In dozens of interviews with The Washington Post this summer, many Iraqis said their lives had been safer and more prosperous under Saddam Hussein, and that the U.S. invasion was not worth the price both countries have paid. Others were grateful that the Americans ousted Hussein, but are happy that they, too, are now gone.
In the months after the last U.S. troops left their country, Iraqis are surprisingly optimistic about the future given the horrors of war they have endured for nearly a decade. Housing developments, shopping centers and hospitals are rising from the rubble, stores that had been closed for years are reopening, and familiar sights are returning. But every step forward is weighed down by continued bloodshed, brutality and corruption.