The Optimist of Iraq

YURI KOZYREV for TIME

IRAQI BLUES: Yasser was once a semiprofessional musician

When the U.S. invaded Iraq four years ago, Yasser Obaid Hussein's life was full of peril — but his mind was filled with hope. Night after night, his modest Baghdad apartment was shaken by the U.S. "shock and awe" bombing campaign. His pregnant wife Sheherezad was worried that a cruise missile might crash through the window. To calm her and their three children, Yasser tried to stay positive. "If we survive the bombs," he recalls saying, "we will have a wonderful new life."

He smiles wanly, embarrassed now by that optimism. But how could he have known that...

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