A dozen Iraq war myths that need to die – AEI

A dozen Iraq war myths that need to die – AEI

1. Sanctions killed 1 million Iraqis (and 500,000 children). False. Where did this claim come from? Saddam Hussein’s government.

2. The 2003 Iraq war was illegal. Wrong. Too many activists who cite international law to back their positions of the day act essentially as armchair dictators. They assume they alone can act as judge and jury and discount alternate interpretations. As first a state senator and then U.S. senator, Barack Obama repeatedly declared the 2003 Iraq war as illegal because Bush acted absent U.N. authorization. It is reasonable to debate whether or not the war was wise or necessary, but it was not illegal: Bush acted under existing U.N. Security Council Chapter VII resolutions allowing force to ensure compliance. To suggest that they were no longer binding would be to establish a precedent in which binding, enforceable Security Council resolutions expired after 13 years. To declare that the Iraq war to be illegal, therefore, risks undermining the entire basis of permanence in international law.

3. Iraq was a war of choice. Any war is one of choice, but this is the wrong framing. The question wasn’t to invade by an arbitrary date or let stability reign. The sanctions regime was actively collapsing, thanks to countries like Jordan, France, Germany, and Russia.

4. Bush lied. False. Bush (and Vice President Dick Cheney) read the intelligence presented them. Sometimes, that intelligence was wrong.

5. Saddam had no interest in WMDs. False. Let’s put aside the residual WMD discovered in Iraq, as that fell far short of what U.S. intelligence suggested Iraq had. While true that Saddam had suspended his WMD program, he wanted to keep the illusion of one and so did not cooperate fully with inspectors. All documents seized the aftermath of his fall, however, show that the Iraqi dictator planned to restart his program as soon as sanctions collapsed. The war prevented an Iraq armed with a nuclear, biological, or chemical arsenal, period.

6. The Invasion of Iraq caused the deaths of 1 million Iraqis. False. Let’s put aside the exaggerated figures used by some analysts, most of whom cite a statistically flawed 2006 article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. Certainly, many Iraqis did die in the wake of the war, but who killed them? Most were killed not by U.S.-led forces but rather by Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias.

7. At least Iraq was stable under Saddam. False. Iraqi Kurdistan had been in a state of near-constant insurgency since 1961. As for southern Iraq, Saddam controlled the day, but even his elite Republican Guards were afraid to patrol at night. The simple truth is that as Saddam confused brutality with stability — he had gradually lost control of broad swaths of Iraq.

8. At least Saddam was a secularist. Well, yes and no. Saddam himself worshipped only himself, but he used religion as a tool.

9. The Iraq war created al Qaeda in Iraq. False. Remember Laurence Foley, a U.S. diplomat assassinated by al Qaeda in Iraqi leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Amman, Jordan, in October 2002? Well, that was more than four months before the war began. The post-war chaos in Iraq exacerbated the problem, but it did not create it.

10. Dismantling the Iraqi army caused Insurgency. False. Baath Party cells planned and carried out the insurgency.

11. De-Baathification caused insurgency. False. Founded by a Syrian Christian in the 1940s, the Baath Party was, in its early years, a secular, socialist pan-Arabist political movement. With time, however, it became a vehicle for power, both for Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Assad family in Syria. De-Baathification referred to the purge of the top four levels of the party in Iraq. Senior Baathists deemed complicit in Saddam’s regime lost their jobs and their qualification to work in government or the military.

12. Ousting Saddam empowered Iran. Let’s put aside the intellectual inconsistency inherent in this statements by critics of the Iraq War who then support empowering Iran with other policies such as the Iran nuclear deal or caving to Iranian ambitions in Syria, Lebanon, or Yemen. The idea that ousting Saddam alone empowered Iran was false. The majority of Iraqis may be Shiite, but they have an identity distinct from Iran and often resent Iranian attempts to subordinate Iraqi interests to those of Tehran.

Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican? – YouTube

A correspondent came up with the following statement.

Gosh, but Lyndon Johnson was a Democrat. How could that possibly be? According to that new ad campaign by Dennis Prager, a major conservative broadcaster and blogger, only the Republicans have ever sponsored or promoted Civil Rights legislation. He even paid an African American woman to say so in the commercials, so it must be true, right?

Seriously, there’s a really weird disinformation campaign going on right now. The basis for Prager’s comments is that in the 19th century, the Democrats were the bad guys in terms of civil rights for African Americans, so they must still be. Somehow, ignoring the entire 20th century in political analysis seems odd, but that’s what he’s doing. He skips over the whole period of time, including the part after July 2nd, 1964, when many Southern Democrats migrated to the Republican Party and to the new American Independent party, because they were the parties that now opposed civil rights legislation. He ignores the entire period of history in which the Democrats became the more liberal of the two parties around the time of the Depression, and remained that way after FDR solidified his position.

I will grant him that, back when the two parties actually talked to each other rather than simply ranting across the aisle, the Republicans of the 1940s did help nudge Truman into finishing the desegregation of the armed forces, by threatening to make it a political issue if he left it unfinished. Also, Eisenhower, in the 1950s, did a lot in support of the Supreme Court’s rulings on schools. But still…

Okay, so maybe Dennis Prager somehow slept through a lot of history classes, and this isn’t really being openly dishonest. That doesn’t explain the other folks jumping in with similar “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength…” ad campaigns. In the state of Georgia, African Americans were sent a phony endorsement pitch, supposedly from Barack Obama, endorsing the Republican candidates…

I don’t know about the ad campaigns elsewhere, but I’m not aware of Dennis Prager ever saying that only Republicans ever supported civil rights legislation. I’m also not aware of any “ad campaigns” featuring an African American woman paid to say so.

I suspect he may have heard this spot, which isn’t an ad campaign for anything, but is in fact the finished product. Nowhere does it say that only Republicans supported civil rights legislation.

Maybe he’s referring to something else, but since he didn’t offer source or link, I’m not sure what to make of any of his history.

Once upon a time, every student of history – and that meant pretty much everyone with a high school education – knew this: The Democratic Party was the party of slavery and Jim Crow, and the Republican Party was the party of emancipation and racial integration.

Democrats were the Confederacy and Republicans were the Union. Jim Crow Democrats were dominant in the South and socially tolerant Republicans were dominant in the North.

But then, in the 1960s and 70s, everything supposedly flipped: suddenly the Republicans became the racists and the Democrats became the champions of civil rights.

Fabricated by left-leaning academic elites and journalists, the story went like this: Republicans couldn’t win a national election by appealing to the better nature of the country; they could only win by appealing to the worst. Attributed to Richard Nixon, the media’s all-purpose bad guy, this came to be known as “The Southern Strategy.”

It was very simple. Win elections by winning the South. And to win the South, appeal to racists. So, the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, were to now be labeled the party of rednecks.

But this story of the two parties switching identities is a myth. In fact, it’s three myths wrapped into one false narrative.

Let’s take a brief look at each myth in turn.

Myth Number One: In order to be competitive in the South, Republicans started to pander to white racists in the 1960s.

Fact: Republicans actually became competitive in the South as early as 1928, when Republican Herbert Hoover won over 47 percent of the South’s popular vote against Democrat Al Smith. In 1952, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower won the southern states of Tennessee, Florida and Virginia. And in 1956, he picked up Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, too. And that was after he supported the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools; and after he sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock Central High School to enforce integration.

Myth Number Two: Southern Democrats, angry with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, switched parties.

Fact: Of the 21 Democratic senators who opposed the Civil Rights Act, just one became a Republican. The other 20 continued to be elected as Democrats, or were replaced by other Democrats. On average, those 20 seats didn’t go Republican for another two-and-a-half decades.

Myth Number Three: Since the implementation of the Southern Strategy, the Republicans have dominated the South.

Fact: Richard Nixon, the man who is often credited with creating the Southern Strategy, lost the Deep South in 1968. In contrast, Democrat Jimmy Carter nearly swept the region in 1976 – 12 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And in 1992, over 28 years later, Democrat Bill Clinton won Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. The truth is, Republicans didn’t hold a majority of southern congressional seats until 1994, 30 years after the Civil Rights Act.

As Kevin Williamson of the National Review writes: “If southern rednecks ditched the Democrats because of a civil-rights law passed in 1964, it is strange that they waited until the late 1980s and early 1990s to do so. They say things move slower in the south — but not that slow.”

So, what really happened? Why does the South now vote overwhelmingly Republican? Because the South itself has changed. Its values have changed. The racism that once defined it, doesn’t anymore. Its values today are conservative ones: pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-small government.

And here’s the proof: Southern whites are far more likely to vote for a black conservative, like Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, than a white liberal.

In short, history has moved on. Like other regions of the country, the South votes values, not skin color. The myth of the Southern Strategy is just the Democrats’ excuse for losing the South, and yet another way to smear Republicans with the label “racist.”

Don’t buy it.

I’m Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, for Prager University.

Who’s a Fascist? Why Does it Matter? | Faster, Please!

Source: Who’s a Fascist? Why Does it Matter? | Faster, Please!

But “fascism” as it originated, and came to power, in Europe is gone, and there is no sign of contemporary revival. There has never been a viable fascist movement or party in the United States (any more than there has been a viable socialist party or movement).

Fascism was a revolutionary mass movement that originated in Italy after the First World War. Why revolutionary? Because, unlike the 19th century right-wing movements, it did not aim at the reestablishment of traditional monarchies. Nor was it class-bound; it acted in the name of the war-winning fighters (Italy), or the fighters betrayed by the political class (Germany) and the Jews. Thus the claim of fascist leaders to act in the name of “the nation.”

America has patriotism, not nationalism. Our loyalty, and our passions, are to a set of ideas, not to a country whose citizens share a common ethnic identity or religion, which is what nationalism is all about.

The fascist movements were part of a broad-based revolt against the liberal democratic state; revolts and then revolutions succeeded in Italy, Germany and Russia. First came the Russian revolution, then Italian fascism, then Hitler’s failed revolution, which triumphed a decade later.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of fascism was its enormous popularity. By the time Hitler became German chancellor, had enormous mass appeal, both in Italy and beyond. In both Germany and Italy, there was no sign of an effective opposition or resistance. Had they not lost the war, the two tyrants could have looked forward to many years of stable rule.

There is, and has been, no comparable movement in the United States. Racist reactionaries on the right, or violent anti-capitalist groups on the left, are both miniscule. Both claim to speak in the name of failed movements and regimes, ranging from communism to racial slavery. Real fascism was revolutionary and claimed to represent a “new man.” Today’s violent Americans have no such concept.

The most politically interesting and potentially significant aspect in the current tumult is that both sides call the other “fascist.” That testifies to the sometimes perplexing success of “progressive” dogma in the Western left following the fall of the Soviet Union. You might have expected Western intellectuals to acknowledge communism’s failure, but instead “fascism” became the primary, at times seemingly the only, legitimate label for political evil. This practice started right after the Second World War, and was a major weapon in the Soviets’ campaign to bring communists to power in the West. The West European communists asserted that they alone were entitled to determine if a given person was “fascist” or “antifascist.” Post-war Italy, with Europe’s most powerful Communist party, was the classic example. This produced all manner of political blackmail, as many real fascists were recycled as “antifascists.” It all went well for them for two generations. It wasn’t until the end of the century that famous writers and scholars confessed to their dark past.

Something similar is happening today, in the United States. As the left dominates the selection of faculty, curricula and recommended or required reading material, intellectuals who want to survive and flourish have to pretend to be loyal leftists. They tell themselves that eventually they will come out of their ideological closet, but as the European examples show, that can be quite a long time, if indeed it ever happens.

The first step toward fixing the mess is to stop using “fascist” whenever you disagree with someone. Use it correctly: the name of a West European movement between the two world wars of the last century. That’s it.

George Weisman at the Mises Institute offers

Why Nazism Was Socialism and Why Socialism Is Totalitarian

My purpose today is to make just two main points: (1) To show why Nazi Germany was a socialist state, not a capitalist one. And (2) to show why socialism, understood as an economic system based on government ownership of the means of production, positively requires a totalitarian dictatorship.

The identification of Nazi Germany as a socialist state was one of the many great contributions of Ludwig von Mises.

Or, in Mises’ own words, Part Six: The Hampered Market Economy > Chapter XXVII. The Government and the Market

There are two patterns for the realization of socialism.


The second pattern (we may call it the Hindenburg or German pattern) nominally and seemingly preserves private ownership of the means of production and keeps the appearance of ordinary markets, prices, wages, and interest rates. There are, however, no longer entrepreneurs, but only shop managers (Betriebsführer in the terminology of the Nazi legislation). These shop managers are seemingly instrumental in the conduct of the enterprises entrusted to them; they buy and sell, hire and discharge workers and remunerate their services, contract debts and pay interest and amortization. But in all their activities they are bound to obey unconditionally the orders issued by the government’s supreme office of production management. This office (The Reichswirtschaftsministerium in Nazi Germany) tells the shop managers what and how to produce, at what prices and from [p. 718] whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. It assigns every worker to his job and fixes his wages. It decrees to whom and on what terms the capitalists must entrust their funds. Market exchange is merely a sham. All the wages, prices, and interest rates are fixed by the government; they are wages, prices, and interest rates in appearance only; in fact they are merely quantitative terms in the government’s orders determining each citizen’s job, income, consumption, and standard of living. The government directs all production activities. The shop managers are subject to the government, not the consumers’ demand and the market’s price structure. This is socialism under the outward guise of the terminology of capitalism. Some labels of the capitalistic market economy are retained, but they signify something entirely different from what they mean in the market economy.

No, We Shouldn’t Remove Confederate Memorials From The Public Square

“The future is fixed. The past is always changing.”

Will Ricciardella writes:


What I’m having a hard time understanding is the left’s desire to scrub everything they find unseemly from the history books.  As a history major, I was always under the impression that we should learn from history rather than delete it.  And yet, everywhere you turn, the left is trying to pretend the Civil War never happened.

I keep seeing really smart people who I admire deeply like Rich Lowry saying that it’s time to listen to liberals and relegate all the Confederate memorials to museums.  I couldn’t disagree more with that if for no other reason than not being able to answer the question of where does it end? If we start scrubbing things we don’t like from our history who will decide when it stops? Antifa? MSNBC?

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves.  Do we remove those names and statues? Tear down the Washington Monument? Democrats elected racist presidents in the 20th century like Woodrow Wilson and LBJ.  Are we scrubbing them from history?  FDR threw American citizens in prison camps simply because of their skin color.  Do we remove him from the history books?  The war in Vietnam wasn’t a good idea. Should we delete every politician involved in that? It was very mean to let all those people die after all.  The Democrat Party created and sponsored the KKK for decades.  Are we really going to let children attend a high school named after a Democrat? Tear it down!


Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson weren’t foreign crusaders from the other side of the world.  They were born in America, studied at West Point, and the generals that survived the war were Americans when they returned home.  In the case of Robert E. Lee, he was arguably one of the most brilliant military strategists in history and he personally detested the idea of slavery.  And we are worried about his statue at a park because what? Slavery hurts our feelings?

It seems like a much better solution to always remember how far we have come since those days and make sure that in 100 years, no one ever forgets the sacrifices made on both sides that ultimately ended slavery in this country.

Really, 1984 is not supposed to be an instruction book.

Neither is Fahrenheit 451.


How long until another Industrial Revolution would have taken place? – Marginal REVOLUTION

Source: How long until another Industrial Revolution would have taken place? – Marginal REVOLUTION

Alternate history buffs, take note.

Was the industrial revolution a highly unlikely event all along, or had it become “industrial revolution time”?

The same thing can be asked of events in the history of life on Earth. Life itself seems to have arisen as soon as conditions on the planet weren’t absolutely lethal, but a number of steps seem to have been very unlikely. It took hundreds of millions of years to get to multicellular organisms, for example — or did multicellularity arise when it did because conditions were finally right?