As bombs fall over Iraq, old emotions rise in US
Jesse Washington, AP
August 10, 2014, 4:03 pm TWN
It was supposed to be over, America's war in Iraq. So all the old emotions boiled up anew as Americans absorbed the news that U.S. bombs were again striking targets in the nation where the United States led an invasion in 2003, lost almost 4,500 troops in the fight to stabilize and liberate it and then left nearly three years ago.
In interviews across the country, from the 9/11 memorial in New York to the Iowa State Fair and an Arizona war monument, Americans voiced conflicted feelings as airstrikes began Friday, ordered by President Barack Obama who had fulfilled a campaign promise when he withdrew the last U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.
Many supporting the decision to bomb now did so for contrasting reasons. Those opposed said the U.S. never should have invaded Iraq in the first place, but they also struggled with America's obligation to the ravaged, upended nation, which has endured violence between rival Islamic sects and, recently, the ruthless onslaught of the militant group calling itself the Islamic State.
There was one constant across Americans' opinions: Nobody could envision a concrete solution to Iraq's problems.
Neil McCanon, who was deployed to Iraq for four months as an armored crewman in the Army, said the U.S. should not have gone into Iraq in 2003. "I felt like it was not really justified, and it was proven to be unjustified after we got there," he said, referring to the never-found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the alleged threat cited to justify the war.
But he thought Friday's airstrikes, which targeted Islamic State militants who have conquered swaths of Iraq and Syria, were the right thing to do.
"These are bad guys, there's no question about that. The only question is where do we use force and how much, I guess," said McCanon, who now is co-owner of the Virginia Beach-based Young Veterans Brewing Company.
One of the main reasons McCanon voted for Obama was because he promised to end the war. He trusts Obama's pledge not to send ground troops, but where exactly to draw the line about the use of force remains an open question for him.