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Famous last words: "So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?"
In the movie Wag the Dog the hurling of shoes was used to show support to a cause. Cultivated by White House spin doctors, the action was reported in the media and thus spread far and wide. In a bizarre twist into the "reality" of war propaganda, shoe-hurling has taken another form. In a carefully controlled media event, after all the participants had been searched several times for possible weapons, a pair of shoes have expresed the scorn and contempt of Iraqis for the US invasion.
Bush, ever the masterful diplomat, skipped passed rehearsed media "answers" expressing the reasons for being there. It was less important to discuss "an Iraq that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself" than to get back to talking about the shoes:
A digression: I organised a little event to celebrate Australian Prime Minister John Howard's visit to Adelaide not long after the invasion. An unintended result of tipping-off media and activists to an unscheduled stop was the arrival of people to throw eggs at Howard's limo. I wonder what he thought as he heard, from inside, the "thwack, thwack" of the missiles hitting their target? "No worries, it'll only be eggs" would certainly not have been my first thought. Anyway, the egg-story made an otherwise fairly unreportable event travel quite a distance. I'm pretty sure that these were the first missiles thrown at a Coalition leader.
So, while Bush was ducking that first shoe, do you reckon he was thinking "No worries, only a shoe" or "what the hell was that?" No wonder, then, that discussing the event was more important than explaining his improvements to Iraqi security and freedom.
Bush has obviously forgotten that beautiful component of the "Saddam Toppling" scene that was supposed to be the media's perception of the end of the invasion in Iraq. According to CNN at that time:
A person who witnessed this event once explained to me that much pertaining to the scene was paid for with AK-47 rounds.
It wasn't long after this, it seems, when the U.S., quite aware of the propoganda implications, were removing evidence of another President Bush copping a shoe to the head. The BBC's Martin Asser explains:
You can be certain that if Bush Jnr understood Arabic,he might have thought twice before belittling and dismissing the event. Perhaps, in hindsight, he might have been better off had he first been given the media pool translation (perhaps by the apologising Iraqi journos?) of the words hurled with the shoes:
In the worst of bad luck, Bush's comparative of a "two-fingered salute" commits a cultural denigration in belittling the magnitude of the audio-visual, "made for television" epithet.
And now, according to today's SMH, the U.S. and Iraq have a martyr in custody:
Once upon a time, as the Coalition forces gathered at the Kuwait/Iraq border, a publicist brought along some representative national flags and placed them in the hands of invading soldiers. This provided an image of international unity behind the invading of Iraq to sieze Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now, whether it be by accident or design (I prefer to think the latter) the Iraqi cameraman has given the U.S. a living flag, representing resentment of perceived injustice. Worse, there's an associated physical action that can be used to show support of Al-Zaidi, something that anybody can do, and with something that can't be regarded as a weapon. They can throw a shoe.
How many shoes can be thrown at how many American targets? How many Americans can voice their final disapproval of what Bush has done in their name by taking shoes to their local congressman's office, or to a television or radio station? How many Australians can dump their old sneakers in front of their local U.S. embassy or consulate, or (as Darwin has used for a substitute) KBR office?
And what's the bet there's a video game on the net in a few days? How far will the world travel in Al-Zaidi's footsteps? I can't wait to find out! It would be, given all the spin and lies the Bush/Cheney Administration has peddled these last eight years, a more-than-fitting method of ensuring that these people depart the world stage with the contempt that they deserve.