sky above baghdad “Light up like a Christmas tree”
This phrase even conveys happiness. But it’s often used in the first few hours of an attack. What the U.S. military has dubbed Operation Shock and Awe by news anchors attempting to explain the alternating dark and explosive scenes broadcast outside Baghdad 20 years ago today, the U.S.-led coalition rallied. Invading the Iraqi Capital bombing in the middle of the night Destroy buildings and bridges before our eyes. Palm trees are lit like many angry torches.
The opening bombardment of the Iraq War which millions of Americans watched It was an attack we thought we would never forget. Terrifying signs of the times, such as the 9/11 attacks, the defining events of the new 21st century.
Except for the 20th anniversary of the start of the war. This is different from the nationwide September 11th commemoration. which creeps upon us like an unwanted memory Hiding behind news of bank failures and miraculous diet pills There is no national moment of reckoning. There was no major parade. no commemorative stamp It was a war that no one wanted to remember. and as an Iraqi American I will never forget
The invasion has irreparably changed the way my life and my family live. Its consequences continue to change our lives and destinies. From their cousins still displaced across the Middle East to their children, they denied anything but Iraqi citizenship. Even though they never went to Iraq, it tore us apart and brought us back together. Change the identities of those lucky enough to survive the Seven Years’ War. Destruction of infrastructure for clean water, electricity and healthcare. an increase in violent extremism; The return of rampant corruption and the abandonment of those who swear to save For U.S. troops fighting in the war Forgetting is easier than that: although their scars and memories are markedly different. But Iraq is also part of them.
It is understandable why people might overlook what is seen as a shameful chapter in American history. Hussein in Iraq at the time conspired with al-Qaeda and stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. We left the region in much worse conditions than the ones we encountered. It is not clear when or how the region will recover.
My father’s ancestry is rooted in Baghdad, which dates back centuries until they were destroyed by war. My father was born during the British occupation of Iraq. He learned to swim in the Tigris River and honed his business acumen in his father’s tea shop on Rashid Street before setting out to do it on his own. He was the first in his family to attend college at the University of Baghdad. and was the first to leave Iraq. In the late 1950s, he immigrated to Los Angeles. where he attended USC, met my mom married and settled in the San Fernando Valley. There, his three daughters spent much of their childhood trying to convince their colleagues that Baghdad was a real place. Even if they see something in the cartoon Hanna-Barbera anyway.
Cancer took Dad away in the late 1980s; Ironically, caused by schistosomiasis It is a parasitic disease caused by a tapeworm found in the rivers of North Africa and the Middle East. while Baghdad returned to claim him. His death means that we, Alice’s only Americans, have lost our relationship with Iraq. And that gap grows with political conflicts around the world. Hussein’s dictatorship The Gulf War in the early 1990s, US-led sanctions and our humble Arabic skills This has kept us apart from 35 aunts, uncles and cousins overseas. Still, my sister and I reasoned that the family would always be in Iraq. And Baghdad will always be there for us.
Thus, when “Operation Shock and Terror” attacked Baghdad, So I didn’t see a lit Christmas tree or a spectacular fireworks display. I imagine losing someone I love forever. It was the start of a journey to see my family wherever I could: Jordan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and yes, finally Baghdad. In an effort to keep us united as the region unravels. What I found was a life of reconciliation and heartbreak.
My Iraqi family remained engraved in every stage of the conflict. They hid in bathtubs and under stairs during the bombing. and watched in horror as artifacts were looted from the National Museum of Iraq during the first months of the war. They fled across a closed border with seriously ill children in 2006 by bribing border guards. and narrowly escaped mass executions by Islamic rebels following the withdrawal of US troops. Today, they continue to pay a fee to return the remains of their loved ones to Wadi al Salam, the sacred Shia Muslim cemetery in Najaf. Iraq
If it sounds like a sob That’s because it is. It’s hard not to cry thinking about the last conversation I had with Uncle Mah before his death outside his hometown. He was sick and languishing in his sweltering apartment in a refugee enclave in Syria. Teasing children who should be in school. which goes back to Baghdad That interrupted our conversation as they played football in the wasteland outside. I sat beside Mahdi’s bed for several days. Hear about his childhood and the fall of his beloved city. He asked me to write about what I saw he was going through — the displacement, the loss — so that the world could understand. If only I had that power
But now that I’m here, please don’t forget Uncle Mahdi or anyone else who died and was changed forever by a war no one wants to remember.
The important thing to remember is not just blaming. It is as much about analyzing our intentions in the moment as it is about recognizing the consequences of our actions after the actual event. The invasion was sold to the American public as a remedial and patriotic measure. Punishment for attacking American soil and preventing future plans. Even though Hussein lacked remarkable evidence, But the nation came together with a common goal: stop the bad guys.
during the time of the invasion I work at Newsweek magazine, where even seasoned senior editors debate events. As if on a map: where are the strong points of this city? Government House? TV station? Oil refinery? Perhaps this will be the last time the US media and the public of the United States Gathered behind the same cause and when the front end collapses We too believe in a system that leaves Architects of War very unilateral.
Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War requires some serious reflection. Like in Vietnam, the US invaded Iraq with little to no view of what would happen after the first bombing and lost the war by taking a slow blunder. We need to recognize these past patterns if we are to change them. And we must be willing to accept their similarities today, for example, when Russia, a large military power, invaded Ukraine, a small sovereign country. with fake excuses In liberation – in order to fight back.
Baghdad may have looked abandoned in the “Shock and Awe” footage we watched 20 years ago, but now it’s clear what’s missing from the frame: humans. Those related to the frightened people below. That day is not something we have to force ourselves to remember. It is a tragedy that we cannot and should not forget.