As an 11 year old walking into the living room, an impending war was the last thing that I was worried about. After that day however, my thinking changed forever. CNN was blaring on the TV, telling the world that President Bush had declared war on Iraq. From what they were teaching me at school, and what they were printing in the papers, it was a just war that was going to rid the world of an oppressive leader. Thirteen years later, one image from that day still rings fresh in my mind: Seeing my father wiping the tears from his eyes as the announcement was made. Although it took a few minutes for me to realize why he reacted in that way, the image has stuck with me ever since that day.
Fast forward to the year 2003. The same story about a war in the Middle East is unfolding on CNN—and the dozen networks cloned after it. Just as his father zeroed in Saddam and Iraq as the root of all evil, George W. has assumed an even more aggressive role in wiping the family’s rival off the map. As this new war in Iraq unfolds, I am well aware of what my father was going through in 1990. Picturing the fate of the tens of thousands of innocent Muslims gives me a sinking feeling akin to riding on a crashing elevator.
As I was driving home on my evening commute the other day, I passed by a pickup truck with a sign painted across its rear window. Although pickups with painted on signs may be commonplace here in Texas, this particular one stood out from the rest. The sign on the truck read “SUPPORT FREEDOM: LIBERATE IRAQ”. As I passed by, I thought to myself “Does this person really care about the plight of the Iraqi people?” My guess would be no.
Liberation is the “it” word right now. It is supposed to invoke thoughts of freedom, tranquility, and love. But what is the 21st century definition of “liberation”? For an answer, we should turn to Afghanistan. The stated goal of the war in Afghanistan was to rid the country of a few hiding terrorists, and free the Afghani people from an “oppressive” regime. A less than accurate bombing campaign ensued, and its victims were often not enemy combatants, but civilians. A highly populated wedding reception, a few Red-Cross compounds, and convoys of civilian vehicles are just a few of the victims that were leveled during this short, but devastating war. As the smoke was clearing, the western media was quick to show people dancing in the streets, shaving their beards, and burning their burqas. What they failed to show was the grim reality that this war-torn nation is facing. Although a new puppet government has been installed, the Afghani people are well aware of who are really ruling the country: a handful of barbaric warlords. No sooner did the paint fade from the “LIBERATE AFGHANISTAN” pickup trucks, than did their drivers lose track of what was happening there. While thousands of innocent people lay dead, the targets of the war are still running free. While there has been a spike in the illicit growing of poppies for opium producing purposes, average Afghani is just trying to pick up the pieces of their life. Ask them whether or not they feel liberated.
So what are the now vocal hawks going to do once Iraq does get liberated? Are they going to turn their backs and allow the country fall into an utterly destitute state? Are they going to test the latest and most advanced weapons against an under matched army, then sit back and watch as their so-called “prime target”, Saddam runs off unharmed? The answer to both of the aforementioned questions is YES, since that’s what happened after the first Gulf War. As we return for the sequel, only a few variables have changed: the United States armed forces have become more powerful, its weapons more dangerous, and the Iraqi people more vulnerable. The outcome of this war doesn’t figure to be much different than the one that preceded it. Just more loss of innocent life, more poverty, and more pestilence, while the rest of the world (including fellow Muslims) are mere spectators.
During the Afghan war we became familiar with the “Daisy-Cutter” bomb, which had the ability to obliterate an area the size of numerous football fields put together. It just doesn’t seem to be powerful enough for Iraq, therefore the 21,000lb Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB will be employed in Iraq. While this may not be called a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” by some in our government, I am horrified to even fathom what could happen when dropped anywhere close to a civilian population. Do they need MOABs, Daisy-Cutters, hundreds of thousands of troops, plus the help of the British to help depose just one man?
It is for these very reasons that not only Muslims, but also those concerned with humanity should be diametrically opposed to this war. In America, we are without a doubt far more technologically and economically advanced than most of the world. Instead of following through with this cause, we should be setting the moral standard for the rest of the world, rather than trudging blindly through the wilderness of this war. With all the rhetoric that is blindly being churned out by the right-wing, the unfortunate fact remains that only negative can emerge from this war. After the smoke clears and hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals are killed, maimed, or made homeless, Saddam will more than likely still be running about, just like before. The paint will once again fade from the rear of the pickup trucks, and the drivers will have to sit back and wait to see which country needs to be “liberated” next.