I am not in the military but my job as a federal government employee took me to Baghdad in November 2008. I worked in one of the flashiest Saddam’s palaces and I lived in a trailer just outside, close to Saddam’s swimming pool.
As I walked to the chow hall on a sunny morning to get breakfast, I heard not-so-distant explosions. They usually came in twos: the first one to kill a number of targeted civilians and the second one to kill the first responders.
At night, occasionally an urgent message would come on a PA system: “Incoming! Incoming! Take cover!” That’s when I would slide under my cot, cover myself with the kevlar vest and place a helmet over my face. I’d lie there surrounded by dust bunnies waiting for the alarm to be called off.
In those times I would ask myself two questions: what the hell a female senior citizen like me was doing in the war zone, and what the hell we Americans were doing in Iraq. The answer to the first question was simple: both my children are active military and both already have been deployed to Iraq so when my agency was asking for volunteers I raised my hand because I wanted to experience what they went through.
I am still searching for an answer to that second question, one that would make sense, that is. We haven’t won a war since 1945, yet old men in Washington are still eager to send our young in harm’s way. For what? And I don’t want to hear about how they are fighting there for my freedom, as my freedom has never gone to Iraq. There have never been any Al-Qaida there either. The 9-11 hijackers were not from Iraq but from a country we consider our ally: Saudi Arabia. Yet, we did not invade Saudi Arabia. We invaded Iraq instead. We did kill their bloody dictator but was his life really worth thousands of our young soldiers lives?
Iraq wanted us out of there just as now Afghanistan wants us out. One of my sons is about to deploy to Afghanistan — to fight yet another war that we are losing. I yet have to hear a reasonable explanation as to what the hell are we doing invading foreign lands at such a great cost in lives and monies that could be used to advance America’s future here at home.
Our presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan is contributing to the hatred of our country by Arabs all over the world. It is the main reason why Al-Qaida has such an easy time recruiting suicide bombers and future terrorists who will harm us the day the proverbial chickens come home to roost. Every time our drones kill civilians in Afghanistan there are more and more people who will hate us forever. These drones kill a few terrorists here and there but nearly 90% of casualties (the so-called collateral damage) are civilians, including many children. We need a new batch of politicians who can weigh in the pros and the cons of these operations and put a stop to our expansionist imperialistic ambitions.
This is a photo of the camp where I stayed, set up within Saddam’s date palms patch in front of al-Qaṣr al-Ǧumhūriy (Republican Palace). In April 2008, a DoS accountant was killed when his trailer at that very camp was directly hit by a Hown rocket lobbed in by the insurgents. I was lucky to survive my war zone experience, but so many were not. May that be food for thought, assuming there still are a few thinking heads remaining in our government.