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Reporter’s Flying Shoe Signals Official U.S. Defeat In Iraq

By James Donahue

While there is nothing funny about America’s aggressive crimes against Iraq during the Bush tenure in Washington, we might find humor in the way this war is finally coming to a close.

That President Bush would have a gall to make a final visit to Baghdad in a last-ditch gesture to assure someone . . . perhaps himself . . . that the war was justified, set the stage for the final insult. Only days after the Iraqi parliament voted to kick all American forces out of their cities, towns and villages by June 30, a local television reporter posted what has been called the supreme insult. He threw his shoes at Bush out of anger in the midst of a press conference.

That reporter, Muntazer al-Zaidi, for independent al-Baghdadiya television, was immediately arrested and jailed for what was described as a “barbaric act.” But he also has been hailed by Iraqi citizens as a national hero for having the guts to do something everybody else would have liked to have done, if they could have gotten close enough to Bush to pull it off.

Zaidi, a Shi’ite, explained that the act was an expression of personal anger against Bush for the thousands of Iraqis who died because of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of his country. Throwing shoes at someone is the worst possible insult among the Arabs, so the act was significant.

News reports said Zaidi shouted “this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,” as he threw his first show. Both shoes missed Bush but he obviously got the message. Zaidi now sits in jail, awaiting arraignment on charges. Demonstrators are rallying for him in Sadr City, and Najaf, major Shi’ite cities. In Najaf demonstrators threw shoes at a passing U.S. convoy.

In the meantime, a story by Patrick Cockburn in Counterpunch claims that the recent vote by the Iraqi parliament spells an end to U.S. military and political influence in Iraq. The agreement orders all 150,000 American troops out of all Iraqi cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009, and out of all of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

The Iraqi government even will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, which has been the heart of U.S. power in Iraq, within the next few weeks. And all private security companies are losing legal immunity. Once we pull out, there will be no U.S. military bases left behind. The U.S. military also is banned from carrying out attacks on other countries from Iraq.

Thus, Cockburn wrote: “America’s bid to act as the world’s only super-power and to establish quasi-colonial control of Iraq, an attempt which began with the invasion of 2003, has ended in failure.