Wednesday, August 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

What will history say about the war in Iraq? Another decade may tell

It’s a war still making its way into the history books.

More than a year after its official end, and a decade after its start, scholars have just begun to assess the Iraq war and its legacy. School textbooks barely mention the war. Historians can’t even agree on what to call it.

Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

“The Iraq war is not something in the distant and settled past, but has consequences that are still unfolding around us now,” said Vejas Liulevicius, a professor of history at the University of Tennessee and director of UT’s Center for the Study of War and Society.

“It’s very live still, and many of us know people who gave their lives there. That immediacy doesn’t go away, so I don’t see this as a settled matter,” Liulevicius said. There’s that sense that one doesn’t want to wade into the debate before all the facts have come in. That’s the case with every war, and my conviction is that we can never really come to a settled conclusion, because there are always new facts emerging.”

The social studies classes in Knox County, Tenn., schools, for example, rely on textbooks printed in 2005, barely two years into the war. Classes typically don’t reach that chapter of U.S. history until the last 11 days of the school year, said Judy Newgent, the school system’s social studies specialist.

“We just don’t have a lot of material on that time,” she said. “We look forward to expanding on those topics in the future.”

Some Americans barely even noticed when the war ended. The multiple-choice media environment of today, with video on demand and customizable news feeds, could allow a reader or viewer to go the duration of the war without ever reading or watching a single story about the conflict.

Even those who followed every story often remember only what they choose.

Contrast that with the way World War II dominated everyday life in the 1940s, through newspaper coverage, newsreels at the matinee, radio broadcasts, bond drives and rationing.

“For a nation to be at war meant something very different in 1944 than it did in the 2000s,” Liulevicius said. “For the past decade, people have had the increasing ability to customize their own media consumption.

“Veterans have been expressing how strange it is to come back to the U.S. and see a society not engaged with what’s going on. One columnist has called the Iraq and Afghanistan wars a kind of “white noise” in modern American society. And as with a lot of the transmissions of white noise, the hearer often hears what he or she wants to.”

The war’s recency tends to blind veterans and others involved to the historical significance of what they did. History, after all, happens to other people in the pages of a dusty book.

The flood of stories that emerged from the Iraq war makes for overwhelming reading — and some of the best stories never even made it to paper.

“So much of the historical record of this war will be told in emails, instant messages and blog posts,” Liulevicius said. “There are photos taken on phones. On the one hand, the technology allows veterans to capture so much as it happens, but on the other hand, it’s very ephemeral. I’m not sure an email carries the same power as a letter to someone reading it years later — if it survives that long.”

Imagine how many of those stories died inside crashed hard drives and discarded cell phones.

The center originally saw life in the 1990s as a way to capture the experiences of dying World War II veterans through interviews and donations of letters, diaries, photos and other scraps of history. The mission now covers stories of all wars from the 1940s to the present.

Not a single veteran of the Iraq War has stepped forward so far to share that generation’s stories. Liulevicius expects that silence won’t last.

“None of our conflicts should be forgotten, but for now we’re not seeing that sense of urgency that we see with older wars,” he said. “In a lot of cases, rather than feeling the urge to share their experiences right now, their motivation is to get on with their lives, finish their studies and start careers. It’s around the time people have established their careers and begun to reflect on their lives that the moment seems right.”

Historians estimate that process usually takes an average of about 10-20 years. Erich Maria Remarque published “All Quiet on the Western Front,” his classic novel of a German soldier’s life in the trenches of World War I, in 1929 — a little more than 10 years after that war’s official end.

“There’s almost a mathematical regularity to it,” Liulevicius said. “Go to any war, and about 10 years later, you’ll see an explosion of writing about it. There’s a human urge to tell stories. Part of the urge of telling these meaningful stories is about trying to understand what these experiences meant for you and for your generation. Sooner or later, a whole generation starts asking those questions.”

The answers might prove more elusive.

Scripps Howard News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensMarch 18, 2013 - 3:19 pm

    The prosecution of this just war was legally sufficient and entirely justified. Iraq used WMD on the ethnic Kurds and he did, in fact possess those weapons until August 2002 when he was told ''the Americans are coming!" Saddam immediately started cleaning house and that meant the WMD were transhipped to Syria and the Bekaaa Valley in Lebanon. He also at that time murdered Abu Nidal, who before Bin Ladin was the world's most wanted terrorist. So what went wrong here? The strategy of the war was flawed. Instead of waging a punitive war like in 1991, the failed military and civilian leaders pursued a ''hearts and minds'' war strategy of making nice and war at the same time---each cancelling the other out. Resources were misdirected, stolen and corrupt senior and flag officers engaged in wholesale misconduct that undermined the war effort. You know their names and you now where to read about Major Jill Metzger, General Gary North, General Bernard Fiscus (ran the USAF Judiciary) General Petraeus, General Jeffrey Sinclair, and all the underlings caught stealing, lying, conduct unbecoming, obstruction of justice, adultery, slandering of the host nations, false official reports (Pat Tillman and Jill Metzger). Can you believe it?---Major Metzger is stationed on Travis where she and her OSI enabler act like none of what she did happened as they continue to lie and falsify while the war is lost. Metzger is costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions in higher base payments as a result of her fake kidnapping and undermining of the war effort.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Memorial flight honors beloved Gordon Valley man

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Vacaville school board candidates sound off during forum

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Recology goes pink to trash cancer

By Glen Faison | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Caltrans advises Highway 12 delays likely

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

 
Curtola park-and-ride bill goes to governor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
City reaches milestone for train station project

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 16 Comments | Gallery

 
Man convicted of failing to register as sex offender

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
DUI checkpoint nets arrests in Vacaville

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 7 Comments

 
Library’s teen board to meet next week

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

South Solano Dems schedule candidates meet, greet

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
 
Geiger sworn in as Fairfield planning commissioner

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6

 
Faith in Action puts out call for volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6

 
Love, a legend, come to theaters

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Fairfield police log: Aug. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 16, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 17, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 16, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Aug. 17, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

As protests rage, Obama struggles to find his role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Ferguson pledges outreach efforts after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

How can authorities restore order in Ferguson?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 21 Comments | Gallery

 
Holder brings his civil rights push to Ferguson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

Strong DOJ response to Ferguson seeks truth, calm

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Prison company pays $8 million in back wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Some evacuees of Yosemite-area fire can go home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Officials say Lake Tahoe imperiled by wildfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Committee approves higher pension calculations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Veteran rock climber killed in fall in Yosemite

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Texas Gov. Perry booked on abuse of power charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 3 Comments

 
US officials: Video shows American’s beheading

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

NY took quick precautions after in-custody death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
AP Exclusive: US changing no-fly list rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Tens of thousands march on Pakistan’s parliament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

No getting away from corruption in state government

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

 
Editorial cartoons for Aug. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Serve and protect? Certainly not

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 23 Comments

 
Question of the week: Does school start too soon?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Government trying to steal rights

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 20 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Aug. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Aug. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Aug. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Our daughter says she hates her mother and refuses to talk to us

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

10 Things: 10 fresh ways to dress corn on the cob

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Think beyond the slice with refreshing watermelon

By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson set for DC Comics film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Don Pardo, iconic TV announcer, dies at 96

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Wife to bury Kasem in Norway, cites heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

49ers sign defensive lineman Dorsey to extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers’ Dawson eager to get back out kicking after misses

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Rancho Solano women’s team vying for spot in nationals

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Joe Gibbs Racing hires Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Philadelphia’s Mo’ne Davis knows hoops, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Veteran NBA ref Bavetta retires after 39 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders still waiting for Hayden to get healthy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

As Durant steps back, US team is moving forward

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Kluwe, Vikings reach settlement to avert lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Islanders announce sale of minority stake of club

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ohio State: Injured QB Miller done for the season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Past US Open champs Djokovic, Federer seeded 1-2 in U.S. Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Ballmer steps down from Microsoft board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Competition heats up for Tesla’s gigafactory

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B7

Consumer prices edge up 0.1 percent in July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stocks rise as US home construction rebounds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

US home construction jumps 15.7 percent in July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
Peanut, almond butter recalled for salmonella risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

McDonald’s to sell packaged coffee nationally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Richard Ray Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Horace James Sam

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Joseph ‘Joey’ Kenneth Meyers

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Defrances Jean Freeman-Jefferson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Eddie Lee Staten

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
June Canaris-Heath

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5