Sometimes war sounds like the harsh crack of gunfire and sometimes like the whisper of the wind. This early morning - in al-Yarmouk on the southern edge of Libya's capital, Tripoli - it was a mix of both.
All around, shops were shuttered and homes emptied, except for those in the hands of the militiamen who make up the army of the Government of National Accord (GNA), the UN-backed, internationally recognized government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. The war had slept in this morning and all was quiet until the rattle of a machine gun suddenly broke the calm.
A day earlier, I had spent hours on the roof of my hotel, listening to the basso profundo echo of artillery as dark torrents of smoke rose from explosions in this and several other outlying neighborhoods. The GNA was doing battle with the self-styled Libyan National Army of warlord Khalifa Haftar, a US citizen, former CIA asset, and longtime resident of Virginia, who was lauded by President Donald Trump in an April phone call. Watching the war from this perch brought me back to another time in my life when I wrote about war from a far greater distance—of both time and space—a war I covered decades after the fact, the one that Americans still call "Vietnam" but the Vietnamese know as "the American War."