The night the Iraq War broke out I was drunk at a bowling alley.
The paper I was working for had set up its coverage plan, because we'd all known this was going to happen if not exactly when, and we'd been working on it for approximately 12 hours a day for a week. Everybody had their assignments, everybody had the places they were supposed to be and the people they were supposed to call all lined up, and all we could do … was … wait.
Our boss called a friend of his in AP who said it wasn't going to be that nigtht, but maybe the next morning. The waiting and planning and worrying and watching TV 24 hours a day was making us all buggy so we decided to go across the street to the bowling alley bar where we hung out after elections and big stories.
This was an old-school place, where you could still smoke and there was only one TV and there was a pool table, and the jukebox had a lot of Journey. The bartender had a blonde beehive wig and a voice like the inside of a whiskey barrel, and she'd keep the register open late on nights she knew we'd be there because no matter how poor reporters are, there is always money for beer.
We ordered a bunch of pitchers, put our phones and pagers on the table, and proceeded to get pretty plastered pretty quickly. There was a show on, at the time, called Are You Hot? and we watched that for a while. People talked about wars they'd covered. People talked about sleeping with each other. Nobody thought it was going to be that night. Then all our pagers and phones started going off at once.
My assigment was to talk to a WWII vet about what he thought about all this, and as I recall (can't find the story online now) first he said something to the effect of at least now the politicians will shut up. But second, he said, he hoped it didn't come to house-to-house fighting in the cities and towns.
This guy had been shot at by snipers. If that kind of thing happens, he said, things will get very bad, very quickly.
Nobody could have predicted, of course. Except anybody who'd been in that kind of situation, including a nonagenarian watching the war on TV while talking to a half-lit reporter on the phone.
(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he has authorized air strikes against Islamist militants in Iraq to protect American personnel and launched humanitarian assistance to prevent a genocide of members of a religious minority who have fled their homes.
Obama said any U.S. operations would be limited, and pledged not to allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq.
"Even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq," he said. "The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces."
None of which was promoted during the near-decade we have already spent bombing the shit out of that country. What exactly do we think we're salvaging, here?