News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, December 15, 2008

Does the shoe fit?

When president George W. Bush led the U.S. into the war in Iraq, I am certain he imagined we would be welcomed as liberators. The tyranny of Saddam Hussein was undeniable. Why shouldn’t the Iraqi people hail us as their saviors?

Now with President Bush’s term of office nearly over and the U.S. occupation nearing its sixth year, Bush received an ignominious send off: An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at the U.S. president, a supreme insult in that country.

Could a novelist have drawn up a more symbolic scene? When the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled after U.S. troops took Baghdad in 2003, Iraqis scrambled over the colossus, beating it with their shoes. Today, Bush has supplanted Hussein as the object of hate and scorn in Iraq. Of course any Iraqi who had dared throw a shoe at Saddam Hussein while he was in power would have met a hellish death. Still, despite our motives and good intentions, the U.S. is now a symbol of tyranny in Iraq.

Does the shoe fit? My answer is this: As long as the U.S. continues to engage in unilateral military adventures, then we face the prospect of being cast as the villains.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez


Barbara said...

I think the key phrase to focus on is "uni-lateral" occupation. We went around the international community and became embroiled in multiple embarassing and ineffective actions during the conflicts (prisoner abuse, not finding WMD, etc). Using our military for policing and diplomatic purposes is not what they are trained for and the Bush administration is more of the "big stick, do as I say" dogma, then one of fostering partnerships. The shoe fits from a POV of egos - Saddam and Bush needed to be the biggest bully on block. But I would not say they are cut from the same cloth - in Jan we will see President Bush wave goodbye and climb into a helicopter as the powers of the executive office are handed over, peacefully, to our next leader. Hopefully enough Iraqis understand the policies currently engaged in their country were formulated by the outgoing admin and allow time for Barrack implement a new one.

Anonymous said...

Obama will stay the course that is already in place or possibly even accellerate the destruction of all terrorist organizations in the Middle East. If he does not, he will witness the same type of killing fields that resulted when the U.S. left Viet Nam. That would surely tarnish his image, and his image is all he has got.