Community Radio

WRBP | Community Radio – Season 6, Episode 9: 2003 Invasion of Iraq

March 7, 2022

Season 6, Episode 9
March 20, 2022
Theme: 2003 Invasion of Iraq

For those of us in New England, the winter lasts every bit of its allotted season. The bitter winds increasing the cold; the snowfall clogging gutters; the dry air desiccating our skin: these are with us for months. But once we leave the Christmas season, each day that passes brings just a little more daylight, warming the earth and reminding us of new life beginning. Rejuvenation is a central theme of spring, which this year begins on March 20th. As it comes, we begin to shed our jackets and boots for short sleeves and sandals. There is the promise of a warmer, freer world and we eagerly greet its arrival.

STOP! Stop. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here. We are – as I write this – seeing the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. I cannot fully comprehend or understand the situation. I live my life aware that terrible things are happening, but I don’t feel that terror in any real sense. Still, it must be recognized.

I am grateful for the sustained resistance within Ukraine, as well as the loud global protests and expressions of solidarity for the Ukrainian people. Unfortunately, I must also acknowledge that this invasion has been depicted quite differently from others, especially those that have occurred within the past twenty years. By now I am sure you’ve heard this quote from CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata, “This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European…city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”

I will not tell you what to think of that statement. But I will hold you here to think about it. We cannot look away. Because nineteen years ago on March 20, 2003, ground forces from my country – the United States – along with the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq as part of the first stage of the Iraq War. There may be people listening to this show who were not alive when that war began…but I assume that most of you remember it.

How would you describe it? How should you? For me, I must remember that any descriptions I share are from the point of view of a 16-year-old boy, someone who didn’t bear any of the danger or trauma from that war. So I – like the reporter cited above – will try to choose my words carefully.

A few weeks prior to the war, I was in a hotel ballroom eating lunch with dozens of other high school sophomores, watching television. I was attending a leadership conference, with student representatives from across Delaware, facilitated by a lot of older women. On the television was footage of the worldwide protests, including those from our own country. These protests were massive: more than 30 million people across the planet participated over the course of four months. And while my fellow Americans walked across the screen, voicing their rejection of the impending invasion, a kid turned complained about the unpatriotic marchers. “They should give it up,” he said. A facilitator – this white-haired lady – turned to him and agreed, “Yes. It’s time to support our troops.”

That is what the invasion of Iraq is to me. It’s seeing people pretending to be leaders demanding that we follow them; it’s resistance to a massive apparatus already moving in a predetermined direction; it’s a complete dismissal of that resistance in the name of national unity; it’s being wholly unprepared for what’s to come even though you know exactly what it is; it’s a discovery of just how disinterested so many people are in the lives of the human beings around them.

These are heavy words to read. I know that. But if spring is a time not just of rebirth and resurrection, but of new life, then it is essential that we not simply replicate what came before. Let us take time to reflect, then continue the work of building a world without dictators, autocrats, nationalists, billionaires and warmongers.

Our theme for episode 9 of Community Radio is the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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