Column: Pre- and post-war perspective from abroad

Pre-war opinion

American patriotism falls flat in a country far from the red, white and blue. As an American abroad, I ask how can I hold my head up high when the stomachs of my British neighbors churn at the thought of fighting our battles? Propaganda runs rampant, and I’m scared to open my mouth and have my American accent tumble upon ears that loathe its existence.

The United Kingdom is predominately anti-war on Iraq, yet the battle ensues. How did we manage to combine our elitist desire to reform Iraq, the events of September 11 and the aspiration to gain profit from development in the Middle East into one huge mess of a campaign? The logic of the American government is unclear to me. Post-war economic benefits aside, the UK stands to lose a lot in this fight. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has his own agenda and his people are livid.

I am finding it extremely difficult to be an American at this moment in time. Does America even know what it’s fighting for? While I passively mourn the freedom I once knew, I am terrified to come back and find my home changed. I have been given a position of objectivity, and as I sit on my foreign perch gazing upon the “fruited plain” I left behind I am angry.

I am angry that President George W. Bush has left us with no choice but to go to war. What are the options? If we pull out now, we leave ourselves as open-targets for everyone, and there are many, that wait behind the curtain to pounce as soon as we are vulnerable. Oh sweet victory, to tackle the world’s superpower after it abandons its so-called crusade. If we go to war, which we inevitably will, we are not only up against the Iraqi powers, and unknown nuclear muscle, but every religious champion that longs to destroy us in the name of peace.

Have I confused objectivity with distance? Would I feel differently resting upon American soil? I’d like to think not. I don’t know which path is correct; either way blood is spilled. Ours first or theirs? What a question. God bless America, because no one else will.

Post-war opinion

I must say that from my British-colored glasses I have seen the progression of this war from a unique angle. I watched the United Kingdom snarl at America and tease our leaders, all the while blaming us for dragging its people into a war in which it did not ask to participate. All this has not been forgotten, but with a brilliant montage of repetitive footage of Iraqi looters, suddenly Blair is not the devil, Bush is just America’s silly leader again and everyone seems to have moved on. Is this so?

Obviously no one has managed to abandon all thought of war, but anti-war activists seemed to have been shushed and with each POW released I can feel the UK and the United States rejoice as one force. This week’s front page does not even mention the war, astonishing. Page two does, but you see the development. I am soothed that we may have actually helped the Iraqi people, but I will not be sure until restructuring continues. I refuse to believe the propaganda, at least this early.

All in all this is certainly the war of our era, less than a month long, how efficient for the computer generation. I can see the billboards now “Sick and tired of your regime leader? In need of a change? Go to www.usisgod.com – give us a month, we’ll give you a caramel latte for just $5.75 a cup.”

-The writer, a junior majoring in English, is studying abroad in London.

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