Unless you were deep in a cave yesterday, you probably saw the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussein in the central plaza in Baghdad . Iraqis started the process by pounding the huge pedestal on which the statue stood. Their intentions and enthusiasm were admirable, but, let’s face it, it would have taken them days, if not weeks, to topple the megalith with a sledge hammer. Then the U.S. Marines came in with a tank-like vehicle that had a huge block and tackle on it, and, after some symbolic flag drapings, got the job done in short order.
In fact, the whole episode was symbolic—and inspiring. Tears came to one’s eyes. It was remindful of other topplings and raisings. Immediately comes to mind the destruction, or at least the start of it, of the Berlin Wall. Such joy is seldom seen. Then there were the several statues of Lenin scattered around the former Soviet Union satellite countries that met a similar fate. The throwing off of shackles is a sight that warms the heart.
Yesterday, I couldn’t help but be struck by the similar looking scene of tanks rolling through city streets— Hungary and Czechoslovakia flashed through my imagination. But the Russian tanks were in Budapest and Prague to impose their domination—ours are in Baghdad to rid the country of a sadistic despot and to free the Iraqi people. Our forces and those they were liberating were all smiles. What a contrast to the grim and frightened faces in Eastern Europe just a generation ago. Tanks don’t care—they can be used to enslave or free. It’s the people driving them that matter.