In his 1991 book Baghdad Without a Map, Tony Horwitz, a freelance journalist who lived in the Middle East during the 1980s, wrote about visiting Saddam Hussein’s Iraq before the Persian Gulf War. While sightseeing in the capital, he sneers at a statue commemorating Saddam’s attempt to kill Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1959:
Iraq was the first country I had ever visited that enshrined an assassination attempt as the most glorious event in the nation’s history.
When I read that back in the 1990s, I shared Horwitz’s contempt for that nation which wrapped its identity in thuggish violence. Lately I’ve been reminded of it as we celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden. I was glad to see the end of him but I don’t see it as anything worth celebrating. It took us ten years to track down and squash that miserable worm and in the meantime we let him warp our society. Don’t be so proud.