Lifestyle & Belief

Life in Iraq

FF's book tells the stories of many ordinary families, including one family of engineers who thought their skills could be value to the Americans after their invasion of Iraq: There was a lot of hope when the Americans first went in, hope for American capitalism and a better life. That slowly fell apart because of the lack of security. (So the family opened a paint business which then went bankrupt, why?) Because security made it difficult for business and reconstruction to happen, and the Americans brought in foreign labor because they didn't trust the Iraqis. So the family had to sell their belongings. That's a dramatic change. (As you say in the book, you didn't meet anybody who had not lost a family member. What is the toll this takes?) I think the psychological tolls are huge, and I don't think we've even begun to realize how big it is. it's hard to recover from being in a constant state of alert. Many people give thanks for just finishing one day without a family member being killed. (there's one case where there's a child going to be born in the family, and tell us about how that events goes in Iraq.) I think a good example of that is my driver. Last month his sister gave birth and she had contractions in the middle of the night and they couldn't get through checkpoints fast enough. She gave birth in the emergency room. (Would people say this is the price for having to live without Saddam?) That's a significant price, even for ordinary people. (How about in the years since you've left?) In 2006 and 2007, there was basically anarchy. Things are better now, but Iraq is still not a functioning society. There's still explosions and uncertainty. (Since your book has come out here, is there any perceptible resistance from Americans who want to believe in the benefits of this war? Do people find it difficult to hear these stories of Iraqis?) A nation always wants to think it hasn't lost its soldiers' lives in vain, but you also have to be pragmatic. It's important to examine what's actually happened on the ground so this quagmire doesn't happen again. I think people in general have Iraq fatigue, but what I hope that because this book is not about policy and politics but about ordinary people, readers will pay attention.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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