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I remember coming out from my New York City apartment the day after 9/11. In those days immediately after the attack, New Yorkers talked to random people in the street and a passerby turned to me and said – I’m thinking that Saddam is behind this. For the next year, the Bush administration fed this reaction with lies and innuendos until the American people believed it even thought it has been proved not to be the case.
I remember going with my church to an early protest against the war before it had started. A relatively small march of about 10,000 winded through the streets of DC on a cold day. At one point we passed a group of preppy young republicans (known by their own signage) who jeered at us. They oozed confidence, sure that this new exercise of American power would be the first in a series of imperial conquests as America took her rightful place as sole ruler in the 21st Century.
I remember walking with a group of friends on a mission trip in Mexico. We passed a group of soldiers who denigrated my friend for wearing a Don’t Attack Iraq button. I tried to explain that my opposition came as much from my desire to save his life as my belief that the strategic aims of the struggle were cynical and sinister. It became so tense that we moved along as the young soldier sneered at us – Enjoy your freedom. I wonder if he is still alive.
I remember hearing reports of the war, the helpless anger I felt as the bombs fell and shock and awe became a video game for the American public. I remember president Bush’s victory lap in his ill fitting uniform on the warship with mission accomplished tacked in the background. I remember his challenge to the terrorists to “bring it on.” And they did.
I remember seeing the photographs of torture and my outrage and anger thinking it was being done to American soldiers, and my shame and horror when I learned it was being done by Americans to Iraqis. I remember crying hearing story after story of American soldiers coming back dead, and the reactions of their families; of American soldiers coming back with no legs, head injuries, post traumatic stress. I remember the reports of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or displaced as sectarian violence erupted.
I remember the trillions of dollars that have gone into military spending and mercenaries like Blackwater. I remember the cautious hope that the situation was stabilizing in Iraq and that we might be able to leave soon. I remember hearing our new President, who was against this war, saying that we needed to stay there – indefinitely as we spend more money, and lose more lives. My anger at Bush and Cheney continues for their war of choice. After 40,000 dead and wounded Americans, two trillion dollars spent, a weakened moral and strategic position for America world wide and Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden still alive and well we are forced to ask the hard question:
Was it worth it?