The Liberation of Baghdad
By Nicholas Provenzo
Yesterday, in civilization’s cradle, they danced. After Marines knocked one of Saddam Hussein’s statues off its pedestal, joyful Iraqi men danced as they dragged its decapitated head through the streets of their capital, while others symbolically beat posters of Saddam’s face with their shoes.
"I'm 49, but I never lived a single day. Only now will I start living. That Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a criminal," said Yusuf Abed Kazim, a Baghdad imam who used a sledgehammer to pound the pedestal of a statue of Saddam Hussein.
In less than 22 days of combat, the greatest hope of America and Great Britain’s liberation of Iraq has come true. The victims of Saddam’s despotism have embraced their liberators. And as US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld observed, “Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed brutal dictators, and the Iraqi people are well on their way to freedom.”
Yet, as we know, the battle still continues. The cities of the north, including Kirkuk and Mosul, have yet to fall. Pockets of Saddam’s loyalists still fight in Baghdad. Our troops are still paying the ultimate price on the battlefield. Yet one gets the sense that this last vestige of resistance is the reflexive twitching of a dead regime. The die has been cast. America and her allies have prevailed against Saddam Hussein.
What remains to be seen is how the rest of the Arab word deals with the defeat of Saddam. Arab denial of reality is made all too clear when one reads reports on Al-Jazeera’s English website. Yet like it or not, reality is catching up with the Arab world. The AP quotes one Egyptian man:
Despite the deep anti-American sentiment held by the Arab world (and lest we forget, the New York Times, the BBC, the French, the Germans, the Russians, the anti-war radicals, and the professors of almost every American university), for the first time in many years, that sentiment is now confronted with irrefutable facts. American power and justice overwhelms. Despite all the claims of staging, despite all the claims of American atrocities, despite all the claims that American tanks were being destroyed by the scores, and despite all the threats that Iraq would fight to the last man, the fact remains, when Americans entered the center of Baghdad, the men danced.
Yesterday was a great day, a vindication of all this war has been about. Now comes the rebuilding, and that will be where the real test lies. It took courage to wage war against Iraq. May that same courage be called upon in the effort to transform Iraq into a safe and free nation.
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