‘Just weeks before Bush visits Russia amid U.S. concern that Moscow is backsliding on democracy, he praised Hungary as a "beacon of liberty" in a speech delivered at the heart of a region that was under Moscow's control for decades.
He compared Iraq's struggle to develop into a democracy to Hungary's effort to bring down communist rule 50 years ago and said Iraqis would need the same kind of patience as Hungarians as they try to establish a thriving democracy.
"Hungary represents the triumph of liberty over tyranny," Bush said in a speech on a hill from where Soviet troops fired on the capital Budapest in 1956 to put down the uprising.’
Of course, the major difference between Hungary back then and Iraq today is that Hungarians led the uprising, which was later crushed by a Superpower. In Iraq today, a Superpower has ‘liberated’ Iraq and is now experiencing an insurgency by some Iraqis (and a few cross- border terrorist weirdos).
This distinction is an important one and can be demonstrated by one of the most important symbolic elements in overthrowing dictatorships – the tearing down of statues.
They did it in Moscow in 1917. They did it in 1956 when they tore down the statue of Stalin.
They did it in Warsaw in 1989. It was in plac Dzierzynskiego (now plac Bankowy), named after the founder of Cheka, the anti-insurgency organization which ruthlessly crushed any ‘counter-revolutionary elements’ in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution and morphed into the KGB.
Feliks Dzierżyński was Polish. And he was a much hated figure here. Unfortunate, then, that the Commie authorities decided to put up a statue to him, right in the middle of Warsaw.
So his statue was one of the first pieces of street furniture to feel the anger of a genuine people’s revolution. Poles joked that Feliks was a good Pole, as he probably killed the most communists!
Fast forward to Baghdad, 2003. Right opposite where much of the international media was staying and operating from, a crowd gathered by one of the many statues of the ever-vain Saddam Hussein, as American humbies cruised to streets. They started to beat Saddam with their sandals and tried to tear it down. But Saddam refused to budge from his perch. In the end, the US army turned up and pulls the thing down with rope attached to large military vehicles.
When the camera panned back, the crowd of Iraqis was made up of only about 200 men. This was not mass outpouring of relief and liberty that many were expecting. Iraqis felt more complicated about it than that.
Iraqis didn’t even get the chance to tear down their own statues.