Why did we invade Iraq?
The allegations of ties to al Qaeda were false as were the accusations that Iraq had "reconstituted" their WMD program -- a program that never really existed to begin with; every ounce of WMD Iraq ever had came from the U.S. in the '80s. The massacre of the Kurds in northern Iraq? Yeah, Saddam used the weapons we gave him.
Did we invade Iraq solely to oust a dictator and "free" the Iraqi people? Nope. That excuse came well after we found that there really were no WMD (i.e., after the original excuse for invading turned out to be completely false.)
Before the war started, I was in Kuwait -- Camp Doha to be specific. On a base built for around 2,000 personnel, there were about 15,000 people (or more) there on any given day. We watched the whole drama play out on the news -- Iraq would say that they didn't have any WMD (true); the U.S. would say that "we're not invading" but we're also not taking "military action off of the table" (bullshit). This was in February and it was abundantly clear that not only were we preparing to invade but we were also preparing to run the biggest propaganda campaign ever seen against our own people.
After the last "sure fire" yellowcake site turned up negative (~two weeks into the war), we were told that we were no longer operating under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and that we were to refer to any further operations taking place in Iraq as Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The very next day, Fox News started reporting on OIF -- playing up the "we're here to free the Iraqi people" line while stuffing "WMD" down the memory hole. Every other news channel followed suit. The lies that led us to invade a sovereign nation that in fact, did not pose any existential threat to the U.S. were all but forgotten. We guarded the oil fields, refineries, etc. while allowing museums containing artifacts from the dawn of civilization to be looted and vandalized. Meanwhile Kim Jong Il is test firing ICBMs dangerously close to Japan's airspace. We didn't give a shit about his WMD program -- North Korea has no known exploitable natural resources.
I'm still very curious; how old were you when all of this was happening? Had you joined the Marines yet? I do not ask this in a demeaning way, I'm just honestly curious.
Days turned to weeks turned to months. Casualties mounted on both sides. I'll never be able to forget the stench of corpses rotting in ~120F weather. Sure, in the beginning many Iraqis supported our actions. Bit by bit though, this support vanished with every door we kicked in, every child killed when a JDAM demolished his family's home, every rape, and every father or son we kidnapped and threw into Abu Garib. We had proven to be just as ruthless as the criminals who ran the country before the invasion.
My distaste for the war grew with every passing day. It turned into anger, then rage. How the fuck can we claim the mantle of the Righteous Avenger while laying waste to entire villages -- while murdering innocent civilians and calling it "collateral damage"? Who gave us the right to "Bring Freedom" to any place we see fit? How the hell have we become so fucking deluded that we believe our own propaganda -- the U.S. is not "exceptional" among the nations of the world -- we haven't been "chosen" by God to carry the banner of Justice into battle while ignoring the injustices we commit ourselves, no, we have become a nation of deluded hypocrites. Worse -- we actually paid for this; we asked for it; we begged corporations to provide us this illusion by our continuous financial support of the very class of people who are working to enslave us. Oil Subsidies, the Bush Tax Cuts, NAFTA, Globalization -- all of these have worked in concert to crush the soul of our country. We outsource everything and then wonder where the fuck our manufacturing base has gone -- this used to be the backbone of the nation and we gave it away; we are quite literally spineless.
It was here that I realized that my decision to join the Army was not of my own making. Oh sure, I signed the papers, but why? How had I become so convinced at such a young age (17) that I had no other opportunities other than the military? Well, for starters there weren't any other opportunities. My financial reality was that there was no way in hell I was going to college. What else could I do? Become like everyone else in this shitty little town I lived in? Fuck that. I wasn't going to live in a two-room dirty shack and bitch about how my life has been shit because I never did anything -- I never took the proverbial "leap"... I needed an escape route. An escape from my fucked up family situation, my fucked up economic situation, and the only place that was willing to throw me a rope was the Army. So I joined.
Looking back at this I wonder: How is it that the "greatest nation on the face of the planet" allows so many of it's unprivileged or underprivileged young people to be faced with this decision: Military, Crime (then jail), or lifelong poverty? I watched as this cycle sent me to the Army, one of my brothers to prison, and two others (figuratively) to the poorhouse. Every broken institution in the U.S. -- the education system, social services, etc. -- that my family came into contact with failed us. Conservatives like to speak about "giving a hand up, not a handout", but their words are empty. They don't want to do either. For as much as they reject Darwin's theory of Evolution with regard to science, they willingly embrace it when it comes down to money. They hide behind so called "moral hazards" so that they don't have to admit and address their own greed. It is this greed that has so thoroughly ravaged our country. And it is this greed that drives us to commit acts that if committed by other nations we would decry as human rights violations. Greed. The single most important factor when considering every combat operation the U.S. has been involved in for at least the last ~60 years.
It took me a while to come to this conclusion. PTSD can fuck you up more ways that you can imagine. I've had to overcome the guilt of participating in something that I know now to be a horrible lie that continues to get people killed. For your sake, I hope you are on an honest path towards truth, but I warn you: Coming to these realizations can be very painful and you've already been indoctrinated to reject anything that might make you regret your actions on behalf of the U.S. government thus, it can also be very challenging. I love my country, and I believe you do also. But a relationship in which one half never admits when they are wrong or worse, reacts violently when confronted with fact, is an abusive relationship. The citizens of the United States have been locked in an abusive relationship with the Government of the United States for a very long time, and since there is money to be made by keeping people trapped in the system, the Corporations of the United States have allied themselves with the Government and against the People. Love for ones country does not equal love for ones government.
Looking back on my service, I can honestly say that overall, I'm proud of what I managed to accomplish and I'm thankful (to whom I'm still trying to figure out) for the opportunities and experiences that led me to where I am now. My time in the Army forced me to figure out what I believe in, what my values are, and who I am -- if you take nothing else from this wall-of-text, I urge you to do the same.