Posted by politicalpartypooper on December 29, 2008


One shoe, two shoe, who threw who?  Freedom blesses those who knew.

When Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi chose to throw his shoes at President George W. Bush, he did so knowing full well that his family was safe.  Ten years ago, throwing your shoes at a visiting Head of State in Iraq would have meant torture and death for the thrower, and most likely his family…his entire, extended, family.

I have stood mostly on the sidelines since the beginning of the war in Iraq.  When asked my opinion about the matter, I would ask a question back, such as, “Are you prepared to think outside of the box?” or, “are you prepared to think for yourself?”

Those of us old enough to remember the first Gulf war know well the reason why our soldiers entered Iraq wearing full chemical warfare gear.  We also remember what kind of man we were dealing with; how capable he was of slaughtering hundreds of thousands of his own citizens in order to maintain the iron-fisted grip with which he held his power in Iraq.  Not a one of us old enough to remember the Iran-Iraq war would willingly go to Iraq to protest for Human Rights in Iraq.  People, you see, disappeared in Iraq.  Odd, isn’t it, how we forget that?

I actually have people who are twenty seven years old telling me that Iraq was better off keeping Saddam Hussein in power.  As if they would remember.  I would ask them, “Do you remember the burning oil fields of Kuwait?  Do you remember the murdered children, and raped and murdered wives of Kuwaiti soldiers?  Do you remember the murders of the injured in Kuwaiti hospitals?”

If you think Iraq was in better hands under Hussein, just ask Iran what they think about that.  Just ask anyone old enough in Iraq to remember one of their loved ones, or their entire extended family disappearing.  Ask them if they thought Iraqis were better off under Saddam Hussein.

You see, we can demonize President Bush and “his” Iraq war, to make our argument.  We can demonize the fact that there were no WMD’s, and thus, we shouldn’t have gone in.  We can make the Iraq war so bad that it would sound like the greatest evil ever perpetrated upon mankind…until we remember the Czars of Russia, or Stalin, Hitler, Amin, and any number of other villains that America believes are evil.  We can so demonize the war in Iraq as to make ordinary citizens believe that no good was done in our deed.

I am not one of those who believes that.  Truth be told, I hated Saddam Hussein, completely.  So should any American who believes that all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.  He was a small-time Hitler, no better.  A mass murderer is what we killed in Iraq.  Let’s never lose sight of that, but this goes so much deeper than that.

It goes right to the heart of an Iraqi journalist named al-Zaidi.  You see, only in a nation where freedom is burgeoning can a man throw anything at a visiting Head of State, and keep his life.  But in old Iraq, that man would have been tortured, and his family would have disappeared.  How soon we forget that, especially those who never knew it.  But some twenty years ago, or so, I recall reading a magazine article on actual paper that called Saddam Hussein of Iraq the most dangerous man in the world.  That article spelled out why, and I have never forgotten it.  He poisoned Iranians, as well as his own people.  Anyone who disagreed with him disappeared.  There were rumors of the murders of hundreds of thousands; and there was Saddam Hussein, turning his “curiosity” toward his neighbors, like Kuwait.  The article iterated that if any man would be likely to start a war in the Middle East, it was this one; this Saddam Hussein.

Iraq is a semi-free nation today.  There are actual conversations taking place about Human Rights for all.  For those of us who remember, twenty years ago, ten years ago, that would have been a wet dream.  We also remember Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at the United Nations Security council, and bribing two of its member nations with cheap oil.

Today, in Iraq, members of its governing body actually carry “friendly” relations with its Middle Eastern neighbors.    Hussein’s only interest in his neighbors was in what he could steal from them.  Today, Iraq’s neighbors want to help.

I still don’t know what to make of our decision to go to war in Iraq.  I am somewhat divided over it.  But don’t ever take that to mean that I don’t recognize the massive good that has occurred in Iraq since we have been there.

The war in Iraq didn’t divide our nation.  That argument is old and worthless.  We were divided long before we ever set foot on Iraqi sand.  Our political parties have seen to that.  But one thing the war in Iraq did was to offer the hope of freedom to a people who have never known it.  What they knew, most of us can never know.  We know that they knew fear.  We know that losing family members to Hussein’s madness was commonplace.  We know that Iraq’s people were an oppressed people.

I guess I am disappointed in many American’s reactions to this war.  Let’s face it; all war is horrible.  There is no such thing as a just war.  War is death.  But sometimes, war is necessary.  As delicate as this subject is, I still have to come down on the side of the Iraqi war being necessary, even if I hate war.

I do not decide that lightly.  The cost has been more than we believed possible.  But in my heart, I know we did right.  I don’t need Bush, or CNN, or Fox News, or anyone else to decide for me.  Maybe Bush went to war for oil.  Maybe Cheney went to war for gain.

I went to war to set the Iraqi people free.  Because somehow, I  couldn’t live with myself if I rejected any other person’s right to freedom from six thousand miles away.  Most of us didn’t fight in Iraq; the only fighting we could do was to support our soldiers, or protest the war.  But I wonder, if you found yourself protesting, and I could understand your angst if you did, but did you understand everything you were protesting?  Did you understand that when you protested Iraq, you protested their people’s right to freedom?  Would you have been a happier human being knowing that because we never went, Iraqi citizens were still oppressed?

For many, this war was about politics.  Not me.  To me, it was all about the people.



  1. willpen said

    This is a very brilliant and well thought out piece of writing. You should be proud of what you have written here. You have a knack for making it sound right.

    I would really rather not use the word “but” here, but I am having a personal crisis about not using it.

    You make so many valid points about so many valid things. I do remember the Iraq / Iranian War. I was a teenager and becoming awake and sensitized to what was unfolding in the world around me. I remember seeing pictures and reading in real newspapers about the atrocities. I remember some visuals of men hanging on gallows, that to this day still sometimes enter into my line of vision whenever I think about the War in Iraq.

    But, for me War is not an option to be taken lightly, but, that is just me. We may start off with the best intentions to allow freedom to march in after our conquering armies, but after we are there the worst part of humanity always seems to enter the equation, on both sides. We then turn from a force of freedom to a force of occupation, and who wants someone else to occupy what you consider to be hallowed and sacred ground, your home.

    The answer is never just a one part answer, because the question is never a one part question. And to answer your last question, I do always think about what I am protesting and why I am protesting it before I do.

    Al-Zaidi, did accomplish a very important thing that day, even though so many Americans were immediately incensed by it. That is what we do. We think in knee jerk reactions and speak before we think. The act of this man throwing shoes at the President did indeed open a door for so many others to feel that they now had a voice to share with the world for the first time. That is a noble cause indeed. But, will this new found freedom also lead them down the path to self righteous freedom that we as Americans feel is our need to give away to the world whenever we feel the need to do it?

  2. politicalpartypooper said


    Thank you very much for your encouragement. I must admit, this piece was not very easy to write. My emotions were stirred as I was writing, and you probably know how careful you have to be when you are writing in an emotional state.

    I am glad there are people like you who are willing to listen. I know there are many who aren’t, no matter how much “sense” an argument makes.

    Yes, many of us believed our intentions were the best. We became fewer and fewer as deterioration set in. I believed we would roust Hussein quickly, but I also knew history and the ethnic makeup of Iraq. I knew freedom might take a generation to take root. My hope was for the young people to take up the mantle and carry it. Sadly, hate and indignation reached these youth before freedom did. I blame Bush and Cheney for that. It was their refusal to see beyond the capture of Hussein that caused the deaths of probably a half million people by now.

    But as you said, there’s more than one question, and thus, more than one answer. To blame only Bush and Cheney for this outcome ignores their predecessor’s unwillingness to prosecute Hussein. Both Bush Sr and Clinton had a hand in creating the mess we are faced with today. For that matter, so did Reagan and Carter.

    Nevertheless, it will be W who is remembered for refusing to plan the rebuilding of Iraq BEFORE we went in. I just can’t believe how stupid he was. I still get angry when I think how much deference we give to our senior government officials, and how even they are no more farsighted than you or I. It’s then that I remember how human we all are, and why freedom gives us all many chances to overcome our humanness.

  3. willpen said

    This is why I truly feel that people like us, “ya know” the one’s that sit in our pajamas in our parent’s basements “bloggin”, are going to make a difference this time around. There is so much power in words and in numbers and if we support what each and everyone of us has to say in a respectful and opened manner, we can only help to make things better.

    Here is to 2009 and the Year of the Bloggers…!!!

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