As I walk by, I'm drawn to Yousef. He is very small, too small. He has big, dark brown eyes. As I approach, at first he appears to be scared. I get down on my knees in front of him and smile. I show him some of the things that I carry.
Yousef walks up to me and grabs my hand. He holds his face against it. And then, with those big beautiful eyes, he looks up at me. He pats my helmet. His father walks up. I smile.
"Ismee Jack Rice. Ana Sahafe. Ana Amrikee." I'm Jack Rice. I'm a journalist. An American.
The man points at the little boy. "Yousef" he says. Yousef continues to hold my hand. To press his face against it. It feels warm. And it makes me want to weep. Such want. such poverty.
I come to learn that Yousef is two years old. He is a Shiite in a poor Shiite neighborhood that has see a lot of attacks by Sunni insurgents.
And yet, why should Yousef care about such things.
When I'm on the air, we talk about policy a lot. We talk about the war and whether it should or should not have happened. And that will continue. However, when I look at Yousef, I admit that I think of it differently.
As a result, when I think about Iraq, I will often think about Yousef and wonder what the best policy would be for him. To insure than he has a good life and maybe, from a self preservation point of view, whether the things we do will drive him toard us, like he did to me, or whether it will drive him toward the insurgency.
I eventually let go of his hand and pull away. I must. The soldiers are leaving this block and it is not safe - for Americans or Iraqis. I look back and he waives. I swallow hard and move on. What can I do?
I wonder. Does Yousef have a future?