As Obama contemplates what to do in Iraq, an essay Bill produced just days after the start of the Iraq war in March 2003 seems worth revisiting. After a Reuters headline, Marines Cross Euphrates, caught Bill’s attention, he wrote this reflection on the historical significance of the great river — the largest and longest of western Asia — and the area in which US soldiers were being deployed.
For 5,000 years the story repeats itself, the victory of one, the defeat of the other. Tribes and gods turn on each other. Omens fill the literature: “A powerful man will ascend the throne in a foreign city,” it is written. “They will lock the city gates and there will be calamity in the city,” it is written.
Five thousand years from now, who will be crossing the Euphrates? What will remain from our time? And what will be remembered?