Iraq War, ten years on...

Ten years ago, this week, the invasion of Iraq began.

That's a long time, and yet, it was yesterday!

It encompasses the entirety of my youngest son's life-- with a year to spare, and yet, I feel like I barely just turned about. We've had close to a billion people born world wide, and I don't know how many die, in that time. Yet, it was really only the barest of eye blinks on the scale of the universe. For some of us, though, it has been a very long, very tough time.

I cannot speak for those who have been injured, killed, maimed, raped, assaulted, imprisoned, tortured or harmed by this war.

I can't speak for those who have had a different experience than I.

I can only speak for myself. I can only tell you how it has impacted me, and mine.

I can begin by saying I am deeply, truly sorry.
I know that I have blood on my hands, and that I can never wash them clean again. None of us can.

I am sorry that I believed Colin Powell.
Something in my guts screamed that this whole thing sounded a little too pat, a little too contrived. Something was not right, and I could feel it in my bones! Then I saw the speech to the UN. I heard the information, the “yellow cake” bombshell, the aluminium tubes, the whole thing, and thought, “oh, wow, OK. I guess he's gone father than we thought with weapons.”

I can say I never believed for one moment that Al Qaeda was in bed with Saddam Hussein. I knew damned well they'd never co-operate with a secular government like Iraq had. I thought W was reaching there, probably your typical political exaggeration.

That doesn't mean I didn't believe what I thought to be rather compelling evidence that he'd circumvented the sanctions and was fabricating biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

To our Veterans:

I was deceived, and I am sorry.

I'm sorry that in my confusion over the whole thing I didn't call and demand more information be provided to the Congress.

I never called my Senators or Representatives over their votes on Iraq. I didn't telephone the White House to protest it. I didn't know the truth, and believed the so-called evidence.

I was wrong. I should have called and demanded more. I should have cautioned my Reps, told them to ask more questions, be more persistent. I didn't. I should have insisted, cajoled, begged, urged; I should have rung the switchboards day and night, to get through to them.

I didn't, I was complacent, and I am so sorry.

What I did do, was listen, and watch, and cross my fingers. See, we had friends who shipped our straight away, and over the next few years they trickled out and home with the regularity of the tides.

Within six months I was against the war. My tentative support changed to a negative-ambivalence almost over night. Those vaunted weapons labs never showed up, those barrels of poisons never appeared. We knew there were no WMD; none at all.

Even when my now-ex went, I told him, “There are no weapons, we know this, why are you and everyone else still going over there?” We had a lot to lose, with him going over there. Our marriage was already in tatters, and I think I knew we wouldn't make it even if he stayed. So I waved good-bye, shipped him off, and spent the next 13 months sending packages of Jiffy-Pop, salsa and extra socks.

I had to remain supportive, you know, in public, and it was pretty damned hard. My friend looked at me and said, “Look, just don't tell me how you feel about it. I don't want to know that I went to Iraq, got shot at and concussed half a dozen times for nothing.” I heard that refrain over, and over; some times it was wives... “Don't tell me I gave up my spouse for a year, thirteen months, 18 months into that hell-hole for nothing”.

I'm sorry I didn't say it aloud more often. I'm sorry I wasn't more vocal about my lack of support.
I know now, that every sacrifice made was for nothing. Every limb lost; every broken head, every lost eye; every dream shattered and buried with a body. All for nothing.

Well, for oil, not for nothing at all... for all mighty oil, and to make Dick Cheney and W feel like real men...

Still, I'm so desperately sorry.

Since late 2006 I have called my congress members every year, urging them to end the war in Iraq. I have urged them to put more money into VA and less into the Department of Deferense’s war budget. I have begged them to put our veterans first, and bring them home.

I did condemn those soldiers who tortured prisoners. I educated myself, as when I first heard about “water boarding” it didn't sound too bad. It sounded uncomfortable, and for someone like me, who can't swim, pretty damned scary, but it didn't sound that awful. I knew that torture didn't produce any information-- I mean, people will say anything to make the pain stop so I did not support torture, however, and when I learned the truth I was enraged, disgusted and loud about it. I'm sorry I didn't know before, I should have looked into it more closely, more quickly. No one should ever feel scared like that-- not ever!

I don't feel like that's enough. I feel like I'm to blame, like I helped hack off those limbs, blind those eyes, bruise those brains, and I am so sorry!

I don't deserve to be forgiven, and I know it. That doesn't mean I won't keep trying to earn it. Forgive me, veterans, when and if you can, for helping harm you. I'm so sorry-- there aren't words enough to ever truly beg your forgiveness, or fully explain exactly how sorry I am.

To the Iraqi people:

I know that I don't deserve your forgiveness, either. I have not earned it, and even if I work my entire life, I can never earn it. See, I paid taxes, so I paid for the invasion and desolation of your home. I am a voter, a member of a democratic republic, and so the Voice of the People, and therefore the invasion may as well have had me in the lead. I know this, understand it, and am fully cogent of the horror of it. I know that you have been raped and murdered, massacred, maimed, terrorised, robbed and beaten... all in my name!

I apologise for the rhetoric bellowed by the men who speak in my name. They are fools, and I know it... yet they speak for me to the world, and speak with horrible words.

I'm sorry that you have been harmed by my soldiers, that we broke the social order, that you can't even have a flush toilet or lights that come on. I know it's my fault, and I am sorry.

I will work with Amnesty International, Medicines sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders) and the Red Cross/Crescent to undo the damage we've done. This means I send them cash when I can, sign the petitions, and call my reps. This means that I know we did wrong as a nation against the Iraqi people, and that I want to make it better. I hope that you can all forgive us, because so many of us know we hurt you, and we are horrifically sorry we did so. We, as a rule, don't want to hurt anyone!

If you can never forgive us, I understand. I don't blame you, one bit. Just know that I'm sorry, and I will continue to do what I can to prove it... to make right what I made wrong.
As we go into the spring, flowers bloom and birds roost; the Iraq War anniversary will pass, and we still have soldiers in Afghanistan. We still have a lot of work to do, to make it right, the wrongs we've done.

The first thing we need to do, is indict George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and even George Tenet... amongst others. Every person who helped bring us to war needs to be tried for crimes against humanity... that's what I'm writing about this year, what I'm urging my reps to do. It's the right thing, see, to pay for your crimes, and these men and woman have much to pay for.

I urge you, to call your Representatives, as well. Tell them to hand these criminals over to the Hague for trial.

We're supposed to be the best country in the world, right? That means we're supposed to do what's right, even when it's not popular. It means we say we're sorry when we're wrong, and make it right! Until those men and woman pay for their crimes, we have not done right, and we are continuing to contribute to what is wrong.

I am so sorry, and I want to make things right.

[NB: My ex went to Iraq in 2004. He went to Afghanistan in 2008. His division, is 1 Cav-- you've seen them the gigantic arm patches, a gold or green shield with a horse head on it. I won't tell you his battalion, it isn't important. He wasn't right when he got back the first time, and was really, really wrong when he got back the second time. We split in early 2006.]


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