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Friday, November 18, 2005

Yes, I've Been Had: A Major Retraction

Back on Wednesday, I posted this. The post sounds good, but it is NOT from Major General Vernon Chong. Snopes. com has identified it as just one more forwarded email from an anonymous source. A huge thank you to Jjimmy and Jason for finding this. It's only the second time in five years that this has happened. That's not an excuse for bad blogging though. Jjimmy is right.

Jason also makes a well reasoned argument about the peice, who ever wrote it. Here is his comment:
Fascinating that you would focus on that rather than his main arguments though.

I focused on that one fact because it struck me as a bit high and I have neither the time nor the inclination to check all of General Chong’s facts. A quick Google search for the words "France," "Muslim," "population," and "percent" quickly yielded a source that contradicted General Chong’s assertion. If General Chong was so sloppy with facts that one of them could be debunked by such a cursory search, it calls into question his other factual assertions, ne c’est pas?

Here’s another bad fact that General Chong asserts:

These are the type of prisoners, who just a few months ago, were throwing their own people off buildings, cutting off their hands, cutting out their tongues, and otherwise murdering their own people, just for disagreeing with Saddam Hussein.

Maybe in General Chong’s world. However, in reality, the majority of Iraqi detainees were innocent. According to a Red Cross report, coalition intelligence officers estimated that 70 to 90% of Iraqi detainees were arrested mistakenly. (source: MSNBC) So, maybe 10 to 30% of the prisoners were the type who committed such atrocities a few months ago.

The consequences of losing the war certainly hold up, don't you think?

General Chong presents Spain as an example of defeat, and then goes on to state that defeat would mean that "our production, income, exports, and way of life will all vanish, as we know it." If Spain was defeated, as General Chong asserts, then it would follow that Spain would be experiencing the economic doom and gloom that General Chong asserts to be the consequences of defeat

Let’s look at the facts. According to the economic indicators on the back pages of this week’s edition of The Economist, Spain’s GDP is up 3.4% over a year ago. Industrial production is up. Unemployment, while still higher than the rest of the Euro area, is down one and a half percentage points over a year ago. The Madrid Stock Exchange is up 17.6% so far this calendar year.

So, no, General Chong's statement of the consequences of losing don't hold up. Either he is wrong in asserting that "Spain is finished" or he is wrong that defeat in Iraq leads to economic collapse.

Or are you one of those who want to pull out the troops immediately?

I'm really not sure what to do in Iraq. Going in appears to have been a mistake. However, I tend to subscribe to Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" rule. Whether or not Iraq was our problem pre-invasion, it is our problem now. Leaving Iraq to its own devices now doesn't seem quite right to me. On the other hand, I'm not sure that staying the course in Iraq would improve the situation there.

As for General Chong's, and your, assertion that we need to give up some freedom, damaging freedom in order to save it makes absolutely no sense to me. General Chong cites envy of our freedom as one of the reasons we are at war. If we make ourselves less free, we just help the terrorists accomplish their goal. Those who would surrender freedom are at best capitulating to the terrorists and at worst collaborating with them.
His reply has caused me to do some deep thinking, which is always worthwhile, but always gives me a headache. Sigh.

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