Iraq | St. Louis Public Radio

Iraq

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: “If you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.” – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 2003.

WASHINGTON – Ten years ago this month, the U.S. government embarked on a war to topple the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. That conflict and the ensuing occupation ended up costing American taxpayers, by some estimates, about $800 billion.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 16, 2011 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who helped set up the congressional panel monitoring spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, today marked the departure by the end of this month of all U.S. troops remaining in Iraq.

In a statement, McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was among those "congratulating our troops on a job well done and thanking them and their families for their sacrifice."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 30, 2011 - As she talks about her past and present, Valerie Plame Wilson is short and succinct. "I'm a wife, I'm a mother,'' she says. "And I was once a spy."

Plame Wilson was a veteran CIA operative when her cover was blown by the Bush administration and columnist Bob Novak in 2003 during a dispute over the reasons for the Iraq War.

Commentary: Weary sigh greets end in Iraq

Oct 27, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 27, 2011 - We are about to witness the conclusion of the war in Iraq. Last Friday, President Obama announced that the U.S. will withdraw all of its troops from that forlorn land by year's end. My guess is that they'll be home in time for the holidays.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 26, 2011U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., says he's concerned that Iran may be the major beneficiary of President Barack Obama's decision to pull virtually all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of this year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 31, 2011 - WASHINGTON - A scathing report released Wednesday on wartime contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq may offer a roadmap for congressional efforts -- at a time of severe budget cuts -- to tighten oversight of wasteful spending by the Pentagon, officials say.

Allen Hill, a Vietnam War veteran from Festus, is leery of the real reason the United States is ending its military operations in Iraq.

President Barack Obama's explanation to be delivered on television Tuesday night -- that it's now time for the Iraqis to defend themselves -- sounds to Hill a lot like what then-President Richard M. Nixon said in 1975, when the U.S. ended military action in Vietnam.

Bin Laden's driver gets light sentence - 66 months

Aug 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - The military panel of six officers deliberated for about an hour before returning the lighter than expected sentence for providing material support for terrorism. The government had asked for a sentence of 30 years and said that the life sentence prosecutors had sought earlier would be appropriate.  The defense recommended 45 months.

Commentary: War's second casualty

Jul 30, 2008

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 30, 2008 - To the extent that the first casualty of war is truth, it follows that its next victim is language. Words matter because they shape our perceptions of reality. Absurd speech both reflects and encourages absurd thought, which tends to produce equally absurd results.

I'm old enough to remember the doublespeak of Vietnam -- a conflict in which "pacification" entailed liberal doses of napalm and most of the heavy fighting took place in the "De-Militarized Zone."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 28, 2008 - I arrived back in St. Louis from Iraq on Wednesday night (July 23) after three flights and a stopover in Vienna, and the gray skies and rain in Missouri never looked so good.

My last few days in Erbil were fun and full of teaching from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or later at my own choice. Teacher-training classes were full and sometimes turned into gripe sessions, with teachers complaining about all the problems they face with their administrators.

photo by Marc Thayer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008-  I realized yesterday that I take grass for granted. Everything is so dry and brown here, so dusty and hazy, that the few plants that grow have to be drowned daily. Houses have no grass,  just cement sidewalks and walls. Hotels have some green around them but they seem hardly worth the trouble.  Our hotel, the ChwarChra (Four Lanterns), has a nice green lawn in front where guests sit outside for dinner.

An old man prayed in one corner by Korans on a shelf. Suleimanya Iraq
Marc Thayer | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17. 2008 -  Time is going too fast. Tuesday afternoon I visited a mosque for the first time just to see the inside. Men can wash their hands and feet before going in, but the only requirement is to take off their shoes. Inside is an ornate room with a silver dome from which hangs a huge chandelier.

musicians arrive in Suleimanya, Kurdistan, 2008. 300 pixels
Marc Thayer | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Hello again from Suleimanya,  a city in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border.

As I send this off to you on Monday night, we've finished two days of teaching and rehearsals and it seems as if we’ve been working for a week. The students’ appetites for learning, practicing and listening seem limitless. It has been wonderful to reunite with many of the students and adults we worked with last year and to meet many more of equal quality, both in terms of musical ability and their basic humanness.

kurdish300iraq.jpg
Photos from the author

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 5, 2008 - I'm very happy to be writing to you from the Hotel Shahram in Suleimanya in northeast Iraq, very near the Iranian border.

After repacking 27 boxes of donated music and books in Chicago into 16 larger boxes, I met Carole McCann at O'Hare Airport and delivered the boxes to Austrian Airlines, which sponsored our travel to Erbil. Carol is a theater coach from Houston who will be working with the children's groups. She was here last year as well.

Taking music from St. Louis to Iraq

Jun 30, 2008
Thayer (in blue shirt) worked with accomplished musicians in Iraq last year and is on his way back. 300 pixels. 2008
Provided by Marc Thayer | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 30, 2008 - Music is the transportation that Marc C. Thayer’s taking to get from St. Louis to northern Iraq.

Most of the time, Thayer is the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s vice president for education and community partnerships  and his usual circuit is around Powell Hall in Grand Center or 10 or 20 miles or so from it. But for two years now, Thayer has worked in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northern Iraq. On July 1, he takes off on his journey, making stops in Chicago and Vienna before arriving in Erbil on Friday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 5, 2008 - As a youth, I was dragged to see "The Music Man." This traumatic event occurred during a vulnerable phase of early adolescence when I had a carefully cultivated reputation to protect. It's tough to come across as the sixth grade's answer to James Dean if you're seen going to some dorky musical with your mother and your aunt. Alas, child abuse enforcement was lax in those days, so off I went. It was meager solace that it would be dark inside the theater.