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America at War

A Question About Iraq

Millie Jefferson

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How Has the Iraq War Affected You?

My immediate answer was not at all. Sure there are the moments of sadness about the lives lost and damaged; there is anger about the hubris that led this administration into what I believed as folly from the beginning; and there is depression about our choices: admit defeat and watch Iraq slide into a chaos that makes the present situation seem like law and order or stay to fight hoping for some miracle. Such moments pass as soon as my attention turns elsewhere.

It was as I pondered the lack of real impact on my life, and almost everyone else who does not have family over there, that I first realized this is why we will lose this war. Our president calls it the moral imperative of our time--and then sends 100,000 troops. He calls it our generation's defining cause and then fires generals who ask for more troops and retains a secretary of defense who denies anything is wrong (until of course he loses an election). There's no draft, no drive to end dependence on their oil. Our administration will not even blame high gas prices on the war, it is refinery capacity problems. Even our military recruiting ads seem to act like there is no war: Join the army to become strong, to get a job skill, to become a leader but not to fight the "global war on terror." If our military cannot portray our enemy as an enemy worth killing then we have lost. Compare ads during World War II with Iraq recruiting ads. Fighting blood thirsty "Japs" and evil "Huns" motivated a nation to accept drafts, rations and mobilization. This war was going to be free - paid for without blood and by the spoils of Iraqi oil. The perfect credit card war: all gain and no pain.

Once it went rough, rather than rally the nation to sacrifice this president denied there was a problem. In his more lucid moments if there was a problem the solution was always right around the corner. It has now become a war where our leader (God save us) leads by looking for an acceptable withdrawal strategy. The Iraqi government and army, who cannot govern or fight, are just going to have to step up now because we say so.

This war is lost because this president did not have the courage to lead the nation through our mistake in going to war by calling for the sacrifices necessary to win the war.

Corbey Dukes
Pawleys Island, S.C.

The disturbing thing is that it has NOT really affected me or my community. Certainly, we know a few families with people in the service, we worry and pray for them... but that's about it. The Bush administration has managed to hide the cost of the war, both in human and monetary terms. There's really no impact on us that there are so many seriously wounded troops who will be disabled for their entire lives. No impact that there are tens of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed since the war began, who knows how many wounded, hungry, homeless. The insidious way that the administration has been able to push these issues away and divert attention elsewhere is pretty terrifying when I think about it.

Tom Cooke
Charlotte, N.C.

Thank you for asking the question, "How has the war in Iraq affected (impacted) your life?"

My answer is, most disturbingly, is that the war in Iraq, with the exception of greatly expanding my prayer list, has not really impacted my life at all. And I believe that if the majority of Americans were honest with each other and themselves, they would have exactly the same answer.

During World War I, MILLIONS of servicemen from Europe and the US were killed in horrifying battles. There is no question that every American's life was affected in some way. During World War II, my parents' generation was forced to ration sugar, butter and other common items we usually take for granted. There were no nylon stockings. Everything that could be was sent to factories to produce weapons and tanks. Women went to work and ran their households entirely by themselves (long before the women's liberation movement). People had to make sacrifices that greatly impacted their lives!

And yet, we have been sitting here during the last 4-plus years, all of us in our relative laps of luxury, without any real consequences as a result of the endless conflict in Iraq. One could say that the price of gasoline has skyrocketed, but at least we have gasoline. We have no shortages whatsoever.

If our lives were impacted, if the consequences of this war really hit us "where it hurts," I believe more Americans would stand up and say, "Enough!" Yes, we must clean up the mess we have caused, but we also need to let our leaders know that we won't tolerate needless violence forever. Our nation needs to be affected in order for our eyes to be opened to the truth about this illegal and unfounded war!

Martha Jane Lownie
San Diego, Calif.

As I listened today, I realized that the war in Iraq does not affect me a whole lot. It saddens me when I hear of more of our soldiers being killed almost every day, and I do pray for them and the Iraqi citizens also.

I had two brothers-in-law who served over there in the first couple years, and I prayed for them often and sent them care packages.

Have we all become callous to the war? Do we really "care more about American Idol than our soldiers fighting in Iraq"? I feel so removed.

David Black
Cottage Grove, Minn.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that the war in Iraq has not meaningfully affected the lives of the community of young professionals and restaurant entrepreneurs that make up my network of friends on South Beach in Miami. Although most of us view the war as an unfortunate waste of human life and resources, there have been no signs of the war's impact on the life of South Beach. I have not witnessed any public demonstrations, either for or against the war. There is very little sense of the shared sacrifice which marked earlier wars.

John Hettinger
Miami Beach, Fla.

  • Music Bridge:
    Artist: Takeshi Nishimoto
    CD: Monologue (Buro)
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