Before leaving for Iraq I was thinking of: Mesopotamia, the fertile half-moon, the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, the cradle of civilisation and the beginning of agriculture; of the Assyrians and the Babylonians; of Islam, geometric visual culture and iconoclasm; of the Gulf War, Lessons of Darkness by Herzog and the oil-wells; of the fear that America would cause another war. When I was back from Iraq I thought of: the long hours spent waiting, the thousand diwans (sofas) and arm-chairs we have been sitting on, of Goethe’s Divan of West and East; of the pictures "stolen" from the taxis, the grand monuments and the thousand portraits of the president; of the sky over Baghdad; of the amusement parks, the suqs, the students' faces, the people I met, Adel; of kebab, date cream, and "bibsi". of the children born deformed because of the contamination through impoverished uranium used by the Americans during the Gulf War; that, against all, many Iraqis speak and write English, while we people from the West completely ignore the Arab language; that every our request sounded to be inappropriate and that often their response was no (why is there a regime? why is there an embargo? why are we Western? why could the Arabs not understand our behaviour? why are the Iraqis, among the Arabs, the proudest - because they know that they have been there since thirteen-thousand years - and "don't you think that you can just arrive and ask, and everything will be given to you"? why very often the ones among us who "asked" were women, while our interlocutors were men?). Now I think of Iraq like of a prisoner under torture that has four options: If he knows and talks, he will be killed. If he knows and does not talk, he will be killed. If he does not know and does not talk, he will be killed. If he does not know and invents something, so at least he talks to please the enemy in order to stop the tortures, he will be killed. My friend Adel wrote to me: "Paola, don't worry about us, we don't afraid the war, we used to! Only death is the salvation of our miserable life."