Timing is everything. Sneaking out of the White House under maximum security, “Almost-No-Longer-President” Bush wanted one more long ride on Air Force One. No one even missed him. Then Sunday he appeared on TV at a hastily arranged press conference in Iraq. He had just taken his place beside his inadvertent host, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, when an Iraqi TV journalist a dozen feet away, bellowing insults and invective, hurled his shoes, one after the other in rapid succession at Mr. Bush.
Fortunately Bush is an expert at ducking things and both shoes zipped by, inches from his head. But it was impossible for America’s commander-in-chief to duck the insulting symbolism the tossing of shoes at him on live TV represented to Middle Eastern viewers. Before being hauled off by security agents, his attacker shouted that the shoes, and the symbolic filth on their soles, were a “farewell present” from the women, children, and innocents killed and injured in the Iraq war. He also called Bush “a dog.” Bush lamely recovered, inappropriately quipping that the shoes “were a size 10,” unaware that he had just been mightily insulted in the worst way.
I mentioned timing. Just yesterday, The New York Times broke the story about a U. S. Governmental “official history” of the the Bush administration’s monumental failures in Iraq. Still in draft form, “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience” was meticulously compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. A 513 page draft copy was made available to The NY Times who quickly posted a PDF link to the entire report. It is a damning document.
As the NY Times internet story was being published, Mr. Bush was back-slapping his way through talks about a recently negotiated Iraq-American security pact. This last visit was to have been a high note in his presidential legacy. Instead, he was figuratively smeared with dog crap in front of millions. At the same time a government report detailing his failures in Iraq became available to millions more back home.
The government’s findings mirror Peter W. Galbraith’s acclaimed book, “The End of Iraq.” It is a scholarly, intensely personal and detailed account of Iraq’s complex history, politics and religious counterpoints and how they doomed Bush’s clumsy efforts to utter failure. Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat with years of experience in Iraq, preceded the government’s just released research and historical findings by almost three years with his award winning book which details the tragedy, waste, incompetence and delusional madness of the neo-conservative Bush loyalists pre and post invasion.
“Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone” written by Rajiv Chandresekaran, Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Times, offers a darkly humorous personal glimpse of American waste and madness in Iraq. His reporter’s eye for detail captures America’s Catch-22, slap dash bungling following the invasion of Iraq. He shows how totally unqualified, clueless Bush loyalists assigned to the “little America” Green Zone of Baghdad burned through billions of dollars, ultimately accomplishing nothing to speak of.
I highly recommend both these books not only because they are compelling, but because they pre-date and confirm the findings of the “official history” conducted by the U.S. Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. All three sources provide the detailed evidence, names, dates and documentation needed to structure a criminal case against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others. Is all there in black and white.
[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]