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December 14, 2008

Comments

I also wondered whether Bush would have had any sense at all of how angry a lot of Iraqis are had this not happened.

Feh. I'm sure his staff told him that the reporter was crazy and he continues to think he has bestowed a great gift upon the Iraqi people that will be vindicated by his-story.

I also wondered whether Bush would have had any sense at all of how angry a lot of Iraqis are had this not happened. I'm not saying that that makes it OK; just wondering.

Are you kidding? He'll remain clueless.

At news google now, the CBS video shows Bush saying, "So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?" He goes on to brush off the incident, dismissing it as "attention seeking".

Bless Munthatar al Zaidi for speaking for ordinary Iraqis. The moment of humiliation for Bush is the only accountability they're going to get from him for the destruction of their country.

I'm not saying that that makes it OK.

Let's not quibble about what makes it OK. There are any number of reasons.

The man was just trying to give Bush what we should have given him in 2004: the boot.

I don't say many good things about Bush, but I will say this: the man has reflexes like a jungle cat.

I'm not saying that that makes it OK.

It's okay with me. Bush was in no danger.

The man is responsible for the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the dislocation of millions more. He was going to leave office without ever coming face to face with the anger his feckless warmongering has created.

Thank you, Munthatar al Zaidi.

I've gotten my new hero's name wrong; he is Muntathar al Zaidi.

You people just don't get it. The shoes were stuffed with flowers and candies...

So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?

Oddly enough, I give Bush props for not making a big deal out of it.

Assuming, of course, that the guy doesn't show up dead somewhere in a day or two.

Either way, hats off to al Zaidi for keeping it real. I hope it doesn't cost him his job or his life.

Thanks -

at least it wasn't a horseshoe. or a horseshoe crab.

If the Iraq war is stupid and Bush is an idiot who deserves to be treated like this, then it is because attempting to create a democracy in the Middle East is a foolish endeavor and not in the interest of the United States.

I have plenty of friends who risked their lives in Iraq, some who died, while helping train Iraqi soldiers and police, establish medical clinics, and clear roadside bombs that were planted in order to kill Iraqi civilians. My guess is that many of these Iraqis who were saved or trained by American Soldiers and Marines think that shoe-boy is an idiot who embarrassed their country.

I wonder how many of shoe-boy's counterparts threw their shoes at Saddam or his lovely sons or cousins during the "Golden Days" of Iraq, at press conferences with foreign dignitaries in attendance?

I disagree with the comment that "Bush has never faced down his feckless warmongering", too.

Bush visited Fort Bragg at least twice while I was stationed there, and each time he met privately with the families of Soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and prayed with the ones who so desired.

I am up in DC now, and the President has visited virtually every Soldier from my old unit who was critically wounded at Walter Reed, too.

I do not think we should have invaded Iraq, and I think the incompetence of the occupation is inexcusable. But the fact that shoe boy is able to ATTEND an open press conference and even ask a brazen question (instead of acting like Keith Olbermann and throwing a stinking shoe) is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of the Americans who fought in Iraq over the past six years.

Dirtbags like Muntathar al Zaidi certainly didn't deserve it.


Bob. W

More than half a million Iraqis have died because Bush chose to invade their company. They didn't ask for this, and they didn't volunteer for it. Visiting wounded soldiers is a necessary, but doesn't come within sight of sufficient.

In other words, I've seen no evidence at all that Bush acknowledges the cost his war has exacted from the people of Iraq.

If the Iraq war is stupid and Bush is an idiot who deserves to be treated like this, then it is because attempting to create a democracy in the Middle East is a foolish endeavor and not in the interest of the United States.

Disagree.

If our invasion of Iraq was stupid, then it was stupid.

If Bush is an idiot, then he's an idiot.

Neither has anything to do with the question of whether creating a democracy in the middle east is a foolish endeavor, and/or in the interest of the US.

Separate questions, really.

I guess it's a sign of some kind of progress that somebody can throw shoes at the President of the US at a press conference in Iraq without, immediately, being killed. The fact is, however, that before we invaded there were lots of folks who put their asses on the line to confront Hussein. Lots.

Not saying it's not a good thing Hussein's gone, just saying we can't take credit for the existence of political opposition in Iraq.

We can probably take credit for the fact that journalists can throw shoes at the President (ours or theirs) without immediately being tossed into the shredder. Assuming al Zaidi isn't tossed into the shredder in the next couple of days.

That is, in the end, something. I will grant you that.

Thanks -

Bob:

"If the Iraq war is stupid and Bush is an idiot who deserves to be treated like this, then it is because invading a country in the Middle East that is not a credible threat to the United States & causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people is a foolish endeavor and not in the interest of the United States."

Fixed.

That regime clearly deserved to be overthrown -- by its own people. To expect gratitude for our meddling is like pissing on their graves.

[Because Bush is stupid], I also wondered whether [Stupid] Bush would have had any sense at all...ha...any sense at all of how angry a lot of Iraqis are had this not happened [because he's too stupid to realize anything]. I'm not saying that that makes it OK [to swat a stupid dog with a shoe]; just wondering.

If the Iraq war is stupid and Bush is an idiot who deserves to be treated like this, then it is because attempting to create a democracy in the Middle East is a foolish endeavor and not in the interest of the United States.

The second does not follow from the first.

THe Republican Party has attempted to link the two, but that shows THEIR stupidity and idiocy more than anything else.

Bob W.,

Just where do you get the idea that "attempting to create a democracy in the Middle East" was even remotely the goal of Dick and Dubya's Excellent Adventure?

And when exactly did it dawn on you that despite any perils they might face your friends must invade Iraq to topple Saddam and "create a democracy" there? Have you been harboring this conviction since your youth? Since the first Gulf War? Since 9/11?

If you "do not think we should have invaded Iraq", is it because you think "attempting to create a democracy in the Middle East is a foolish endeavor and not in the interest of the United States"? Or is it because you think that invading Iraq was the dumbest possible way to promote democracy in the Middle East? Or what?

Incidentally, what's with capitalizing "Soldier"?

--TP

I'd love to see a pile of shoes dumped in front of the White House as protest tomorrow.

I cleaned up my thoughts a little and posted http://acreofindependence.com/2008/12/14/youre-welcome-muntathar/>here.

I think this is a great blog, most of all because of the civility and well-thought out commentary AND comments. I appreciate being able to express my point of view here, even if it at times goes against the grain (more often than not it doesn't).

But with shoe boy, I find it strange that the astute observers here at Obsidian don't observe a little bit of irony in the situation: Many Americans and Westerners (mostly on the left, I must admit) are practically canonizing an Iraqi journalist for robustly exercising his right of free speech by throwing shoes at the visiting American President (despised on the left for the invasion of Iraq, among other things), an act that would have gotten said jopurnalist gutted for certain had the reviled American President not decided to invade Iraq some years ago.

Not even a teensy bit of irony?

I will not defend the merits of the US invasion of Iraq, nor do I believe it advanced American interests.

But I find it juvenile to cheer an act like al Zaidi's.

Russell many people may have stood up to Saddam's regime, and to his family, but they ended up gassed, imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise not so well off. What's going to happen to al Zaidi? He may get a pulitzer if he can follow up the shoes with a truth to power commentary piece to let the world know what he was thinking as he slid the shoes off of his feet and wound up the old throwing arm; at worst, he may get hired as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times (he's a hero, right?!), only to get let go a few months later when their stock tanks further and they do some serious downsizing.

Russell, you stated the U.S. cannot take credit for political opposition in Iraq? The no-fly zones certainly helped foster some autonomy and provide some security from the regime after the first war with Iraq. And six years of an American presence made it safe enough for shoe-boy to "speak truth to power", without fear of any consequence.

I look forward to the end of the American presence in Iraq. Mostly because cowards like al Zaidi and the millions like him, who are free to be idiots without fear of any consequences, did not deserve the sacrifice of our blood and treasure.


TP,

The US Army capitalizes the word Soldier now, by the way, so I do, too.

The Army doesn't butcher the word journalist like I did up there, sorry, sticky keys!

TP,

you wrote, in response to my first post:

"Or is it because you think that invading Iraq was the dumbest possible way to promote democracy in the Middle East? Or what?", among other things.

TP, I am less jaded than you about our motives in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have spent over two years of my life in the former, and I can tell you from my point of view, we are (rather haphazardly and disparately, and by all accounts ineffectively) attempting to establish a state there where one doesn't really exist. I will confess I have not ever been to Iraq. If there is a more sinister motive for our presence in Afghanistan, than the schools, roads, clinics, and army/police units I have seen built in my time there are certainly an elaborate ruse.

The reason why I question our long term presence and effort in the middle east is because I do not honestly care what kind of government Iraq or Afghanistan have, if any for that matter.

I suspect that Iraq, as it was prior to the invasion, was largely contained, and that it would have been no big deal to wait a marginalized Saddam out.

Afghanistan was marginally governed prior to our invasion of that country as well. I would have been satisfied to maintain pressure on Al Qaida globally, and strike at members of the group with impunity wherever they were, instead of deciding to build a brand new nation state in Afghanistan.

We are where we are, though. So I don't get all tingly when some journalist from a former totalitarian regime throws his smelly shoes at somebody at a press conference, a right that some of my friends fought hard to give him.

Cheers

The US Army capitalizes the word Soldier now

Yikes. The US Postal Service will start capitalizing "Letter Carrier" next.

You can do as you like, of course, but this creeping Capitalization of ordinary Nouns is an insidious Policy up with which I have no Plans to put.

Another linguistic corruption I abhor is the cheapening of the word "coward". I don't have the balls to fling my shoes at a visiting head of state, and I'll bet a dollar you don't either. If "shoe boy" is a coward, what does that make you and me?

--TP

TP,

Yeah, I got it on the capitalization thing, but after awhile you can't help yourself, it is muscle memory on the keyboard.

It is not balls that would keep me from acting like shoe boy, but class. You write comments here on blogs to express your thoughts, I do the same here and in my own blog. I do not throw shoes at anyone, not even my kids, and they can really act up at times. . .

SO coward, fool, attention whore, etc., I will broaden my vocab so I am prepped the first time some ingrate throws a shoe at pres-elect Obama, and I am equally unimpressed with the show.

"I look forward to the end of the American presence in Iraq. Mostly because cowards like al Zaidi and the millions like him, who are free to be idiots without fear of any consequences, did not deserve the sacrifice of our blood and treasure."

Yeah, that's certainly the most important reason--some guy tosses some footwear at a war criminal who in any decent society would have been impeached, tried and convicted for life several years ago.

Ordinary Iraqis don't owe us a damn thing. I don't doubt that members of the military think they do, but just because Bush risked the lives of the US military doesn't mean the Iraqis have any obligation to feel gratitude for hundreds of thousands dead and 5 million driven out of their homes.

But I find it juvenile to cheer an act like al Zaidi's.

It trivializes the act to call it merely 'juvenile'. Bush has spent the last several weeks trying to whitewash his part (ie The Decider) in the Iraq invasion, and years babbling about 'the Iraqi People'. This was a very graphic riposte.

I hope we get to find out what happens to that guy. If he is released relatively soon and unscathed, Bob W will have a point. If something else happens to him, well...

sorry, my mistake. Bob W said it was juvenile to *cheer* the act, as opposed to saying that the act itself was.

"rst time some ingrate throws a shoe at pres-elect Obama, and I am equally unimpressed with the show."

Depending on the reasons, I might someday cheer someone tossing a shoe at Obama. Actually, if he ever visits Lebanon I think he earned this already, for his stance on the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in 2006. We don't know what sort of foreign policy he's going to inflict on the world and if he ends up causing a vast amount of unnecessary suffering, then I wouldn't expect people in the countries effected to show him any respect. Hopefully this won't happen.

As far as past US Presidents are concerned, all of the post WWII occupants of the White House deserved all the nonviolent disrespect anyone could inflict on them as far as I am concerned. That is, until the people of the US ever decide that our leaders should be held accountable for their actions, something I don't ever expect to see.

Another linguistic corruption I abhor is the cheapening of the word "coward".

Seconded

So I don't get all tingly when some journalist from a former totalitarian regime throws his smelly shoes at somebody at a press conference, a right that some of my friends fought hard to give him.

we don't know what will happen to him, so it's a bit premature to say he had the "right" to do what he did. but, assuming he doesn't get executed or tortured for it, then yeah - it's nice he has a free-ish society.

on the other hand, calling his action "juvenile" trivializes the fact that he has hundreds of thousands of reasons to be absolutely furious with Bush. for all we know, he may have lost friends and family because of Bush's decisions.

IMO, it's hideously arrogant to derisively sniff at someone who has lived through the almost six years of disaster we've put that country through.

put yourself in his shoes. you'd throw them at Bush too, if you had the chance.

assuming he doesn't get executed or tortured for it

Let's try to keep an eye out on his disposition and whereabouts, why don't we? I would really hope that some organizations on the ground, as it were, in Iraq are able to do this, and are able to report on it. I unfortunately don't know who that would be.

Margarita,

Very funny! Thanks for the laugh.

I'd love to see a pile of shoes dumped in front of the White House as protest tomorrow.

I'm seriously tempted.

KCinDC-

If I still lived in DC I'd totally join you. Only I'd dump off some of my wife's extra shoes. She has so many of them, and I've been looking for an excuse to clean the closet.

"I'm not saying that that makes it OK; just wondering."

It was probably more an aesthetic act than a moral one.

Unless they're the same thing.

A pile of shoes in front of the White House wouldn't be a bad way to keep the issue in front of the media, in order to help ensure that al Zaidi is protected.

If you really want to push the envelope, put some pretzels in front of the White House.

Bob W.:
Any attempt to force freedom on someone else involves a fatal contradiction in terms. Expecting people them to feel gratitude to you for using violence against them degrades everyone concerned. Of course, American soldiers who did their best to behave decently in a terrible situation deserve the basic respect that any human in a difficult situation ought to have. But that respect ought not to translate to those who made the decisions that led to the bombing and the displacement and the torture and the death. The honour American soldiers deserve for their courage and the gratitude almost all deserve for their decency does not belong to George W. Bush.

We could start a campaign to mail shoes to the White House, I suppose.

Someone's doing it, wonkie. But since I'm in DC I was thinking there should be a huge pile of shoes in front of the White House with a sign saying "Goodbye, dog!" (except that I wouldn't want to insult dogs or be interpreted as friendly to Bush -- the Arabic insult doesn't work).

I was talking with a guy from Baghdad yesterday, online. I asked him if he was ok and safe. I said sorry....I am a soldier in the US Army. Hope you aren't too bitter to talk to me. He said, What? No....thank you. Thanks for you guys being here. Things are better now. I have a lot of friends here that are Marines. I told him my friend that was a Marine deployed yesterday. He said, Oh tell him Thank you for me. (I was needless to say...SHOCKED) Are Americans the only ones that don't want us to be there? This guy lives in BAGHDAD! I don't understand. Would it have been better to leave things the way they were? At least it would have been their own killing their own. I don't know anymore.

KCinDC,

The word you want to make that work is "Curr."

"Goodbye Curr."

If I were in DC, I'd join you.

And I am not personally optimistic about Al Zaidi's chances. While I'm sure most of the people running death squads applaud his actions, he just seriously embarrassed Maliki, so I wouldn't expect the government death squads to be very kind to Al Zaidi.

Any action taken that makes people a world away wonder whether you will be tortured and killed in the next few days is not the action of a coward.

Many Americans and Westerners (mostly on the left, I must admit) are practically canonizing an Iraqi journalist for robustly exercising his right of free speech by throwing shoes at the visiting American President (despised on the left for the invasion of Iraq, among other things), an act that would have gotten said jopurnalist gutted for certain had the reviled American President not decided to invade Iraq some years ago.

Not even a teensy bit of irony?

Naba, naba, naba.

Just because the government the US imposed isn't as bad as the one it deposed doesn't mean it should be above criticism. And this leaves aside entirely the horrific and bloody process by which said replacement was effected. Which is to say, if we're looking at overall quality of life rather than specifically freedom of speech, I'd seriously question whether your naba claim even applies.

Well, he should have thrown something else but I doubt that they would have let him in with that (no, not a grenade. Poo; or a gallon of blood).
There are claims that Bush's war of choice has directly or indirectly caused more death in Iraq than Saddam in all the years of his bloody reign and US friendliness towards critical journalists in Iraq seems only marginally better (like "accidentally" blowing up studios, treating undesired observers as terror suspects and in some cases even being reasonably suspected of deliberately murdering some that saw what they were not supposed to see*). And the "freedom of the press" in Iraq seems rather laughable to me (even given the low standards in the ME in general). I doubt that a journalist can get a life insurance there easily. To be very cynical: under Saddam the danger came from just one side. Today there are lots of factions that have no problem with "silencing" critical voices (or even those uncritical of their particular enemies).

*those may have been accidents but some statements cast real doubts on that.

If there is a more sinister motive for our presence in Afghanistan, than the schools, roads, clinics, and army/police units I have seen built in my time there are certainly an elaborate ruse.

I think you know that you are not there because we all woke up one morning and said, gee, why don't we go build some roads and schools in Afghanistan, right? I mean, you do know the difference between means (schools, etc.) and "motive" -- the end to which those means are directed. So, what's your point?

You seem to want me to conclude that if the U.S. does good things, our motives must be good. That doesn't follow. I do lots of things that are good for my clients because it's my job -- i.e., because I get something out of it. We could be doing this from the cold calculation that it's in our national interest to build up Afghanistan so we can exploit nearby countries more successfully. Actually, I sure hope we DO have some kind of national interest at stake, because honestly, if not, I have no desire to keep paying your salary. If you're there on a mission of pure noble altruism, kindly resign and do it on your own nickel, okay? I really can't afford to subsidize the Army to do the work of the Peace Corps.

So if it's not altruism, is our reason good or bad? That we're building schools really doesn't tell me. Stalin built schools. Nero build roads. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Not to mention, the first thing we did in Afghanistan was kill a lot of people, not build schools. We're still killing people, at the same time as we're building schools. Personally, I'm fine with both, in this case. But you see how it's harder to deduce good motives from good means, if you mention the bad means too? If I throw a shoe at someone and knock his teeth out, and then rush him to an ER, does that mean my motive in throwing the shoe was to get him to a hospital? He might disagree. He might even call me a dog.

Most of all, why did you even bring up Afghanistan? We were discussing Iraq.

Eric Martin has strong opinions about Afghanistan, but I don't think all the other bloggers here agree, and Tony P didn't say a word about it. So, fine, our intentions there are good -- and if we're extraordinarily lucky, that won't pave a road to hell. Either way, what has that got to do with Iraq?

Personally, I don't like people throwing shoes at anyone. For some reason, I found myself wondering what kind of shoes they were: a pair of rubber flip-flops wouldn't do much damage; steel-toed Doc Martens would be a different story. Insofar as I could see anything about these particular shoes, a lot would seem to depend on whether or not they had wooden heels.

Jesus Christ.

My first thought was : "Good for him!"

My second was: "Jesus, I hope he's okay - "

And neither "he" was George W. Bush, who would certainly deserve to have steel-toed Doc Martens hurled at him, but I doubt those would have got past a security check.

Are we really at the point of forgiveness, sweetness, light, and enhaloing Bush where concern is expressed for Bush - none for the Iraqi journalist who protested?

". . . I find it strange that the astute observers here at Obsidian don't observe a little bit of irony in the situation:

I think in this case, irony might be a bit like certain locations in Google Maps - looks very clear from a great distance, gets kinda fuzzy when one peers in ever closer, until finally there's a message about 'no imagery at this zoom level . . .'

"Would it have been better to leave things the way they were? At least it would have been their own killing their own."

Unfortunately we got that too.

"Either way, hats off to al Zaidi for keeping it real. I hope it doesn't cost him his job or his life."

He works for Al-Baghdadia television, an affilliate of that anti-American counterpart to the AP, the name escapes me due to that 3am feeding; Shaking Bush's hand might have cost him his job, this is the stuff of which promotions are made.

Of course there are plenty of Iraqis who hate what Bush did; In any authoritarian society, some people are on top, and like the fact that it's authoritarian. "Any attempt to force freedom on someone else involves a fatal contradiction in terms."; No, you don't force freedom on people, you force other people to let them be free. You've got to avoid letting the oppressors and the oppressed blend together in your mind like that, to the point that you think it's a violation of somebody's rights to strike off their chains.

Has everyone on this thread forgotten that the US military was accused of targeting journalists in IRaq? That journalists who disagreed with our political and military acts in Iraq were summarily dismissed from their jobs? Or that we have actually detained journalists without trial for years on end? The continued invocation of the notion that it was "childish" for this particular journalist to seize the moment to make a political statement when he must have believed he was *risking his life* to do so is just bizarre. He is living in our war zone. He has been kidnapped and tortured by Shi'ite militias who, if he is a Sunni, we essentially liberated to attack him when we threw down Saddam's regime. We none of us know what is happening to him, or will happen to him. That the gesture was symbolic doesn't make it childish. It was courageous, in its context and in its way. As to the point made above by a poster that the same Iraqis may have thrown shoes at statues of Saddam as now would like to throw them at Bush--is that really so strange and alien? Read Pepys diary on the period and you will see the same action/ reaction to the beheading of Charles the I and then the return of Charles the II. At any rate the one thing none of us should pretend is that the war Bush wanted to fight--quick, bloodless, ending in the positioning of a new Iraqi strongman thoroughly under our control--is the war he actually did fight. Whatever Iraqis may have thought at the start of the war, and even if they were on the whole willing to regard the civilian deaths as we bombed their helpless capital city as a proper sacrifice to "democracy" "peace" and "freeance" the ensuing years of chaos, destruction, and death may rightly have changed their minds. Bush's greatest failure is that he made Saddam, in retrospect, look not so bad.

aimai

throwing shoes at the visiting American President (despised on the left for the invasion of Iraq, among other things), an act that would have gotten said jopurnalist gutted for certain had the reviled American President not decided to invade Iraq some years ago.

Perit me to doubt that Saddam Hussein would have gutted anyone for throwing shoes at a visiting American president.

Brett: Of course there are plenty of Iraqis who hate what Bush did; In any authoritarian society, some people are on top, and like the fact that it's authoritarian.

And in any society, there will be people who regard the death by violence of over a million people, the destruction of a country, the re-introduction of religious extremism leading to the murder of LGBT people and the oppression of women, with such indifference...

First of all. I tend to fall more on Bob W's side of the fence on this one. Not in all respects but in terms of cheering this act as being wrong. But then I would also think it would be wrong to cheer it if the person on the receiving end was Putin, Chavez or Palin.

In terms of being free to do so thanks to our efforts, if he is then Iraq is even freer than the US. I can guarantee you that if that had happened here, this guy would at a minimum be in prison for the rest of his life.

In terms of Brett's comments. well. like usual mostly ,misplaced. The people who are most thankful for our intervention are the authoritarian types, such as al Maliki, not the common man. Sure there may be some, but the majority are angry at us and tending to get angrier the longer we are there.

Freedom is a relative word. Compared to Saddam's era, Iraqi people may have a little more freedom (except for women, gays or Christians) but we would, if our own involvement weren't in place, view it as a relatively unfree country.

"And in any society, there will be people who regard the death by violence of over a million people,"

Which, as I've repeatedly pointed out, is more the fault of the 'insurgents' than us. We took Saddam down relatively bloodlessly, as such things go. (Which is to say, the death toll was horrific by any normal standard, but it made most wars look good.) Then the bad guys launched their own war.

I refuse to pretend we're the only ones with moral agency in the world. The evil done by others goes on THEIR bill, not our's.

I wouldn't want to be in that guys shoes.......

The other night Donald Luskin was on Larry Kudlow's CNBC smarmfest.

I wished I'd been sitting in Imelda Marcos' shoe closet.

One of my shoes still had my foot in it when it hit the T.V. screen.

Not even a teensy bit of irony?

Oh yeah, definitely. No doubt about it.

Russell many people may have stood up to Saddam's regime, and to his family, but they ended up gassed, imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise not so well off.

I think if you re-read my post, you'll see that I make the same point.

I take your point about the no-fly zones, but there was a long history of political resistance to Hussein predating both the no-fly regime and Gulf I. For a lot of that period, if we were involved at all it was most likely in support of Hussein.

What's going to happen to al Zaidi?

My guess is that nothing really bad will happen to him. We'll find out, I guess.

SO coward, fool, attention whore, etc.

I put him down as "seriously pissed off".

And I don't care what the circumstances are, if you are willing to stand up in a public forum and throw not one but two shoes at the POTUS, one thing you are not is a coward.

Thanks -

"Let's try to keep an eye out on his disposition and whereabouts, why don't we? I would really hope that some organizations on the ground, as it were, in Iraq are able to do this, and are able to report on it. I unfortunately don't know who that would be."

The latest news I've seen is:

Thousands of Iraqis have demanded the release of a local TV reporter who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush at a Baghdad news conference.

Crowds gathered in Baghdad's Sadr City district, calling for "hero" Muntadar al-Zaidi to be freed from custody. There were similar scenes in Najaf. [...]

An Iraqi official was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the journalist was being interrogated to determine whether anybody paid him to throw his shoes at President Bush.

He was also being tested for alcohol and drugs, and his shoes were being held as evidence, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. (BBC)

Am I the only one here not inclined to be lectured on civility, propriety, class and irony by someone who insists on repeatedly referring to Mr. al Zaidi as "shoe boy?" No? It's just me? OK, then.

As for Brett and his usual misguided stupidity:[blockquote][i][The deaths of millions of Iraqis], as I've repeatedly pointed out, is more the fault of the 'insurgents' than us. We took Saddam down relatively bloodlessly, as such things go. . . . Then the bad guys launched their own war.[/i][/blockquote]If I broke into your house in order to fix your dishwasher, when you never asked me to, and in the process left your door open and your alarm system off, and as a result someone broke in and killed your wife, I'm sure you'd reserve some measure of blame for me.

Italaway!

I refuse to pretend we're the only ones with moral agency in the world. The evil done by others goes on THEIR bill, not our's.

"Bring It On".

Bush, and all the Flypaper Fools, invited this, encouraged this, and told us how this was a good thing.

Which, as I've repeatedly pointed out, is more the fault of the 'insurgents' than us.

The Iraqi resistance (aka "the insurgency") is the direct responsibility of the US for invading. The evasion "hey, it's not our fault" is really ugly, not to say irresponsible.

55 comments and counting. . .

I didn't think I shifted off discussion with the Afghan stuff Crafty Trilobite, and if I did apologies, it was not my intent, I wrote a few sentences just trying to apply a little context via my experiences. I will wait until someone else posts something specific to that theater and chime in.

For what it's worth, I have never went anywhere out a sense of altruism, and I wrote in several of my comments that I do not believe "forcing freedom" is in the interest of the United States, as some other commenters wrote.

One thing, I disagree with in your rebuttal, though trilobite, is what you wrote about not wanting to pay the Army to do the work of the peace corps. At the risk of you becoming incensed about me going off topic, the military has been doing stuff all over the world for decades that is EXACTLY like the peace corps. I spent three months in Central America a decade ago working alongside Peace Corps workers. . . OK, I'll stop and save it for another day, but in the meantime, Tril, you might want to complain to your congressional delegation about how the military has been doing a biunch of Peace Corps-like stuff.

And as for my salary, don't sweat it anyway. In a few months, my motives will not be an issue, since I'll be yet another federal retiree with a bunch of whacked out opinions, and it will be my pension that you are hesitantly funding. . .


"The Iraqi resistance (aka "the insurgency") is the direct responsibility of the US for invading. The evasion "hey, it's not our fault" is really ugly, not to say irresponsible."

On top of which, we really don't know how much violence US forces have inflicted on civilians. Lancet2 found about 30 percent of the violent deaths attributed to coalition forces. Polls by D3 systems (which I downloaded months ago, but couldn't find online after a minute of searching just now) found that over 40 percent of Iraqis reported "unnecessary violence" against civilians by coalition forces close to where they lived.

The bulk of the violence is almost surely Iraqi vs. Iraqi (with neighboring Arabs coming in to join insurgent groups), but the US contribution is obviously significant, even if unknown.

As for shoe tossing, I'd have preferred it if the reporter had asked Bush why he shouldn't be tried for war crimes, but then our own press should be asking such questions. Unfortunately, our free society does not hold Presidents accountable when they break the law, unless it's something comparatively petty. War crimes are the crimes too big to prosecute.

I recant my "shoe boy" moniker of Mr. al Zaidi, Phil, it was not civil. I did not lecture anybody about anything, unless expressing my opinions counts as such, and then we are all doing a bit of lecturing. . .

The second does not follow from the first.

Completely apropos of nothing, I at first read this as The second shoe does not follow from the first.

Sorry. It's probably a lot funnier inside my head than out. As usual.

I don't get this thread. When did throwing shoes with the intent to hit another human being become protected speech? I don't know about a life sentence, but, as John Miller points out, that would most definitely land you in jail here in the U.S., even if the target wasn't the president. The idea that we invaded the country, destroyed and allowed to be destroyed, killed and made possible the killing of so many people, all so that folks could throw shoes at our leaders or theirs seems of a piece with Rumsfeld's idea that free people are free to go on looting sprees.

And while the violence involved in tossing footwear is incomparable to that which President Bush has inflicted on Iraq, it is still violence. Had the reporter instead taken a swing at President Bush, would anyone here still be applauding him? Or would anyone be crediting the U.S. military for defending his right to attack the president?

So, to sum up:

throwing a shoe at Bush < invading Iraq on false pretenses and without an occupation plan, killing thousands and unleashing forces that killed hundreds of thousands < ruling Iraq by terror and extreme brutality for three decades

What that tells us in the grand scheme of things, I have no idea. None of these things cancels out any of the other things, not even in part. I suppose it's good that Bush is so good at dodging. He's going to be doing a lot of that from here on out, most of it metaphorical of course.

I enjoyed a good laugh and then thought that this guy does not belong in a press conference setting -- the Iraqi, not Bush. For some reason, I also thought of the shoe bomber.

Then I thought that Bush still doesn't get it. We are in the middle of the Great Recession at home and he's still got Iraq first and foremost on his home.

FWIW, this sole-of-the-shoes thing as a sign of disrespect must be pretty common overseas. During my first trip to Russia visiting the Hermitage, seated at a bench admiring a piece of art with my legs crossed and unwittingly with my soles exposed, I got a whack on the back of the head by one of the babushka's that act as keeper of the civility flame.

The answer to Hilzoy's question is no, Bush doesn't have any sense of how angry a lot of Iraqis are. I read the transcript of the pool interview that took place after the ol' shoe toss, & Bush rejected reporters' suggestions the shoe-tosser might be representative of widespread loathing. He even rejected the translations of the tosser's angry shouts. Then he went and took a nap.

You can link to the Bush interview transcript on http://www.realitychex.com

The Constant Weader

When did throwing shoes with the intent to hit another human being become protected speech?

When the human being at whom shoes are being thrown is the man who decided to attack your country.

Why isn't everyone throwing shoes at George W. Bush? Don't you feel he deserves to be the target of shoe-throwing? What, have people here suddenly come to a belated sense that Bush is deserving of respect?

Actually, in the UK, eggs are more traditional. But that's a bit of a waste of food.

I like the idea of a shoe protest, provided they're in pairs, connected. The sweep-up afterward goes directly to the needy.

Double bonus.

I like the idea of a shoe protest, provided they're in pairs, connected.

it's called a bolo.

"And while the violence involved in tossing footwear is incomparable to that which President Bush has inflicted on Iraq, it is still violence. "

Yes, and if an Iraqi threw a pie or even a punch at Saddam Hussein, who among us would not be appalled? I mean really--first it's shoes and before you know it people are using electric drills as murder weapons and lord, where does it all end?

Best we nip it in the bud and come down very very hard on people who toss shoes at war criminals. Because treating war criminals with the civility and the obsequiousness that they deserve is the only thing that stands between us and the abyss.

Sarcasm aside, I don't approve of shoe-tossing as a form of public protest, but I feel almost dirty even saying that. That smirking creep has the blood of hundreds of thousands of people on his filthy hands and we're all supposed to get the vapors because some Iraqi man tossed his shoes? This is where the cult of civility looks like a crackpot religion to me.

For me or most of us here, throwing shoes isn't worthwhile, because it doesn't carry the same weight as it would when an Iraqi does it. It's like cussing in a foreign language, it requires that everyone have a certain suspension of disbelief (including the cusser) in order for it to have the same impact.

Unfortunately, in Western cultures, there aren't a lot of (any?) physical acts that one can do that can really relay the outrage, so, while not disagreeing with DJ about his comments on the cult of civility, it's a cult that is shot thru all our everyday interactions rather than simply a outlier here at ObWi.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson, 1970: "If they are fighting the cost of living in Harrow, obviously eggs must be cheap enough to throw about. If the Tories get in, in five years no-one will be able to afford to buy an egg."

No video footage is available of the egging of Harold Wilson, but you can watch John Prescott, who was then Deputy Prime Minister, getting hit by an egg here. (Prescott's reaction was to deck the guy...)

For some reason, I also thought of the shoe bomber.

Why isn't everyone throwing shoes at George W. Bush?

And I, for some inexplicable reason(although it may have been recently reading about Keith Ellison's performance of the Haj), thought of letting liberals everywhere vent their frustration against Bush by putting up a statute of Bush and letting them throw their shoes. The catharsis might help us all.

Unfortunately, in Western cultures, there aren't a lot of (any?) physical acts that one can do that can really relay the outrage

P*ssing on his shoes while he was still wearing them might cover it.

Or, you know, the good old spit in the eye.

Thanks -

Rotten fruit would work for me, lj. I think throwing things as a sign of contempt is a universal language among primates--I've read of chimps doing this at zoos. The Arabs supposedly have a thing about shoes which we Westerners don't quite get, but I just translate "shoes" as "tomatoes, preferably overripe" or "excrement" (the preferred projectile of nonhuman primates, I think) or something of that sort.

Rotten fruit would work for me

Yeah, but that seems a bit turn of the century (1899 to 1900, not 1999-2000) to me. In fact, the whole idea of pieing someone seems less a sincere protest and more like a post ironic comment.

Pissing on someone is, given the mechanics involved, more metaphorical. Spitting is probably as close as we can get, but even then, it presumes an ability to enter someone's personal space, unless you've got some real special technique.

"If I broke into your house in order to fix your dishwasher, when you never asked me to, and in the process left your door open and your alarm system off, and as a result someone broke in and killed your wife, I'm sure you'd reserve some measure of blame for me."

Stopping people from being fed feet first into plastic shredders is suddenly fixing the dishwasher, but US killing people is still killing people?

No, I think the situation is rather more like SWAT breaking into a hostage situation, and being blamed for a few of the hostages being shot by the bad guys.

I will say this, though: I blame Bush, and have for some time, for setting out on his war on terror without asking for the increased military necessary to properly prosecute it. The 'surge' was nothing more than bringing troop levels up to where they should have been from the start, if Bush hadn't been trying to do his war on the cheap.

Stopping people from being fed feet first into plastic shredders is suddenly fixing the dishwasher, but US killing people is still killing people?

Well, the plastic shredder execution would appear to be as much a myth as the infamous lie about Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators. Nor is there the slightest pre-invasion evidence that Bush went to war with Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from torturing and executing more Iraqis: during the most lethal years of Saddam Hussein's regime, the US and Iraq were trading partners and allies.

Before the invasion, Iraqis could be arrested and taken to Abu Ghraib, held there without any legal process, tortured, and executed. No Iraqi had any ability to legally protest Saddam Hussein's inhuman regime.

After the invasion, Iraqis could be arrested and taken to Abu Ghraib, held there without any legal process, tortured, and executed. No Iraqi has any ability to legally protest George W. Bush's inhuman regime.

The difference...?

Stopping people from being fed feet first into plastic shredders is suddenly fixing the dishwasher, but US killing people is still killing people?

Much like the babies-being-thrown-from-incubators story, I'm pretty certain that the shredder story turned out to be absolute nonsense, yes? I mean, I wouldn't be surprised that you still believed, but no person has ever presented credible evidence that it ever occurred even once, let alone on a regular basis.

No, I think the situation is rather more like SWAT breaking into a hostage situation, and being blamed for a few of the hostages being shot by the bad guys.

No, it's more like SWAT breaking into a Supermax prison to solve a hostage situation, forgetting to secure the entries and exits, then getting all pissy when people blame them for letting all the bad guys out to hurt people.

"Nor is there the slightest pre-invasion evidence that Bush went to war with Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from torturing and executing more Iraqis: during the most lethal years of Saddam Hussein's regime,"

You ARE aware, aren't you, that you're talking about a period when Bush wasn't in office, long before, in fact, and thus of no relevancy to Bush's motives?

"The difference...?

Saddam wasn't imprisoning people for committing mass murder, but instead for objecting to it?

Hell, I don't like Bush, never did, but anybody who can't see that Saddam was worse is a moral idiot.

You ARE aware, aren't you, that you're talking about a period when Bush wasn't in office, long before, in fact, and thus of no relevancy to Bush's motives?

In 1988, George W. Bush became campaigns advisor for his father, and so couldn't speak out against the Reagan/Bush's support for Saddam Hussein. If you can link to any evidence whatsoever that before 1988, George W. Bush was a public opponent of Saddam Hussein's atrocities - which Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld certainly were not, and both of them were active in public life in those years - then you'll have a case of sorts. Since you cannot show that, between Bush taking office and the invasion of Iraq, Bush showed the slightest interest in opposing Saddam Hussein's atrocities.

Saddam wasn't imprisoning people for committing mass murder, but instead for objecting to it?

What, are you trying to claim that all of the Iraqis extra-judicially imprisoned by the US in Abu Ghraib and other US gulags in Iraq were imprisoned for committing mass murder? Your evidence?

Hell, I don't like Bush, never did, but anybody who can't see that Saddam was worse is a moral idiot.

Bush caused the death of a million Iraqis. Iraqis under Bush's regime have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. To argue that it's somehow worse for Saddam Hussein to kidnap, torture, murder, and kill? Who is the moral idiot?

Slartibartfast: Completely apropos of nothing, I at first read this as 'The second shoe does not follow from the first.'

Sorry. It's probably a lot funnier inside my head than out.

No, in fact it made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

The Million Shoe March
The net is just full of comedy about the really big shoe this morning. Old one-liners that refer to shoes are being recycled everywhere to good effect, and a few Republican Patriots are weighing in with steel-toed jackboots of their own. Stiletto heels for Condoweezie? LMAO!

But here’s the real punch line: let’s all send Bush a shoe or two for Christmas. Here’s the address:

President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Extra props for manure-encrusted farm boots lolz.

DJ,

First, I'm not suggesting that anyone should get worked up over this. I just find it strange to see folks treating it as if he had only hurled an insult, not a physical object. There is a big difference, after all.

Second, not throwing things at other people is a necessary but not sufficient condition of civility. Maybe you were looking for another word?

This issue, Brett is not wether or not Bush is a bigger moral idiot than Saddam. The issues is wehter o0r not you are correct in your assumption that we invaded to save the Iraqis from Saddam's evil behavior, and that assumption is wrong. We stood by for years and ignored his bad behavior, we even funded his bad behavior, and then, out of a mistaken sense of domestic political expediency, and under the guise of rationalizations which have all been exposed as lies, this Bush went into what he thought would be a a quick easy war which would help the Republican party entrench itself as the single national political forse. Saddam's previous bad behavior as the excuse, not the reeason.

AS for are the Iraqis better off now? That's for them to say and the opinion poll data is sort of thanks but no thanks. That's skewed of course by the fact thaht so many Iraqis are no longer in Iraq. And the dead can't express an opinion.

So I think that it imposttant to throw shoes, literal and metaphorical at Bush. Otherwise the people who do not want to face up to the moral failures of recent years will try to whitewash the war as a well intentioned and generally positive necessity,

Kind of like making statues of Bedford Forrest.

Gromit: I just find it strange to see folks treating it as if he had only hurled an insult, not a physical object. There is a big difference, after all.

Yes, there is. GWB's not nearly so nimble at ducking insults.

And the difference between a hurled insult and a hurled shoe is a lot bigger than the difference among different kinds of shoes -- Hilzoy's reflection on which is either self-parody or an example of professional deformation.

Gromit--

I think the world would be a better place if American Presidents were subjected to a few harmless flying objects from time to time when deserved. Rule of thumb--one tomato thrown for every bomb dropped on civilians or torture committed against a prisoner. No bullets or knives or bricks--just rotting foodstuffs, shoes (where culturally appropriate), stuff like that. Presidents receive far too much deference and need to be brought down to earth. I'm undecided about whether this should be a regular practice, though given my rule of thumb it would have to be--perhaps it is better if the occasional shoe-tossing has some shock value. I'm leaning in favor of "regular practice" though. They could replace press conferences, which given our deferential press corps are often a waste of time anyway. Unfortunately the people who do this are apt to be beaten up and perhaps thrown into prison for quite a long time, because violations of civility towards our overlords are taken much more seriously than, say, crimes against humanity.

As Smut Clyde pointed out in a recent Sadly, No! thread:

The insurgency is in its last throws.

I think that the distinction between free speech and assualt lies in intent and effect. If the shoes are thrown to miss and do in fact miss, then that's free speech. If the shoes are thrown to hit and do, then that's assualt. If the shoes are thrown to hit Bush and hit someone else, then that's , well, I'm not sure what the legal term would be...sort of the assualt version of manslaugher, I guess. Harm done through punishable carelessness.

So I would not actually throw a shoe at anyone: my aim sucks. I cannot rely on myself to miss.

The shoe-thrower is now in Iraqi custody, as per the BBC. They also report that some Iraqis have been rallying in support of him and demanding his release.

There will be shoes at the White House Wednesday. Unfortunately the only groups up for doing something like this are the ones that have already been written off as crazies (for which they may or may not have some responsibility), so I don't expect much coverage. I'll probably go, though.

I dunno, aimai. Throwing a shoe is just so childish, whereas posting on a blog makes me feel like Cicero. Is it too much to ask for a higher level of discourse, and politeness, and civility? Bush is a person too. If you hit him with a shoe, does he not bleed? Wouldn't the journalist have been more convincing to undecided moderates had he created a wonkish PDF analyzing the costs and benefits of the American invasion?

If you hit him with a shoe, does he not bleed?

Only if the shoe has been specially sharpened. I saw a shoe like that in a James Bond movie once. It was cool. But the shoe wearer kicked James Bond with her shoes, (they had poisoned sharp tips) she didn't throw them.

I think throwing shoes, rotten fruit and vegetables, or even eggs (in our British political tradition) is both way fun for the electorate, provides good exercise, and gives the politician some very direct feedback on the views of the thrower. So I say go for it.

" If the shoes are thrown to miss and do in fact miss, then that's free speech. If the shoes are thrown to hit and do, then that's assault."

Ah, no. If shoes are thrown, and miss, that's assault. If they do in fact hit, that's battery. We're actually entitled to assume, barring some pretty strong evidence, that thrown projectiles are intended to hit. Does the Arab world have an established tradition of deliberately throwing things with the intent of missing? Was Saddam's statue surrounded by people taking swipes with footwear, and missing? I think not, but could be persuaded by evidence.

Ok battery. I'm not up on legal terms. No if the shoes is intended to miss and does miss then it's just a statement, like a sign. If it hits, then it becomes an act of harm. And I wasn't thinking about the shoes that were thrown at Bush. I was rresponding to the more recent comments that were about the general issue of throwing things at Presidents as a means of communicating disgust.

And "shoe" should not be a plural in my first sentence.

No, I think the situation is rather more like SWAT breaking into a hostage situation, and being blamed for a few of the hostages being shot by the bad guys.

No, it's more like SWAT breaking into a Supermax prison to solve a hostage situation, forgetting to secure the entries and exits, then getting all pissy when people blame them for letting all the bad guys out to hurt people.

Actually, Phil, I think the SWAT team analogy could work, under the proper consideration. E.g., don't think of it as SWAT teams breaking into a random anonymous "hostage situation", think of it as OSNAZ teams breaking into the House of Culture of State Ball-Bearing Plant Number 1 in Moscow. At that point we're starting to get a bit closer in terms of proportions, senselessness, and culpability.

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