Iraq confronts Hussein legacy cast in bronze





He was ousted, captured, tried and executed. But while the dictator may be gone, his legacy visibly lives on.

There may be no starker reminder of Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule than the potent symbols he left behind: scores of hubristic statues, murals, frescoes and other monuments he built all over Iraq to commemorate himself. While many were destroyed in the cathartic celebration and mob violence that followed the invasion, many others still remain, serving as a constant echo of Mr. Hussein’s all-consuming authority and setting off the same range of emotions, from swollen Baath pride to desperate fear, that he inspired while he was alive.

Now the nation is trying to figure out whether to save these objects as memorials to history or wipe them out. The debate goes to the core of a wounded nation’s effort to redefine itself and reconcile with its painful past. In recent weeks, the matter has crystallized around Iraq’s most famous landmark, the Victory Arch, two sets of gargantuan crossed swords held by giant fists modeled after Mr. Hussein’s. The government had begun to tear it down, but an influential lobby, including the American Embassy, has blocked the dismantling for the time being.

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