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