Although U.S. troops brought Saddam Hussein’s statue to the ground Wednesday, it remains uncertain whether the Iraqi dictator’s regime is still standing. Even more uncertain is what the future holds for post-war Iraq.
“My apprehension is that I don’t know if the United States will promote the reconstruction of Iraq, as it should,” Raja Shamas ’05 said. “Iraq is basically destroyed and I don’t know if long-term development is on the U.S. agenda.”
Residents of Baghdad crowded the streets yesterday in celebration as U.S forces tightened their grip on the Iraqi capital.
Here at Yale, many students were surprised by the suddenness of U.S. military success.
“I was wrong with my prediction on the war with Afghanistan and I was wrong with my prediction on the war with Iraq,” Tammer Riad ’04 said. “I thought the war with Iraq would last a lot longer.”
Shamas agreed that Baghdad’s fall seemed to come about very quickly.
“[Baghdad] was expected to fall at some point,” Shamas said. “But it was sooner than I thought.”
But for other students, the war lasted longer than expected.
“I’m surprised it took this long,” Molly Montes ’06 said. “I thought they would have an easier time excising Saddam and there would be less resistance.”
While students differed in their reactions to the war’s duration, most expressed concern over the future of post-war Iraq.
Shamas said he believed the United States would not stop with Iraq, but rather would continue to extend power into surrounding nations.
“Syria and Iran are the last two countries in the area not in the U.S.’s pocket,” he said. “If control is what the U.S. is seeking, it will find some way to isolate them.”
Although Montes said she is pleased with recent military progress, she also expressed skepticism regarding U.S. involvement in Iraq’s future.
“It’s great the ‘war part’ is over,” Montes said. “But I’m really concerned about what comes next, because I don’t think we entered this war with a good plan for what’s best for that area.”
Riad, like Montes, said he was apprehensive about the ambiguity of post-war Iraq.
“Obviously, I’m happy Saddam Hussein is gone,” Riad said. “No one is sad that he is. But it’s too early to say what’s going to happen.”
Before a U.S. tank toppled a statue of Hussein, a U.S. soldier climbed atop the monument in Firdos Square and draped an American flag over Hussein’s face. Iraqi citizens quickly removed the flag and replaced it with one of their own.
“It’s a harbinger of things to come,” Riad said. “People became angry when U.S. soldiers put an American flag on the statue. They are grateful for their help, but don’t want the U.S. to control their destinies. They want to be autonomous and independent.”
Diala Shamas ’06 said that while she believes Iraqis are happy with the result of the war thus far, she doubts whether they are celebrating the fact that Americans waged a war on them. She added that the future of Iraq may be in one man’s hands.
“Whatever Bush wants,” Shamas said. “It all depends on how much the U.S. is willing to put into it.”