Issue

On War and Peace

Nearly thirty years after the Rwandan genocide, thousands of maimed amputees remind us of the war that took 500,000 lives in 100 days. War leaves marks that cannot be erased—not only in Rwanda, but on every continent.

Reporting from On War and Peace examines the roots of conflict, whether it be religious hatred, sectarian rivalry, a security vacuum, the struggle for natural resources, or the desperation that results from poverty.

Pulitzer Center journalists also cover war’s aftermath: the transitional governments that result in chaos, diplomacy that goes awry, peace talks that never end, and the people who suffer the consequences, young and old. We see the children who go hungry, lose their homes, leave school, become combatants, or join the jihad.

Often the end to conflict leaves turmoil in its wake while the road to peace seems circuitous: In South Sudan, rebel-commanders-turned politicians plunge the country into civil war. In the U.S., troops return home from one war only to be re-deployed to another. But everywhere, in every conflict, there are also voices crying out for peace, determined to heal the divide.

On War and Peace

All the rooms are full

All the rooms are full at the Bourj Babel Hotel outside of Basra. Every guest is there to visit a family member inside of the US detention facility at Bucca.

At 3:30 AM minivans take them out into the the desert where they wait at the first gate until it opens at 7 AM.

There is no electricity and the town is dark. Oil flares light the sky. Bucca burns on the desert floor like an alien city.

Our driver to Basra was playing this song on the trip.

Militia Routed, But Fear Remains in Iraq

As the sun came up on a recent morning in the district of Sadr City, Iraqi army troops searched as many as a thousand houses, arresting a dozen suspects and collecting nearly 50 unregistered weapons.

Four months ago, these streets, some too narrow for Humvees, were controlled by the Jaish al-Mahdi, a Shi'ite militia whose name in Arabic means the Mahdi Army, which in 2006 poured out of Sadr City and took over large parts of Baghdad.

The Hospitality of Thieves

Today, the newspapers plant their flags on a mountain of corpses and a city of walls.

She empties her lungs.Capillaries blossom red. Color leaks back into lips.They move, but our ears are still ringing.Brace against the door frame for a secondary blastand pray that it never comes.

For five years, we let the asphalt burn our feet,breathed in the smell of sewage and blood,and waited for     a spring full of tulips,     a black shirt stained with salt,     a red kaffeiya and coal black eyes. . .

In the lobby, he smiles while his hands fidget with the room keys'When I saw him bleeding from his chest,I swear I forgot how to speak - in Arabic and in English. . .my only son. . . I am an old man now. . . he was all I had.'

'They own the land, and now we are their guests on it.'

...

Today, on the edge of Amara.Flies swarm around the desk.He buckles his belt.Prison tattoos curl around his wrist and a shadow clouds his forehead.

Yesterday, on the edge of Falluja.The same room with the same old men.Nicotine teeth, gold watches and pearl handled revolvers.

It is, at least, a safe place to sleep.

After five years, we have lost even this - even the clarity of death.Nothing left but the hospitality of thieves.

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