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Winners And Losers This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Kuwait Liberated; U.S. Victorious," was the headline in the morning paper. I stared down at the photograph accompanying the cheerful message: two ecstatic Kuwaitis dressed in ragged clothes hugging an American soldier. The figures seemed happy, oblivious of the destruction of the city behind them.

So, now what, I thought to myself. The American would return home with his buddies to wild parties, parades, a nice retirement and a nation of grateful people. The Kuwaitis will be left with hard-earned freedom and the damage done by the two armies. But what about the supposed "enemy"? As the Allies withdraw, we leave thousands of innocent citizens in Baghdad without power, communications, roads and virtually everything a city needs to sustain itself, not to mention a once-heroic leader turned against his own people. How can the Iraqis live up to the Americans "We've done our part, now you do yours" expectations when they can hardly muster enough strength to raise a gun?

Throughout the entire war time scene, the general motto of two-thirds of the American public has been "We support our troops," and the motto of the other third "Iraq should be bombed off the map" as evident by the number of signs and T-shirts bearing similar messages. But how many of those same people ever stopped to think about the other side of the war? The side that was led by a a leader's glorious misconceptions and inspiring half-truths. The side that was so confident in their leader that they marched blindly against the better armed and better organized Allied forces. The same side that saw dozens of casualties every day.

Nearly every U.S. soldier killed in battle will return to a mourning, loving family who will provide them with a decent funeral and cherish their memory for years to come. But what of the unknown number of Iraqi bodies tossed into mass graves or buried under whole buildings or simply left to rot in the scorching heat of the desert? Men barely older than boys rushing onto the battlefield, shaking rifles at the Americans in the name of Saddam and his intricate web of reality and delusions, only to be cut down by an M-1 tank in their first minutes of battle. Or a poor, terrified family huddled in the basement of their home, cringing as an Allied plane swoops down low and unleashes its five megaton payload on a nearby factory, wondering which air raid will be their last. Hundreds, thousands of Iraqis killed, leaving a ragged few to pick up the pieces.

Why is it that American politicians cringe at the thought of spending a few million on the homeless or AIDS victims or the environment, but jump at the prospect of spending more than twice that on one day of war in the Persian Gulf? Why is it that millions of American citizens go gung-ho and slap yellow ribbons all over the place to support a small group of highly trained, highly skilled and highly armed people overseas and yet only a fraction of those people even consider tying a nice, big red bow to support the poor man they saw lying under some newspapers at the corner this afternoon or offering a free meal or drink to an AIDS victim they bump into on the street? Why is it that it is so easy to hate and destroy, yet so hard to push aside our differences to work out a problem!

There are many things I am proud of, but, for the moment at least, being an American is not one of them. n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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