Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

What I miss about Iraq: The world’s best tomatoes and the stars in the desert sky

I don’t always agree with Mike Few, especially when he baselessly attacks friends of mine. On the other hand, he had a nice Nirvana-ish piece about what he misses about Iraq that made me pause to wonder about what I miss about Iraq. I found it easier to think of things I don’t miss: the ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

I don't always agree with Mike Few, especially when he baselessly attacks friends of mine. On the other hand, he had a nice Nirvana-ish piece about what he misses about Iraq that made me pause to wonder about what I miss about Iraq.

I found it easier to think of things I don't miss: the adrenaline jolts, the horrible climate (especially the mudstorms, when duststorms got overtaken by rainclouds), the fear of getting kidnapped, having loaded weapons pointed at me at checkpoints by nervous young men, or the body pieces of a suicide bomber that once landed in the backyard I would look at every morning.

So my list is shorter. In fact, it is only two things: The best tomatoes I've ever eaten, and the stars at night in the desert while I lay in my sleeping bag on a rooftop outside Najaf. I specifically remember we were driving from Baghdad to Tikrit in the summer of 2003. Around noon we stopped to buy fresh tomatoes and some baked bread, still warm. We sliced them up, salted them, and ate them by the side of the highway.

I don’t always agree with Mike Few, especially when he baselessly attacks friends of mine. On the other hand, he had a nice Nirvana-ish piece about what he misses about Iraq that made me pause to wonder about what I miss about Iraq.

I found it easier to think of things I don’t miss: the adrenaline jolts, the horrible climate (especially the mudstorms, when duststorms got overtaken by rainclouds), the fear of getting kidnapped, having loaded weapons pointed at me at checkpoints by nervous young men, or the body pieces of a suicide bomber that once landed in the backyard I would look at every morning.

So my list is shorter. In fact, it is only two things: The best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten, and the stars at night in the desert while I lay in my sleeping bag on a rooftop outside Najaf. I specifically remember we were driving from Baghdad to Tikrit in the summer of 2003. Around noon we stopped to buy fresh tomatoes and some baked bread, still warm. We sliced them up, salted them, and ate them by the side of the highway.

Taken with water, they made one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. I would have enjoyed the meal less had I known how dangerous Tikrit was about to become.

What do you miss, if anything?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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