20 December, 2011

Leaving Iraq

My husband spent a year in Iraq shortly after we got married. I can't tell you how many times I wished for the war to be over just so he could be home, and damn whether the war was right or wrong. Occupation in Iraq has ended, and I'm happy for it, but the war is not over - we're still at war, and it's a war that has gone longer.

I look back at the last ten years mostly thinking "Holy crap, 10 years!" It's been over ten years since 9/11, over ten years since I sat in a chatroom with new fellow students asking "why?" and "what is happening?", and over ten years since the world I know was changed forever. Regardless of why we really went to war, or who knew what, I personally believe we would not have been there if 9/11 had not occurred. The terrorist attack opened up the possibility for war, and once we had gone to Afghanistan, it didn't take much to convince people to go to war in Iraq.

To me, the war is a lot of things. 

It is something that has taken and damaged more lives than I would like to realize, and not just American. It has caused a lot of damage to families, and I know the strain I felt while I was alone for the time TGW was gone. It was hard. It was difficult for politicians. It was difficult for citizens. It was hell for soldiers.

It is also the reason why I got married when I did. We had planned to get married in a couple years, but TGW got his orders, and I was almost 18. We talked it over, and I didn't want him to leave without us being married. I wanted to be the first person that they called if something happened - I didn't want to have to worry about not being able to visit him when he was in training, either. I also knew that there were a lot of benefits to being married as a soldier, but most of all, I knew that we would be married either way, and that getting married before he left was much better than worrying that I might never get the chance.

The war is a battle against perception. While we are dealing with insurgents and there is a lot of hatred still resting in those opposed to U.S. occupation, the U.S. soldiers are still rebuilding homes and making clean water available, ensuring people have power and food, and that is so crazy to me, still. I think it's great, but when we hear about the soldiers from anti-war protesters, you never hear about how they built houses, you only hear about them "killing babies". There is no way, I don't think, to change the way people view soldiers in wars they don't support. Don't get me wrong - bad people do bad things in war. But good people do far more good than that.

The Iraq War is the public war. We have been at war with Afghanistan for longer, and we're still there, and it seems like the media couldn't give a fuck about it if they tried. We are at war with Afghanistan for what seems to be good reason - the Taliban, along with Osama Bin Laden, are the ones who attacked the U.S. 

I am not really opposed to retaliation against them for that, I will be honest, but I would love to see this war be over. This is in large part due to the fact that I personally believe that it's not possible to really win a war in Afghanistan - for either side. There is no "win hearts and minds". We can't destroy all of the Taliban, and we can't protect the innocent Afghans, either. They can't wipe us out no matter how hard they might try. Not there, and not without measures that no one will and no one should take.

The news doesn't care about that, though. They want to focus on the Iraq War - victory or no - because it's controversial. I feel horrible for every soldier, and every family member or friend of a soldier, who is in Afghanistan. No one remembers them. They are heroes only in retrospect. And many of them will still be there for a long while.

The war is NOT over. We may have left Iraq, but that was never the real war we were fighting. So long as we are in Afghanistan, we're still at war. I hope people don't forget that.

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