I’m a Christian, and we shouldn’t be fighting ISIS
Seen this picture on your Facebook feed in recent days?
Or perhaps this one?
Both of these are examples of a women’s slave market run by ISIS. These have been flooding the internet recently and spurring on our feelings against the fundamentalist Muslim group. The only problem is… well, they’re fake. OK, not so much “fake” as they are “totally something else,” or in this case that something else is “Muslim theatre.” Specifically, it’s a type of theatre known as Taziya and these particular pictures are from the reenactment of the battle of Kerbala in 2011 (warning, clicking on that link involves some graphic pics). These pictures were not taken in Iraq, and they were not taken of ISIS.
Perhaps you’ve seen some other horrible pictures, like these of a massacre of 1700 Iraqi soldiers:
These are pictures showing a bunch of bodies after a summary execution. Horrible, isn’t it?
Only one problem (well, two really): First, these photos are staged. If you look closely at the hands tied behind the bodies in the first pic, you’ll notice many of them aren’t even tied; they’re simply together. Conduct this experiment for me: lay on your stomach on your floor and put your hands together in imitation of this picture. Now relax all of your muscles, as if you were dead. You’ll find your hands fall to your sides, and can only be held in that position if they are bound (which these are not) or if they’re consciously held in that position by a live person. These folks were not recently executed. You may reply that these pics are of people right before they were shot, but according to the source claims these are pics of the dead.
Second, you’ll notice some rather bad photoshopping when you look at the second photo. For example, you’ll see shirts blending together, and sun shining in the midst of places that are specifically in shadow. This is so bad that several groups (including Human Rights Watch and the Times of London) have publicly doubted the authenticity of the pictures, even going so far as to venture that they had been edited.
I could go on with more sets of pictures and stories, but I hope you get the picture by now. “Wait,” you say. “You’re telling me we’re being LIED TO??”
Yes. Yes, I am.
Look, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Meet Nurse Nayirah:
She testified before the non-governmental Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990. Her testimony was cited seven times by US Senators in speeches backing the use of force in Kuwait and President Bush publicly told Nayirah’s story at least ten times in the following weeks. Her testimony was pivotal in turning the American population’s sympathies towards invading Kuwait and Iraq.
She testified: “While I was there (in a specific hospital in Kuwait) I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. [she began crying] It was horrifying.”
Representative John Porter remarked that he had never heard such “brutality and inhumanity and sadism.” Her testimony was initially corroborated by Amnesty International and numerous evacuees, but after the war it was discovered that her testimony was completely fabricated. Doctors in the hospital Nayirah specifically stated she had witnessed these events told investigators that no such incidents had happened. It was later discovered that she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and had been carefully coached in what to say, and how to say it, in coordination with other witnesses before the caucus.
Franz van Eemeren, in his book Strategic Maneuvering in Argumentative Discourse, discusses Nayirah’s testimony as an example of argumentum ad misericordiam, or a type of logical fallacy (specifically, appeal to pity) purposely designed to win support for an argument by exploiting her opponent’s feelings of pity or guilt. Van Eemeren states that this kind of argument “can be so drastic that rational argumentation becomes almost impossible.” These most recent pictures of ISIS fall into the same category. 294 Americans lost their lives as a result of our action in DESERT STORM. If you think Hussein was a bad dude and should have been knocked out of power just because, consider these two facts: first, we were the ones who essentially put him in power, and two, his invasion of Kuwait was a completely justifiable act of war.
It isn’t like we should be surprised, though. In fact, the American public has been lied to in order to get them behind almost every single war we’ve been involved in for the past 125 years. For example, most Americans believe we invaded Afghanistan to get Osama bin Ladin, but don’t know that the Taliban offered to give us bin Ladin multiple times in the years and months preceding 9/11, and several times between 9/11 and when we invaded Afghanistan, and even multiple times after we invaded… and we turned them down. Others say we invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power, which is interesting in light of the fact that we put them in power. 2,340 Americans (and counting) were killed in this action.
We were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the years leading up to our invasion in 2003 when we had no proof that he did. Bush and Cheney explicitly told their cabinet that they needed to find a way to get rid of Saddam, even explicitly ordering investigators to find a way to tie Saddam into 9/11. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary (of WMDs, ties to 9/11, and every other accusation) we invaded with little objection from the American people. 4,487 Americans lost their lives in this engagement.
To get involved in Vietnam the US government sold us on the Gulf of Tonkin incident(s), two separate naval engagements with the North Vietnamese. The only problem is that one of these engagements was greatly exaggerated and the other never actually happened. 58,200 Americans died as a result of this war.
We launched our involvement in World War I as a result of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania when Germans sunk a civilian cruiser, killing 1,198 passengers and crew, including 128 Americans. This was widely billed as an unprovoked attack on civilians and in a manner contrary to international law, making the Germans evil, inhumane bastards who needed to die. What wasn’t reported was that the US & UK governments were using civilian cruisers as human shields (wait, only terrorists do that!) to ship war materiel to Britain, and that Germany had repeatedly warned them to stop or be fired upon, to no avail. In fact, the German embassy in the United States had even placed a newspaper advertisement warning Americans to not sail on the Lusitania and had publicly declared the area in which she was torpedoed to be an active war zone and warned ships not to enter it. However, the American public was spared these details, we went to war, and 117,465 Americans lost their lives.
It is almost certain we would not have had a Spanish-American war without the publicity following the USS Maine incident, wherein a US ship experienced an explosion and rapidly sunk in the Havana Harbor. The source of the explosion was so rapidly and completely pre-judged by the media that it became a classic historical example of “yellow journalism,” a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate, well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. The New York World and the New York Journal, for example, competed to see who could sensationalize the event more, at times even fabricating news when nothing had been reported. According to Ivan Musicant’s book Empire by Default: The Spanish-American War and the Dawn of the American Century, “the American public, already agitated over reported Spanish atrocities in Cuba, was driven to increased hysteria” (emphasis mine). An independent investigation concluded that the explosion was an accident (a conclusion confirmed in multiple subsequent investigations) but this was not reported to the public. 2,910 Americans lost their lives in this conflict.
So here we go again: same old song, different verse. Now, I don’t actually know what’s going on in Iraq any more than you do, but that’s kind of the point. Here’s what I feel pretty confident in assuming:
- ISIS is doing some pretty bad things.
- They aren’t as bad as what the media is reporting.
- There will always be a reason to engage in war in the Middle East if we look hard enough.
- This is now our fourth incident of military meddling in Iraq since the late 1970s (two invasions, one event of arming Saddam, and now a standoff bombing campaign). Each time, we’ve made the situation in Iraq much worse than before, and now we’re proposing that the very tool by which we’ve made the lives of Iraqi citizens demonstrably worse every time we’ve used it is the tool we should use to finally fix their problems once and for all.
Are we really that foolish? Have we let critical thinking slip that far in America? Do you know how I found out the first set of photos was fake? Hours of research went into this post, but to find out the truth about these pictures I simply clicked on the link that someone had shared talking about the ISIS slave woman market linking to www.jewsnews.co and looked at the very first comment. This told me what it was, and subsequent research confirmed it. For the second set, I did exactly one Google search. One. If it is that easy to validate this information, why aren’t we doing it? In fact, many of the pictures being shown around the internet seem more indicative of what has happened in Syria among groups that elements of the US government attempted to arm; I saw many of these types of pictures and videos during the height of the media coverage of the Syrian rebellion. Here’s John McCain posing with members of ISIS on a trip he took to support them in 2013:
After attempting to get the US to arm ISIS north of the Iraqi border, McCain publicly denounced Obama for not attacking ISIS south of the Iraqi border. What do you call someone who attempts to arm criminals then declares war on them for using said arms?
In fact, if you simply do a Google image search for “Syrian rebels beheading” you’ll find many pictures very similar to what you’re seeing which is supposedly happening in Iraq by ISIS. There’s no proof any of the pictures or videos (any that happen to be real, not staged, faked, or doctored) you’ve seen of alleged ISIS action in Iraq didn’t happen by ISIS in Syria, where Republican senators and congressmen were publicly supporting them.
Full disclosure: I’m an American. I’m a Christian. And I’m an officer in our armed forces (as if it had to be said, the opinions outlined here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect those of the federal government, DoD, or any department of the DoD). The fact that intelligent friends of mine would so easily jump on the bandwagon of military engagement without even taking the time to read what they’re sharing or doing a single Google search to corroborate it angers me. The fact that they would support putting my and my brothers-in-arms lives at risk for something so easily discerned as overblown, if not outright fraudulent, makes me doubt the sincerity of their support. The fact that my children could be potentially robbed of a father, and my wife robbed of a husband, for such a stupid reason as an out-of-context dated picture of the Muslim stage version of Hamlet… I don’t have words.
If this is you; if you have allows your opinions to be formed by something as simple as this without questioning it or doing any research on your own, if you have actively or tacitly encouraged that lives, no matter how horrid you think they are, be ended without seriously questioning what is going on, then shame on you. My life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters, are being laid on the line for this. Don’t you, the citizen, the voter, at least owe it to us to make sure that your support for armed intervention lies on something more solid than what I’ve shown here? Look, each one of us was willing to die for you – that’s why we put on the uniform. But don’t trample that gift; don’t throw away that sacrifice. All we ask of you, the voter, is that you practice discretion and discernment when you support military action. If it’s the right call, we’ll go. But if it isn’t, if we’re going to war over something that is so obviously exaggerated, if not outright fabricated… That is shameful. It is immoral.People will die. That shouldn’t be taken lightly.
You may have assumed that the government exhaustively researches any intel and that military engagement must be the right decision because they wouldn’t let us go in if it wasn’t. Such an assumption displays naught but ignorance and naiveté. Here’s an example: in 1999 much of the case for going to war with Iraq in 2003 was made based on the testimony of “Curveball,” an Iraqi defector and low-level engineer who attempted to enter Munich on a German visa. The only problem was that Curveball’s character (a convicted sex offender), motives (he was desperately trying to be admitted to the country), and intel (German intel officers described his information has “highly suspect”) were all in doubt. Despite this, his information (which later proved to be erroneous) was passed on to senior policymakers in the US without ever having been debriefed by American agents and without having his information corroborated and while the people passing the information on were saying it was “highly suspect.”
On 30 Jan 01 George W. Bush held his first national security meeting, and the top item on the list was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Bush told his staff: “Go find me a way to do this.” Dick Cheney began secretly meeting with oil executives days later and mapped the division of oil fields in Iraq, even going so far as to have the Pentagon put together a document titled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” This, despite Secretary of Defense Rumsfield publicly stating “Iraq is not a nuclear threat at the present time” (11 Feb 01) and Secretary of State Colin Powell stating that Saddam “has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction” (24 Feb 01). A CIA analyst known only as “Joe” told the Bush administration that aluminum tubes Iraq had bought could only be for nuclear centrifuges. The Department of Energy got hold of this information and thoroughly eviscerated it, demonstrating it to be untrue, but the Bush administration ignored the proof that this was not true and testifies before the public that this is reason to go to war. Later it was discovered that Karl Rove gathered White House aides together and explained that it would look bad if the American people knew that Bush had been advised that the aluminum tubes were probably harmless. Curveball was granted asylum in Germany in Sep of 2001 and quits cooperating, causing British intel agency MI6 to say that “elements of (his) behavior strike us as typical of…fabricators.”
Five hours after the 9/11 attacks, a Rumsfield aide took notes at one of the meetings and wrote this: “Best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit SH (Saddam Hussein) @ same time. Not only UBL (Usama bin Ladin).” The next day, when Bush was told that there was no evidence Hussein had anything to do with this, Bush ordered investigators to find “any shred” Saddam was involved. Dissatisfied with the intel reports he was receiving from intel agencies and the Department of Defense which indicated absolutely no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11, Vice President Cheney started having raw intelligence sent straight to his desk from the Pentagon “with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals” (The New Yorker, 27 Oct 2003).
And that’s how we went to war in 2003.
You see what happened? Certain individuals in power prejudged this to be an outcome they wanted to pursue: an invasion of Iraq. They then manipulated, and at times all but fabricated, the evidence in order to sway public opinion to support this war. The same thing is going on now. Please wake up. Please, please, please wake up, and stop creating enemies, killing Americans and others, and making the situation worse. Question your assumptions and biases. Find out if any of this is true before you go sharing links and “raising awareness” on social media.
No matter what, I hope that no one ever treats the lives of your loved ones in such a cavalier manner, as many Americans have so casually treated mine.