April 9, 2003

Here is how Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki begins his Op-Ed in the Washington Post on the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Hussein regime in Baghdad:

Today, on the 10th anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the debate about whether it was worth it to topple the regime and the direction of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship is influenced by a pessimistic view that the United States has lost Iraq. Not true. Despite all the problems of the past decade, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis agree that we’re better off today than under Hussein’s brutal dictatorship.

Iraqis will remain grateful for the U.S. role and for the losses sustained by military and civilian personnel that contributed in ending Hussein’s rule. These losses pale by comparison, of course, to those sustained by the Iraqi people. Our government emerges from this experience determined to ensure that these sacrifices contribute to a future of freedom and prosperity for our country.

On this anniversary in 2006, I remembered:

Three years ago today, I sat in my HMMWV at the south end of the western runway at the Saddam Baghdad International Airport and wept as I listened to BBC reports of crowds pulling down the statue of their dictator in another part of the city. Even as I listened to the report, I knew the euphoria would not last. Reality rarely has a tidy fairy-tale ending. Still, in that moment, the sacrifices of weeks of combat gained meaning and perspective. I remember telling someone that we had given the Iraqi people an opportunity to reshape their lives and hoping that they would use it wisely. Three years later, and I am safe at home, but a hundred thousand of my brothers and sisters in arms are still trying to help the Iraqi people use their opportunity wisely. I still pray they will … and quickly.

Ten years on, I still pray for the well being of the people of Iraq.

Related (earliest to latest):
One Step toward Freedom
So Many Trees
Fragile Flowering of Freedom
Because the U.N. Says So
Fighting and Dying for Nothing?
Is America at War?
Is Soldier Misconduct Common?
On  the Council of Bishops and Iraq
Was Life Better Under Hussein?