The Bogus Blurring of Terrorism and Insurgency in Iraq

Article excerpt

WITH PUBLIC SUPPORT for the Iraq war at low ebb, the White House is more eager than ever to conflate Iraq's insurgency with terrorism. But in early December, just after President Bush gave yet another speech repeatedly depicting the U.S. war effort in Iraq as a battle against terrorists, Representative John Murtha (Democrat, Pennsylvania) debunked the claim. His refutation deserved much more news coverage than it got.

"You heard the president talk today about terrorism," Murtha told reporters at a December 7 news conference. "Every other word was terrorism." Speaking as a lawmaker in close touch with the Pentagon's top military leaders, he went on to confront the core of the administration's current argument for keeping American soldiers in Iraq.

"Let's talk about terrorism versus insurgency in Iraq itself," Murtha said. "We think that foreign fighters are about 7 percent--might be a little bit more, a little bit less. Very small proportion of the people that are involved in the insurgency are terrorists or how I would interpret them as terrorists."

Murtha threw cold water on the storyline that presents U.S. troops as defenders of Iraqis. He cited a recent poll, commissioned by Britain's Ministry of Defense, indicating that four-fifths of Iraqis now want the American and British forces out of their country. "When I said we can't win a military victory, it's because the Iraqis have turned against us," Murtha said.

Contrary to what countless pundits still contend, Murtha sees the U.S. presence in Iraq as a boon, not an impediment, to terrorism. "I am convinced, and everything that I've read, the conclusion I've reached is there will be less terrorism, there will be less danger to the United States and it'll be less insurgency once we're out" he said. …