I have trouble thinking of any time when the mix of news was at once so wonderful and horrific as in the U.S. takeover of Baghdad in March 2003. (I had worked in the city 13 years before, and found Saddam Hussein’s capital one of the most fearful, sinister places I’ve ever been.) 

Baghdad sunset, April 2003

One of the first Baghdad sunsets after U.S. troops took over. The oasis of date palms is broken by the Saddam Tower (left), Baghdad’s main telecommunications center, and by a grandiose mosque rusting in half-completion. (Photo by James Rupert)

    Now the U.S. military had freed Iraqis from Saddam’s savagery, and millions of Iraqis celebrated his fall.  But the Bush administration, which had spent months planning its invasion, had given less attention to how it would govern an artificial and bitterly divided state.  Disastrously little attention, as it turned out in the months following the invasion.

   Sadly, liberation from Saddam’s rule had its own brutalities. …


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