And now the most engaging two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Even as Saddam Hussein's statue was tumbling down in that square in Baghdad, there was fresh evidence across the Arab world of the pro-Saddam and anti-American feelings that permeate the region. Reuters quoted one man in Cairo as saying, "I will be upset if it turns out Saddam Hussein has lost power. If he's dead, he will be a martyr." In the Moroccan capital of Rabat, a shop owner called Saddam the Arab world's "best dictator." And a new poll out in Pakistan showed 85 percent of those surveyed want Saddam to remain in power, and the Gallup organization reported that not a single one of the 1,300 Pakistanis polled favored the U.S. military action. Sixty-nine percent said they favored action against U.S. interests in their country.
That Iraqi flag that was first draped around Saddam Hussein's neck, and later displayed against the pedestal from which his statue had been toppled, was not the official national flag. It was instead the old Iraqi flag, adopted back in 1963. Saddam Hussein changed it just before the start of the Gulf War, by adding the Arabic words meaning, “God is Great.” At the time, Saddam was trying to rally support in the Arab world by portraying his secular government as more of an Islamic state.
The BBC's defense correspondent reporting from Baghdad, Andrew Gilligan, is casting doubt on whether it was an American tank shell that killed those two journalists and injured three others in the Palestine hotel. Gilligan is quoted by the Guardian newspaper as saying he examined the room where the journalists were hit, on the 15th floor of the hotel, and concluded that the damage to the building itself was too light to have been caused by a tank shell. And he said the angle of the attack would have required the U.S. tank to have shot around a corner. He said he thinks there was American tank fire, but it hit other parts of the building. He suspects Iraqi fire may have hit the journalists.
Presumably, the crew of the British naval flagship Ark Royal would consider that report an exception. The BBC has been switched off the TV sets aboard that ship because of alleged pro-Saddam bias. British Marines were especially annoyed by BBC coverage of a fatal helicopter accident in the first days of the war that suggested better maintenance by Ark Royal's crew could have prevented the accident.