Iraq isn’t our problem anymore. Who cares. Good riddance. —Internet commentator
USA! USA! USA! —The same guy, nine years ago.
Future generations will never confuse it with VJ Day. This time, there were no jubilant crowds in Times Square or iconic photographs of sailors kissing nurses or a cross-continental outpouring of relief and exuberance.
Instead, there was a collective shrug as a military convoy rolled through the desert. The war that began with shock and awe ended with confusion and indifference.
That’s because the American public, overall, was originally gung-ho about going to war. Remember that “in March 2003, 72% said it was the right decision while 20% said it was the wrong decision.” But at that time, only 48 percent of Latinos were in favor of bombing Bagdad.
By the war’s end, however, just “48% say the United States made the right decision to use military force in Iraq, nearly as many (46%) disagree.”
So in essence, the American population now lines up with the Latino position of almost a decade ago. I guess we’re just psychic…or not as easily fooled by some drawling snake-oil salesman of questionable competence (you decide which).
In any case, once the war began, Latinos stepped up to serve. Our proportion of U.S. military members who went to Iraq is basically our percentage of the population. Among those brave soldiers is my cousin, who did two tours there.
Furthermore, the first American soldier killed in the operation was a Latino, Jose Gutierrez, who came to the United States as an undocumented child from Guatemala. Oddly enough, no one seemed terribly concerned with his legal status when he was volunteering to put his life on the line. But I’m sure that’s just an unfortunate coincidence.
And speaking of immigrant soldiers, almost five thousand of them took advantage of an executive order that allowed them to be naturalized. To receive this pathway to citizenship, all they had to do was get shot at in a botched operation that was based on faulty intelligence (and quite possibly, outright lies).
So now that it’s over, how does the legacy of the Iraq War affect Latino-Americans? Well, in a nation where some people still believe that Vietnam was winnable, there will never be a final consensus.
But I’m sure we can all agree that we will never again rush into a war that is based on such flimsy evidence for such vague goals out of some misguided sense of patriotism.
Until the next time.