Mar 012009
Authors: J. David McSwane

It’s quite remarkable how much the Iraq War has defined my generation and influenced the political views of both friend and foe.

With President Barack Obama’s gutsy announcement Friday that troops will be withdrawn by August 31, 2010, a little reflection is in order.

The first time I really remember asking any sort of tough question about the world in which we live came as I watched the assault on Baghdad, Iraq, of March 20, 2003.

“Why are we bombing Iraq?” I said between heated bouts of Tekken Tag Team.

Nearly six years later, it’s still a simple question for which I have yet to find a good answer.

Was it the weapons of mass destruction (come out, come out wherever you are)? Was it to unseat the tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein (whoever put him in must be a big dumb dumb)?

What about spreading democracy (worked in Vietnam)? Osama Bin Laden (not in Iraq)? A modern day “crusade?” (Want a side of mobilized insurgency with your bad intelligence?)

To keep this in perspective, CSU’s non-failing senior graduating class were less than a month into the 9th grade when the World Trade Center towers were struck.

At this time and up until March 20, 2003, I was something of a nationalist and a conservative — a homophobe, a Young Marine color guard flank, a W. Bush supporter considering military service (came close once … well, never mind). Imagine that. I know I hardly can anymore.

I guess it’s just something about being lied to and witnessing the neocons’ systematic rape of everything I loved about our great nation that led me to become the unpatriotic dissenter whose columns you now have the great privilege of reading.

And I know I’m not the only one. The Democrats run the country now. Oh, snap!

But depending on the goal, perhaps, the Iraq War –/first “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” then “The Iraq Conflict,” then “The Occupation of Iraq,” and if you’re feeling saucy, “The Second Gulf War” — was a relative success.

If the goal was to fight fire with fire and publicly hang a nasty dictator: “Mission Accomplished.”

If the goal was to fart out a geopolitical, hegemonic nightmare for future presidents, legislators and generations to fix: “Mission Accomplished.”

But no one can argue that the Iraqi elections were pretty neat.

Democracy: It spreads like butter . unless you’re a radical, asymmetric holy soldier. Then it’s like herpes. And the only prescription is more violence.

Amid all the questions and failures, though, the actual victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks have yet to be avenged.

Still, many U.S. citizens supported Bush and his war without question.

That’s just disgusting and heartbreaking.

But we’re still in Iraq fighting an unwinnable and ambiguous war. Our friends, siblings and even parents are being stop-lossed and duped by high-pressure recruiters (before the recession, they had the hardest job in the country — trust me).

Many of them will not come home.

And for what cause? Really, somebody tell me. And if the answer is that it was all to protect our freedom, my right to be a dissenter in such a free country, I suggest that individual reconsider the logic of occupying an entire country — the wrong country — without the support of our global friends for an attack on our symbolic buildings.

A select few threw stones at a giant to create disorder, chaos, retaliation and an aggressive and global display of power. They don’t need a country or an army when we are our own worst enemy. It’s eerie to think, but those planes were probably more symbolic than we could have known at the time.

We’re learning this now and at great cost.

But I’m sorry, dear reader. If you were looking for answers here, you will be disappointed. I might suggest some light reading, however.

I’d start with “If You Give Mouse a Cookie.”

Maybe next time we’ll ask a few more questions before we give that cookie away.

J. David McSwane is a senior journalism and technical communication major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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