I have a lot of mixed feelings about what’s happening in Iraq right now. A lot.
On the one hand, I question why we ever went there in the first place. What was the mission? What was the perceived end state? What did we honestly hope to achieve there?
And our leadership was delusional. Let’s not forget Mission Accomplished or how long it took the powers that be to recognize that we were getting dragged into an insurgency. Let’s not forget our own version of Baghdad Bob running around talking about how things were getting better when on the ground, things were going to hell. Let’s not forget about the general’s revolt – when general officers went public with their disagreements over how the war was being run.
Or the personal fear when my husband called and told me he’d just gotten back from Fallujah. Or when a group of soldiers refused to run a convoy up to Taji because it was a so called death sentence. A place my husband was stationed at.
The war slogged on. We went through the Surge, where we took anyone who wanted to serve and dealt with the ramifications of allowing people who never should have been soldiers to join up. We took the felons and the delinquents and sent them happily off to war then the entire army lost it’s shit when we had massive problems back on the home front.
Of course, by then we were a few years into this mess. Maybe, just maybe, back to back to back deployments weren’t good for an army – or maybe the half or so of the force that actually bore the burden.
Then came New Dawn. When we were pulled out of the cities and told to let the Iraqi Army take the lead. We talked about partnerships and the strength of the new Iraq, all the while ignoring the sectarian violence just waiting for us to leave.
Because we were leaving. We went to war without paying for it. The American people didn’t pay for it. Not in taxes. Not in lost sleep. I’m not bitter – this is a simple statement of fact. We didn’t raise taxes. We didn’t ask anyone but the soldiers who volunteered to sacrifice.
And yet, those of us who served, continued to serve. We went to a war that some of us questioned.
Then came the day we left. I’ll never ever forget watching that last convoy cross the border into Kuwait, knowing my husband was on it. Knowing they were finally safe and holy hell does that bring back a lot of emotions. It was the end of our generations war. The end of wondering what we were doing. The end of lying to ourselves about building a peaceful Iraq. Iraq was in the hands of the Iraqi’s now and I was glad because we – my family, my soldiers, my army – were tired.
But today, watching Iraq burn and the potential for a regional war to spiral into something far worse, I’m thinking about the friends I’ve lost and I’m wondering why? Why the hell did they have to die? What the hell was it for? And don’t forget about the toll on the Iraqis. Yeah, we went. Sure, we could have gotten out and walked away – but that wouldn’t change the fact that people we care deeply about still served in harm’s way. Could we really leave them to go without us? It doesn’t really work that way.
There’s real concern about what’s happening there. This is no longer about whether or not the army is tired or arguing about whether we should have gone in and screwed everything up in the first place. We broke this nation. So what happens next is our responsibility.
I’m not saying I want to rush back in with boots on the ground or another invasion. God knows, that’s the last thing I want.
But are we really going to sit on our hands and watch it burn? There’s a lot a stake right now. And I only hope that the powers that be in the Pentagon and where ever else planning is going on are learning the lessons from the last time we did this. Don’t base plans on fantasies. Don’t lie to us about being greeted as liberators or how the war will pay for itself with Iraqi oil.
Give it to us straight. Let us know that if we do this, we’re looking at casualties. Tell us the cost up front.
Because no one – not even volunteers – deserves to die for a lie.