"it doesn't have to be a battle"

The story is fascinating. The feature article by Jane Perlez visits an aristocratic Iraqi family which in this century alone has survived (no, somehow flourished under) an Ottoman Caliphate, a British Empire, an Arab monarchy and a Baath Party coup followed by a Sadaam Hussein dictatorship. Today its members eagerly anticipate the latest regime, with characteristic optimism about the benefits which will follow, for all Iraqis.

"We have lost," Mr. Jabbar said matter-of-factly at his mother's home, which he visits daily for lunch and conversation. "But I told my daughter, Magda, the other day: 'Now we will see Iraq changed into a modern country. Now there is a chance.'"
But the wisdom of this same man, a member of the Baath Party for four decades, is best revealed in his words to a 6-year-old grandson, Essa, words which reveal the patience and wisdom of thousands of years of history - or maybe just plain good sense.
When he was not at the party headquarters during the [recent U.S.-led] war, Mr. Jabbar said he paid a lot of attention to his 6-year-old grandson, Essa, who was frightened, particularly at night.

He created games, he said, such as how to tell the different kinds of orange trees in the garden in the dark (by feeling the varied textures of the skins), or a card game pitting the Americans and Iraqis against each other. When the Americans won a game, Mr. Jabber said he told Essa that the Iraqis could win a game in the future. "It doesn't have to be a battle to have a winner or loser," he told the child.

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Published on May 2, 2003 12:17 PM.

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