US President George W. Bush has completed his visit to Iraq and Afghanistan to date. This is his farewell visit to the two war-torn nations during the remaining days of his presidency. Since the previous political powers of the two nations were toppled by the wars launched by the United States, his farewell visit has drawn particularly close global attention.
Bush's Iraq visit was paid in a covert, clandestine way, and this evidence in itself disclosed the U.S.' lack of confidence in the situation in Iraq. Though a secret trip, Iraq still spelled trouble for President Bush. An Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at Bush as a protest against the Iraq war during a news conference with Iraqi Prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. Bush ducked in agile and keen senses both shoes, which whizzed past his head and landed with a thud against the wall behind him. “It was size 10," he latter joked on the incident and said “all I can repeat is a size 10." In spite of all this, Bush could hardly conceal his dilemma and predicament after all.
In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Showing the sole of your shoes to someone in the Arab world is a sign of extreme disrespect, and throwing your shoes is even worse. This incident soon caused media sensations worldwide and strong repercussions in Iraq.
The purpose of Bush's surprise trip was three fold: First, the President wished to show outstanding, conspicuous achievements. Iraq and Afghanistan are two experimental plots he had personally been nursing with a great, meticulous care during his presidency and he now wants people to see “good crops" with his experimental fields, which he would like to take as his “political legacy". During his trip, Bush signed with Iraq the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework and Status of Forces Agreement to exhibit his “good yields".
Second, the President wished to quell people's feelings against injustice. The Iraq war, which was fought without the UN authorization, broke the international order and the “geo-political balance" in the Middle East, and gave rise to complications and after-effects; it was opposed globally and regarded by most Americans as a “wrong war". To dispel such sentiments, Bush has made three trips to Iraq, and the scene of shoes attack in the farewell trip has indeed gone contrary to his wishes.
Third, the President wished to boost the morale of U.S. exhausting, running-down troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush addressed US servicemen at the “Victory Camp" in northern Iraq and extended regards to US soldiers and Marines at a hangar on the tarmac at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The wars waged in both countries are indispensable for the cause of the U.S. war on terror, he acknowledged, and with the Saddam Hussein and Taliban regimes out of power, the U.S. would be much “more secure". These remarks of his were said to boost the morale of the frontline troops, US officers and enlisted men alike.
During the trip, what arrested particularly close attention was President Bush's signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki under which, US forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by June 30 next year and the entire country by January 1, 2012. Bush, who had long been in opposition to a timetable for troop pullout from Iraq, agreed to the withdrawal terms this time. One of the reasons is to indicate the improvement in the security situation in Iraq. The second reason is to make speedy, ultimate political arrangements on the Iraq issue before Bush steps down as the US president, so as not to be totally negated or transformed by his successor.
The third reason is that partial guarantees have been provided for American interests. When US troops depart Iraqi cities and towns by the end of June 2009, barracks in these cities and town could still be available for US military advisers and instructors. The agreement also specifies that the U.S. and Iraq need to set up a joint committee to formulate an implementation mechanism with detailed rules. This gives a hint to foreshadow the long-term presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
For the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is reported to have appropriated as much as 1.6 trillion dollars, yet both nations could not repay this heavy debt with their overall domestic development trends. With a keen, apparent intention to “clear the bad debt", Bush arranged the ending to the two wars of his own creation. “The war is not over," he said however during his trip, adding that “it is decisively on its way to being on." This is what Bush meant to say to President-elect Obama. As a matter of fact, President Bush has let Obama bear heavy political and financial burdens. For Obama, who has vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq as early as possible and for a troop increase in Afghanistan, it is still a hard, tough issue for him to fill in a “huge black hole" left over by President Bush.
By People's Daily Online, and its author is Huang Beizhao, PD resident reporter in Egypt