Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Three Years of War

March 19th marked the Iraq war's 3rd anniversary. I remember well March 19th 2003 when the war actually started. I was a first year medical student struggling through my neuroscience block, but keeping an eye on the news via the internet.

I remembered being appalled by Bush's insistence that we must invade Iraq. I remember him pleading to the UN for permission to once again invade the country. The UN sent their investigators to look for weapons and found none because their were none. They voted not to allow the US to invade. But we invaded anyway. I was shocked and saddened that our country would subvert the UN's doctrine. It made the statement that we are the exception, that the rest of the world must abide by the UN's rules and regulations, but we do not have to.

I thought for sure time would prove me wrong. I thought that we would find the chemical weapons plant making awful gases and missiles loaded with anthrax. I wanted the US to find them. But they didnt. We found Saddam, but never saw any of his missile silos or nuclear weapons. Its bad enough to ignore the UN and insist that we are right. That we turned out to be wrong in the end, is shameful.

And here we are. Three years and over 33,000 civilian deaths later. What have we accomplished? I wont say nothing, because some good has come from our invasion. We took a madman out of power. We freed a country from tyranny, sort of. They had elections. All those things are good, I am not discounting that. However, there is still widespread poverty, crime, and violence in Iraq, and progress has been very slow, to say the least.

But my real concern is with how the world and history will view our actions and our priorities. We have set the precedent that its ok to ignore the UN when you have a really strong hunch about a country's intentions. Unfortunately, we have also set the precedent that its ok when that hunch is dead wrong.

More importantly, it says to the world that the US will invade who we want, when we want, primarily because we can. It says we will ignore events like the genocide that occurred in Rwanda and that which is occurring in Sudan today. We will spend 250 billion dollars, will sacrifice over 2,000 of our young troops to defend our interests. We will only donate a fraction of our war expenditure to the worst plague the world has ever known.

$250 billion dollars would fund worldwide AIDS treatment for 24 years. I worry not only about the US, but about the entire human race when I realize how much we spend on killing compared to that which we spend on helping.

So you may not agree with my statistics or my logic, and that is fine. Either way, I hope Americans take a critical look at what is going on in our world and what the United States role has been in it. We have been at war for three years now. Its time for us to think about that, and decide if its something we support, or perhaps something we now see as a mistake. Let those thoughts and decisions influence your politics, your vote, or even your words and actions. I obviously only present my views here. On this anniversary, I hope you are able to take a close look at our world, and a deep look into yourself, and develop your own.


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