The Iraq War isn’t over, not in any conventional sense. Warfare as we know it is a different animal today than it was even 20 years ago, and it’s no cause to celebrate.
The troops, those who died and those who live with the emotional and physical scars of war, as well as their families, deserve our respect and gratitude. Thank you.
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But this isn’t about them; it’s about the nature of bloody, dirty war. Make the separation intellectually, even if you can’t emotionally. Because many of these young men and women died following orders in war set forth by a previous presidential administration with trumped-up evidence to gain support for what has turned out to be an unjust war.
The liberal party line? Sure, if it makes us all feel better. But the fact remains we went in to destroy Iraq’s quest for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, a mission undertaken based on flimsy evidence presented to Congress and the American people.
In reality, President Bush was getting the chance to avenge his father’s unfinished business by dethroning a despot who was at least keeping the region semi-stable.
Along the way, American occupation in Iraq made the situation worse, setting up a near civil war, opening the door to terror groups throughout the globe to become entrenched there.
America took the Wild West to the Middle East. It was a destabilized region out of control, and the only way to restore order from the chaos of our own creation was through the “surge.”
Let’s not forget what happened. Two or three years in the past is not enough time for revisionist history to take root.
Hold your parades in El Centro, and San Diego, San Antonio and Chicago. Fly the flag and welcome the troops home in Phoenix, Florida or Fairfax, Va. Even send forth your streamers in Washington state, but don’t expect the same in Washington, D.C., because to host such a celebration would be for the United States government, for the Obama administration, to acknowledge Iraq as a war for the right reasons, and that, simply, is wrong.
Even as I write this, I’m having a “bumper sticker” moment, in which I can see the mantras emblazoned on cars and trucks across America and this Valley: “If you can’t stand behind the troops, stand in front them.”
It’s that kind of soundbyte thinking that makes it impossible to have a conversation based in reality.
Celebrate our troops at the local and regional levels, free from federal sanctioning. The U.S. economy is reeling from war costs and an economy still teetering on the brink — these issues are important things to be reminded of in the context of some falsely joyous occasion.
World War II, and arguably the Korean War, were the last conflicts in which the United States fought in any traditional manner. Vietnam was the start of a new kind of guerilla warfare.
But the war on terror, conflicts in the Middle East, has changed the game forever. Sides aren’t warring under flags flapping in the wind, one country against another, right vs. wrong. This is the age, forever after, of ideological conflicts, deep-seated and stemming from that moment in early childhood where faith can be corrupted by splinter factions of an otherwise peaceful religion into hate for one way of life over another, hate for our way of life.
If war is changed, newer, meaner, messier, complicated beyond the stage of simple solutions, then so is the manner in which we “celebrate” — if that word even applies any longer. Tidy endings are over, and we’ve evolved past the point of national parades.