Monday, July 14, 2014

Iraq - My View

Thank you My Colorado View for posting my blog about my thoughts on Iraq.

The Iraq situation worsens by the day and I find myself watching the media almost as much as I did from 2003-2005. This time my approach is a little different.  Instead of just tuning in to the nightly news, I follow journalists on the ground via twitter and receive fragments of information throughout the day.  The number of deaths in Iraq in June 2014 are staggering–2,417 people.  That is the size of the population of Telluride or Buena Vista, Colorado.
The other day a coworker casually said, “I am sorry about Iraq.” I know deep down what he meant, but it struck me strangely.  The Fourth of July has taken on new meaning to me since 2009. I was leaving Kuwait to fly into Al Taqaddum, which was primarily a Marine Base in Western Iraq, and then onward to Ramadi. Home of the Wild West and where the Anbar Awakening took place.  Only later, would I learn about all of the countless battles that were fought many years earlier in Fallujah and Ramadi and the painful sacrifices made by Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors.  I cannot even fathom how much brokenness that small piece of land holds and continues daily absorb.
My daughter was also in Army Basic Training. I had reached out to her Company Commander ahead of time via email letting him know that I would be pushing forward. He arranged for her to call me. Imagine me waiting in an airport in Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait when one the newest Army Privates calls me on the 4th of July. I remember it was a quick call but important to both of us. I was proud and she was relieved.
After nine months of living there I can say, I left part of my heart there.  I fell in love with the people and I came to respect the culture. I saw the hope in the eyes of Iraqi soldiers and the glimpse of promises in eyes of women and children. I walked away with the understanding that much like my desires; I want peace for my family, education, safety, and a future; they want the same. It might look different, but principally it is the same.
The steady decline of Iraq’s stability and security leaves me both sad and angry. Ultimately, it is the decision of the Iraqi people to decide its fate. But I am cheering for them, which equals nothing more than a silent cheer.
I am concerned for the future Iraqi women and children.  The status of women improves when their environments are stable and secure. When you are struggling to just feed your family and keep them safe, things like medical care and education become luxuries, not necessities. The rural women who take the brunt of the struggle are often neglected or abused.  The rural areas in the west were already filled with Syrian refugees and now the latest chaos within Iraq creates further confusion and steals hope from the most vulnerable people in the region.
What can I do?  I listen to some Arabic music and maybe make a cup of sweet Iraqi chai. I silently cheer, stay informed, educate others, and wait.

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