Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush In Iraq: From "Mission Accomplished" To Dodging Shoes

Let me state from the start: I do not condone the throwing of shoes or any other objects as a form of protest. I wish that journalist Muntader al-Zaidi had instead engaged in non-violent civil disobedience. That being said, I believe that his shoe-throwing, a distinct insult in Iraqi culture, will be one of the enduring images of the war that Bush pursued in Iraq. It also symbolizes the lasting anger, expressed at the end of the video above, of many Iraqis who have had to endure the consequences of our invasion and occupation.

When al-Zaidi shouted, "This is a gift from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," he spoke for those for whom the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad meant devastation and death, not just the administration's media-savvy slogan. He expressed the rage of the tens of thousands of civilians whose family members were killed, the ethnic cleansing that devastated neighborhoods and the citizens who fled in terror as a result.

The Washington Post put the incident in fitting historic perspective:

The shoe assault turned Bush's trip to Iraq into a public relations fiasco, overshadowing the White House's message of impending victory in a long and unpopular war. The incident served as a bookend to Bush's flamboyant 2003 arrival aboard an aircraft carrier decorated with a banner reading "Mission Accomplished," which was meant as a declaration of victory but soon became a symbol of U.S. hubris as the war continued.

Yet Bush doesn't see any larger implications. He stated, "I don't think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq. You can try to do that if you want to. I don't think it would be accurate."

The statement epitomizes Bush's very lack of historic perspective that led him to prosecute this unnecessary war in the first place.

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