Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Combat in Iraq Over

Majid Saeedi's  Photo of an Afgan woman's hands used completely out of context from TheBigPicture

It may be that I've lived to see an American war open and close within the scope of my awareness. President Obama released a newscast declaring an end to the American Combat phase of the Iraq War, as covered here in the Times. The article's quite good at capturing both the monumental importance of this moment and the bittersweet political and emotional murkiness that surrounds our seemingly unending militaristic nature as a nation. Because of course we have to end our wars. American hubris also requires, unfortunately, that we end them without staining the global tablecloth or our delusional clean-white conscience, and I'm afraid that just isn't the reality. The harm and trauma from this war will reach far beyond its official conclusion. Fingers will be pointed, political sides taken, egos bolstered or deflated in the glammy non sequuntur this country has become defined by. Iraq will be left in the wayside, broken, regardless of what we think. Animosity will have generated at an irreconcilable rate, regardless. We are responsible. America is responsible.

America is also broke. We cannot fight another war and shouldn't, yet it won't surprise me in the slightest if suddenly we dive into Iran, on another fabricated (or maliciously engineered) pretext as we did in Vietnam, Iraq, and I'm sure others. Only to find out years later that an entire generation of suffering, waste, death and hatred was no more necessary than the belief that star-bellied sneeches are better than plain ones. We have to stop or we won't survive this.

Seven years ago when this war began I was still in High School. I remember the entire landslide of falsehoods and fearmongering rancor. I was compelled to do something about it, and entered into college a Middle Eastern Studies/ Journalism major, with an emphasis on Arabic. I felt it my place in the world to correct some of the injustice toward the Middle East perpetrated by my country.

The tenacity of that goal has fallen by the wayside, and as complicated as it is I still curse my own weaknesses  which led to it. I know so little about the world, and seem to lose more ground every day as I learn more, but I cannot give up.  I resolve to try harder, and not forget. To read and think and learn about the course of things. To do otherwise would be a disservice to our global generation.

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