Larry Elder

" ...Army and Marine Corps units moving into the districts of eastern Baghdad where many of the city's 5 million people live finally met the kind of adulation from ordinary Iraqis that American advocates of a war to topple Mr. Hussein had predicted....

"Much of Baghdad became, in a moment, a showcase of unbridled enthusiasm for America...

"American troops, but almost as much any Westerner caught up in the tide of people rushing into the streets, were met with scenes that summoned comparisons to the freeing of Eastern Europe 14 years ago....

"Shouts to the American soldiers of 'Thank you, mister, thank you,' in English, of 'Welcome, my friend, welcome,' of 'Good, good, good,' and 'Yes, yes, mister,' mingled with cries of 'Good, George Bush!' and 'Down Saddam!'...

"A middle-aged man pushed through a crowd attempting to topple a statue of Mr. Hussein outside the oil ministry with a bouquet of paper flowers, and passed among American troops distributing them one at a time, each with a kiss on the cheek.

"A woman with two small children perched in the open roof of a car maneuvering to get close to a Marine Corps unit assisting in toppling a Hussein statue outside the Palestine and Sheraton hotels, the quarters for foreign journalists, wept as she shouted, 'Thank you, mister, thank you very much.'...

Gen. Georges Sada, the No. 2 ranking general in the Iraqi Air Force, said the same thing when I interviewed him Feb. 9, 2006.

I said, "You said the president did the right thing in invading Iraq -- "

"Excuse me," said Sada, "you say invading, I always say liberating.... In most provinces of Iraq and Kurdistan, the forces were received with cheers and flowers, in the South, it was the same thing in my province." The people living in the Sunni triangle did not consider Americans liberators, he explained, because Sunnis ran things. "When they found that this is all gone, of course they didn't like it."

The Iraqis show more optimism about their country than Americans show about theirs. According to a November 2005 American Research Group poll, 31 percent of Americans believe their household financial situations will improve over the next year. But, according to a December 2005 ABC News poll, 69 percent of Iraqis expect their lives to improve in the coming year.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.