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Iraq at Christmas

Posted by Kara Miller, Culture Club  December 22, 2011 12:36 PM

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He wasn't expecting an explosion this morning. But that's what Hussain Abbas got.

As Qassim Abdul-Zahra writes in an Associated Press article today, Abbas was asleep when he heard an ambulance packed with explosives detonate. "I jumped from my bed and rushed to my mom's lap. I told her I did not to go to school today. I'm terrified."

The New York Times reports that at least 63 people were killed and close to 200 injured.

An Iraqi official noted: “This has nothing to do with the American withdrawal... When they were here, there were also explosions."

He's got us there.

Ten Christmases ago, in the wake of 9/11, it was hard to imagine that Americans and Iraqis would witnesses a nearly nine-year war.

By Christmas of 2001, after all, we were knee deep in another war. We had been in Afghanistan for two and a half months, hunting down Al Qaeda, taking out the Taliban.

Ten years ago, President Bush insisted we were on a crusade. "We're going to smoke them out," he said of Al Qaeda. We promised that we'd get bin Laden "dead or alive."

But Iraq was already on the horizon. Bob Woodward has reported that on November 21, 2001, the President requested an Iraq "war plan."

Earlier that fall, I had started graduate school (On September 11, I was pulling into the parking lot at school when the local NPR anchor announced that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center).

Though I had always been a political junkie - I used to try get home early during high school to watch Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff on CNN's "Inside Politics" - the events of that fall riveted me.

I became more interested in journalism. I read Tom Friedman, Maureen Dowd, William Safire, and Frank Rich religiously. I watched the Iraq build-up grow.

Slowly, my focus in graduate school changed, almost involuntarily, magnetically. I started to study presidents, the media, and how officials make a case for war.

Now, ten Christmases after 9/11, a conflict that seemed so clear has become amorphous. A conflict that seemed singular has become multi-faceted (homegrown terrorism, bioterrorism, cyberwar, etc.)

Today's "war on terror" is a war of unpredictability. A war that has changed many lives in America. A war that changed Iraqis' lives forever.

It's a war in which the bombs keep coming. Hussain Abbas does not know when they will stop. And neither do we.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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About the author

Kara Miller is an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in journalism, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. She also serves as a guest panelist on WGBH-TV's “Beat the Press” and contributes to 89.7 FM WGBH (NPR). More »

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