That’s right, for over a quarter of a century America has been blowing up stuff in Iraq and it doesn’t seem poised to end anytime soon. Perhaps it is only with the realization that I am pushing 40 myself that I can take the time to ponder my generation’s fascination with Iraq. I can vividly remember sitting in 6th grade when we were all instructed to sing, “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me and I’d proudly Stand Up!” It was the “Stand Up” line that would always got me. Perhaps it was the crescendo of music, but for better or worse the world view of my generation is that we do bad stuff to bad people in Iraq. I myself got to traverse the lands of my generation’s war in 2003 and apart from the Dixie Chick’s Travelling Soldier I don’t think my war has such an epic theme song. But all melodies aside, it’s time for America to start asking if we want our own children to fight and perhaps die in the same wasteland that has consumed us for the past quarter century.
I Don’t Care About Iraq!
There is a good part of me that hopes our experience in Iraq is part of some big globalist conspiracy because at least that gives it some purpose. When I enlisted in the Marines you could still get a gallon of gas for around a dollar and if we invaded Iraq for cheap oil then cheap oil can suck it. I can remember in the mid 90’s sometime and it was rumored that Saddam was looking to assassinate George Bush Sr. Clinton sent in some cruise missiles and then presumably celebrated with an intense intern orientation. I can remember after I joined the Marines in 97 or 98 and we again sent in some missiles to Iraq. As a reservist, yes I’m a reservist you can suck it too, wondering if this would be the season I get to strap on active duty and finally please my active duty brother who gave me hell for being a reservist.
Fast forward to 2003, and I found myself in Iraq as a Marine Infantryman while my active duty brother’s contract had long expired. I went to war, he didn’t, and Thanksgiving has been a hell of a lot more fun ever since. Returning from Iraq feeling like we had just saved the world I exited the Marines never to put on the uniform again. I tried, but it has mysteriously shrunk while sitting in my closet this past decade. After a campaign of berating W. Bush over Iraq, President Obama assumes the helm and, in fact, proceeds to blow up stuff in Iraq all the same.
And here we are again, with a new President basking in his orange glow and we are still blowing up stuff in Iraq. And I have to honestly ask myself, why? Would it surprise you to know that less time passed between the end of World War 1 and the start of World War 2 than did during the quarter century we have been bombing Iraq? It’s been nearly an equal number of Republican and Democrat Presidents that have saw fit to bomb Iraq. Why? I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m just saying if my nearly 3-year-old son follows his daddy’s footprints into a war with Mesopotamia I’m going to need a little more context on why for a half century America needed to blow stuff up in Iraq. I’ve been there, it’s really not that great a place and totes not worth the bombs.
Veterans Are Called to Think Not Fight
If you are a veteran of these wars like me I want you to go into your closet, gaze upon your AR rifle with a semi-wood, and then put it back in the closet. Face it bros, we are not the warfighters anymore. We had our time and it’s gone. Whatever conflict may come it will be our children, nephews, and yes, daughters who will fight it. Our job is no longer to play the “sheepdog” but to be the mind and the voice of deciding where to send them to war.
We have our scars, physical and mental, and we had our day on the battlefield. The baton has been passed whether you realize it or not and we need but weigh in as those who fought only can on where we next fight. I don’t want that to be Iraq. I’m sorry, but the kids fighting in Iraq today were in kindergarten when I returned for Iraq in 2003. I’ve no interest in sending another generation there and certainly not my son to fight daddy’s war. Again, been there and literally got the t-shirt.
We’ve been blowing up stuff in Iraq for a quarter of a century and I’m over it. Yes, we should finish up the fight against ISIS because any day you can smoke a child raping jihadist is a good day. Yes, we should sprinkle a little freedom in Bashar Al Assad’s morning because the sick son of motherless goat gassed women and children. But it’s time to go big and then most certainly, go home. I don’t know why my generation has been fascinated with Iraq but I pray my son’s will not. Literally, Iraq is a piece of crap wasteland. It might be the birthplace of civilization, but if so, I understand why everyone grew up and left.
The Next Episode
It’s time for Veterans of GWOT to grow up. We are no longer the warriors and despite your social media rants, the hot wing sauce dripping down your bearded fat bodies betrays you. We are in a new season of life. We are in a season of not fighting the wars but through our advocacy deciding when and where our country will fight the next one. And lord help me, unless we are all actually going to get free gas for life it better not be Iraq.
America won two global wars against Germany in the time it has taken us to keep playing just the tip with Iraq. I don’t know why we are so fascinated with the region and I don’t care. I support ending the ISIS scourge and I support taking Assad’s lunch money for gassing women and children. But at some point we need to break this love affair with a region we no longer need. I’m hoping shale oil and energy independence do more to free us of Iraq than anything.
It’s the next episode gentlemen. And as for this GWOT Veteran and his household I want Iraq to be not part of this future. Thanks for the pita bread, roasted chickens, and Pepsis out of ridiculously dirty glass bottles. I’m sorry Iraq, we had a great quarter of a century together but it’s just not working. Every President for the last 25 years has chosen to hit it, but as for me and my household it’s time to quit it. Our coffers have been emptied at your expense and your sands have soaked up the blood of those we will never get back. Look me in the eyes Iraq, it’s over and no, the juice was not worth the squeeze.
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