Of course there is tragedy in the fate of many Iraqis who feel they have no choice but to die for Saddam. His goons have reportedly entered the homes of thousands, threatening that children would be murdered if older boys and men did not go out to fight for Saddam. But this is part of the ongoing tragedy of Saddam's vicious rule. As Walter Russell Mead has pointed out, for every year that Saddam held power, 60,000 Iraqi children between the ages of 1 and 5 died. Death of innocents is the daily reality of life under Saddam Hussein.
Our soldiers have sometimes expressed incredulity at the suicidal nature of the poorly equipped and utterly outgunned Iraqis throwing themselves at our tanks and armored personnel carriers. I can think of two possible explanations. Some are sacrificing themselves to save their families, and others, Saddam's killers, know that the end is near and fear that their neighbors will exact revenge when the war is over. They'd prefer to die by American than by Iraqi hands.
As of this writing, the war has taken on a Twilight Zone quality. As members of the U.S. army smoke cigars in one of Saddam's largest palaces, and American C-130s land at the renamed Baghdad International Airport, the Iraqi minister of information insists that rumors of an American presence in the city are false. Civilians catch busses and make purchases at markets, and the nights are punctuated by blasts from the sky that make sleep next to impossible.
No one knows if Saddam is alive or dead, but the news of Chemical Ali's demise warms the heart. A cousin of Saddam's, Ali was the enforcer who gassed thousands of Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq and brutally suppressed the uprising in Basra following the Gulf War in 1991. (This war, for what it's worth, will probably become known as the Iraq War, not the Second Gulf War.)
There are no shades of gray in this war. At its conclusion, which God willing will come soon, we will celebrate the victory of light over darkness. War is a nasty, uncivilized, brutal business. But with that caveat, it is no exaggeration to boast that U.S. and British forces are now fighting the most humanitarian war in history.
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