Anonymous Gulf War Veteran Opposes Invading Iraq

AlterNet: Ten Reasons Why Many Gulf War Veterans Oppose Re-Invading Iraq

I read this article written by a courageous, anonymous Gulf War veteran. It’s quite ridiculous.

First, there is no reason to think that being a combat veteran gives one any special insight into the complex international and domestic issues involved in situations like we face today. All it means is that you served in some capacity (the details of which this anonymous author did not give us) that was classified as “combat”. Perhaps you even carried a rifle and marched through the sands, shooting at others who marched through the same sands towards you. If you want to offer an opinion on what it’s like to march through the desert and shoot at people, great. But that experience does not endow you with a special understanding of politics relating to the country you fought.

The first paragraph of this article asserts

“we veterans were there, and we have unique and critical first-hand knowledge of the course and consequences of warfare in Iraq. Our opinions should be solicited and heard before troops deploy for battle”.

But the second paragraph goes on to say

Another invasion of Iraq in 2002 will be very different from the invasion of 1991…the Iraqi army may retreat to the cities, where they may face better odds than in the desert.

And the third paragraph elaborates some of those differences, essentially saying that urban warfare is entirely different from battles fought in the open desert.

Right off the bat, “anonymous” has inadvertently negated his/her claim that Gulf War veterans have “unique and critical first-hand knowledge of the course…of warfare in Iraq” by stating that this war would be entirely unlike the last one. So “first hand knowledge” becomes mere speculation.

Reasons 1, 2, 3, and 5 for anonymous’s opposition are basically the same – Iraq has and will use chemical and biological weapons, and those are nasty. Hello? That’s a big part of the reason we are planning to go over there! Those are the “weapons of mass destruction” that you’ve been hearing about, anonymous!

Reason 4 is that the US has been experimenting with using depleted uranium ammunition, which is linked to causing cancer in rats. We used that sort of ammunition in Desert Storm, and some of our soldiers probably got exposed to this stuff that might cause cancer in rats. Going back will probably cause more soldiers to be exposed to it. I am not sure if anonymous opposes any war on this basis, or if depleted uranium is only nasty when used in Iraq.

Reason 6 is that we didn’t finish what we started in 1991 by failing to support the Iraqi opposition in a total overthrow of Saddam. I’m not sure why that means we shouldn’t finish it now.

Reaon 7 is that Iraq might be mad and try to kill our soldiers because we killed a lot of their soldiers at the end of Desert Storm. This is different from other wars, in which soldiers don’t try to kill large numbers of their enemies.

Reason 8 claims that the US sold the chemical and biological weapons to Iraq to begin with. Even if anonymous offered any proof of that, I don’t see why it would stop us from going back. And I sure don’t understand why a “Gulf War combat veteran” would have a unique knowledge or understanding of this.

Reason 9 is that we might have to go it alone, and it would be better if we had allies in the region. Of course, anonymous could not have known that when Bush actually put out the effort to convince other nations, as he did on 9/12/02, they would fall into line. But even if they didn’t, we can and should do the right thing even if we do it alone.

Reason 10 is that the VA hospitals might not be able to take care of the additional casualties. Anonymous’s evidence for that is that the VA is currently not doing a very good job. And that despicable Bush “slashed” $275 million from the VA’s healthcare budget.

Clearly, we should not engage in any military action until we can get this straightened out. Or something like that. This is just a general complaint about VA hospitals rather than something that is based on “unique and first hand knowledge” about Iraq.

Anonymous ends with the following statements:

Although the Iraqi government is a corrupt dictatorship that must eventually be removed

“Eventually” must mean when Iraq no longer has nasty chemical and biological weapons, when the radioactive depleted uranium ammunition finally stops being radioactive, when we are not planning on killing lots of Iraqi soldiers because that might make them want to kill lots of our soldiers, when Europe supports us, and when the VA hospitals get straightened out. I’m not sure which of those will take the longest; I’m sure it’s not the radioactivity.

A premature attack against Iraq, especially when the public opposes it, would be a horrible mistake.

Which public opposes attacking Iraq? All the polls I’ve seen show that 2/3rds or more of US citizens support attacking Iraq.

Since 1990, more than 400 U.S. soldiers have died in the Gulf War theater of operations.

400 military deaths are insignificant compared to the thousands of civilian deaths that would be suffered if Iraq managed to get weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who used them on our soil.

Untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, both soldiers and civilians, also died.

That’s because they were the bad guys.

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