Poet Dunya Mikhail fled her homeland, Iraq, a few years after the first Gulf War. She had been questioned by Saddam Hussein's government, and state media had labeled her writing and poetry subversive. Mikhail escaped to Jordan and eventually reached the United States, where she made a home for herself — marrying, raising a daughter and becoming a U.S. citizen.
Mikhail never physically returned to Iraq. But she revisits her homeland again and again in her poetry — line by line, stanza by stanza.
Ten years after the Iraq War began, NPR is catching up with people we encountered during the conflict. Back in 2008, NPR's armored car was targeted with a so-called sticky bomb in Baghdad. Ali Hamdani, an Iraqi who worked for NPR as a translator and producer, narrowly escaped. Shortly afterward, he left Iraq for the Unites States as a refugee.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: It was early 2003: Doctors reported the first known case of the SARS virus; the musical "Chicago" won the Oscar for Best Picture; and Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush made their case for war.
DICK CHENEY: There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Ten years ago this Tuesday, the U.S. invaded Iraq, and by any count — and there have been many — the toll has been devastating.
So far, about 4,400 U.S. troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, and the combined costs of the war come to an astounding $2 trillion, including future commitments like veteran care.
So where do we stand today?
Stephen Hadley was the national security adviser under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2009, and part of the White House team that helped sell the war to the public.