Analysis: A psychological blow (JERUSALEM POST) By CAROLINE GLICK 12/14/03)
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The 20-day ground offensive that ended with the fall of Baghdad April
9th to US forces was characterized as much by the level-headed
courage of the men who fought it as by its speed and brilliance of
Its signature finish - the felling of Saddam Hussein´s statue in
downtown Baghdad - was celebrated in the streets of the city by
thousands of Iraqis who drew that day the first breaths of freedom
they had breathed in three decades.
Yet, for those standing in the streets of the city that bright April
day, it was clear that the war was not over. The rampant looting and
the sullen faces of angry young men with military haircuts standing
in groups on the streets attested to the dangers ahead.
On the one hand, the Iraqi people´s anarchic celebrations were
testimony to the fact that these people, long enslaved did not yet
understand the responsibilities that accrue to free people. The angry
gazes of the young men, calling out "We are all fedayeen," first in
shouts, and then in muttered whispers as the American troops
approached them, showed that the while the battle was won, the war
was far from over.
Saturday night´s capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was another
great victory in the war on terror, equal in importance to the fall
The specter of Saddam´s return to power over the past nine months
cast a pall on the US-led victory. His elusiveness together with the
increasing violence of terror attacks led many Iraqis to question
whether the US-led coalition would be willing to stay the course in
Saddam´s ability to remain at large bolstered his henchmen and
empowered jihadists throughout the Arab and Muslim world to the cause
of defeating the US and its allies.
The psychological impact on Saddam´s loyalists and on terrorists
around the world of the picture of the tyrant´s dirty, mired face and
meek complicity during his medical examination by a US army doctor is
immeasurable. Today they are forced to ask the question, "Why should
we die when Saddam surrendered so abjectly?"
It has been argued that it was wrong for the Americans to show such
pictures of Saddam. Doing so, it was said, will enrage jihadists who
will fight all the more desperately to regain the honor lost by
The problem with this argument is that it fails to take common sense
into account. Saddam´s surrender is a signal to his allies as much as
to his victims. The former attain from this sight the beginning of
understanding, that theirs is a lost cause. When Major General
Raymond Odierno told reporters Sunday afternoon that Saddam "was
caught just like a rat," he said that the tipping point has past.
In capturing Saddam, the US went a long way to proving that it can be
relied upon to win its war. In his surrender, Saddam showed that his
loyalists, like his fellow dictators, will lose.
Saddam´s victims, the Iraqi people responded to the pictures with joy
unmatched since April 9th. They too, received the message. The
humiliation of Saddam Hussein is not their humiliation. It is their
And yet, the victory, though great, does not mean that the war is
over. Just as the Battle of the Bulge followed the invasion of
Normandy, so many battles still await the democratic armies arrayed
against the forces of jihad.
The blasts in Baghdad and the attempted assassination of Pakistani
leader Pervez Musharraf in the hours after the announcement of
Saddam´s capture are evidence of this truth. As US President George
W. Bush said Sunday, "The war on terror is a different kind of war,
waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our
security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the
success of liberty."
(© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 12/14/03)
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