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Stoic Iraqis carry on despite violence

By Ghazi Balkiz, NBC News Producer
 
Another attack in Iraq, another deranged suicide bomber takes out dozens of would be policemen.

The suicide bomber on Tuesday killed at least 52 and wounded many others among a crowd of police recruits looking for work in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. 
 
The message from the insurgents to the Iraqi people and government was clear: “We are still here. We are still strong. We can reach you when we want; not even your police force can protect you.”
 
Recruitment centers are very easy targets in Iraq. They are usually buildings surrounded by blast walls and sand bags, but the recruits who are lining up to go inside are not protected, making them sitting ducks.
 
I just came back from Iraq last Friday. On the ride back home from the airport in London, the taxi driver asked me, “Is it still dangerous there? Is the war still going? Is it safe now?”
 
I told him Iraq has been at war for a very long time. There was the Iraq-Iran war in the ‘80s, then there was the first Gulf War and then there was the invasion in 2003 and the mayhem that followed it.
 
Safety in Iraq is a relative term. A few years ago there was war on the streets of almost every major city in Iraq; there were car bombs, suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices, kidnappings, executions, sectarian violence and death squads.
 
Now the level of violence has dropped significantly, but it has not disappeared.

People still get killed, suicide bombers still blow themselves up and IEDs still explode.
 
Last week when I was sitting in the NBC News bureau in Baghdad, a blast killed some people just a few miles from our office. Some of our Iraqi employees looked at each other, shrugged, and carried on with whatever they were doing.
 
They have gotten used to it. Some of my Iraqi friends say if a few car bombs go off every month, the situation is OK; they figure at least it’s better than what it was a few years ago.
 
I told the taxi driver that I am not a social behavior analyst, but I think that people adapt to the circumstances that surround them.

The terror of the past nine years and the violence has numbed many Iraqis, but at the same time, their human nature has helped them carry on with their lives.