The Iraq War began 10 years ago. That seems impossible.
I was not in favor of the Iraq War. I sided with those who said that there were no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Iraq. Of course, I had to base my decisions about this war on what was available in the media, as I must rely on the media for all distant data. I did not admire Saddam Hussein and I knew he did unspeakable things to some of his people, but we were supposed to be hunting for and finding those who attacked America on 9/11 and it was clear that they were not in Iraq.
I remember those days right before the war began because they were dark days for America, at least in my estimation. If I had this blog in those days I would have been afraid to speak my mind. It was the first time in my life that I felt that if I exercised my First Amendment rights I might end up in a CIA file or worse. The Patriot Acts were passed which gave the government the right to, among other things, get access to our library reading history. Since I read mostly fiction I’m not sure why I felt nervous about this, but I guess it seemed as if someone (the government) had stepped over a line. I worried that, in the name of fear, we would lose more and more of our rights. People who did not support the war were considered to be unpatriotic. What is the opposite of patriotic? That’s how it was; support the war or chance being proved a traitor. I was not old enough when Joe McCarthy was hauling suspected Communists in front the Un-American Activities Committee to have experienced what it might feel like to be hunted down by our own government. Now that I have felt that little frission of fear about my own freedom of expression, I hope I am never in that position again.
I think Saddam Hussein pushed a lot of buttons around the world with his arrogance and his swagger. He acted like the school yard bully and made it seem like he was aching to be taken down. What we didn’t understand was the delicate balance between sectarian groups provided by Saddam that kept Iraq somewhat peaceful. Still, Saddam was a crude leader who used terror to keep the various groups in line and I don’t think the world misses him. I’m sure the Iraqi people do miss the security that allowed them to pursue a day to day life that had some order in it, that allowed Iraqis to raise their children in peace and enjoy their families and their businesses, as long as they did not run afoul of their government. That is what Iraq lost and seems unable to get back.
What we lost was men and women, American men and women. They did sign up to defend America and it was their job, but it still seemed like we abused these soldiers. They had to keep going back for one tour after another. I think it finally made many Americans cringe to send them back so many times. We also watched so many young men and women come home with terrible injuries, both mental and physical. Yes we are better at keeping seriously wounded soldiers alive and our prosthetics are better than ever, but they are still nothing like having your own limbs. The brave way our soldiers deal with losing limbs is an example to all of us and gives us hope that we would face such injury just a bravely; although I don’t think that I would.
So I stand in my kitchen making dinner and I curse the snow still falling from the March sky and then I remember Iraq. I remember that people there live simply with few of the comforts of life that I take for granted every day. And whether we were right or whether we were wrong is perhaps a question we will never all agree on. But I believe we do all wish the Iraqi people will get their peace back and that they will get a benevolent government which, despite its wish to improve life in Iraq, knows how to firmly keep the peace between all the sectarian groups of Iraqis. I worship the simple, everyday rituals of a peaceful and productive life, I love when families get to shop and play and nurture their children and work each day at whatever trade they must to support the life they live. I guess I am like one of those beauty queens (although only in this way) because if you ask me what I wish for most I will answer, “World Peace”.
This is the view from the cheap seats.