Iraq 11: “Smiles and flowers for U.S. Marines in Baghdad”

April 09, 2003


[Note by Tom Gross]

On a day which history may record as one of the most remarkable triumphs for the spread of democratic freedoms since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 when Iraqis danced in the streets of Baghdad, burned huge portraits of their bloodthirsty dictator Saddam Hussein and pulled down Stalin-like statues of him, and cheered and hugged American troops while waving American flags it is ironic (though, alas, entirely predictable) what some of the world's leading liberal commentators had to say in the editions of this morning's papers, written only a few hours before today's jubilant events:

Today's top-of-the page opinion piece in the Financial Times of London, by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, is titled "A distant world for which Bush cares little." It begins with the line: "President George W. Bush is presiding over the ruin of US foreign policy."

Meanwhile, in an op-ed in the New York Times titled "Hold your applause" and subtitled "No water, no food, no happy faces", Thomas L. Friedman writes from Umm Qasr, Iraq: "This was a scene of humiliation, not liberation. We must do better... Killing Saddam alone will not bring America the thank-yous it expects."

As is too often the case, when it comes to writing about moderate Arabs (such as those Palestinians who oppose Yasser Arafat), it appears Friedman may not only be wrong, but condescending too. He writes: "It would be idiotic to even ask Iraqis here how they felt about politics. They are in a pre-political, primordial state of nature."


Also in today's New York Times, instead of being positive, the Times' other leading columnist Maureen Dowd, cannot help making snide references to "Wolfowitz of Arabia". She also writes: "It will be exceedingly weird and dangerous if this administration turns America into Sparta."

Even while U.S. administration officials are in fact being extremely cautious on what they say about the demise of Saddam, Dowd writes: "The administration already sounds as triumphalist as Lawrence at his giddiest. Today's satirical Onion headline reads: 'Bush subconsciously sizes up Spain for invasion.'"

You do not have to be a supporter of President Bush (and in many ways I am not) to appreciate that many Iraqis are today at any rate truly glad that the Americans have toppled the tyrant Saddam. Even the Reuters report from Baghdad today is titled: "Smiles and flowers for U.S. Marines in Baghdad."


On March 6, Fox News Channel aired a Bill O'Reilly interview with actress Janeane Garafalo, one of the leaders of the Hollywood anti-war campaigners:

O'Reilly: "If you are wrong... and if the United States and they will, this is going to happen goes in, liberates Iraq [with] people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers... you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?"

Garafalo: "I would be so willing to say, 'I'm sorry.' I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say, 'You were wrong. You were a fatalist.' And I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, "Hey, you... were right ...I shouldn't have doubted you'."

-- Tom Gross

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.