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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs