Clearly, the Iraq war has changed the political and social landscape of the United States and the Middle East. As a result of this pointless war villages in Iraq and in small poor towns throughout the United States have suffered. The suffering is noticeable in countless ways. American men and women are coming home maimed. Children are parentless, and Iraqi men and women are scarred for life. Their country will never be the same. The remnants of war will forever linger above the sunsets in Fallujah, Baghdad, South Hill, and in Fayette-nam: home of the 82nd Air Borne.
If you listen to the conservative pundits you will gather that they believe this war is justifiable. According to them it was the right thing to do. If you lean to the left and if you avoid the conservative news networks you are among a group of people who believe fighting this war was one of the United States government’s biggest mistakes. I disagree with this. America’s most drastic mistake was nonchalantly allowing black men and women to be victimized by a system of blatant and institutionalized racism. Anyway, the Iraq war is not only bankrupting the federal reserve it is exposing our third world type conditions to the world.
The government’s involvement in this war has made us vulnerable to additional criticism. We are no longer viewed as the country that has it together. How can we be when the individuals who serve in our armed forces cannot receive appropriate healthcare back on American soil? You would think this fine country could at least house their wounded in non-molded infested dwellings which, as a matter of fact, I have seen in countless hospitals in the developing world - but we are considered the First World. Now, that is worth responding with: Wow! But no, we the United States of America are deficient in this area. We have dropped the ball again. You would think we would have learned something during and after both World War I and II. And, after the Vietnam War. Our men and women faced the same issues back then. Again, Wow!
Do we honestly believe our soldiers were aware of the military’s deficiencies before they volunteered to safeguard the great United States? I often wondered as a high school senior why that Army recruiter was so persistent and evasive. She was always seated each and every Friday in the Thomasville High School Student Union. She did not miss a Friday of tip-toeing around the important questions. I also wondered why so many of my friends walked up to her information table. Actually, at the time I was intrigued by the military. Deep down in my subconscious I wanted to come home alive in a uniform, but I could not get the words of my uncles out of my head. The words were: “Do not fight for this country. This country will turn its back on you.” These were the words of two former military men. When I got older I asked my uncles why did they join. Both of them without hesitation said, “I did not have anything else to do, and I wanted to leave this small town.”
There is a lot of psychology in their statement. Two black men wanted to do something with their lives. Two black men had a desire to get out of a small town. These are the same exact reasons why some of my classmates approached that recruitment table 20 years ago. They wanted to flee all those negative elements that make up a small town i.e. limited mentalities and debilitating unemployment. Their interest did not stem from a passion to serve this country. They were not boasting with American pride. There was no reason for us to be in love with Uncle Sam’s country. We were poor and black. Two characteristics that forced us to remember “our place”. But, we did have a desire to do something with our lives. We were motivated to be somebody. To do more than what the former upper classmen did.
Back then (the late 80’s) in my small town there was a concerted push for young men and women to do something with their lives. The teachers and guidance counselors encouraged us to go to college or to get a job in the furniture factories. However, starting your work career off at a furniture factory was not held in high esteem. Our parents wanted “more” for their children, and going to college was a challenge for too many of us. But, going to the military was an easy answer. I can remember so many adults communicating that join the Army message. When I think about their persistence now I get repulsed, but I do understand and respect their efforts. They just wanted us to make something of ourselves. They wanted to be proud of us. No harm in that.
Most people have felt the pressure to be successful. No one wants to be a failure. I wholeheartedly believe that. Nevertheless, in our efforts to promote the things our children must do to be successful I believe it is absolutely essential that we do not promote a line of work that has a high potential to leave our men 1) mentally traumatized, 2) resentful, and 3) unemployable. My uncles’ personalities and lives give indication to all three despite their ability to successfully navigate through America’s crippling deceit and unfulfilled promises. I honor Raymond and Jerry Payne. They have done their very best under the illusionary banner we hypocritically take so much pride in: Democracy.
Unfortunately, after 30 plus years this is the same result for our young black men. Yes, there are “success stories”. And, I agree that the military can lead one on an amazing path of success. Nonetheless, the war America raged has proven that there is a negative side that our men NEVER hear about when being courted by that recruiter in the crisp uniform. Their methods of minority recruitment are filled with all types of sensory enticements: loud rap music, girls representing the Army with mid-drifts and booty shorts on, and vehicles with flashy rims. This is the way the Army recruits in what they call the urban market. The picture within this link is an example of what they use to attract young black men at HBCU’s and outside of strip malls in places like Atlanta, Detroit, and Houston (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2848327010072832045qBnLgZ).
Not only, is America’s wing of defense tapping into flamboyant marketing directed to black men and women. They also have the audacity to camp out in small rural towns where the population is mostly white. Yep, they even prey on young whites in the heart of America, the mid-West. The approach is somewhat the same they just don’t bring the fully loaded Hummers blaring the rap song, Throw Some D’s On It. No, the white Marine and Navy recruiters go to the local Friday night football game and hoodwink those teenagers by playing on the emotion of fear. That fear is rooted in the question: ‘What will I do with my life?’
War has changed too many of us. It is my hope the change for those successfully bamboozled will come as a result of the TRUTH: ‘The military’s purpose is to protect and defend the United States. There is a GOOD chance you will have to fight in a war, and you may be killed.’
If the Bush Administration has its way we will be fighting and fighting with no end to the fighting in sight, which means more young and poverty stricken 18 to 25 year olds will come home with no legs or possibly in a coffin wrapped in a symbol that’s hated by most of the world: The American Flag. Just because foreigners arrive at our doorsteps does not mean we are beloved by them. The American government has made enemies and they continue to do so with a renewed zeal of imperialism. Just travel to Europe, Africa, and Asia; and dialogue with the common folk. They resent the America that’s caused so much strife and unnecessary changes in their fragile countries.
The detrimental changes as a result of this war:
*3,218 US soldiers killed and 24,042 seriously wounded in Iraq
*Iraqi Military and Police Casualties - 6,271
*Iraqi civilian causalities have been significantly under reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be significantly higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian causalities at over 600,000.
Written by Muata. Inspired by the 18 year old white kid who told Richard Engel, CNN reporter, “God knows I was not prepared for this.” Inspired by the 20 year old black man who told a BBC reporter, “I want to go home. I regret I ever joined the military, but what else was I suppose to do?”