The Iraq War 5 years later: What are we doing?

Evan Bakker

Over the last five years, one issue has become the root of all misfortune in our country. Operation Iraqi Freedom –– as our government likes to call it –– has affected Iraqis, factory workers, the health care system, American soldiers, and will possibly leave the darkest mark on our generation.

Over 4,000 American troops have died, and the hopes of our generation are hanging by a thread as money is beginning to run out –– all thanks to a mistake made by self-interested politicians.

The War on Terrorism

Every week, a band of anti-war protestors hold up vibrant signs for peace, receiving a honk and maybe a thumbs-up or two from almost every car at the busy intersection of Snelling Avenue and Summit Avenue in Saint Paul. “The war on terrorism…has increased terrorism!” said anti-war protestor Duane Scar in a clever summary of the on-going war.

Since the war began, Baghdad has attracted terrorists, suicide bombers, radical Islamists, and multiple militia groups into its clustered streets. But the Bush administration has molded each of these groups together into one gigantic terrorist threat. “[Terrorism] is a vague term,” said Justin Hudalla, another anti-war protestor. “There’s no standing army to represent it. People wave the bloody flag of 9/11 and use it to justify anything.”

On February 22, 2006, when one of the holiest mosques in Shi’a Islam was obliterated, the U.S. government blamed it on “terrorists.” When the deadliest single attack of the whole war came around on August 14, 2007, the government blamed it on “terrorists.” Neither of these incidents were correlated in any way, yet our government decided to keep people’s attention fixed on terrorists, whose definition has been built to define any enemy.

Democracy in the Middle East

The elitism of our government led us to believe that we could take any – literally any – country in the world and gut it out and replace its old traditions with a brand new democracy.

But in a country where women are forbidden to show their faces and militia groups cling to their traditions, democracy isn’t welcome.

“Our stupid foreign policy is arrogant, and we think we know what’s best for other countries. We stuck our nose in some place where we didn’t need to,” said Robert Burns, another anti-war protestor.

The Feelings of Iraqis

On May 20, 2006, a new Iraqi government supplanted the chaotic government of Saddam Hussein. But even so, the people of Iraq have shown little support for this new regime.

Many of them have stood behind Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Shiite Mahdi Army – an army that is far more pro-Iraq than the new, flimsy government. During Saddam’s regime, al-Sadr stayed in Iraq and suffered through Hussein’s cruelty with the people.

The new government, however, is composed of aristocrats who were living in France or other parts of Europe during Saddam’s regime, giving them no connection to the Iraqi people.

A government of only two years that has no more of a connection with the Iraqis than any other sleezy politicians in the world cannot expect the people they command to follow them whole-heartedly. As Scar put it, “they want the rule of law.”

And that rule of law is not being carried out, because the country has erupted in a civil war, much of which derives from the fact that the people of Iraq do not want the U.S.-sponsored government to force them into order with guns.

Our Generation’s War

But through all of this, most of you must be wondering where you fit into the equation. To put it bluntly, Duane Scar said, “It’s not gonna be [the adults now], it’s you guys who will suffer. Your chances in the future are going out the window.”

Trillions of dollars are being spent on the war, much of the money coming from taxes. However, the adults of today won’t feel the blow of war nearly as much as our generation will. The effects of the war will reverberate into our old age.

By the time we’re old, health care could be hard to find. Even within the next few years, college could become unaffordable. Our chances at getting the jobs we want could also become impossible, as the government has an insurmountable debt, creating job losses and a social security system that will run out if it is not changed soon.

I know, this is a hard thing to believe, but money is not infinite. It runs out in time, especially if it is spent horribly. And the money that could be spent on roads and bridges, health care, or education is all being pooled into the efforts in Iraq. This drain on our nation’s resources will hit our generation the hardest.

Perhaps John McCain was right. Maybe we will be stuck in Iraq for the next 100 years. But not for the same reasons that he proposed. If we want to fight terrorism and pull a nation of conflicting will out of a totalitarian regime, then we must be content with becoming a destroyed and helpless nation down the road.