There is always safety in valor.
- Emerson, American Poet and Essayist (1803-1882)
A day after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that American troops could remain here for years, tens of thousands of protesters allied with Moktada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American Shiite cleric, flooded the streets demanding an end to the American military presence.
The protests were scheduled before Mr. Gates’s comments — made on Friday during a visit to troops in northern Iraq — although his statements may have fueled some of the day’s fervor. The protesters were whipped up by comments drafted by Mr. Sadr, who is continuing his religious studies in Iran but who sent a message to the crowd threatening to reconstitute his militia, the Mahdi Army, if the American military did not leave this year.
What a beautiful thing it is to see Iraqis able to take to the streets and speak their minds without fear of having their villages gassed, their brothers tortured and their sisters raped.
God bless the birthplace of free speech in the Middle East and God bless Operation Iraqi Freedom.