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Editorial: Shock and awe

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It’s been five years since the term “shock and awe” was introduced to the common lexicon, used to describe the initial stages of the invasion of Iraq that looked to the Americans who watched it on television like a souped-up game of Missile Command.

Only five years, yet so much has changed since our country cheered the televised explosions making the invasion seem more like a football game than the ill-conceived, fraudulently justified boondoggle that it was.

Before “Mission Accomplished,” before freedom fries, before the procession of indictments, before the US attorney scandal, before “My Pet Goat,” before the city of New Orleans was left to drown and George W. Bush still seemed like the kind of guy most Americans would like to sit down and drink a beer with, the invasion of Iraq didn’t seem like such a bad idea. It was only 10 years or so since the last time we fought the Iraqis, Desert Storm, when we routed the Republican Guard from Kuwait in about three days and with minimal American casualties. Many of us didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t just swoop through Iraq and do it again. Still more of us were hell-bent on revenge, a swift ass-kicking courtesy of the good ol’ US of A, because, dammit, Saddam Hussein and al Qaida were practically one and the same, and there were weapons of mass destruction under every sand dune, or so we believed. And why wouldn’t we believe? Our own president, who may or may not have been duly elected, told us so, as did Colin Powell. And The New York Times. And, we were told, the United Nations Security Council.

Seventy-five percent of Americans were behind this invasion in those heady days of 2003. Even some of us in the YES! Weekly newsroom were itching to see the desert blasted into glass back then, though there would be no YES! Weekly until almost two years later, and by then we all knew better.

The WMDs were a lie. The connection to al Qaida was fabricated. The color-coded terrorist alert system was an election-year scare tactic. Colin Powell traded his reputation for political favor and The New York Times – Judith Miller, anyway – was on the take. And freedom fries… well that was just stupid. Now, 75 percent of Americans are against the war.

And yet we still feel the shock and awe of the full-scale invasion as it reverberates around the globe and will continue to do for generations.

The shock comes when we who once thought this was a war for oil see that the price of a gallon of gas has tripled. It comes when we crunch the numbers of American dead – as of today 4,000 – or see with our own eyes the walking wounded who have returned from overseas and left huge chunks of themselves behind. Shock comes when we realize an administration hijacked the entire nation and nobody did anything to stop them.

And the kind of awe that inspires not amazement or respect but instead fear, dread and feelings of insignificance sets in when we realize what we’ve done to the country of Iraq, for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways, and the horrible pittance we have to show for it.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration.

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