than the horrors it has endured.
Iraq's future we cannot tell, but one thing we do know is that most of those now preaching doom were spectacularly wrong about the war itself. Why would they be so right now?
It is time we held them accountable. No more must they lightly skip from one disreputable cause to another -- preaching woe in the first Gulf War, disaster in Afghanistan, apocalypse in Iraq -- and always warning of the catastrophic consequences of resisting evil.
The war in Iraq has been won well. Let's move on to the next war -- a war for our culture. A war for truth, rationality, humanity, democracy and wisdom. Let the accountability begin.
ONCE more the ABC has spent a war sniping from the rear. ABC star Terry Lane even wrote in The Sunday Age: "I want the army of my country, which is engaged in an act of gross immorality, to be defeated."
Phillip Adams gleefully wrote just two weeks before Baghdad's fall that the war brought "back memories of fiascos and failures -- from Vietnam to Somalia", and looked like ending with "a Stalingrad-style battle in the city".
Four Corners wickedly whispered this was the work of "young neo-conservatives (who) were almost all Jews'' with ``tentacles in Congress, in think tanks, in newspaper offices''.
So when Baghdad fell, free at last, and a great menace was ended, the ABC was in no mood to celebrate. Indeed, the first item on AM on that historic day was a long piece claiming US troops had accidentally shot three civilians. The World Today then began:
"Well, dawn has broken over Baghdad, welcoming day one of the new freedom, but if this is liberty, then it's far from perfect."
SBS did much as you'd expect from a public broadcaster whose vice-chairman, Neville Roach, asked that "journalists . . . in every article, every editorial, every report, highlight the murder and mayhem that our nation is about to release".
LABOR leader Simon Crean saw Iraqis going mad with joy at being freed, and then coldly said: "We shouldn't have been involved."
Never mind that the war has proved Labor's wildest warnings to be mere bluster. Sending our best soldiers to Iraq did not leave us defenceless against terrorists here. Hordes of Iraqis have not fled to Australia. Remember how Crean had seen no "evidence of such a link" between terrorists and Saddam? Allied soldiers in Iraq have since killed or caught terrorists from Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and have destroyed two terrorist camps, including one linked to al Qaida.
Remember Carmen Lawrence predicting the death toll could reach 480,000, and our soldiers would be "complicit in mass murder"?
Remember another Labor MP, Maria Vamvakinou, saying the toll could even reach "up to 4 million people".
In fact, a team led by Professor Marc Herold, a Left hero with a record of exaggerating such things, calculates on its website iraqbodycount.net that fewer than 1400 civilians had been killed by the end of last week. Saddam's spokesmen thought the toll was less.
Every death is horrible, but put this in context. In just one reprisal, Saddam's men slaughtered 30,000 civilians in Basra in 1991. His misrule killed many thousands of children each year.
NO one tried harder to save Saddam than Greens leader Bob Brown, a notorious scaremonger, who claimed more than 100,000 Iraqi children would die in this war. He also quoted from a leaked UN report which predicted 900,000 refugees. In fact, hardly one Iraqi refugee has fled in four weeks.
COUNT on most academics to be anti-American.
La Trobe's Robert Manne said perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis" would be killed, while the Australian National University's Amin Saikal warned "Baghdad will be turned into a bloodbath." Arabist Andrew Vincent said the war would cause "absolute chaos, I think, in the whole of the Middle East and the Muslim world".
What chaos? Where? Does Vincent worry that Arab dictators are now nervous?
HO hum. The typical scare campaigns, all reported with reverence and awe. Sue Wareham, Australian head of the Medical Association for Prevention of War, said the war would kill up to 460,000 people, and millions more "if nuclear weapons are used".
Around 300 "experts" joined the Australian Sociological Association in
claiming we would be ``responsible for the probable loss of 100,000 civilians". And 43 lawyers signed a petition claiming the war was illegal, making the rescue of Iraqis a crime.
CONSIDER this: We once relied on the judgment of the following men in the defence of this country. Yet Hugh White, a former deputy secretary of defence, has so far predicted that the US wouldn't invade Iraq, wouldn't attack later than January, wouldn't win for perhaps months, wasn't fighting "a sort of welcome liberation" and was so short of troops it wouldn't reach Baghdad until perhaps . . . today. Naturally, the ABC's 7.30 Report has him as its commentator.
Another former defence secretary, Professor Paul Dibb, said capturing Baghdad would takes months of siege, with "cholera or typhoid" breaking out, or else ``street-by-street fighting with enormous casualties''.
THIS should be a warning to us. Some reporters based in Iraq felt too scared to tell the whole truth with Saddam's minders by their side, and others fell for the rhetoric of a totalitarian state.
Peter Arnett, reporting for 3AW, even went on Saddam's TV to claim America's "first war plan has failed" and he praised Iraqis for being `"responsive to the Government's requirements of discipline". We see now what Iraqis quietly felt about that "discipline". Channel 9's Jane Hansen filed two wide-eyed reports showing Iraqi teachers and housewives holding guns and dutifully threatening to kill allied soldiers. Scary.
News Ltd's Ian McPhedran also predicted Baghdadis would be "entirely hostile to foreign troops".
TYPICALLY hostile to the toppling of a socialist dictator, particularly one threatening the US.
Author and Labor speechwriter Bob Ellis drooled that "50,000 US troops and 10,000 UK troops (would) die at the gates of Baghdad." Guy Rundle, co-editor of Arena magazine, said ``it may be best in the long run" if "Baghdad . . . resists and there is a slaughter of some duration", because that might teach the US a lesson.
Then there are the leading columnists who said the war was going badly, Crean would come out of this a winner and the public would never back Howard's decision to join the Americans.