News / USA

Struggling to Understand the Iraq War, 10 Years Later

Struggling to Understand the Iraq War, 10 Years Lateri
X
March 16, 2013 6:01 PM
Public opinion surveys in 2011, at the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, revealed a majority of Americans felt the U.S. invasion there was a mistake. War casualties had a major role in shaping Americans' feelings about the war, and now, 10 years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein from power, those sentiments persist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, relatives and friends of those who were lost in the war continue to struggle to come to terms with the meaning of the conflict and its consequences.

Struggling to Understand the Iraq War, 10 Years Later

Kane Farabaugh

Public opinion surveys in 2011, at the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, revealed a majority of Americans felt the U.S. invasion there was a mistake.  War casualties had a major role in shaping Americans' feelings about the war, and now, 10 years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein from power, those sentiments persist.

Relatives and friends of those who were lost in the war continue to struggle to come to terms with the meaning of the conflict and its consequences.

On a cold, wintry March afternoon, Iraq War veteran Harvey Kanter is fighting back tears as he fights through the snow to create a keepsake that reminds him of the friends he lost. “You don’t forget the names, and you don’t forget how it happened," he said.


U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq, 2003 - 2012U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq, 2003 - 2012
x
U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq, 2003 - 2012
U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq, 2003 - 2012
The names he won’t forget on the Mideast Conflicts Wall Memorial in Marseilles, Illinois, belong to three men Kanter served with in the U.S. Army at the height of the insurgency in Iraq - casualties of an unpopular conflict Kanter says is fading from America’s collective memory.

A poll conducted by the Huffington Post website and YouGov in January indicated 52 percent of Americans thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake. 55 percent of those who responded said the war was not worth fighting.

“I never want to see somebody look at it and say, 'Hey, it was a mistake; it was worthless,' when you have all of those lives lost, said John Bartosiewicz. Two of his sons served in the military, but neither served in Iraq.   While he says he supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was also relieved when Americans left in 2011. “If they would have just pulled out without setting a goal, and reaching that goal, then I would have thought it was worthless, because all those lives were lost and you can’t put a value on that," he said.

U.S. Combat Troops in Iraq, 2003-2011U.S. Combat Troops in Iraq, 2003-2011
x
U.S. Combat Troops in Iraq, 2003-2011
U.S. Combat Troops in Iraq, 2003-2011
“During the war, a common phrase was, 'We don’t support the war but we support our troops.' And I think that’s very important, to remember that distinction," said University of Chicago researcher Matthew Schweitzer. who is the creator of the blog “Post War Watch” which analyzes the legacy of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

He says U.S. public opinion shifted dramatically during the U.S. troop surge in Iraq in 2005. “It came too late to really sway people’s opinions after they saw thousands - hundreds of thousands - of Iraqis dying, and many U.S. soldiers dying for what seemed to be an unattainable goal.”

  • Smoke rises from the Iraqi Trade Ministry in Baghdad after it was hit by a missile during a U.S.-led attacks, March 20, 2003.
  • Smoke rises moments after the bright light at the right faded during U.S. strikes in downtown Baghdad in this image from television, March 20, 2003.
  • Then President George W. Bush makes a statement to reporters while Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld look on following a Cabinet meeting, March 20, 2003.
  • An explosion rocks Baghdad during air strikes March 21, 2003.
  • U.S. Marine Corp Assaultman Kirk Dalrymple watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad, April 9, 2003.
  • Iraqi men run through a neighborhood with looted items, Baghdad, April 10, 2003.
  • Iraqis cheer a column of U.S. armored vehicles arriving in Bagdhad, April 10, 2003.
  • A detained Iraqi man with a plastic bag covering his head sits in garden of a house searched by U.S. soldiers during a night raid in Tikrit, Oct. 30, 2003.
  • Iraqi policemen guard the burning pipeline near Karbala, Feb. 23, 2004.
  • British Army troops are covered in flames from a gas bomb thrown during a protest in Basra, March 22, 2004.
  • Coffins of U.S. military personnel are prepared to be offloaded at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware in this undated photo released in 2004.
  • A still from Al Iraqiya television shows masked executioners putting a noose around former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's neck moments before his hanging in Baghdad, Dec. 30, 2006.
  • A man runs down a street warning people to flee shortly after a twin car bomb attack at Shorja market in Baghdad, Feb. 12, 2007.
  • A U.S. soldier guards an arrested man after a gunfight in central Baqouba, Iraq, March 29, 2007.
  • Demonstrators wave Iraqi flags during an anti-U.S. protest called by fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, marking the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, April 9, 2007.
  • Supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr burn a banner representing the U.S. flag during a protest in Baghdad's Sadr City,July 3, 2009.
  • U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles drive through Camp Adder before departing Imam Ali Base near Nasiriyah, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2011.

“It’s hard to change anyone’s opinion about what is freedom, what is democracy, what is the price you pay for it," said Jerry Terando. His son Joshua paid the ultimate sacrifice, killed by a sniper’s bullet in 2005 in Iraq.  Jerry Terando is now among a majority of Americans who view the war unfavorably. “Regardless of what our fighting men do, all wars come back to politics. [If we have] A nation without the heart to win, or a government without the will, we’re just wasting our time.”

Joshua’s name is now etched on the marble of the Mideast Conflicts Wall Memorial, a permanent reminder of what the war cost Jerry Terando and his family. “I would do anything to have him alive again, but I’m proud of him for what he did and the sacrifice he made. And I only wish the rest of America could appreciate that and the sacrifice of all the others whose names are on that wall," he said. 

 

Loading timeline...

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid