Skip to main content
CNN Student News
Fromerly CNNfyi
Select a section:

Sign up for the Daily Guide and Weekly Update!

Send us your comments and questions.
Daily guide
Guide Archives

CNN Student News is a TV program for classrooms that airs on CNN Headline News. Set your VCR to record CNN Student News from 3:12am to 3:22am ET Monday - Friday.
In partnership with: Harcourt Riverdeep

Statue of Saddam tumbles; officials look toward Iraq's future

Discussion /

April 10, 2003 Posted: 2:49 AM EDT (0649 GMT)
The landmark statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's Firdos Square is brought down Wednesday by Iraqis and U.S. Marines.
The landmark statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's Firdos Square is brought down Wednesday by Iraqis and U.S. Marines.  

U.S. Marines helped drag a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to the ground in Baghdad on Wednesday. The White House called it "an historic moment" in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pictures of the falling statue appeared on live television throughout the world, evoking images of the conquest of Iwo Jima and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Iraqis who had gathered for the event cheered and danced on the fallen effigy of Saddam. Large crowds collected in the streets of the Iraqi capital to spit on the statue and to beat it with their shoes -- an act considered a grave insult in the Arab world.

Other celebrations took place in the northern city of Erbil, where Iraqis collected to laud the apparent end of Saddam's regime.

Some Iraqis took advantage of their country's weakening government. In the southern city of Basra, for example, crowds looted government buildings of desks and other furniture. And in Saddam City, a poor area in east central Baghdad, dozens of men hauled off fixtures and office supplies from civic buildings.

U.S. officials cautioned on Wednesday that the war was far from over. Near Baghdad University, just two miles from where the statue of Saddam fell, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines encountered significant enemy fire. The half-hour battle that ensued concluded when the Marines hit an ammunition cache that exploded for 45 minutes, according to a CNN reporter who is embedded with the unit.

•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

When the war is over, the U.S. hopes that Iraq will embrace a democratic form of government. CNN's Jeff Greenfield reports that the U.S. sees its own government as an example that other countries should follow. President Bush and other administration officials have described Operation Iraqi Freedom as a war designed to liberate Iraq and to mark the beginning of an effort to extend democracy to the Middle East. However, some officials are questioning whether democracy is right for the Iraqi people.

According to Greenfield, democracy is not necessarily limited by region or culture. After World War II, for example, Japan became a free, democratic nation within a few years. Germany also instituted democratic reforms after the Nazi regime was crushed.

Russia has made major steps toward democracy in recent years. India is the biggest democracy in the world, and South Korea shrugged what Greenfield calls "strongman rule" to become a free society.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said, "The [South] Koreans have demonstrated that they can [become democratic]; many people have done it in the latter part of the 20th Century; it's time for the Arabs to do it now."

However, in many other nations, free elections - a key component of democracy - have put leaders in power who have not employed democratic practices. Greenfield cites Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic as examples of leaders who have crushed their opponents. He adds that without the components of an independent judiciary and limits on government power, democracies could hardly be recognized as complete.

Greenfield states that in some Middle Eastern nations, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, genuinely free elections would put some of the region's most radical officials in power. And if militants held high positions in their countries' governments, goals for peace in the Middle East could prove nearly impossible.

Unlike Germany and Japan, Iraq is home to three groups of people who have a violent history with one another, according to Greenfield. He adds that longstanding battles between Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, and ethnic Iraqi Kurds - who have regarded each other as mortal enemies in the past - could limit the success of democracy.

Greenfield states that as a general principle, almost everyone in the world would favor the goals of democracy. However, it remains to be seen whether Iraq, a country with a troubled past and an uncertain future, is prepared for the change.

Partner Resources:
Education Partners
  • Holt, Rinehart and Winston: The Founding of Israel

  • Holt, Rinehart and Winston: General Info on Palestine

  • Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Government

  • Holt: Oral Histories Interviews

  • Holt: The Census and History

  • Holt: Periodic Table

  • Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Economics

  • Holt: Evaluation Rubrics

  • Holt: Eating disorders

  • feedback
      © 2003 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
    A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.