Mona Charen

The other image that has dominated reporting from Iraq since the liberation is of demonstrations -- whether of Shiite zealots slashing themselves with swords as part of a religious rite, or doctors protesting the inclusion of a former regime official in the Department of Health, or "ordinary" Iraqis carrying signs reading, "America out."

What does not get reported, according to Foreman, is that American forces are being "love bombed" by Baghdadis on a daily basis. Women flirt with them, children flock to gawk and giggle, and old and young alike are amazed by the presence of black troops, apparently having been led to believe that blacks could not serve in the U.S. Army (or something). And everywhere they go, Americans are cheered and thanked profusely by Iraqis of every class and station, but particularly by the poor.

Just as they grew whiny and petulant when the United States had not completely dominated the country in 48 hours, the press now vastly underestimates the length of time it takes to return a liberated city to normal.

Well, not normal, really. Because if the U.S. liberation is to be successful in the largest sense, our work has really just begun. After getting water treatment plants running, electricity back on line, gasoline distributed, food supplies regulated, and schools and hospitals functioning, the United Staets must turn to the de-Baathification of the Iraqi people.

In the same issue of the Standard, Meyrav Wurmser details the indoctrination Iraqis have endured for 35 years. All personal goals were to be subordinated to the good of the state. Baathist doctrine exalted Arab unity above all other goals (though Saddam attacked an Arab neighbor and the Islamic Republic of Iran). Such unity, it was taught, would restore Arab civilization to its lost preeminence. Iraqi sixth grade textbooks quoted Saddam praising the Republican Guard for defending the nation from "Persian, American, NATO and Zionist aggression."

Moreover, decades of brutality and repression have left their mark. Iraqis will need to learn for the first time about democracy, pluralism and individual rights. But despite what you see and read in the press, we're off to a very promising start.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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