Friday, December 19, 2008

Throwing Shoes - Butterfly Effect & Middle East

Time Magazine:

Beware of people throwing things at you in the Middle East, even shoes. Think David and Goliath or the Palestinian intifadeh — a rebellion set off by a thrown rock. Or better yet, think of the rocks thrown in Nabatiyah, Lebanon, on Oct. 16, 1983.

On that fateful day, a routine Israeli military patrol cut through a Shi'a religious procession, rocks flew, and the Israelis fired back. Two Lebanese were killed. The Israelis expected little to come of it, understanding too late just how frustrated the Lebanese Shi'a were — frustrated by their own government, by the Palestinians, by the Americans, by the French, as well as by the invading Israelis.

Nabatiyah quickly metastasized into a vicious 17-year guerrilla war. It would turn out to be Hizballah's Boston Tea Party, and led to Israel's first defeat in the field of battle when Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.For us, though, Nabatiyah should be a crucial lesson in how a small act of defiance can turn into a viral contagion. (See the top 10 awkward moments of 2008.).

The man who threw the pair of shoes at President Bush on Sunday was a Shi'a Arab who for years has expressed his bitter frustration about the way things have gone in Iraq. Contacts in Iraq told me that the man came to despise the al-Maliki government because he believes it sold out not just to the U.S. but to Iran as well. He was furious that the al-Maliki government is fabulously corrupt and incompetent. How else can you explain the $100 billion of development money that disappeared down the rat holes in Washington and Baghdad? Or how the electricity and water shortages continue, as do the car bombs in Shi'a neighborhoods? And he is furious that the U.S. intends to abandon Iraq in three years, leaving a mess behind.[...]

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