‘I don’t know if it was all worth it’
Emily Trageser, 31, joined the Army in 2000 and deployed to Iraq for the 2003 invasion with the 101st Airborne Division. She returned to the United States in early 2004.
I don’t think that the gravity of what we were doing ever really hit me. I was just a silly 23-year-old, excited to be a part of something big with one of the best-known units in the United States Army.
I was like a little kid on a family trip with my nose pressed against the window, not wanting to miss anything on this grand adventure.
When I contrast my experience with what happened later on in the war, it makes me feel guilty that my time there was so easy. Every time I heard about a soldier from my old unit who was hurt or killed, I felt a tremendous anger but was unsure of where to direct it. I find it embarrassing when someone thanks me for my service, because I feel like I didn’t really do anything compared to some. But I have the memories of my time there, which I treasure.
I don’t know if it was all worth it. I know now that the invasion was based on flawed intelligence, although at the time, everyone thought that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. Everyone. So we liberated Iraq from a madman, and saved them from perhaps a later, worse fate.
So much blood, and where are the Iraqi people now? Are they in a better situation? We want to know, we want reassurance, that all the American lives, both lost and ruined, were worth it. I can’t say.
War didn’t kill me, but coming home almost did’
Eric Sofge, 31, served as an Army infantry officer in Iraq in 2007. He is now a law student at the University of San Francisco.
When I came home, the first thing my wife said to me was that she was filing for divorce. So ended an eight-year relationship and sent me spiraling into despair and hopelessness. The war didn’t kill me, but coming home almost did.
Sadly, almost everyone who was there has struggled and will struggle for possibly the rest of their lives. The families who lost someone there will never fully recover. And the soldiers who came back wounded have to deal with something I cannot imagine.
The Iraq War was a waste because although we did depose a dictator, we ruined the country in the process. Most Iraqis have paid a tremendous price for it. I oftentimes remember people telling me, “It was better under Saddam.”
Clearly there were strategic interests in toppling Hussein, but I’m not convinced that those interests outweighed the costs to this nation. It also cost the U.S. a tremendous amount in international credibility.
I realize that it’s possible that in 20 years from now the Iraq War may be seen as the turning point in the Middle East from dictatorships and theocracy to democracy and civil liberties, but I highly doubt that.
Note by the editor: Was the Iraq war worth it? That of course depends what the aim of the war was. Was it to bring democracy to Iraq? I would say NO. The real reasons for the war were many, let’s list some of them:
– To ensure that Iraq will be a weak nation for decades to come. A ‘super power’ can control weak nations, not
strong ones. (Aim achieved).
– To ensure that Iraq will not pose a threat to Israel. To ensure continued unrest in the Arab world so that
in the meantime Israel can expand its settlements and no one has time to bother with their human rights abuses.
– To ensure that some individuals in USA will get very rich with the war industry. (Aim achieved).
All these aims are not in the interest of the general public, neither in USA nor in Iraq. The dollar costs were too high. (I am not mentioning ‘American lives’ as 4500+ American lives are nothing compared to the 100’000+ of Iraqi lives).