If combat operations in the Iraq War began with Shock and Awe, they seem to be ending with numbness: a war-weary America paying more attention to bogus issues about a Muslim community center and Ground Zero.

I’ve spent these past seven and a half years safe at home. No IEDs, no house to house combat, no crazed and fanatic suicide bombers threatening my person. Even so I have paid a price for this abomination.

I spent the first six years trying my best to stay connected, listening to reports from NPR, the BBC, reading everything I could from reporters on the scene, to the brave blogs of US soldiers, and the extraordinary postings from a variety of Iraqis who tried to write about their lives. But I began to crack from the accumulated pain and sadness of it all.

Like all dictators, Saddam was a vicious and vengeful devil. But in the name of salvation, we have brought a hell of our own to Iraq. And for all the protesting and writing I have tried to do during these years, I can’t escape responsibility for what my American dollars and political failures have done to our troops, their families and the Iraqi people.

Remember the Iraqi TV journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush. I don’t know much about this man. But this is what he wrote after his release from prison:

“… during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country. We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade …

“(The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into never-ending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons …
“It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned.”

For the first time in a while I returned to read some of the young Iraqi bloggers I so faithfully followed. As we contemplate the seven and a half years of war, the twenty billion dollars we in Massachusetts have spent to wage this war, it might be interesting to read what “Sunshine,” an eighteen year old young woman studying engineering wrote on May 20th. While her spelling is a bit off, her vision is sharp and revelatory:

“The situation in Mosul is horrible. The terrorists attacked the Christian students in their way to collage, some were killed and others were injured, it was shocking news, and we all felt so worried about our Christian friends and classmates.

“Since the election, the terrorists forced the Christians to leave Mosul, the majority left to the nearby villages, and every day they come to work, school, and try to live their daily lives, but with a heart full of fear …

“My next door neighbors are still hiding in their home … we talk from the fence, and our sight are always directed to their door … whenever we see someone knocking their door, we open our door and watch silently, this make them feel more secured, to know the neighbors are watching their back …

“All of that is happening while the politicians fight each other, and try to take over the incumbency.

“Every day in my way to collage, my heart ache to see the black signs carrying names of the young people who were killed ‘by a perfidy action,’ some are Christians, and others are non, no one deserve to die like that.

“I wonder for how long this situation will last, we did reach the bottom, and I wish there will not be worse situations, although every day I say “it can’t be worse” and in the next morning I wake up trying to feel optimistic and then find the day even worst!”

So what was the mission? And what was accomplished?

The Berkshire Record, Thursday August 26, 2010. © Mickey Friedman. All rights reserved.