Monday, December 15, 2008

Shoes Over Baghdad

"Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang, Bombs over Baghdad. Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something...Bombs over Baghdad."


I remember the days leading up to the war in Iraq. It was in the fall of 2003. I was a junior. My political science professor at the time made us write papers supporting our views on the preemptive attack on Iraq. I opposed the war in Iraq. I opposed it because I did not believe that the United States should be the world police or in the case of Iraq some sort of moral police. I read every article the New York Times published in the days leading up to the first strikes. I kept every newspaper copy. I didn't want to be anti-war just because. I wanted to have the facts. I did my research and I was convinced that Iraq did not have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. Hence, no amount of yelling and fist thumping by Colin Powell or Bush mispronouncing the word "nuclear" was going to convince me otherwise. The International Atomic and Energy Agency was already on the ground and I almost wished that the IAEA would be allowed to do their job without interference and that a war would be avoided. The Iraqi people had already endured enough cruel sanctions they needn't be punished any more. That we were on the verge of another Gulf War was to say the least unsettling.

If Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons it was not the duty of the United States to make him give them up or in this case show where he "hid" them. He did not invent nuclear weapons. They had existed since the United States chose to use them on unsuspecting Japanese civilians. There was no moral police to stop the United States. So bombs fell over Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Then the United States decided that they were an evil, these bombs were. Hence, they had to be owned only by governments who would have the wisdom to know when to use them, like there ever was or would be a time to do so. The United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and a few others could have them. But Saddam couldn't. What deprivation! Other countries seeing this felt like kids in a candy store who could have a taffy but not the candied apple. No fair!

I turned in my paper just in time to go hear the Emory Symphony Orchestra play. It was the last concert for the year. I remember that moment as I sat in the Symphony Hall and the sounds of the strings filled the hall. It was so poignant. The next day, bombs fell over Baghdad. It was clear that the invasion had occurred and we were a nation at war. Then the news was filled with the escapades of Chemical Ali and the Hussein children. Politicians in Washington threw punches and at dinner tables and diners all across the nation people debated for hours the rationale behind the invasion. I heard all kinds of theories about the war. The clergy had their theory. Southern Confederate loyalists and liberals took their jab. Then, it was Sunday morning and in came the news that Saddam had been captured. But the war had not ended, was not ending. Then there was a farewell tour and shoes were hurled.

It's 2011, and perhaps the war is "over" in Iraq. So what's next...a Marshall Plan of some sort? Remember the final scene from Charlie Wilson's War? Afghans and Americans battle invasion from the Soviet Union in the movie which is based on a true story. The Soviet Union is defeated and the invasion is stalled. In the end, Mr. Wilson tries to negotiate for some money to build a school for the Afghan children. There had to be some surplus for this was a costly effort. See, billions of dollars had been spent fueling a war but in the end, the United States government did not have a mere million dollars to open up a school. It was too damn expensive and strictly not part of the budget. But the bombs that fell were.

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