The War in Iraq: Are You Properly Informed?

Published 2007


Between balancing classes and homework, a job, and personal events, it’s often hard for the average college students to expand their perspective outside of their own jam-packed periphery. We often become so engrossed with the trials and tribulations of our personal lives that it’s difficult to appreciate or understand events that don’t affect us directly.

The war in Iraq is one such issue; as students, we are bombarded with so many scholastic, professional and social distractions that it’s hard to stay current on the issues. And with every television station or website comes “an expert” opinion presented in the form of a persuasive argument. It is much more time-effective to hear and accept a one-sided line of reasoning than it is to research all of the facts and settle on an educated position.

I know that it’s a popular stance for individuals our age to be against the war in Iraq, and it’s not my intention to necessarily change anyone’s opinion. But I feel that it’s important to have a well-rounded education about the issue. Who better to offer opinions on an issue so typically detached from our daily lives than the resources at our very fingertips?

Among the articles are a first-hand account from Sergeant C. Crawford, offering a glimpse into the life he’s left behind here in America and the life he lives today. He is receptive to any and all feedback from the Mercy College community; you can comment on his story online at, or by emailing him directly at [email protected] We also contacted respected Mercy College political science authorities, professors Arthur Lerman and Rick Shiels, for their input about the situation in Iraq. They spoke with Impact reporters, discussing the war with an emphasis on United States responsibility. Paul Monti proved to be an invaluable resource for this issue, sharing the emotion of the recent loss of son Sgt. Jared Monti and a father’s subsequent reactions to a war that claimed the life of his child. Daniel Blair gave the rare perspective of a Mercy College student who doubles as a member of the Marine Reserve, prepared to halt his education should he be asked to go to Iraq. And finally, the Impact staff offered a timeline of events leading up to the American invasion of Iraq to help shed some perspective as to why the country may have declared war. 

I am personally appreciative of all the contributions from the members and friends of the Mercy College community and the Impact staff. Especially notable are Sgt. Crawford and Sgt. Monti, for their personal sacrifices on behalf of the nation. I offer them and their families my sincere gratitude and prayer. 

–Katie Ryan



My name is Sgt. Crawford. I am currently stationed in Iraq with the Minnesota National Guard. So far I have been here for 10 months. We have recently had our deployment extended by four months. With the 6 months of training that we had before we were sent overseas, it will be a total of 22 months away from home.

I am 23 years old-about the average age of most of us here. Before I was deployed, I was a farmer, auctioneer, rodeo livestock contractor and was working on my business degree. I was happily engaged to someone I thought was the best girl that I had ever met and I didn’t think that life could get much better.

In June of 2005, I got the order that my National Guard Unit was going to be deployed to Iraq in October. With that news I started to shut everything down. I sold my cattle, put school on hold, got my farm business arranged and did what I could to make sure my fiancé was going to be all right on her own. I did as much as I possibly could to get things settled. And before I knew it, I was gone.

A lot has changed since I left home. My fiancé decided it would be easier to find somebody else instead of wait for me. Even my dog died. It feels more and more like there isn’t much left of the life that I had before.

My story isn’t out of the ordinary. Many of us are college educated and had to leave good jobs. More than half of the guys that were in a relationship before they came over here have had their wives, fiancés or girlfriends be unfaithful or leave them. A few of the guys I am here with have had to wait to meet their newborn children until

several months after they were born. Parents and grandparents have died. Children have had birthdays and graduations. Weddings, anniversaries, Christmas parties, all of the other holidays… all we can do is hear about it on the phone or read about it in an e-mail.

But for all of the things that we are missing in our own lives and the hardships that we have to endure, there are very few of us that would say, “If I got to do it over again, I wouldn’t be here.” Seeing what is actually happening in the world and doing something about it first hand gives us a sense of purpose that no other experience can compare to.

Everybody has a different reason for joining the military. My personal reason was that I believe that everyone needs to do his or her part. Nothing is free-especially not all of the rights and freedoms that people so often take for granted in our country. If somebody is physically and mentally able to serve, I believe they should do so for the sake of the people that cannot.

It is not easy, but the benefit of living in the safe and free country that we call our own is well worth the effort. If we as a country lose sight of the need to protect ourselves from what we are up against, our children and grandchildren will not get to live the privileged lives that we have been given.

Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. That is one of our most important freedoms. I ask that whatever your opinion of this war may be, keep in mind that we do need to be doing something to protect our country.

These problems will not go away on their own; they need to be actively taken care of. Most of the people who are protesting and complaining about the war are the ones who are misinformed, have false ideas, and are doing nothing about the situation. The people who are not against it are the ones who know first hand what is happening. We are the ones who have seen it with our own eyes, have shouldered the burden and are more than willing to do whatever may be necessary…without complaint.

To me, that says a lot.

Sgt. Crawford

Operation Iraqi Freedom


“Can you talk about the United Stated and war without being biased?” asked Arthur Lerman of the Civic and Cultural Studies department.

His colleague, Rick Sheils, agreed with Lerman that the country is in the midst of a political riff due to the War on Terror as the two sat down with the Impact and offered their expertise on the situation.

The question most often debated during political discussions is generally “Why are we even there (in Iraq)?” Lerman theorizes that the cause of war is simple – oil.

Perhaps the most obvious example in recent memory of the oil issue in relation to global conflict is Operation Desert Storm. It began under former President George H.W. Bush, with the first mission Operation Desert Shield beginning in August of 1990 following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait five days earlier.

Operation Desert Storm officially began on Jan. 17, 1991, a day which also saw Iraq launch seven Scud missiles into Israel, the first of which was intercepted by a U.S. Patriot missile.

On Jan. 25, 1991, Iraq created a massive oil slick in the Persian Gulf and a month later, Iraq ignited an estimated 700 oil fields in Kuwait. Cease fire terms were negotiated in March 1, 1991 and was instituted April 11.

Sheils added that the furnishing of hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons supplied by the United States to various “rebel” groups in the Middle East 20 years ago has made them who they are today, namely military equipped and prepared.

“The West has made the Middle East what it is,” he commented.

Lerman felt that the President George W. Bush is not responsible for the continued Palestinian/Israeli conflict that has waged on in the Gaza Strip for thousands of years, yet the invasion of Iraq was not necessary.

“We do not need to be in Iraq,” he commented.

Sheils stated that regardless of whether the invasion of Iraq was necessary, it is necessary to remain there and maintain order, or the current bloodshed could drastically increase.

Bush is now defending his decision to send over 20,000 more troops into the Middle East, a move that is facing stern opposition from the House of Representatives, namely Democrats.

“I understand that Congress is going to express their opinion, and it’s clear that Democrats, and some Republicans, don’t like some of the decisions I made. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good, honorable citizens; they have a different opinion,” he said to media outlets on Valentine’s Day. “My hope, however, is that a non-binding resolution doesn’t turn into a binding policy that doesn’t let our troops do the job I have asked them to do.”

Bush’s approval rating in the eyes of the public is also extremely poor. As of Jan. 27, 33 percent of the country did not believe that the President was doing a satisfactory job in office, matching his career low from last May. He had the distinction of being the most unpopular president on the eve of this January’s State of the Union Address since Richard Nixon in 1974.

Sheils explained that he feels the rift in the country and the reason for Bush’s poor approval rating is that Bush wasn’t elected in the eyes of a lot of citizens, referring to the voting fiasco of 2000 when Al Gore won country’s popular vote by a half million votes, but lost the Electoral College to Bush, 271-266. The manner in which the Florida election was managed has been scrutinized since the election.

Other reasons for his poor public image is that citizens question his decision and policy making, ties to big businesses and his often word-slips, referred to as “Bushisms”.

“He owns a sports team (The Texas Rangers), he’s an oil tycoon, he’s dyslexic; yet in private, he is actually articulate and intelligent,” Sheils said. “He’s not responsible for the war, but his cabinet put together the package of 9/11 as a platform for invading Iraq.”

Lerman commented that the split between United States citizens had never been this wide. He commented on how there are fewer Republican liberals and even less Democratic conservatives.

And while several countries initially supported the United States when the War on Terror began, many now feel differently.

“A common denominator in all of these wars is that U.S. has always viewed itself as a special country, that it is a benevolent fixer of things,” said Sheils.

We have to be in Iraq now -we have no choice, because we (the country) made a bad decision to invade at the wrong time.”


Paul Monti, retired high school teacher and father of three, has dealt with a lot over his 60-year lifespan. Like the rest of us, he’s had his share of joys and sorrows. But there’s one sorrow Monti will suffer for the rest of his life-a tragedy that no parent should have to endure. Less than a year ago, his son, Sergeant Jared C. Monti, was killed during his second tour in Afghanistan. He was only 30 years old.

“He was a humble guy,” his father explained. “But he was quite a boy.”

Jared Monti, Sgt 1st class, was the recipient of two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart, among numerous other decorations. There are 11 pages of letters to him and his family on a memorial site online, each note a heartfelt and emotional tribute to the soldier Monti was. It is clear that this man was an exemplary military leader, and perhaps more importantly-an exemplary human being.

One would expect a grieving father like Paul Monti to reject the military that ultimately claimed the life of his son, but to those young people of America planning on enlisting, he offered advice that was frankly somewhat surprising: “Be careful-keep your head down-stay safe-come home.”

And to the parents of the newly enlisted: “Pray for your kids; stand by them, and support them.”

“After all,” he stated, ” it’s foolish to think that we don’t need a military.”

Paul Monti must face his loss every day. And understandably, he is against the government’s military actions that have consequently taken his son away. In fact, he has never been “pro-Bush”, and he’s been against this war since the beginning. “There’s just too much factual information in opposition to support it,” he declared.

But while he disagreed with the decisions made in Washington, he made an important distinction between supporting the war and supporting the troops. “Political decisions don’t necessarily reflect the intentions of the military,” Monti stated.

And he stands firmly behind the American military.

In fact, when asked what changes he’d make if President for a day, Monti surprisingly replied that he would make it mandatory for every high school graduate to spend two years in the military. “That’ll probably be a little controversial,” he laughed.

And for a father who’s just lost a son in the war, perhaps it is. But Monti has always believed in the military, periodically recommending it to high school students he’s encountered throughout his career. “I’d give everyone six weeks of basic training, and then afterwards more specialized instruction-to train them for trades so they can get jobs once they get out,” Monti explained. “It’s a great avenue for kids who need a little direction.”

“But there’s a lot that’s wrong with this country,” he sighed. He talked about a bad economy, and about an American petroleum dependence. He was unimpressed with the leadership of the country. “You need to have a leader, and he has to put something behind his words.”

What resounded most with Monti is the typical American’s education (or lack thereof) about the issues. “The American public swings to whatever’s popular,” he said. “People have to do their homework. Don’t just go with the flow. Nothing is more important than being educated.”

Monti lost a son he supported to a war he does not. “But ultimately. these are the values my son died for: freedom, and the right to have a free country,” he explained. “And you’ve gotta support that.”


The call can come at any minute.

Daniel Blair, Yonkers native and junior at Mercy College, has yet to see his 21st birthday. At first glance he appears no different than any other Mercy student. But he knows that at any moment, this member of the Marine Reserve will be forced to put his education on hold if it decided that his unit is to be dispatched to Iraq.

With the courage in his voice echoing, “I’m not really scared to go to Iraq. It’s not a matter of wanting to go. By no means do I wish to be sent to war. But it’s my job to defend this country, and I’ll be proud to go with my unit. We have an unbreakable bond.”

Blair felt that he was always born to be in the military. It was something he had desired since he was a boy.

“I come from a military family. We’ve been in this country for so long, we’ve fought in almost every American war. It’s just something that I always wanted to do,” he said. “I guess you can say I was born in camouflage.”

Blair was a Fordham University student driving home when he was approached by a marine recruiter, who stopped him when he noticed a Navy SEAL hat displayed in the backseat of Blair’s car. But despite his family ties to the military, Blair was skeptical at first.

“Recruiters are…recruiters. It’s their job to persuade you to join,” he said. “But I fell in love with the organization. I had spoken to representatives from the Army and the Navy, and I couldn’t even find the Air Force recruiter in my area. This marine didn’t give me the BS speech that the others had. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right.”

Blair was sworn in on Halloween of 2005 in the Marine Delayed Entry Program after vowing to defend the Constitution and against foreign and domestic enemies, an oath that he said put him in the proper frame of mind and gave him the right attitude in life. He went to Paris Island that summer and was initiated in the “Marine Core Experience” for 13 weeks of grueling training.

“They take away everything. Your possessions. Your clothes. You lose your individual mentality. You learn to work as a unit,” he said. “But you earn your boots. You earn your nametags. It is a very prestigious feeling to know that you earned these things.

And when it was over, I knew that I was a marine now. I have certain responsibilities and have to adhere to certain standards that others may not have to. Yet I’m very proud to follow those standards.”

He is always looking to correct, in his eyes, that the military “brainwashes” its recruits. He simply stated that it “brings out the best” of every recruit, while exposing their weaknesses and correcting them. It doesn’t breed aggressive, war hungry men, he says-it makes them appreciate what they cherish.

“I love my country. It gives me shelter. I love my friends and my family. And if anyone was ever going to take those things away from me, then I was going to stand up and not allow it,” he said. “I’m not aggressive or an attacker. I’m defensive.”

Polls throughout the country have shown that most college students in their early twenties do not support the war, while most soldiers do. Blair has the rare opportunity to blend with both and gets upset when students do not understand the importance of the reserves.

“Some students in college do not understand how the process works. We train hard and do the same fighting that the actives do,” he said. “There is a good percentage of us in the reserves that are no different from other college students earning a degree.”

He feels that it is important to pursue both paths, because his military duty and his education are equally important to him. “Becoming a solider has made me a more disciplined student. And continuing my education will clearly make me an better marine.”

And with his college education, he plans to enter OCS (Office Candidate School) in the summer. He is yet to decide if he will be a “lifer” in the military.

The soft-spoken Blair doesn’t get involved in political discussions. He feels it would be against his best interest to discuss military policies while being an active marine, and feels it is often impolite to push his beliefs on others. Instead, he likes to sit back and compute it, usually with a chuckle to himself.

“I don’t know if college students have a proper grasp of what’s really going on. I don’t know; sometimes I feel as if I don’t even know,” he said. “The media plays a big role in what we all see. Typically, only the negatives are depicted. You rarely hear about all the kids that we are feeding or the Toys for Tots drives that we sponsor. So I just try to stay out of it.”

So as Blair continues to hit the books and earn his degree, he knows that at any day his plans may have to be put on hold. He said he is fully prepared to take a break from his education – not because he values the military more than school – simply because, as he puts it, “it is his job.”

“If I have to go to war tomorrow, it’s not a good thing or a bad thing – it is just the way it is.”


And yet the question still looms – should we have even entered Iraq? Some argue for invasion while others protest for peace. And some may feel they do not know enough about the situation to form an opinion. The following timeline compiled by the Impact condenses key moments of the past 15 years to allow you to make your own decision.

1991 through 2003:

– The United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), and France had enforced no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq as a result of continued low-level conflict after the Persian Gulf War. There were repeated instances of Iraqi air-defense targeting both British and American air patrols, and coalition aircraft would often engage as a result.

May 2002:

– The United Nations (UN) Security Council passed resolution 1409, reaffirming the UN’s commitment to maintaining Iraqi territorial integrity.

June 2002:

– American military responses against violations to the no-fly zones dramatically increased during the secretive Operation Southern Focus, with a bombing increase to the military and air defense artillery instillations in Iraq. Bombing tonnage increased from zero in March 2002 and 0.3 in April 2002 to between 7 and 14 tons between May and August of the same year, reaching a peak of 54.6 tons in September 2002.

September 2002:

– President Bush addressed the UN’s General Assembly, challenging the UN to face the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq or stand aside as the U.S. and its allies took action. The Security Council began the drafting process for a seventeenth resolution urging Iraq to comply with the previous resolutions.

– Security of Defense Rumsfeld publicly accused Iraq of harboring al-Qaeda terrorists and helping them to try to obtain weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

November 2002:

– After a month of drafting, the Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1441, which called for the “immediate and complete disarmament of Iraq.” The resolution also demanded that Iraq declare its entire stock of WMD and to account for its chemical weapon stockpiles.

– Iraq accepted the resolution and weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad.

December 2002:

– Iraq filed a 12,000 page weapons declaration to the UN in order to comply with resolution 1441, but the UN weapon inspectors, Security Council, and the U.S. feel that it is an incomplete representation of all the chemical and biological agents in Iraq’s possession.

– Turkey mobilized approximately 15,000 troops to the Iraqi border.

January 2003:

– Turkey invited five other regional countries to a meeting in an effort to avert a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

– U.S. intelligence showed that France had sold prohibited parts of fighter jets and military helicopters to Iraq in secret.

– The leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic signed a statement verbalizing an alliance with the U.S. efforts to make sure Iraq is disarmed and urged all of Europe to follow suit.

– The chairmen of the inspections effort reported back to the UN Security Council that they were allowed some entry into Iraq but were still concerned about unreported materials, an inability to interview scientists, the harassment of UN weapons inspectors by Iraqis, and the fact that Iraq was unwilling to allow aerial surveillance during inspections.

February 2003:

– U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the diplomatic side of the U.S. plan to invade Iraq by using tape recordings, intelligence data and satellite photographs to prove WMD production, links to al-Qaeda, and the evasion of weapons inspectors by the Saddam Hussein-led government of Iraq.

– Chief arms inspector Hans Blix said Iraq appeared to increase cooperation efforts with UN teams.

– An audiotape attributed to Osama bin Laden is released, urging Muslims to fight the U.S. and to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

– A UN panel discovers and reports Iraqi al-Samoud 2 missiles that have an illegal range by UN standards, and previously went under-reported in the Iraqi weapons declaration.

– Austria bans the U.S. military looking to invade Iraq from entering into or flying over its territories unless the military action is UN-sanctioned.

– Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, chief weapons inspectors of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) gave a second report to the UN Security Council, stating that Iraq has been mostly cooperative, with no WMD’s found, but that Saddam Hussein had yet to account for a number of banned weapons allegedly in his possession. Blix also expressed doubts about Colin Powell’s “evidence” as motivation enough to invade Iraq.

– The U.S., Britain, and Spain presented a second resolution to the UN Security Council stating that Iraq had forgone their last opportunity to disarm (without offering deadlines or precise repercussions), while France, Germany and Russia offered a more peaceful alternative, involving more inspection.

• Although Kurdistan, a sovereign region in Northern Iraq, was divided into two major parties, both vowed to fight Turkish troops if they entered Kurdistan to capture Mosul or otherwise interfere with Kurdish self-government. This was a blow to U.S. allies on the Northern front in the plan to invade Iraq.

– Hans Blix stated that Iraq still had not made a “fundamental decision” to disarm, and particularly had refused to destroy the illegal weapons previously found, and now classified as deployed and mobile. Aerial bombs were also found that could contain biological weapons. With these findings, inspectors requested access to the weapons range to ensure that all 155 of these bombs were accounted for and properly destroyed. And although Iraq said they destroyed their stockpiles of anthrax and VX nerve agent, they claimed there was no record of their destruction, which Blix called “a bit odd” and “lacking credibility.”

– Bush publicly announced his goal of a post-invasion democracy in Iraq.

– The UN Security Council meeting on Iraq ended with no agreement for a timeline regarding further inspections or reports.

– Iraq was expected to begin destroying the illegal-range missiles, causing Blix to applaud the Iraqi effort, but White House spokesman Ari Fleischer pointed out that the U.S. wanted total disarmament of Iraq, and if the UN would not act, the U.S. would lead an association of countries who would voluntarily disarm Saddam Hussein.

March 2003

– Iraq began destroying the illegal-range missiles, eventually bringing the total to 34 destroyed out of about 100 missiles ordered to be terminated.

– The United Arab Emirates called for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to step down in order to prevent war. Kuwait supported that request, and later Bahrain did as well.

– Iraq also destroyed a launcher and 5 engines to prove their seriousness about disarmament, in anticipation of a tide-turning UN report. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan saw the disarmament as an encouraging step in the right direction, but the White House remained unconvinced.

– Hans Blix reported increasing Iraqi cooperation, but seemed unconvinced that conditions would stay that way.

– Colin Powell reported that U.S. intelligence indicated that Iraq was producing more Al Samoud 2 missile parts and engines by order of Saddam Hussein. He also reported that the Iraqi government had ordered U.S. military uniforms with the intention of wearing them to attack Iraqi citizens and blame it on America.

– Iraqi citizens who had been exiled from the country testified in Washington, D.C. about conditions against Iraqi citizens by the Hussein government, saying they were “patiently waiting” for the U.S. to come liberate them and that war protesters were “ignorant and misinformed.”

– China joined France, Russia and Germany against the US-led war.

– American newspapers print stories quoting U.S. intelligence that France has been providing Iraq with spare parts and illegal French weaponry for years.

– Blix reported that Iraq had shown more progress but was still not fully disarmed. He also filed a 173 page report with the UN Security Council saying that inspectors found an undeclared Iraqi drone with the capabilities to potentially threaten Iraq’s neighboring countries with chemical and biological weapons.

– Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluded after through analysis that U.S. documents citing “proof” that Iraq was restarting their nuclear weapons program were, in fact, false.

– Kuwait filed a complaint to the UN Security Council saying that U.S. Marines were cutting holes in the fence dividing the Kuwait and Iraq borders.

– Saddam Hussein opened training camps in Iraq for volunteer suicide bombers against the U.S. should an invasion of Iraq occur.

– Donald Rumsfeld admits that the U.S. government is communicating with Iraqi soldiers via email, and has been for an extended period of time.

– The leaders of the governments of the U.S., Britain, Portugal and Spain met at a summit and planned to make a final effort to pass a resolution in the Security Council enforcing the disarmament of Iraq before force would be used.

• The U.S. advised UN weapons inspectors to leave Iraq and ordered all non-essential diplomats out of the immediate Iraqi area.

March 17, 2003

– President Bush made a televised speech ordering Hussein to go into exile within 48 hours or face war.

– U.S. intelligence reported that soldiers in southern Iraq had been armed with chemical weapons. France announced it would support the U.S. should Iraq use their chemical weapons.

March 18, 2003

• Saddam Hussein rejected the option to go into exile.


March 19, 2003

– British sources claim Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people.

– U.S. warplanes bombed Iraqi artillery.

– Michael Perrota and B.J. Harring contributed to this article.