Tribe has spoken

click picture to enlarge -- Saddam is voted off

Saddam is voted off

In what is fervently hoped is the final episode of the ultimate reality game, it appears that Saddam Hussein has been voted off.

tribal council

Remarkable pictures have shown the toppling of a gigantic statue of Saddam Hussein, erected in the center of Baghdad in honor of his approaching birthday. The subsequent dancing and jubilation in the street are surely the pictures that everyone in the Pentagon and White House have been dreaming about.

sequence showing toppling of statue, from Fox News web site

 

crowds dancing in the streets of Baghdad

Hyperbole runs rampant. The event is being likened to the falling of the Berlin wall. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is declaring that Saddam can take his place with the likes of Stalin, Hitler, et al.

Through all of this, one has to admire the professionalism, courage, and composure of the US military during this conflict. These young men and women, thrust into the midst of unimaginable chaos, have been truly remarkable. For those of us who carry indelible images in our minds from the Vietnam war era, such as the young napalmed girl or the My Lai massacre, the current images provide a needed and useful counterbalance. There aren't a lot of things that I truly regret, but one of them is that during the Vietnam era I was unable at the time to separate my disapproval of the war from the soldiers who had to carry it out. Being able to do so now feels a lot better.

statue with marine

Now comes the hard part. Once the US launched this war, one had to take the position that the best possible outcome would be to win, decisively and quickly. Although it's clearly not over yet, that outcome is at hand.

But— The most difficult task lies ahead. There was enormous scepticism in the Arab world, and in the US, about the motivations for this war. What happens next will determine if that scepticism is either confirmed or turned around.

woman beating on Saddam's face with shoe, from nytimes.com

Cultural curiosity. In the early days of the war, a Fox news anchor read a story with the phrase "pound on the face with a shoe." At the time, the anchor made a goofy face to suggest that he was just reading, even if it didn't make sense. Since then, however, I have been struck by the number of images broadcast in which Iraqis are seen to be literally removing a shoe and pounding on Saddam's face in a picture or on a statue. There is obviously something culturally significant about the phrase and action. I wish someone would explain it.

DJIA chart

Wall Street perversity. After news from Iraq turned giddily positive over the weekend, Wall Street indulged in another bout of irrational exhuberance on Monday. Now that it appears today, Wednesday, that the regime of Saddam Hussein has indeed fallen, the market has headed south after an initial spike following the toppling of Saddam's birthday statue.

After weeks and months of using "geopolitical uncertainty" as an excuse, perhaps folks are now driven to confront reality that the economy sucks.


Photos from CBS (with a little help from Paint Shop Pro), MSNBC.com, FOXNEWS.com, NYTIMES.com