Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.
But the violence that brought Iraq back to the headlines, while tragic, was not surprising.
For months, observers had been warning about the combustible combination of the Syrian civil war next door and the alienation of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 1:42 pm
In the story that opens Leaving the Sea, two men begin conversing at a family party. Rick, the more straight-laced of the two, turns to his brother-in-law and says: "I love family."
The second man, Paul, replies by saying: "Oh, hey, did someone get hurt tonight?" Rick looks worried. Then Paul adds to the confusion by claiming to have seen a stretcher go into the hotel. The way this sentence is structured ensures that the reader mentally prepares for some awful event. But it never materializes. The author never mentions this incident again.