Remember the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush? It happened on Dec. 14, 2008, near the end of the president’s second term. Bush had traveled to Baghdad for a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The two announced the signing of the U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement promising that all American soldiers would leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.
“This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,” yelled TV correspondent Muntadhar al-Zaidi in Arabic as Bush ducked nimbly away. “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq,” he shouted as he flung his second shoe.
“I don’t think that you can take one guy throwing his shoe as representative of the people of Iraq,” sniffed White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who sustained a black eye in the melee.
Actually, things are a lot worse than that, it’s been tempting to observe while watching President Obama struggling to contain the predictable aftermath of the worst strategic blunder in U.S. history. For sheer destructive folly, only Vietnam rivals the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Predictable because, as Eric Alterman reminds us at BillMoyers.com, the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, the consensus view of 16 different U.S. spy agencies, did predict it. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,” it concluded that dismembering Iraq’s government and disbanding its army had greatly multiplied the threat of Islamic terrorism.
As reported by Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times, the draft report described “actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.”
At least that’s what it said before the little gremlins in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office censored the final document. Even so, a 2005 study by the National Intelligence Council also concluded that “that Iraq had become the primary training ground for the next generation of terrorists.”