As many of the antiwar left continue in their knee-jerk reactionism to President Bush (a blind hatred that stops them from proposing realistic and pragmatic policies now that the war is over), Iraqis have continued to air their reflections on the fall of Hussein.
Awad Nasir, an Iraqi poet, writes the following:
Let me confess something: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Saddam Hussein’s statue toppled in Baghdad.
I am a poet and know that eyes can, and do, deceive.
For three decades, part of them spent in prison, part in hiding and part in exile, I had often dreamed of an end to the nightmare of the Baathist-fascist regime. But I had never dreamed that the end, that is to say Iraq’s liberation, would come the way it did.
Again and again, I watched the footage showing the fall of the statue. It was as if I was afraid it might slip from the realm of my memory. But it was not until my sister, whom I had not seen for years, phoned me from Baghdad that I was convinced that “The Vampire” had fallen and that we were free.
On the act of liberation, he points out:
It was not the mullahs of Tehran and their Islamic Revolutionary Guards who liberated the Iraqi Shiites.
Nor was it Turkey’s army that came to rescue the Iraqi Turkomans from Saddam’s clutches.
Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary-general, and the corrupt regimes he speaks for, did not liberate Iraqi Arab nationalists.
Iraq’s democrats, now setting up their parties and publishing their newspapers, were not liberated by Jacques Chirac. Nor did the European left liberate Iraq’s communists, now free to resume their activities inside Iraq.
No, believe it or not, Iraqis of all faiths, ethnic backgrounds and political persuasions were liberated by young men and women who came from the other side of the world–from California and Wyoming, from New York, Glasgow, London, Sydney and Gdansk to risk their lives, and for some to die, so that my people can live in dignity.
The U.S. and its allies took grave risks and showed exceptional courage in standing up against powers such as France and Russia, and their unwitting allies in the “peace movement,” who tried their desperate best to prolong Saddam’s rule. We now know that many of those “peaceniks” were actually in the pay of Saddam. Documents seized from the fallen regime are being studied by Iraqis and will expose the professional “peaceniks” everywhere.
The U.S. and its allies should be prepared to take a further risk, and ignore the supposedly disinterested advice of France, Russia and the Arab regimes to salvage the political and social legacy of the dictatorship. Last February, the U.S. and Britain stood firm and insisted that Iraq must be liberated, regardless of whatever anyone might say. Today, they must remain equally firm in asserting that Iraq must be democratized. They should not leave Iraq until they are asked to do so by a freely elected Iraqi regime in Baghdad.
In the meantime Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, Kofi Annan and others have no authority to speak on behalf of my people.
Now, I do not expect this to open the hearts and minds of the antiwar left–but I do hope that serious thought will be given in these supposedly liberal circles to these same points raised by Mr. Nasir: The US and its allies did a wonderful thing, and, unless they step up and provide credible opposition to some of the policies carried out by the Bush administration (such as the employment of low-level Ba’athists) while knowing how to give credit where it is due, these circles will have failed both in their opposition to the war and the Iraqi people in its aftermath.