“You’re Welcome, Muntathar”.

UPDATE: I modified this post a bit, based on the advice of a few readers. Thanks.

UPDATE 2Here is an opposing opinion at another blog, since most commenters are in sharp disagreement with me. As always I welcome your feedback and appreciate the fact you take the time to read what I write here, as well as comment.

Update 3:  Interesting Takes in the Iraqi Media:

The pro-government Al-Sabah newspaper expressed concern about the potential impact on press freedom of what it called Zaidi’s “abnormal individual behaviour.”

But the independent Al-Dustur newspaper hailed the journalist as the “only Iraqi whose patriotic feelings made him express his opinion in this way.”

The Kurdistan Press Syndicate on Monday condemned the attack by Muntadher al-Zaydi, the correspondent for al-Boghdadiya satellite channel, on U.S. President George W. Bush when Zaydi hurled his shoes at him.

“We in the Kurdistan press syndicate denounce the uncivilized assault and deem it a far cry from manners and ethics of the press,” the syndicate chief, Firhad Awni, told Aswat al-Iraq.

Youre Welcome Dirtbag!
"Enjoy Your Freedom of Speech, MSNBC Stringer!"

In case you missed it today, journalist Muntathar al Zaidi threw his shoes at President Bush during a press conference in Iraq today:

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki’s private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush. Maliki made a protective gesture towards the US president, who ducked and was not hit. The journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was frogmarched from the room by security staff, an AFP journalist said. An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.       .       . Some Iraqi journalists stood up to apologise [Emph Added].

Many on the left are in ecstasy over the event, yet another example of the common man speaking truth to power. Here are some other thoughts, though.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans from the military and other agencies risked their lives in Iraq,  and many died or were critically wounded, while helping train Iraqi soldiers and police, establish medical clinics, and clearing  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 al Zaidi  embarrassed their country.

I wonder how many of al Zaidi’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? How  many of those brave speakers of truth to power did so without suffering in an iron maiden as sport for  Uday or Qusay, while the sons of Saddam drank Chardonnay and smoked Cubans?

Iraq is without a doubt a contentious, controversial issue in the United States, and likely will be for decades. A majority of Americans believe we should have never invaded Iraq, and it is hard to argue that the lack of postwar planning and miserable execution of the occupation are anything but inexcusable. But the fact that al Zaidi is able to attend an open press conference in Iraq and even ask questions of his government (and become a hero to the Left of the West and most of the Arab world with the shoe thing) is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of the Americans who toiled there over the past six years, bad plan or not, trying to make the place better.

Men like Muntathar al Zaidi certainly didn’t deserve the effort.

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8 thoughts on ““You’re Welcome, Muntathar”.

  1. I don’t see a comparison between the days of Saddam and now. Both Saddam and Bush got what they deserved: shoes and insults, for their actions. History will remember both for their crimes against Iraq and United States alike.

  2. I don’t see a comparison between the days of Saddam and now. Both Saddam and Bush got what they deserved: shoes and insults, for their actions. History will remember both for their crimes against Iraq and United States alike.

  3. With all due respect I realise that you’re from the US and you actually believe that freedom can be spread like peanut butter the BUT fact is the US illegaly invaded a sovereign nation to remove a CIA implanted dictator and as a result the Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of CIA installed Saddam, CIA trained Bin laden and the son of a Bush.

    Don’t take my word for it look up the words of Cofe Anan from the UN and ask yourself why the US hasn’t signed up to the ICC.

  4. Mixmax(both of you) and Tig,

    Thanks for the comments, and thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

    Mix, I agree with you on the point there are dramatic differences between the Iraq under Saddam and now, that was my point; an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe during a press conference. An Iraqi journalist who works for an Egyptian news company.

    The totalitarianism of Saddam versus today’s freedom of speech and a free press. Those are stark differences, and I was pointing out that there is no comparison to the change between now and then.

    Mix, I will be interested to see where Iraq is five, ten , or even 20 years from now. Hopefully Iraqis and Americans will be able to travel and freely exchange ideas with one another, and argue over what has occured in the last six years. They seem to be heading that way now with a stronger judiciary and a functioning central government and more competent military, so I hope it turns out that way. It’s on them at this point.

    Tig, I do not believe that the US should “spread freedom like peanut butter” as you say. But it is hard to argue against the causal link between an open Press conference in Iraq where Iraqi journalists question the leaders of their government, and the hard work of Americans, coalition soldiers, and the Iraqi people.

    Free speech and freedom of the press isn’t everything, but it is something. There are bloggers in Cuba who cannot talk “truth to power” the way shoe boy did this weekend.

    I am not so sure about all of your other points; many Americans think the ICC is a farce and would expose American Soldiers and politicians to political prosecutions, so it is not politically popular here. I am not sure what the incoming administration’s take on it is, and we probably will not know for certain until they have taken the reins, regardless of what was said during the campaign.

    What words do you want me to look up from Annan, he was around for a long time, provide a link and I will do it. In all honesty, I view Annan as an inept, corrupt bureaucrat whose family profited off of the sanctions against Iraq, so I am pretty jaded going in.

  5. “But it is hard to argue against the causal link between an open Press conference in Iraq where Iraqi journalists question the leaders of their government, and the hard work of Americans, coalition soldiers, and the Iraqi people.”

    The point is not there at all.

    The war was launched by America. You should realize that innocents have died by the hundreds of thousands. It was not your decision to take. It was theirs. You took their lives. Dictatorship or not, it was always their decision. You are wrong for that reason.

    Putting your life on the line should be your decision, not the one of some country on the other side of the planet.

    If the Iraqis wanted to break free of Saddam, they had to make that choice on their own, and bear alone the cost of it. When you took that decision for them, without even considering whether they were willing to die or not, that’s where you erred and showed the same disregard for life as Saddam.

    As for the soldiers, they are puppets of the government. They follow orders. It is silly to use them so as to say that this whole adventure is good. Risking your life for others is absolutely good. But, risking the life of others is absolutely wrong. There’s no getting back from that.

  6. It is Bush who is responsible for the loss of American lives in Iraq. the Iraqi people did not ask Bush to come and invade them. He alone is responsible for all the blood that has been spilled in Iraq, be it that of American soldiers (who opted to come there of their own free will because they choose the army as their career and Bush as their president) or innocent Iraqi men women and children who have died for no reason. He has no right to play God and try and fix things in the world. If he is free to consider that things were not right in Iraq and start throwing bombs then Iraqis too have the right to think that things are not right right now in THEIR country and at least throw shoes at him

  7. Zino,

    I don’t think Americans will decide to “fix what’s broke” in the world for some time to come, I wouldn’t sweat it. Probably no one else will either.

    As it turns out, Mr. al Zaidi apparently DID NOT have a right to throw his shoes however; he is likely to be charged for the act under the laws of the sovereign democratic state of Iraq, apparently punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Pretty steep! Did Americans help write that law onto the books, I would hope not. al Zaidi is a cause celebre now, so he’ll probably get pardoned as soon as everyone can save face, and maybe he’ll generate some work for lawyers in Iraq (my guess is the T-shirt vendors are already cashing in, those guys are the universal fast reaction global capitalists) a little work reviewing laws governing insults to foreign dignitaries in a belief that they are a bit too steep.

    Cheers.

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