Monday, March 25, 2013

Gasoline Dreams: 10 Years since the Iraq Invasion

10 years ago last week, I was sitting in my dorm room wondering what Washington was going to do with Baghdad. I sat there worrying that we'd be going to war and if Saddam Hussein really did have these things called weapons of mass destruction. Then my roommate turned to CNN and we saw an OutKast song come to life.

I wanted to immediately post an away message on AIM saying Bombs over Baghdad. But instead, I was scared. So was my roommate. I saw somebody post a message saying "Let us pray" so I went ahead and posted something more thoughtful like that. Because I knew that we were in for something and had no idea how it'd end.

At the time, I was thinking "Okay go ahead and get them before they get us". I didn't realize that there was already shaky logic leading us to Iraq and I remember Saddam expressing sorrow and condolences after 9/11. But fear is a powerful force and like Hermann Goering said at the Nuremburg trials, it can move people to do anything in the name of safety.

It's a sad anniversary that many have already spoken on but for me, I like to think about how in less than 18 months, that was a loud chorus of opposition that I had never seen before. Between March 2003 and the summer of 2004, we saw a lot more information that unraveled the story that Washington sold us.

May 1, 2003. President George Bush told us "Mission Accomplished". I watched this speech while he was 20 mins away from my school in San Diego and little did I know this would prove to be a lie and harbinger of doom for the next decade.
So I think as we look back, what I take away isn't how much hindsight we have but how some things known back then didn't raise more red flags. Now that I think about it, we re-enacted the Spanish-American War only to be caught in another Vietnam.

In layman's terms, the White House wanted a war, sold it to the media who relayed it to an extremely patriotic population, assumed it would be a quick "splendid, little war" and were later exposed for lying and underestimating what would happen next.

I feel bad for friends and acquaintances I know who served in Iraq because leaders took advantage of their bravery and commitment. I don't blame them, I blame who gave them the orders. After I read Bob Woodward's book, I realized that there were many in Pres. Bush's inner circle - mainly Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger - who wanted war no matter what.

It's a sad thing to look back on and there's two (of so many) things I'll never forget since then. 1) Pat Tillman becoming one of many who were sacrificed because of a lie, 2) Dying Iraq veteran Tomas Young's scathing final letter to President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney that gave me chills knowing that next month, Young will be dead from his injuries suffered in Iraq.

10 years ago, very few people imagined that we'd be in this position. I guess I had a reason to be worried in my dorm room where I did see something Andre 3000 and Big Boi talked about on Stankonia. Instead of "Bombs over Baghdad", I would see the cost of "Gasoline Dreams" and how two worlds would be affected from them.

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