Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Throwing Shoes

I just watched the disturbing video of the Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at Bush. What sounded funny before I saw it quickly became disturbing as I witnessed the filmed incident. Shoe throwing is, evidently, a major insult in the Arab world. The Iraqi shouted that this was a "farewell kiss" to the "dog" who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The journalist has become a symbol of resistance in the Arab world. A minority of Arabs have expressed that this is shameful, and not representative of the Iraqi culture, but most hail the shoe-thrower as a hero. There are calls for him to be released, and messages of support flowing to him.

Bush said he was not afraid at any time, and called it part of democracy that people can dissent. He said throwing a shoe is one way to gain attention. It's like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. Or driving down the street and having people not gesturing with all five fingers.

But in Iraq, shoe throwing is the ultimate insult. It is reserved for only the most hated. One need only recall how Iraqi's slapped toppled statues of Saddam Hussein with their shoes.

The message for the new administration is that we are deeply, deeply hated in the Middle East, and that we need energy independence so we can distance ourselves from this area. There is such a disconnect between cultures in Arab countries and the West. I watch this and think yikes, we need to be out of there and leave them to their own fate.

Bush has fueled terrorism with his invasion and occupation of Iraq. American citizens are in more danger today than they were the day after 9/11.

Bush's invasion was a huge blunder and has caused terrible damage to this country. When I think about the worldwide demonstrations, begging him not to do it, and how he turned a blind eye to reason and plunged the Iraqis and Americans into this nightmare. And all for oil.

Now we reap what he sowed. We have staved off civil war in the intervening years between the invasion and today, by placing the bodies of Americans between Sunnis and Shites. The inevitable civil war, its deaths and destruction, are the legacy of Bush's foreign policy decisions.

The country I grew up in did not invade other countries. We did not make pre-emptive strikes. Since WW II, we've squandered generations of soldiers upon battlefields that made no sense for us to ever step upon.

Yet as an American, I am grateful that Bush ducked, and that the image of him getting a shoe to the face, a cut, a broken nose, or any other injury is not the one being replayed worldwide.

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