The View From the Throne

U.S. troops relax in one of Saddam Hussein 's palaces.      (AP Photo/John Moore)

After carefully crafted U.S. public relations were foiled for weeks by photos of sandstorms and friendly-fire mayhem, American POWs, and terrified and dead Iraqi civilians, the White House finally got a shot it must have hoped would come sooner: U.S. soldiers lounging in easy chairs in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.

"Saddam Sat Here," read the headline on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site Monday.

So now we are another day and a few hundred deaths closer to sitting where Hussein sat: in charge of a fractious, ruined Muslim country in the heart of the Arab world. The White House will soon declare "victory," but even if Baath loyalists, the remnants of the Republican Guard, religious warriors and suicide bombers cannot mount an effective guerrilla war, the most dangerous days are ahead for the U.S.

This battle is for the hearts and minds of Iraqis, Americans and the rest of the world, and the traps we'll face are much greater than those posed by an ill-armed, poorly led regime. As an occupying army in a nation with which it has no cultural affinity, the U.S. has to accomplish miracles: build from scratch a functioning democracy in a country full of sharply divided nationalist, religious and tribal passions and with no history of political freedom -- and do it by force without antagonizing the populace.

The price of failure will be more terrorism, more death of innocents, more damage to the U.S. economy, renewal of a global arms race and the potential for a chaotic regional war. We have won nothing yet.

Already, Jay Garner, the U.S.-designated interim ruler of Iraq, is drawing flak for his close ties to Ariel Sharon and other Israeli hawks. Garner's likely Iraqi sidekick, Ahmed Chalabi, has not been in Iraq since 1958 and is also known for his conviction in absentia in Jordan on charges of financial fraud. We are in a nearly no-win situation because President Bush demagogically shifted the fears brought on by 9/11 to justify the invasion of a nation that represented scant military threat to the U.S.

This and other glaring contradictions have been obscured by yammering talk-show yahoos who have been attempting to equate dissent with treason and capitulation. Of course, this is ridiculous. In the U.S., debate, even in wartime, is the patriotic duty of every citizen. After all, the virtue of democracy is that the truth will drive out error in a true dialogue of a free people. So why, as the dominant economic, political, cultural and military force in the world, are we acting as if freedom of thought is a luxury we can ill afford?

Unfortunately, this narrow intolerance for debate has been exemplified by our president, whose vituperative attacks on longtime democratic allies such as France and Germany set a new low for American diplomacy. Further, Bush's belief -- according to his close friend, Commerce Secretary Don Evans -- that God has called him to wage war on Iraq, leaves little room for legitimate argument.

When our leaders believe they are speaking for a Christian God while invading a Muslim country, we should be deeply alarmed. Thus the debate over U.S. goals is as warranted now as it ever has been.

The key ideologues running the Bush administration boldly admit they are attempting by force to kick-start a radical realignment of the Muslim world, using an illegitimate strategy of preemptively and violently trying to remake nations in our own image. Those who find this a dangerous and reckless notion should be condemned as betraying the nation's heritage of liberty only if they remain silent.

Fulfilling this duty as citizens is especially crucial when much of the mass media has seemed comfortable simply cheerleading behind the logo "Operation Iraqi Freedom," rarely daring to mention the victor's spoils of the world's second-largest reserves of oil.

Of course, the war's omnipresent slogan is a complete abandonment of the rationale Americans were given for this war: destroying the weapons of mass destruction, most frighteningly nuclear bombs, that Hussein was allegedly ready to hand over to Al Qaeda terrorists. Never mind that there is no evidence Hussein or Iraq aided or abetted that terrorist gang.

Hussein clearly did not pose an imminent military threat to the U.S. If Hussein could have been disarmed through global pressure and U.N. inspections, as now appears to be the case, then history will judge this to have been another crusade by a big power to impose its "superior" values on a less "enlightened" world while conveniently gaining control of its resources.

Robert Scheer writes a syndicated column for the Los Angeles Times.

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Older Comments:
I meant to say that I am not an expert on war, battle and military history...and I wasn't going to try to pretend that I was an expert.

'in Afganistan they managed to bomb the cities and Tora-bora but Taliban and Osama disappear, in Iraq they managed to bomb the cities and palaces but Saddam and his lietuenants disappear, anyway they managed to tumble the statues'

Saddam Hussein was a vicious dictator, who ranks right up there with Hitler, Stalin and Milosevic. Was there another way to remove him from power? I do not know. I am not going to pretend that I am not an expert on war, battle and military history; however, sad days have come when a leader of a great nation like the United States justifies attacking a nation because God has called him to do so, and when our Attorney General of the United States makes a comment as blatantly naive as, "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him."
"Christianity is a faith in which God sent his Son to die for you." Didn't we send our sons and daughters into Iraq to die?

We are living in very frightening times at home and abroad. Since the inception of the Bush administration, I feel like I am now living in the dark ages.

God bless the day when enlightened men and women are once again leading the United States, and making decision on behalf of the American people.

I think Mr.Sheer's article lacked any sense of reality. The picture of the soldier or Marine on Saddam's "throne" was personal. It was about a defeating a madman, not about Islam, oil or humiliating Iraqi people. What I do not understand is how united the Islamic counutries seem to be with regard the United States and it's intentions. Why were they not this united when Saddam used chemical weapons on other Muslims? Since they seem to be of one voice, why didn't they stop Saddam with one voice? If the Arab nations want the U.S. to stay out of the them they should police themselves. If they can't we will. The fact of the matter is, as of 9-11-2001 the rules changed. The United States will no longer sit back and be attacked without a response. Nor will we wait to be attacked. If a nation is percieved as a threat the Uniited States will respond. In all reality, the Arab nations have Bin Laden and his attacks on the United States to thank for this war.

In response to mr rick van dalen, I think your are being very naive about these matters. It is a matter of fact that that it is a matter of opinion if one is branded a terrorist or a freedom fighter-one who fights for one's liberty.

Currently many organisations are branded terrorists simply because they act against the interest's of the west. The americans employed simmilary tactics when fighting the british during the revolution. The jews in Palistine used terrorist tactics against the british in theirt so cold fifht for a independnt state, killing many innocent people. The IRA employed the same tactics against the bristh in Northern Ireland. The IRA has been funded by irish amercians sympathatic to their cause.

So I find it ironic & hyporcritical that after 911 the US president declars a open war on terrorism when it itself has surported,funded trained tertorist organistion.

You cannot defeat terrorism by force if you think you can you have already lost. The 911 attacks where deporable. The one thing that the british govnt realised with the IRA was that dialouge was the best route. If you wish to understand why would someone kill themsleves to attack you, you must ask yourself what is it that feeds this mistrust and hate. The answer is simple doulbele standards. Do not ask others to adhere to international law if you, yourself flout it.

It is interesting that at the hieght of the Romman, British empire both where regarded as role model states with emense order and prnciples- a famous the british are gentlemen. This all depends on who's account of history you wish to read. Most historic texts are written by the victors.

If the US is serious terrorist attacks then it should pursue policies that remove the causes that marginalise peolpe to do desparete acts of violence rather than bomb them to the terrorists.

Abu Nidaal is wrong I believe. First, the US won the war against Iraq in 1991 and yet, American companies did not automatically take over businesses, we did not steal Iraqi oil or other Iraqi assets. We will not set up a base in Iraq. We have more than enough bases in the Middle East. We want our sons and daughters home. I think all Americans worry about religious governments. Remember that our own country came about because governements run by religious groups terrorized the people who ended up coming to the American colony 300 years ago. We believe deeply in religious freedom but not in the right of one religion to dictate to another religion.
AND if a poll was taken, I guarantee you that the majority of the people in the US would say they believe the Palestinians should have their own homeland. But they want the suicide bombing to stop. If it did, pressure would be placed on Israel.

To conquerer belongs the spoils

I disagree with the disposition of Mr. Scheer's article. Supposing to be able to read into the future when it has yet to happen. This was not a war about Christians against Muslims as in the days of the sick so called "crusades", but a war against a proven madman who without doubt butchered even his own people, including Shiite Muslims and only used the Muslim Religion when it was convenient to try to draw other Muslims into the muck of his own creation. I truly feel HE, not Bush was/is by far the greater enemy of the Muslim people in the fact he murdered people who were Muslims while claiming to believe the same faith!

I do however, regret such a stupid photograph however on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle although I hope people in the Muslim world understand that very few Americans give much credit to the media. We just have nowhere else to get news.

I truly hope that we learn that we either learn to live together and respect each other's beliefs, or we will all face total destruction and there will be no-one to believe anything. It doesn't make sense.

Let's all hope and pray for wisdom that goes beyond the limits of our flesh as it seems over the years, we have come very little if not even having receded into animalistic reactions instead of a higher thinking.

For my part, I am glad for this site and have learned much. Please keep up the good and honorable work!


As sala'am alaikum rahmatullah,

I agree wholeheartedly with the article written. i find it offensive that so many "believers" in this country has been blinded by the "tricknology" and blatant fabrications of the infidels that seek to destroy Al Islam. Of course Allah Ta'aala is The All Knowing, All Wise and He holds the future in His Hands. Yet I believe I can write this much...The christian crusade leveled against Islam in the disguise of "Iraqi Freedom". In fact it appears that the administration has sanctioned the execution Saddam Hussein and his offspring at the cost of the same human lives that they claim are being freed via this "operation". I have found no justification yet for the mass taking of human life at the hand of one of the most unjust nations on this earth. Allah Will Decide the outcome of this farce called a war. It is more like a schoolyard bully flexing his muscle. This all will be revisited in the not to far off future. And unfortunately, we all will be paying the price for it. May Allah Be Merciful to us all. As sala'am alaikum rahmatullah.

Al Amin

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your obvious concern about current events in Iraq. You could be a tremendous force for good and peaceful resolution to the new government there.

As I speak to you I say my prayers and ask God for forgiveness of my sins and ask His great wisdom in speaking to someone as influentual as you are.

Of course you want to be seen, as this all plays out, as someone who truly speaks the truth. I seek that also.

I am a believer who guards against evil also. May God bless you and may rivers run beneath your gardens eternaly. I have a great love for people and my heart hurts when people speak badly about other people falsely and put down their religion in ignorance. That is why I read the entire Quran. I found that Allah is the same God that I have always worshiped as a Christian. I found that Isa (Jesus) is revered as the Holy Messiah. It is so important that the whole Christian world understand how this wonderful teaching is in this Holy Quran. I have told this message to many Religious leaders in the United States by giving them verses out of the Quran that prove this. I can only hope that they seek God's wisdom on this matter.

Hence, I look forward to seeing if your stance becomes more positive in helping people, who have been harmed personally by this war, to seek Allah's guidance, through the sacrifice of Jesus, to be able to forgive their enemies, on a personal level, as Jesus taught, to overcome this pain and have a peaceful, prosperous future.

Surah 3:55

In the Name of the Lamb of Allah, Isa (Jesus),

Allah's submitting slave,

Jane Diane Andrews

The idea of liberating another people is noble. Yet how one does it is open to judgement. While many Americans may have noble intentions towards Iraq, the US govt.'s actions will most likely deviate from such intentions.
Because it will expect Iraq to side on issue in America's favor- such as secularism: denying Islam as a political force, as Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey, Indonesia have done. Favoring nationalism: denying the notion of reunitying Iraq with Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Iran. Favoring peace with Israel as Jordan and Egypt have done. Favoring boycotts against Iran.
Favoring American military bases in Iraq.
Favoring a ban on WMDs evnthough Israel, Russia, and nearby India have them.
Favoring contracting American companies for Iraq's reconsruction.
Do you get the picture yet? Its a form of American imperialism I'm sorry to say.

Mr Scheer writes correctly of several things. !st and formost is the assupmtion that peace can ever be achieved in Muslim countries. The only peace I have witnessed is the yoke of oppression the people wear. The number one job available today in Iraq is to be a looter.
And when Mr. Scheer writes of our government and the problems with Germany and France, well, France is no longer a US ally. They certainly don't deserve a permanent seat on the Security Council, they have about the same power as Nigeria. Of course, that is forgetting that the UN is irrevelent except in cases of handing out food.
Mr. Scheer fails to recognize that the former Iraqi regime was a destroyer of humanity by any means necessary. Watching oil field fires in Kuwait tells me all I need to know of Saddam. The reality is, the Iraqi poplulation have been nothing more than slaves to Saddam.
Mr. Scheer may be judged by history more harshly for his poor judgement than President Bush.

Go Army! Go Navy! Go Marines! Go Air-Force!

good job, Operation Palestinian Liberation.

as an imbias person , I say Arabs have only themselves to blame for their lack of unity. when defenceless ,the scavengers move in for the kill.J.M

Great article!
Just want to add one more thing to this article. Don't you think that if Iraq should have used their WMD by now?

adren, yes you go boy,"i saw pictures today of Iraqis hugging and kissing american soldiers" and WHERE did u see this exactly? Please it would help greatly if you actually post a link, or at least name your sources, because everyone sees the shameless government propaganda shown by the talking meatheads of CNN and FOX. Let me ask you this, did you also see the pictures of thousands of motherless children, bodies of young girls with no heads, and little boys with no arms? One pathetic theater created by the same people who said "tariq aziz has left the regime and ran into the sweet loving arms of our boys in uniform" amounts to nothing but insult to murder, and thats exactly what our government amounts to, a bunch of terrorist murdering thugs gone mad with power. And let me remind you that of the million promises made by our terrorist government not ONE will see the light of day. In Afghanistan the favorite phrase was "we wont let you down this time" today even the Afghani government cant tell its people that the taliban are bad news because the americans have failed them yet again. Still people are starving, still thugs and terrorists rule the country, still the country is in the stone age and will remain so. So the hearts and minds of Iraqis is not won, and will never BE won. Truth is america could care less, but it will pay the price for its arrogance.

It would appear that the battle for Iraqi souls and minds is well on the way. I saw pictures today of great throngs of Iraqi citizens celebrating the U.S. troops, trying to hug and kiss them. I wonder why they are behaving this way. Could it be that 25 years of torture are over? Thank God there are several means through which to learn about these issues. Why was Saddam giving thousands of dollars to suicide- murderer's families? It would seem to me that whether a threat is imminent or not, depends entirely on the type of threat one is concerned with. In today's climate, it is better to act preventively as Bush has done. On September 10,2001 preventative measures were possible. That was then, this is now.