Peter Maass, The Toppling

January 14, 2011  |  permalink

The Strategic Corporal at Firdos Square

If Leon Lambert, a 35-year old gunnery sergeant, hadn’t been at Firdos Square, the statue of Saddam Hussein probably wouldn’t have been toppled on April 9. It was Lambert who gave a sledgehammer and rope to a handful of Iraqis at the square, thereby triggering the process that led to the statue’s downfall. Lambert’s role was a manifestation of the “strategic corporal” theory that Marine General Charles Krulak described in an influential 1999 article. Krulak argued that, in an interconnected world, the actions of even a lowly corporal can have global consequences. “All future conflicts will be acted out before an international audience,” Krulak wrote. “In many cases, the individual Marine will be the most conspicuous symbol of American foreign policy and will potentially influence not only the immediate tactical situation, but the operational and strategic levels as well.” Click here for the article.

About The Toppling by Peter Maass

On April 9, 2003, American Marines toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein at Firdos Square in Baghdad. Broadcast across the world, the event symbolized what was thought to be an American victory in Iraq. My reconstruction, written with support from ProPublica and the Shorenstein Center, was published in The New Yorker. This section contains documents, photos, videos and links related to the story.

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