I was in the 7th grade when Iraq invaded Kuwait. I didn’t know what war meant either for my homeland nor for the two countries in conflict. As a thirteen-year-old, I still believed that American Presidents were always right, that government officials were sure of their facts, and that the media told the truth. This was the war that made CNN and the 24-hour news cycle. It was the first war that anyone watched as it happened on TV. It was the first war the US fought in my lifetime. And it was the last conflict in which the using the word ‘war’ in relation to US foreign policy wasn’t an act of cynicism.
At thirteen, I didn’t know my foreign policy. Nor did I know that up-to-the-minute reports are rumors but not facts. No one really did. What I did know, with absolute certitude, was that Kuwait should be allowed to be Kuwait, and that I wanted to know what it meant to be in Kuwait, to be Kuwaiti.
And I wanted to stand in the Persian Gulf (referred to by the GCC as the Arabian Gulf). It was just days before I left the country that I walked onto a heavily polluted beach took off my shoes and stepped into that warm water. I was too busy or to anxious to have done otherwise.