My Iraq War, 20 Years Later: 07 April 2003

My Iraq War, 20 Years Later: 07 April 2003

I was doing a screen share with a colleague in Germany when Tom told me I should wrap up my call. The confusion caused by the unusual request was only heightened when Tom said, “we’re getting a TV set up, you should see this.” On a small staticky screen we watched large passenger planes crash into a New York City sky scrapper. The clips of the tragedy were on loop, on every station. It took a short eternity to realize that this was not an accident. More planes had crashed, and the incidents were related. Once I understood what had happened, I was certain that my National Guard unit was going to be activated and deployed.

The situation presented more than one paradox; I was concerned by the one that I knew would change the trajectory of my life. There was no nation to mobilize against, yet the nation was mobilizing. Though I did not think it was entirely rational, I understood the need. I knew that I would need to collect up my military gear.

Perhaps surprisingly, combat vehicle crew equipment is mostly harmless. That was certainly true of the equipment which we were allowed to keep at home. The CVC uniform helmet with its padded ear cups and boom microphone was a curiosity that young boys such as mine could not resist. I might have to pull it out of a toy box, wipe of the remnants of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and prepare it to remove any innocence that may have had left.

When a hot spark pops from a fire it contains the potential to start its own all encompassing fire. But, laying alone on the floor, it is easily dismissed or quenched with a damp finger. That same ember, back in the fire, is not so easily extinguished. A small bit of seemingly harmless military equipment sitting in a toy box in Ohio is innocuous. The destructive potential it carries is easily dismissed. Were the helmet closer to the fire, its potential would remain more obvious. The switch from peacetime to wartime is no less jarring for active Army personnel, it is just more obvious for members of the National Guard. The National Guard is further away from concerns of wartime deployments, and the time to make it ready is much greater.

So, in the afternoon of September 11, I left work early. I headed home to gather up my military gear for the inevitable. It was a naïve thing to do, the nation wasn’t under attack in a way that would necessitate the immediate activation of its reserve military, but it felt entirely reasonable in the moment.

It did not take long for the war in Afghanistan to begin, but that effort relied upon active duty troops which maintained a much higher level of readiness than the National Guard. It would take months to prepare citizen-soldiers for overseas deployment. Over the next weeks and months, friends of mine were activated to secure sensitive infrastructure throughout the state. Then it started to become clear that a second front in the Global War on Terror was going to be opened. Opening a second front to a global war would surely necessitate the use of reserve military forces.

Primary Sources

Prior to being deployed to Iraq my educational focus was strictly science and technology. I did not seek out knowledge from the humanities. It was only by being forced to consider some heavy topics, and by using these thoughts to annoy people wiser than I, that I learned everything I was thinking has been thought before. Of course this is cliché, but I wish I knew then what I knew now. As I went through this metamorphosis I should have read each of the books that I was unknowingly searching for. Of course, it is only though the experience that I was prepared to receive this knowledge. In this installment I was seemingly searching the writings of Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent.

What follows are the raw thoughts of someone struggling through the personal implications of a national tragedy. I wrote these words. But, I would not be able to share them if I thought I was still the same person that wrote them. It is only through a lot of space and time that I can read these thoughts, let alone share them.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Although it was cathartic at the time, today I harbor no ill will towards anyone; I have learned that holding on to toxic thoughts only intoxicates the holder.

07 April 2003

The US military has finally made it into Baghdad, Iraq after only a couple weeks. As of yet they have found no evidence of WMD - Weapons of Mass Destruction. That was our justification for the war, which I think is wrong (the war). The US really wants to overthrow the Iraqi government, not just remove terrible weapons.

The fighting to this point has been very light, which suggests that Iraq must have disarmed to a large degree, which was another stated goal of our invasion. Our government said that inspections were not working and we needed to invade, but as we invade it seems inspections must have been working.

Initially, the war-mongers went to the UN to get global support for going to war with Iraq, based off of the fact Iraq was not complying with UN resolutions. When the UN did not show signs of being willing to go to war, the US took it upon themselves to rally their friends (UK/Great Britain/etc) and invade without UN support. How does that make us any different than Iraq? We will do what we want, regardless of what the rest of the world says.

Our media outlets have been criticizing other countries’ news agencies for being untruthful. But, they appear to me to be no more untruthful than our news. Our news has headlined many stories that turn out to be false - the retractions get much less press. I think this leaves the ignorant masses with only knowing half the story. They get US propaganda and mostly believe it.

Any country that disagrees with us is called anti-American. Boycotts have been called on those countries. Any American who disagrees with the war is declared unpatriotic and then urged to support our troops. This is a redirection tactic as I see it. There is a difference from supporting the troops and supporting the war. We demonize Iraqi generals by giving them menacing names like ‘Chemical Ali’. That way Americans who don’t know anything about these people will say “I’m glad we killed ‘Chemical Ali’; he was one ‘bad dude’.” This is a huge propaganda campaign by our government and the media – they seem to be lap dogs for our government right now. Probably because they were allowed to embed reporters with front line troops.

I am frequently disgusted by all this. It seems as though we, the US, are taking lessons from Hitler. We are using news media to spread propaganda and convince the dumb masses that all this is not only justified, but necessary. What country will be next? I think that this war was possible largely because we were able to do the same thing with Afghanistan in the near past. The American public supported that to get the terrorists responsible for 9-11-01. It then rolled over to Iraq.

I still don’t see how we can justify killing other (innocent) people because some other people killed our innocent people. Some news anchors have went so far as to say we shouldn’t worry about civilian casualties so we can end the war quicker. They say that only because those are not American, English speaking civilians. Fortunately, the military is actually trying to limit civilian casualties. But, still our goal is to overthrow a government without no direct provocation. We are riding the world of possible terrorists by destroying those Bush Jr. sees as being members of the “axis of evil.”

No one can stop the power of the US, its unfortunate we choose to exploit this

NEXT: My Iraq War, 20 Years Later: 16 August 2003

Published: 2023-08-13
Global War on TerrorOperation Iraqi FreedomOhio National GuardDeployment