“Thank you [President] Bush. I shall be playing my trumpet until the dawn.”
— Wasam Adain, 23-year-old music shop owner in Baghdad
by Rod D. Martin
June 28, 2004
As America today transferred sovereignty to a new, democratic Iraq — whose government enjoys a 70-80% approval rating — the unholy trinity of dead-ender Saddamites, foreign terrorists, and pro-Iranian Sadr stooges suffered a monumental defeat. Some now say that maybe, just maybe, the worst is over.
Actually, the worst never happened.
How quickly we’ve forgotten the hysterical predictions of Old Europe and our homegrown Cassandras last year as we prepared to liberate the 22 million-strong slave camp that had been Saddam’s private fief.
If we laid a finger on Saddam, they warned, he’d launch Scud missiles into Israel, triggering swift retaliation and plunging the Middle East into a dangerous new war.
Besides lobbing Scuds into Israel, Saddam, we were promised, would order the burning of his oil fields, bringing economic and ecological ruin to all.
And remember all that talk about the Arab or Muslim “street?” Surely, the hand-wringers intoned, an American invasion would unleash unprecedented outpourings of rage throughout the Middle East, the malignant hordes of radical Islam toppling regimes from Cairo to Islamabad and derailing our War on Terror.
How can we forget the bug-eyed jeremiads by the anti-war crowd (and many UN diplomats) predicting civilian casualties in the hundreds of thousands, a refugee crisis in the millions, and the rampant spread of famine and disease?
The Iraqi populace, we were assured, would arise as one, resisting the American armies in every nook and cranny of the country.
And even if we won and liberated Iraq, when the dust had settled, it was argued, the Shi’ite Muslims would hijack the nation and install a theocracy modeled after the mullahs’ Iran.
As everyone knows, none of these prophecies came to pass.
Not a single one.
Saddam launched no Scuds against Israel; our Special Forces destroyed them before he had the chance.
He didn’t torch his oil fields. We never gave him the opportunity.
The “Arab street” barely whimpered. Arabs hated American indecision far more than American action: they didn’t like Saddam, but they also loathed the unending Clinton-era bombings and embargo. Respecting strength and despising weakness, what brings out their “street” is American failure, not success.
Civilian casualties — a few thousand — proved to be among the lowest recorded in any major war, as America carefully targeted military installations near population centers with smart bombs and reserved its B-52s for Iraqi troop concentrations away from civilian areas. And no refugee or health crisis arose in the wake of invasion or victory. Indeed, tens of thousands of refugees who’d fled Saddam came home: their camps are at long last shuttered.
Ordinary Iraqis did not resist; most of the Iraqi army didn’t either. Even now, most “resistance fighters” killed or captured are foreign terrorists. Though the images of Saddam’s statues being toppled by jubilant Iraqis are forgotten in America, they are a present reality in Iraq. Hardly any support the old, murderous regime.
Finally, in the aftermath of the actual war, the Shi’ite majority has not tried to seize power: indeed, recent polls show that only 8% of Iraqis want a Shi’ite theocracy, versus a majority who prefer parliamentary democracy. Most have welcomed us as liberators from the a dictator who reserved special wrath for them. The anti-war left (and indeed, the anti-war right) knew nothing and cared nothing about these people, what they wanted, or whether they lived or died.
So have the false prophets of doom owned up to their mistakes?
Not a chance. They’re too busy lining up to see Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (about which even the leftist Christopher Hitchens wrote “To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability”). They never learn, precisely because they do not wish to learn.
These grown-up hippies are now news anchors, college professors and movie stars. They were radicals in their youth, and age has taught them only how better to advance their agenda. They see our action in Iraq through a Marxist prism, that of western oppressor versus Third World oppressed. They refused to see that we were liberating the Iraqi people from one of history’s most vicious tyrants, because to them, corrupt, wicked America can liberate no one.
Yet truth is the liar’s worst enemy, and today was a moment of truth. It is one of many this month, like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revelation of Saddam’s multiple terror plots against America, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s statement that Saddam’s WMDs are now in terrorist hands, and the new Iraqi government’s commitment to exposing the senior French, German, Russian and UN officials Saddam bribed — using $5 billion in Oil-for-Food money — in the run-up to the war.
Will these truths outrun the propaganda of the France-CBS-MoveOn.org axis? We’ll see come November. But a sovereign, democratic, free Iraq does much to deflate Moore’s spare tire.