War as an Expatriate

Speaking of a different lens while living overseas during elections, it’s particularly intense to be an expat during times of military action. (Sadly, a relevant topic these days.)

I was reminded of living overseas (Taiwan) during the first gulf war. This was prior to the Internet and email. I remember that I was attending a large aerospace conference where everything came to a halt, and a TV was tuned into the news, when Bush’s deadline for Iraqi withdrawal had elapsed.

Additionally, the head of the firm I worked for was one of the human shields Saddam Hussein was shuttling around to various sites to prevent them from being bombed by the US. (He had been in Kuwait on business during the invasion by Iraq.)

It was surreal, because Asia was so removed from the action. I felt out of place–my country was at war, yet it seemed like it only existed on the news, as if it was happening to other people a world away.

(Strangely, being in the US during Bush II’s warmongering has felt similar due to the lack of real US media coverage. It’s easy to run around our daily lives with no awareness of what’s going on in Iraq, as we collectively pretend that it’s not really happening.)

Being in a small country (Taiwan) that was, and still is, balanced on the knife’s edge in its relations with a much larger neighboring country (China) provided a different lens for viewing the first gulf war.

Living in South America now when the United States has made such unpopular unilateral military forays should prove to be illuminating as well.

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