Congratulations to the armed forces of the United States and the United Kingdom for, essentially, taking Baghdad and toppling Saddam Hussein. For all of the fears that the war was bogging down, the coalition forces did what they set out to do and, by all indications, with a minimum civilian casualties. The power went out in Baghdad only a couple of days ago, and it should be back on soon. The humanitarian disaster that many were expecting might just not happen (fingers crossed). The Kurds appear to be happy, and the cheering throngs in Baghdad should soundly disprove assertions that the Iraqi people wouldn't welcome their "liberators" with open arms. One wonders what the fundimentalist forces that flocked to Iraq to fight must be thinking right now.
I am not sorry for voicing my fears about this war. Things could have gone a lot worse, and without the benefit of hindsight, I was within my rights to say what I said. Things could still go wrong if we let their attention lapse. For all the good we've done in Afghanistan, the situation is still quite unstable. Kabul basically controls only Kabul, and some girls schools that opened following the Afghans' liberation are quietly being closed at the behest of fundimentalist clerics. U.S., Canadian and U.K. forces in Afghanistan are facing hints of regrouped Taliban fighters.
Now is the time to resurrect the Marshall Plan for the Middle East. For better or for worse, the United States has two recently liberated countries in desperate need of rebuilding. If we play our cards right, they could be rebuilt into strong beacons of democracy and prosperity in the Middle East. If we let things lapse... well is the West well served by an Iraq tomorrow that resembles an Afghanistan today?
It's time, not only for the U.S., but for Canada, Europe and the rest of the world community to open up its pocket books. It's time for the Bush Administration to put its money where its mouth is and pay for the construction of a democratic Iraq.
P.S. It was unfortunate that the image of the U.S. flag draped over the statue of Saddam Hussein made it to film. It's one thing watching Iraqis topple their own statues, but quite another to drape a flag over a fallen victim.
These days, half of all warfare is fought with images. The images of September 11 are seared into everybody's memory and explain much of the West's reactions since. They've given strength and fervour to our campaigns in Afghanistan. They're leading the U.S. charge into Iraq.
I'm afraid the image of the American marine draping the U.S. flag over Saddam's statue will get a lot of play in fundimentalist circles, and may well be the image that the rest of the Middle East takes away from this war, rather than the far more positive image of Iraqi citizens battering down their own Berlin Walls.
Angela had to go to the hospital in the middle of the ice storm, but fortunately she didn't end up being one of those baby-born-in-the-car story that you see on television.
And while I'm at it, congratulations to Natasha for reaching her sixteenth birthday. Her blog is well worth your attention. She is an excellent writer and a great blogging and e-mailing personality. I expect great things from her, and I'm looking forward to seeing them.
The best news source for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy appears to be here, although this site gave me a good idea of how they're going to handle Saruman, if as Peter Jackson says in the Fellowship of the Ring DVD, the Scouring of the Shire doesn't happen.