4 Years Ago: What I Remember from the Beginning of the Iraq War

by Gedalyah Reback

I initially saw the War against Terrorism (T.W.A.T.) as something important that had to be done. I watched everything fall apart on September 11th on television in my high school German classroom. I watched CNN and MSNBC for about a month up until the exact moment newscasters started announcing we were bombing Afghanistan on October 7th (too bad no one remembers that date without looking it up).

Either way, the media had me caught up in the action for months. It was one of the things that drove me toward studying the Middle East (even though I had already decided to do so because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). I watched with intrigue wondering who we would strike next. I remember what should be seen as eerie reports on which countries would be the next “targets in the War on Terror.” News reports about Somalia, Iran, Lebanon, a slew of African countries and possibly Iraq were released within months of the attacks. Before long I began analyzing all these news reports. I started looking at what exactly made these countries newsworthy, and was glued to the History Channel.

Oh what an amazing advantage to live in an age where books were not necessary to become moderately intelligent, especially when you hate reading!

I felt I was on an intellectual high. I remember having to debate the issue of Iraq in both my History and Civics classes on the same day, in back-to-back class periods, while taking one side of the debate in the first class and the opposite argument in the next class – I won both debates. Regardless, I felt like I was the most learned about the issues for months (I was pretty freaking arrogant, but I thought I was respectful so it does not matter what you think).

Aside from my obvious genius, I did become confused and slightly frightened after a while when I decided that there was no logical reason to invade Iraq when Iran posed much more of a Middle Eastern and global danger – and the massive amount of domestic opposition to the Iranian regime would have been a lot cheaper of a tool for regime change in Iran than a military invasion of Iraq. I was barely against the war, but for practical reasons. I despised people who were accusing George W. Bush of trading “BLOOD FOR OIL” and was frustrated by people who were blindly following Bush’s logic on Iraq – considering after what I thought was a respectful look at the facts I did not understand that logic myself.

So I put my thoughts down on paper. Some big shot at the Philadelphia Inquirer edited it and BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA I had myself an editorial printed and published on Tuesday March 20th, 2003. It talked about the strategic blunder it would be to invade Iraq at this point, draining our military resources from other potential hotspots around the world. We were using our military to democratize the Middle East at an illogical starting point. I thought it made a lot more sense to crunch Iran and let it crumble under its own people’s pressure. We would have had a regional democratic superpower in Iran that would have been friendly to the United States. Too bad we had actually started dropping the bombs on Baghdad Monday night, March 19, 2003.

Some experts probably came to the same conclusions I did (about the overstretched military AND democratizing Iran), but the ones who were on the news every night were not necessarily advocating this view. Sometimes the most qualified are not necessarily correct, and the most amateur do not necessarily have to incorrect.

So my Mom basically snagged all the copied of the inquirer from the local convenience store before anyone had the chance to buy a copy of the biggest headline since 9/11.

Where am I going with this? I could go in a lot of different directions. I could talk about three things: how this was a proud moment in my life and an intellectual high point I have been aspiring to get back to; how I came to believe that the Iraq war was over money and business; how George W. Bush has essentially created a terrorist state in Iraq; or, MOST IMPORTANTLY, it is not too late to view the IRANIAN PEOPLE as the most important AGENT OF CHANGE in the Middle East and the Iranian government has been trying to frantically consolidate its own power over the last three years and still has its weak points. I feel like writing about all of them. I will get to them later.

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