Four years ago today – when many college students were on spring break and some in Colorado were hunkered down in a blizzard – American forces launched an attack on Baghdad, igniting the Iraq War.
President Bush declared war on Iraq on March 19, 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, who was alleged to be in possession of “weapons of mass destruction” and a supporter of global terrorism.
On the night of March 19, 2003, CSU graduate Andrew Carter gazed at the president on TV announcing the war had begun.
“After hearing Bush’s platform in basically selling us the war, I was behind it 100 percent,” Carter said.
“Four years later, Bush’s platform is shaky,” Carter said. “Where are the WMDs and how come we have been stuck in (Iraq) for so long?”
As Democrats wrangle with legislative efforts to withdraw troops and end the war, CSU students and community members are planning a candlelight vigil in the Oval at 7 p.m. tonight
Diggs Brown, Fort Collins City Council member and an ex-Green Beret, served in Afghanistan from 2002-2003 and said Iraq is broken, needing repair.
But he supports the war and said the U.S. needs to finish the job. The council member was in Denver last week at a rally supporting the troops in Iraq and backing a 21,000-plus troop surge proposed by Bush.
“This is the most intensive, time consuming military operation I have ever seen,” said Brown, who has been on active duty since 1979.
To date, 3,199 U.S. troops have died in the war and about $350 billion has been spent on the conflict and reconstruction efforts.
State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, said he fasted for 29 days in 2003 against the war. His son currently serves in the U.S. Army and has already spent a year in Iraq.
Although Kefalas is against the war, he said he’s in support of the troops and would like to see a “rational withdrawal” of forces.
“I hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., will listen to the people and support efforts to oppose the escalation (of troops), protect Colorado’s vulnerable citizens in the federal budget.and work towards the reasonable end of America’s presence there,” he said.
Last week state legislators debated a non-binding resolution-a symbolic process that carries no law- against sending an influx of more troops to Iraq. If passed, the resolution would mimic dozens of attempts by other states to get Bush to change course.
At CSU, the student government is set to take a stance Wednesday on the state bill and whether to support or oppose the president’s decision to escalate the war.
Fort Collins Republican Sen. Steve Johnson, who backs the war, said the resolution is a “political charade by Democrats to embarrass the president.”
“I do think the president is right; the whole war on terrorism is a long-term struggle,” Johnson said. “You can’t cure that problem in a short period of time; we have to be vigilant.”
Democratic Sen. Bob Bacon of Fort Collins said he doubted the advertised reasons to go to war since the beginning and is frustrated over the mounting U.S. war debt.
“The cost of the war has placed continuing burdens on citizens of Colorado and the nation,” Bacon said. “We’re financing the war on the nation’s credit card so that our children and grandchildren will bear the costs.”
With a $10,000 bounty on Brown’s shoulders for teaching English to young girls in Afghanistan, his service there was the first time in his life he did something that truly mattered, he said.
“I’m disappointed the war has gone on this long, the issue is we’re in Iraq now,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter what got us in there, we just can’t leave the Iraqis high and dry.”
City news editor James Baetke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.