Reflections on the Iraq War as some troops return home
By Mike McCabe
Although in recent years Afghanistan has regained the status of “Radical Middle Eastern Country Stumping Our Military,” it must be noted that the long, tragic war with those other allegedly WMD-hiding bad guys is finally (yes, FINALLY) winding down. To say “the war is over” is a slightly less bullshit-covered phrase than “Mission Accomplished” was—there are still 50,000 Americans in Iraq, and some are still dying. There is no denying, though, that a drastic number of American troops are either on their way back home or to other parts of the globe to carry out their military duties.
As far as Iraq is concerned, the people of America find themselves reflecting on the past few years of war, not unlike the country did in the mid-1970s after the Vietnam bloodbath. Was it worth it? Was anything really accomplished? Were we justified? These are the questions that citizens all across the country are asking themselves.
Mary Anne Grady Flores is an activist in Ithaca who remains involved in local, national and global affairs. Her opinions in regard to Iraq are representative of the entirety of the city and much of the country these days.
The war had quite a personal effect on Grady Flores’ life, as two of her sisters, her brother-in-law and a friend were sent to prison for their role in a 2003 protest demonstration.
“Months before the Iraq War happened, there were so many people [in Ithaca who were] well aware that we were being lied to,” Grady Flores said. “The Catholic Workers community specifically invited people to gather.”
Some of these activists would come to be known as the St. Patrick’s Four, since their demonstration occurred on St. Patrick’s Day 2003, two days before the invasion, and they quoted St. Patrick: “Killing cannot be with Christ.” They were committed to having their voices heard.
On that St. Patrick’s Day, the four protesters visited the recruitment station in Ithaca and poured their own blood in the building.
“They wanted to kneel down, pour their blood in a prayerful way; not throwing blood,” Grady Flores said. “They took a quarter cup each, and they took the blood and just prayerfully poured the blood on the wall of the vestibule.”
Grady Flores said she supported their actions. “The fact is that the war was going to spill innocent blood,” she said. “People were going to die. Blood is something that’s very visceral. It’s something that we all share as a human quality, and it’s part of us. And Iraqis have it, Americans have it, any human being has it. It’s the common denominator. Blood is not a destroyer. War is the destroyer. And that’s the part that we need to understand.”
All four protestors were punished with prison time. Then, the U.S. invaded Iraq, resulting in the shedding of much more blood: At least 4,424 Americans and an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians died.
Grady Flores made sure to comment on the lasting effects on not only Ithaca, but on our country as a whole. Costofwar.com estimates that Ithaca alone has spent more than $50 million and counting on the Iraq War.
“Nobody in our local media conversation, and especially on the national conversation, is talking about the cost of war and how that affects our local communities,” Grady Flores said.
She noted that as tax money was being wasted overseas, community cornerstones, like the Fall Creek School, suffered and nearly had to close because of the lack of money. Had the “abomination,” as she described the war, never occurred, would people across the nation be experiencing the Great Recession so harshly?
No one could claim that the money that’s been thrown away was more valuable than the lives thrown away. It’s a bit ironic that the liars who started the war were not part of any end-of-war interviews.
She might only be an activist in one left-thinking city in upstate New York, but it’s safe to say that Grady Flores’ feelings are shared across America, and for all intensive purposes, the entire planet. Let’s all think about this one together: Was there any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 at all? Is Iraq not a breeding ground for radicals and terrorists now, with a worse quality of life than pre-war? Did the war not contribute to the fall of the U.S. from one of its most prosperous eras to bankruptcy? And most importantly, did any one at all really benefit from this clusterfuck?
Actually, I take that last question back. Dick Cheney and Halliburton surely made millions.
Mike McCabe is a freshman journalism major. All he is saying is give peace a chance. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.