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A reasonable estimate of the total number approaches 1 million from 50 different countries. War brides from Japan, the Philippines, China and Korea, for instance, increased the population from those countries in the United States by 20 percent in just 17 years from 1947 to 1964.By the 1970s, thousands more spouses had been brought to American shores from Vietnam and, sadly, like Miss Saigon, many other partners were left behind. (Neither the State Department nor the Pentagon breaks down the figures in detail.) Among the rest—several hundred—the few love stories between American soldiers and Iraqi civilians that have happy endings are ones of enormous patience as well as the enormous passion needed to bridge chasms of language and history, politics, religion, insurgency and, yes, terror."I thought I was going to die from the fear," she says."I was hiding under a blanket." Crazily she thought, "Oh, the blanket is going to protect me." Then she tried to hide in a small space between a refrigerator and the wall.And then we started hearing the good news: 'The Americans are friendly.They are going to help Iraq.' So, people started going out more often.
This is not just a different kind of war, it's also a different kind of American military than existed 40 or 50 years ago—one that may talk about engaging hearts and minds, but spends many of its resources trying to keep them at a distance.When the bombing stopped, "there was no government, no security," Zena says.The precision-bombing campaign had, amazingly, left the capital mostly intact, but looters were tearing it apart. And then, there they were in front of her: the Americans.He warned away neighbors challenging the Ghadeers' claim to a house that Saddam had confiscated. But such age gaps are common among Iraqi couples, and he was tall and fair—Lena still talks about his blue eyes—and he was kind.They had known each other less than a month, less time than it had taken for America to conquer Iraq, when he asked her to marry him.