Iraq, ten years after our gratuitous invasion, as reported by an Iraqi-American
Banen Al-Sheemary ( @balsheem), a young Iraqi-American woman and activist, writes in a guest column for Informed Comment:
Ten years today, I remember sitting in front of the television and watching the sky turn bright yellow because of the massive blasts. Silent, I turned away from the screen to see my parents’ reaction. Absolute silence. That was the first time my parents were without an opinion on something the news was covering. There was a sullen quietness as they watched their beloved country explode into flames. My twelve-year-old self had already been indoctrinated with the simple good guy, bad guy mentality, to which many Americans unfortunately adhere. I struggled to understand the logic behind the invasion of Iraq. Was Iraq a bad country? What had they done wrong? Why is it America’s right to invade and change it? I looked over at my parents again and I could tell their hearts were reeling. “Believe it. Liberation is coming,” said a confident George W. Bush as he spread more war propaganda in his visit to Dearborn. All I knew was that the ruthless Saddam Hussein would soon to be gone. What would become of Iraq? Under the guise of Operation Iraqi “Freedom,” the complete destruction began of what had been known as Iraq.
My family had fled Iraq as refugees in the early 1990s. March 20, 2003, is a bittersweet date for me, since it marked the day I could return to the country. But it is also the day “Shock and Awe” began CNN’s Wolf Blitzer stated that in his thirty years as a journalist, he had never witnessed anything like the attack on Baghdad. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s “shock and awe” warfare was a quick and easy solution, with no concern for civilian life.
The Cradle of Civilization was overtaken by incessant chaos, destruction, and death. In an instant, Iraq was forever changed. It is now home to 4.5 million orphans, two million widows, over four million refugees, while over half the population lives in slums. This was Iraq. As the Bush Administration boasted about its questionable accomplishments, all I could see was the Iraqi body count rise. The post-2003 Iraq is not the country my parents longed for. Barred from returning to Iraq until 2003, I will never know the country in which I was born as it was before sanctions and occupation warped it. . .