To understand properly what the Bush administration’s legacy will be with regard to Iraq, one must comprehend the conditions Saddam Hussein subjected Iraq’s citizenry to prior to the country’s liberation in 2003. Moreover, one must compare those past conditions to the current condition of the newly forming democracy in the Middle East. Even so, the status of Iraq is constantly changing as the war winds down, and the threat of a resurgence in violence is, additionally, ever present; thus any assessment of Bush’s legacy regarding Iraq hinges greatly on the actions and decisions of the next commander-in-chief of America’s military forces, President-elect Barack Obama.
Prior to America’s intervention in the Middle Eastern nation, Iraqis were subjected to tyrannical rule, restricted in exercising their basic human liberties, and very often physically oppressed. Writing in the Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby extracted perhaps the most revealing quotation to explain Saddam Hussein’s Iraq from Kenneth Pollack’s then recently published book, The Threatening Storm:
This is a regime that will gouge out the eyes of children to force confessions from their parents and grandparents. This is a regime that will crush all the bones in the feet of a 2-year-old girl to force her mother to divulge her father’s whereabouts. … This is a regime that will burn a person’s limbs off to force him to confess or comply. This is a regime that will slowly lower its victims into huge vats of acid, either to break their will or as a means of execution. … This is a regime that will drag in a man’s wife, daughter, or other female relative and repeatedly rape her in front of him. This is a regime that will force a white-hot metal rod into a person’s anus or other orifices. This is a regime that employs thalium poisoning, widely considered one of the most excruciating ways to die. This is a regime that will behead a young mother in the street in front of her house and children because her husband was suspected of opposing the regime. This is a regime that used chemical warfare … not just on the 15,000 killed and maimed at Halabja but on scores of other villages all across Kurdistan.
In short, I believe it can accurately be said that no world leader was so evil, at least at the time of Pollack’s assessment. Hence, President Bush’s decision to liberate the Iraqi people from such blood-curdling terror was an act of courage that should be celebrated, even if the war in Iraq has not been perfectly executed.