Monday, December 15, 2008

The shoe that told a story

By now everyone has seen or heard about the shoes that flew at President Bush's head today in Baghdad. The pair flung by an Iraqi journalist was a poignant statement about America's War on Terror. The act was particularly meaningful since in Muslim communities even showing the bottom of your shoe to another person is considered an insult. Even without the accompanying dialogue ("This is a farewell you dog."), it is not hard to imagine what the message was.

The Iraq invasion promised the discovery of weapons of mass destruction, more safety for the American people, and the Iraqi people's eternal appreciation for their freedom from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Undeniably, the war has not delivered on any of those promises.

No weapons of mass destruction were ever found. In fact, it is now widely believed that the intelligence that lead the country into a war was more than inaccurate, but also manipulated. The invasion, its cultural and religious implications, and the ensuing hardships for residents have become a lightning rod for anti-Americanism and a recruitment tool for terror groups. Flight restrictions and color codes aside, whether America is indeed safer is still out with the jury.

The Iraq war has cost American taxpayers $580 billion since it started almost six years ago, even as education, social services and healthcare have suffered. More than 4,000 from the ranks of the U.S. armed forces have lost their lives. Long engagements and multiple deployments have created innumerable health, mental and social problems for members of the military.

For the Iraqi people the war has created strife and violence like they never saw under Saddam Hussein. For every accomplishment the Bush administration points to, detractors point to two that indicate the war was a mistake and continues to be an albatross around the neck of both nations.

Any number of people wish they had the cojones to throw those shoes.

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