The groundbreaking film, Meeting Resistance, seeks to explain the current disconnect in American media and the realities on the ground of what forces are behind the violence in Iraq. Similar arguments used during Vietnam are largely accepted by American audiences as a legitimate reason for the continued occupation of Iraq. The “War on Terror” and the fight against communism in Vietnam both give Americans an enemy to fear and our troops an honorable military operation.
Never before in American history has a documentary film examined “the enemy” while the conflict continues. The information contained in the film has become so valuable in gaining understanding of the violence in Iraq; it has been shown not only to civilian audiences, but to military audiences as well. Of note is the recent showing to “The Red Team” operating in Iraq whose main job is to conduct exercises and war games, providing an adversarial perspective, especially when this perspective includes plausible tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) as well as realistic policy and doctrine… of the enemy. Although the filmmakers themselves are journalists, with no specific political or military agenda, the military has recognized the great value this film offers.
Explanations to several myths making their way through the American media give audiences a new and necessary perspective. The first myth largely accepted is that the majority of the violence in Iraq is due to sectarian violence targeting mostly civilians. Clearly, this is not the case as the Department of Defense quarterly reports show a very different reality. An average of 74% of all violence is attributed to attacks on American forces, 16% target Iraqi police and army personal, and a mere 10% target civilians. These numbers break apart the myth that a US troop presence is needed in order to mediate or stifle a civil war based on old sectarian tensions.
The second myth circulated for American audiences is the idea that sectarian tensions in Iraq existed before the US led invasion (mostly between Sunni and Shi’a). However, when one look at current polls, showing that 100% of Iraqi’s disagree with targeting other Iraqi’s, regardless of faith, the presumption that deep seeded hate among these groups exists is false at best. In fact in 2002 close to half of all marriages in Iraq were comprised of people with mixed faith and ethnicities.
The third myth is that violence is largely attributed to “outside influences,” namely that of foreign fighters from Iran and Syria. Although there is minimal truth to these claims the percentage of attacks on American forces and perceived collaborators are largely perpetrated by Iraqi’s themselves and motivated by Iraqi nationalism and a desire to “protect the homeland.” Of the one Syrian fighter interviewed for the film, it was a desire to fight the enemy in Iraq in order to quell an American attack on Syrian soil that motivated his particular movement. Ironically, it has been this same argument offered up by Vice President Dick Cheney and the political right in this country to justify the continued occupation of Iraq. We will fight them over there so we won’t have to fight them over here dominates the mentality of all foreign fighters in Iraq, including US troops.
Last, the myth that Iraqi on Iraqi violence is motivated by religious ideology is also shown to be largely false. A more accurate description of the civil strife in Iraq is that it is political in nature and is comprised of Iraqi Nationalists who wish to see Iraq remain united, unoccupied, and self-governing and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council who have advocated a partitioning of Iraq.
As documented in the film and evidenced by the Department of Defense ‘s own reports if US policy makers truly wish to see a decrease in violence, a clear course of action is offered up by this film. The removal of US forces alone would decrease violence by 74%, a substantial decrease in violence by anyone’s standards. Anyone, that is, except those politicians making the decision to keep any US forces in Iraq.