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Twenty years ago, the Iraq war was starting, and I was protesting it. I joined tens of millions of people the world over in that opposition. Iraq dominated my political life in my early and mid 20s, and the invasion was the worst of George W. Bush’s many terrible acts, in a presidency that must rank as one of the very worst in American history.
For years I labored in the antiwar movement, attending and organizing protests. The anti-imperialist values I had been raised with had suddenly become decidedly non-theoretical. By the late 2000s, when I had given up on antiwar activism due to burnout and the obvious futility of our movement, it left a hole in my schedule and in my sense of self. The war was, in some ways, the organizing principle of my young adulthood. And now, 20 years later, few people remember it—or want to.
The conditions that led to the war are gone, though the military industrial complex it activated lies in wait. The country has moved on from Iraq to the point of erasing it almost completely from our political debates.