I've said this before and I'll probably have to say it again, but this day is as good as any to get it out there: there are at least tens of thousands of Iraqis who were better off under the rule of Saddam Hussein than they are today. Many of the people I'm thinking of are dead, either from the war or the insurgency. Were they better off dying "free?" I doubt it -- both that they were better off free and that they were free. They were free only on the word of the United States, for what that was worth. But there were already free men in Iraq before we came. They didn't need us or any of our paper guarantees to be free. They were free as soon as they decided to stand up to Saddam, and they were no less free because they died or went to prison. That kind of freedom can't be conferred upon you by an invading power. You might be "liberated," but that doesn't make you free. When most people talk about "freedom," they mean a "rule of law." In other words, they're looking for guarantees, advantages, protection. They want you to believe that without these, you're not free -- that you're not free if you're not safe -- that you're not free without them to protect you. They don't know real freedom when they see it; you can tell that when free people speak out in this country.
Maybe fewer free men are dying these days in Iraq than might have six years ago, but back in Saddam's day, the people who died were those who stuck their necks out. The people who didn't or wouldn't stick their necks out, the people who weren't free before we came, and arguably aren't free now, are dying in greater numbers now. Should we shrug that off because they're "unfree?" That depends on your perspective. But none of us should shrug off one obvious difference between then and now. Before March 2003, Saddam Hussein was killing the free men and women and Iraq. Now the militias are killing them, and the others. Al-Qaeda is killing them, and the others. The United States is killing them, and the others. That's the difference. Happy anniversary.