Dec 20, 2011 | By Matthew Shuster
I remember sitting in my junior high gym class in Northern Virginia when the principal’s announcement came over the loudspeakers that a plane had hit one of the Twin Tower buildings in New York City and that another had also crashed closer to home, into the Pentagon.
At first, I thought it was maybe some sort of freak accident, but quickly realized that it was indeed an attack. I also realized how serious the situation really was, especially after seeing how nervous and sad my teachers seemed and how all the other students were calling their families to see if any of their family members staying or working in Washington or New York were okay.
As terrible as the attacks of 9/11 were, I do remember thinking how weird it was that so much violence and war followed so soon after the attacks. Later, I thought about how we went into Iraq with an unclear, non-transparent cowboy search for the terrorist group Al Qaeda and for weapons of mass destruction even though Osama Bin Laden was known to be in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is a name that I have been hearing pretty much my whole life on the mainstream news—so much so that it makes me wonder if my parents were as sick of hearing about “Red Communists” during the Cold War period as I was about hearing about Al Qaeda.
As a kid, I learned some about the Vietnam War and how upset my parents’ generation was with how long such an unpopular war had lasted. How could we allow another long conflict without an honest justification happen?
Most kids growing up with me would not have even have been able to tell you exactly whom we were fighting or what we were even doing in Iraq after the first couple of years after the invasion. I do not think it was because we were too young to understand, but a lack of truth in connection with the awful reality of violence in Iraq.
I do not think the Iraq conflict should even be called a war, because it sounds like we were attacked by Saddam Hussein with a weapon of mass destruction and responded out of defense, although the cynic in me worries that the history books in school will make our invasion sound like it was indeed a justified war.
Thankfully, the troops are leaving and according to a White House conference call with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, we will soon have the lowest number of American troops in the Persian Gulf region in twenty years. However, there will still be a military presence in Kuwait and a strong naval presence in the region. Nonetheless, it is a good sign that our approach toward foreign affairs could become more peaceful and less intrusive.