As I watch the military campaign unfold in Iraq, I can't help remember my own days in the frontlines. The shock and awe campaign impresses me. In three weeks, the US has unleashed about 15,000 smart bombs with devastating power and deadly accuracy. In three weeks the US army has invaded a country. A country, that once had the fourth largest army on the planet.
The days of the Iran-Iraq war are still vivid for me. Back then, Iraq was a military superpower. The French sold them the Mirage and the powerful Exocet missile that ripped through a ship like box cutter rips a piece of cloth. The Russians sold them state-of the-art tanks. The US gave them satellite intelligence of our whereabouts and all three sold them chemical weapons to gas Iranians.
I was among many Western educated Iranians who went back for the sole reason of defending our country. Although we didn't have the equipment the Iraqis had, we did have something that they sure did not and that was heart.
Back then we unleashed our own shock and awe campaign on the Iraqis. Our weapon was simple, the love of our country and determination of expelling the enemy. This sheer determination is what made the Iraqi army use chemical weapons in delaying our advances — despite the superior conventional weapons technology. The men I fought with were indeed the most valiant individuals I will ever meet.
It amazes me how American soldiers are given the label “brave” and “heros”. But I bet if you take the night goggles, the GPS gadget around his waste, the Apache that is hovering over his head for his cover, the F-18 that is monitoring the Apache and the B-1 bomber that blows up anything and everything with pin-point accuracy, then the American soldier may not be as brave as what we all think. Most of this war was won by smart bombs and missiles and all the soldiers had to do is to clean up the area.
Braveness, the way I saw it, is taking one's rifle and wanting to go back to the battlefield to defend one inch of your land. Braveness, is wanting to rescue fellow soldiers right after a chemical weapon attack, barely able to breathe and not knowing one's lungs are liquefied by mustard gas.
We all hope that his is the last war we all see for a long time.