Can you tell me how many people were killed in Iraq yesterday? Well unless you happen to be one of the few people reading foreign media or alternative media, probably not. According to Iraq Body Count, the number is 24. And that means that 546 civilians have been killed in the month of June. But let’s not dwell on the statistics. My real question is this: who cares about Iraq?
I’m part of the generation that were probably too young to understand what was happening when we originally invaded. I was twelve years old on March 20th, 2003 and I vividly remember watching the green streaks on the television as they destroyed Baghdad. And I didn’t understand.
And this is what my generation knows of Iraq. We heard the names of Ali Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr. We heard about Saddam Hussein and WMDs. Something about 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. Sunnis and Shiites?
The War on Terror was something that was (and still is) intangible, yet somehow immediate. And maybe I can only speak for myself, but I certainly didn’t grasp the reality of the situation.
Today, 10 years later, I still only have a tenuous understanding of what took place and what is taking place in Iraq, but one thing I’ve noticed is that others in my generation tend to ignore what happened. Somehow it’s been erased by Obama’s presidency. We don’t have to worry about Iraq anymore, because we voted for someone who was “against” the war. We don’t have to care...
Think about it:
Do you know who the president of Iraq is?
What about the prime minister?
Do you know Iraq’s relationship to surrounding countries (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, Kuwait, Syria)?
It’s in one of the most important places in the world and it’s as if we’ve simply washed our hands of knowing about it. I’m not interested in making you feel bad, I’m interested in sparking a discussion. I’m interested in making you care. I’m interested in making sure that, together, we remain informed and engaged about potentially the most important area of the world.
With headlines about China’s new investments in Iraq, as well as the countless civilians killed each year, the situation in Mesopotamia in inextricably linked to U.S. foreign policy. The civil war in Syria has led to a surge in sectarian divisions throughout Iraq. And power dynamics throughout the Middle East are shifting dramatically with the Arab Spring, the ongoing uprisings in Bahrain, and crippling sanctions against Iran.
So who cares about Iraq?
It doesn’t seem like many people from my generation do, but hopefully someday that will change.
Dick Cheney in 1994 say that occupying Iraq isn’t a great idea: