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4/11/03 - IRAQIS TASTE FREEDOM - 2003-04-11

Is Saddam Hussein dead? Is he wounded? Or is he, in the words of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “healthy and cowering in some tunnel someplace trying to avoid being caught”?

One thing is certain: Saddam Hussein is no longer in control of Iraq. For the Iraqi people, the day of the dictator is over.

On April 9th, people around the world watched the televised images of Iraqis demolishing a six-meter-high statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. With the help of U.S. Marines, they toppled the statue, then danced and stomped on the broken pieces. In Baghdad neighborhoods, Iraqis chanted, “There is only one God and Saddam Hussein is an enemy of God.”

These are events, said Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, “that will shape the course of a country, the fate of a people, and potentially the future of the [Middle East] region”:

“Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, [and Romanian dictator Nicolae] Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed, brutal dictators, and the Iraqi people are well on their way to freedom.”

Freedom and security for the Iraqi people will not come overnight -- or without a lot of work. But the U.S.-led coalition will finish the job it has started. The coalition will move as quickly as possible to place governmental responsibilities in the hands of an interim authority composed of Iraqis from inside and outside the country. The interim authority will serve until a permanent government can be chosen by the Iraqi people. “We’re going to see it through,” said President George W. Bush:

“A free Iraq will be ruled by laws, not by a dictator. A free Iraq will be peaceful, and not a friend to terrorists or a menace to its neighbors. A free Iraq will give up all its weapons of mass destruction. A free Iraq will set itself on the path to democracy.”

As President Bush said, “freedom’s taste is unquenchable.”