Here are the "Top 10 Myths of the Iraq War" developed by Strategy Page (I've just listed them, go to the link for a discussion of each) :
1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal.
3-Sanctions were working.
4-Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran.
5-The Invasion Was a Failure.
6-The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda.
7-Iraq Is In A State of Civil War.
8-Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam.
9-The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe.
10- The War in Iraq is Lost.
Anna Freud once wrote that the ego of a child in denial "refuses to become aware of some disagreeable reality.... It turns its back on it, and in imagination reverses the unwelcome facts."
The essence of psychologica denial is a refusal to look at or acknowledge reality.
Fortunately, reality exists outside of one's head and is objective and verifiable. It is not altered by whim, desire, lies or myth. This is not to say that people might not believe ideas that do not conform to reality--in fact, they do so all the time. Just like Anna's description of the child's ego, the ego of an otherwise normal adult may also resort to childish, immature and primitive mechanisms when it feels threatened.
You would think it would be a simple matter to be "in touch" with reality. But it isn't. It requires a great deal of cognitive effort--i.e., thinking--and often that effort must assert itself over powerful emotions that draw the person away from the real world to a place more comfortable and unchallenging to their inner reality.
So, how does a rational person determine what is true and what is delusion? How do you decide if something is a myth or is real?
In the case of the Strategy Page list above, people of the left will assert that it is those of us who don't subscribe to those assertions who are in living in the land of psychological denial. As I already mentioned (and it can't be repeated too often these days) reality objectively exists outside of any one person's or group's beliefs.
Psychological denial and the avoidance of an unpleasant reality are certainly not confined to one side of the political spectrum or the other. But what I find endlessly fascinating is how the political left has created and fully integrated specific ideological tools that facilitate ongoing psychological denial.
It reminds me of all the paranoid patients I have observed over the years, who effortlessly are able to dismiss or explain away those facts that don't fit in with their carefully constructed conspiracy theories. If you get too assertive in pointing out those uncomfortable facts, you find yourself in no time fully integrated into the theory. For the paranoid, the case is closed and the argument is finished.
The political left has been utilizing the same psychological strategies inherent in the paranoid style since the end of the cold war and the 20th century. The rise of politically correct speech and the dogma of multiculturalism; the insistence on cultural diversity while enforcing a profound homogeneity of ideas and lack of intellectual diversity in academia; as well as the distortions and rationalizations that are currently the hallmark of intellectual debate within our institutions of higher learning and politics-- have all combined to dissuade those on the political left from pursuing a course of intellectual honesty and/or emotional insight.
This is what makes it so frustrating to debate or argue with today's typical postmodern leftist. Some are willing to engage in discussion, but you can always count on their complete dismissal of any fact that does not conform to their ideological perspective. No matter how many times you debunk their position (e.g., no matter how many times evidence of Saddam's WMD's are found and documented; that evidence has been either ignored or poo-pooed using a variety of rationalizations--and the goalposts are then changed to ensure the safety of the denial).
When it suits their purposes (i.e., when they are losing the argument), they will resort to the claim that reality and truth are merely subjective constructs anyway, and that any evidence you present is only someone's "opinion" and that their opinions are as good as anyone else's.
Such a position should logically disqualify their position to begin with, but of course, it doesn't.
Generally they use this as their argument of last resort--when they cannot bring any facts or logic to support their position. After a brief escape into the relativism noted above, they will then usually proceed directly to the usual ad hominem attacks. Q.E.D.
The essential problem of the left in acknowledging the truth about Saddam's WMD's or any of their other myths about the Iraq war, is that these myths have become inextricably entwined and inseparable from their most sacred ideological beliefs. These are the myths that are the cornerstone of their faith in the evil of George Bush, Republicans and America.
To acknowledge even the slightest possibility that these keystones of their religious political faith are warped would threaten their entire ideology--and thus, their image of themselves. They need to see themselves as caring and compassionate; always standing for peace and brotherhood--and oh, and by the way, did you know that they are a community of "reality-based" people? Get that?
How could you not? They obsessively and repeatedly make sure you understand how loving and good they--always in contrast to the members of the political right who are always described as "hate-filled" (the right "hate" blacks; "hate" hispanics, "hate" women, "hate" gays, "hate" the poor etc. etc.). Academics of the left are desperate to "prove" these assertions and give them a scientific seal of approval (see here, for a discussion about one example of this tendency).
By itself, this rather compulsive behavior on their part should give any thinking person pause, because it is not typically the behavior of a people who are entirely comfortable with who they are. Rather, from a psychological perspective, their behavior and the almost desperate need they exhibit to prove both you and to themselves that they ARE more caring, more sensitive, and more reality-based, suggests that they are trying to hide quite the opposite reality from themselves.
At the center of all psychological denial is a hidden agenda. That agenda is usually not completely conscious--meaning that the denier has not thought through the issues surrounding his denial; and may not even be aware of what his motivation is in asserting something is true when it isn't; or false when it isn't.
The hidden agenda or underlying motivation behind the denial is very frequently related to the potential adverse consequences that could ensue if the denial were eliminated and reality acknowledged. And this is where unnacceptable feelings, needs, and thoughts come in. The denier (or part of him) has made an unconscious decision that awareness of certain feelings, needs, or thoughts is more threatening to his sense of self than the act of denial.
Thus, any person genuinely trying to determine which side of an argument conforms to reality and truth, needs to assess the personal, i.e., the psychological, stakes or conflicts of interest (as those stakes are sometimes referred to) for both sides of the argument.
Of course, both sides in this argument have a conflicts of interest because this is politics and both sides want to win. So, it is entirely possible that both sides are deluding themselves and in denial.
In that case, a rational observer would either wash his hands of both sides; or, accept the reality that one side or the other is going to be in power and go with the side that is at least closest to reality.
When it comes to deciding between Democrats and Republicans; the political left or the neocons; I'm going to have to go with the only partially deluded Republicans and the neocons all the way.
They at least have not completely abandoned the real world for the bubble of self-delusion. They have not regularly retreated into moral relativism and the nihilism of postmodern rhetoric to justify their denial and delusion. They have not embraced national defeat and humiliation as a path to power and control over others. They do not constantly whine, scream, and behave like immature children when they don't get their way (at least not a a matter of course). They do not say one thing and then do another, at least not with the frequency and enthusiasm of the Democrats and the left. They at least put forth new ideas and plans to deal with the situation in Iraq and in the real world in general; the Democrats and the left apparently aren't capable of generating an idea or plan and simply want to retreat and capitulate. The Republicans and neocons are able to adapt to reality and change tactics to produce a desired outcome. The Democrats and the left use the same tired old tactics over and over.
George Bush wants to see America win the war in Iraq; John Kerry can only heap scorn on America and Americans as he panders to the likes of Khatami and other despots. George Bush is trying to prevent America from being attacked again by Islamic terrorists as we were on 9/11; the Democrats and the left pretend that 9/11 never happened or that it was even historically important (just like Pearl Harbor wasn't, I guess); don't want to acknowledge that we are in a war at all; but yet fervently believe at the same time that we are to blame for bringing 9/11 on ourselves.
For 5 years now, America has had to listen to the Democrats' and the left's constant carping; we have had to withstand their contempt for American values and our military had to bear the brunt of their incoherent rage and careless enabling of the enemy we fight. We have listened to the endless repetition of their mantras and slogans; the unrivaled self-righteousness of their superior intellects; and seen firsthand the intensity of the hatred that motivates them.
In all that time there have been very very few able to summon up an iota of insight; or a moment of self-reflection about their own behavior. Having won back a few seats to regain the majority in Congress pretty much ensure that they won't be able to do that in the immediate future either.
Don't dare question their patriotism, they scream. But look at their behavior. Listen to John Kerry , for example (he was, after all their last nominee for POTUS) and then tell me that his behavior is patriotic; that he is not just treasonous scum, out to advance the wonderfulness of John Kerry at the expense of his own country (I seem to recall he did exactly the same thing a number of years ago, too).
One of the most serious psychological challenges that any human being must face is to face reality, particularly when the consequences of confronting truth are personally unpleasant and very painful. That is exactly what psychological denial seeks to avoid doing.
For the Democrats and their increasingly histrionic leftist base, denial--not America-- has been their country of residence since September 11, 2001. Generally, it has been a safe and happy place for them to be; because as long as they can hate and vilify George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and all those evil Republicans and Lieberman Democrats out there; and as long as they can pretend that the objects of their hate are the real cause of any problem; then they don't have to deal with the external reality of Islamofascist terror, or face the truth about their own unacknowledged and pathological internal reality. They can continue to cling to the holy, neo socialist faith, newly risen from the ashes of the 20th century; and delude themselves into thinking that they are wonderful, caring, loving and reality-based people.
Interestingly, Andrew Klavan in the LA Times yesterday touches on this as it relates to our brave and fearless Hollywood types:
I RECENTLY attended "FBI 101," a G-man seminar for Hollywood writers....Klavan comments, "...we can't bring ourselves to fictionalize the larger idea: Islamo-fascism is an evil and American liberty a good. But somehow today's Democrats and the political left has no difficulty in fictionalizing the reverse.
But if they're hoping that their seminar will win them props from filmmakers in general — a picture or two celebrating their courageous work in the war on terror — I suspect they are going to be disappointed. In the history of our time as told by the movies, the war on terror largely does not exist.
Which is passing strange, you know. Because the war on terror is the history of our time. The outcome of our battle against the demographic, political and military upsurge of a hateful theology and its oppressive political vision will determine the fate of freedom in this century.
Television — more populist, hungrier for content and less dependent on foreign audiences — reflects this fact with shows such as "24" and "The Unit." But at the movies, all we're getting is home-front angst and the occasional "Syriana," in which "moderate" Islam is thwarted by evil American interests. But the notion that this war is about our moral failings is comfort fantasy, pure and simple. It soothes us with the false idea that, if we but mend ourselves, the scary people will leave us alone.
The real world is both darker than that and lighted brighter in places by surprising fires of nobility. It's darker because our enemies were not created by the peccadilloes of free people and will not melt away before a moral perfection that we, in any case, can never achieve.
Let's face it, the myths that fuel the left's denial are designed to make sure that they--not America--come out the winners.