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Statue of Limitations

By Richard von Busack

I'M GLAD to be wrong. And I'm hoping that I'm still wrong by the time you read this. Soon the Iraqis will have as much freedom of expression, safety in their streets and certainty of a good day's pay for a good day's labor as we have in America. Hopefully, more.

If it turns out that the only weapon of mass destruction around Iraq was some old mayonnaise in one of Saddam's abandoned refrigerators, and that lives were lost because of the impatience of Bush and his advisers, that will be a shame. But I hope Bush was right. I'd much rather feel like a left-wing crank who hasn't got over Vietnam than to think lives were wasted for no reason.

The statue getting "what for"--now, that was a thrilling moment. It did this ex-vandal's heart good to see that, let me tell you. Especially with Fox News narrating for historical context: "It's like the Berlin Wall falling, only it's our generation's turn, maaaan!" We didn't get him...but we got his statue! I sure wouldn't have wanted to be that statue. First they put an American flag over its face, until a commanding officer radioed to have it removed. Then the Marines put an Iraqi flag cravat around its neck. Then they started pulling, and the whole thing tilted over and hung by its feet. Eventually they got the statue on the ground. The crowd hit it with shoes, which is an Iraqi insult. It's why Iraqi television had said, a month ago, "Rumsfeld should be hit with shoes," a sentiment this American writer found unarguable. After the shoes, the crowd really went to town. They gave the statue a Dutch rub, an Indian burn, a cherry belly and a wedgie. And then, some literary type who'd read Under the Volcano threw a dead dog on top of it. It was a lot worse than what you saw on CNN, believe me.

After the statue was lying there, motionless and sobbing, the crowd decided to play a little Supermarket Sweep. In south L.A., when this happens, it's because of one-parent families and work ethics being eroded by welfare. In Baghdad, though, it was started because of political oppression and shortages. Anyway, the fun had begun and our troops were free to keep looking for the real Saddam. When they find him, which of course hadn't happened by press time, I hope they hang him from a sour apple tree, just like they were supposed to hang the Kaiser (although in real life Kaiser Bill had a fine retirement in Holland). People like Stalin, the Kaiser and Saddam tend to die in bed. Saddam, being 67, is going to die somewhere pretty shortly anyway.

The purpose of this whole exercise wasn't to teach Iraqis how to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" in Arabic; no, the essence of Gulf War 2 was to make sure America was safer from Saddam's armory. So we could say that the Iraqis who got slightly mangled or burned to death did so for our country, not theirs. Take the guy profiled in Jon Lee Anderson's must-read piece "War Wounds" in the April 14 issue of The New Yorker:

"The man with the missing leg complained, rather mildly, about the attack: `If Americans want to come here as tourists, like they used to, we welcome them. But they shouldn't do this.' He dismissed inquiries about his missing limb with bravado. 'I am an Iraqi, he said. We are used to such things.'"


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From the April 17-23, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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