In a generation of Americans fixated with instant gratification it is no wonder why the War in Iraq leaves such a bad taste in the average citizen’s mouth. Operation Desert Storm has given the American people a false sense of reality that war is easy. An Over-confidence in the Military might of the US, although not misplaced, has generated unreal expectations for the military as a whole. It is in this attitude of Supremacy that the short comings in the war for Iraq become sharply focused and plainly evident. Understand this, we are fighting an enemy who remains a phantom menace, and remains focused on the total destruction of the western way of life. This, however, is not the average Iraqi. This enemy is not representative of a large demographic of Iraqi society. In fact, this enemy is not usually even Iraqi. What follows is the story of the Iraqi people, the truth about the battle that continues to rage on in this country and the story of what it is like to be an American living and working in this war torn country.
The average Iraqi rises before the sun, commutes to work, provides for their family, and socializes with their neighbor. They shake hands, make deals, and conduct their day to day business while a war rages on around them. The average Iraqi has a cell phone, satellite television, and just installed air-conditioning in his home. This is not a terrorist, just like you and I, these Iraqis have dreams of a bright future, memories of good days, and hope for the future that lay before them. But unlike you and I, these Iraqis also have nightmares. Fears of a government that terrorized, raped, imprisoned and held them hostage for so many years. This dark past has given the people of Iraq a drive to succeed, and it has given them hope for better days. Unlike the grim forecasts of political and military analysts tucked safely away from danger in the comfort of their newsrooms, the future of Iraq looks bright. There are many reasons why success of this Arab nation is on the horizon.
Thanksgiving 2003 was my first holiday away from home, and I was spending it in Germany, training for a yearlong rotation in Iraq. At the time is was a young soldier fresh out of basic training, and though I had not tasted war yet, I was eager to prove myself. I in-processed into US Army Europe while the unit I was assigned to was finishing a 45 day rotation at the Combat Maneuver Training Center and a 30 day rotation at the training center and ranges in Grafenwoer Germany. I spent two months in Germany preparing to deploy, partying, drinking heavily completely unaware of what lay ahead of me. Its sort of weird when you sit down by yourself and try to accept the fact that you might die. When I first found out that I was bound for Iraq, I didn’t know how to tell my family. My mother cried. I hate when decisions I make bring my mother to tears. Although the reaction was the same, these were not tears of disappointment, these were tears of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of death. Secretly, I was sharing those same tears, but on the outside I was strong. My father started giving me advise, "Stay away from the married women," "walk worthy," "don’t do anything you would be ashamed of." I felt like I was terminally ill. Everyone was saying their last words. Honestly, I was looking on the whole thing from the outside. A bird’s eye view of my life.