What Saddam’s ouster achieved
‘The Finance Minister resigns!” This was the headline in Iraqi newspapers the other day, reporting on the minister’s “disagreements” with the prime minister and the possibility of other ministerial defections.
Most of Iraq’s 100 or so newspapers and magazines covered the story, offering different analyses and comments.
10 yrs ago, in Saddam Hussein’s “Republic of Fear,” this would’ve been unthinkable. Under the despot, no official high or low would dare think of resignation. One was either fired by the Ra’is (chief) or kept one’s mouth shut.
And being fired wasn’t the end of the story. The disgraced official might be imprisoned, exiled or even murdered. Between 1977 and 2003, over 200 top officials, including six ministers and 14 members of the ruling Ba’ath party, were liquidated.
Then, too, the news would either be kept out of the media or carried as a filler of a few words in inside pages of the party newspaper. There would, of course, be no comment. The disgraced official would become a nonperson. Sometimes his entire family would be wiped out or jailed.
In Iraq, the only risk-free move was to praise Saddam. In 20 years, artists and photographers produced 20 million portraits of him. By 2003, no fewer than 10,000 busts and marble and bronze effigies of the tyrant polluted the Iraqi landscape.
Saddam’s atrocities, including the massacre of women and children with chemical weapons in Halabcheh, are too well documented to need recall.
His sinister prison, known as The Palace of the End, was a death factory that claimed more than 100,000 lives.
The Iraqis’ favorite proverb was: Hold your tongue to keep your head.
Now things are different. With fear gone, Iraqis are exercising their right to complain, criticize and vilify their leaders to the full. They comment on everything under the sun.
They’re also free to travel, both inside and outside the country, which needed authorization from the secret police under Saddam. They have satellite TV, cellphones, computers and even bicycles — things Saddam’s secret police deemed symbols of treason, punishable by imprisonment or death.
The Saddamite system was just one version of the “security-military” model developed in Arab countries from the 1950s to the ’80s. Saddam’s demise meant the beginning of the end for that model. It showed that even the most bloodthirsty despot could someday meet his comeuppance.
In the last decade, Iraqis have experienced immense suffering caused by sectarianism, jihadism, corruption and incompetence. Yet Iraq is a better place than under Saddam.
Liberated, Iraq is the only Arab country, so far, to have changed governments three times through elections and also the only one where all political parties operate freely.
Iraqis didn’t achieve what they hoped; they achieved what they could.
The invasion was not about the United States setting up bases or stealing Iraq’s oil or using Iraq for an invasion of Iran, as Saddam’s apologists claimed. Nor was it about imposing democracy by force. It was about two things: stopping a time bomb that was ticking in the heart of the region and removing the impediment to democratization that was Saddam's regime.
More than a million Americans fought and worked in Iraq. They share part of the credit for the fact that Iraqis today are able to run their own lives without fear. They can be proud that, once again, American power was used to free a nation from tyranny.
What Saddam’s ouster achieved - NYPOST.com http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolu...
where in the world is it better because of Obama?
nowhere, especially here in the declining USA.