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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

The farewell kiss

by Lily Hamourtziadou

14 Dec 2008

The first shoe flew over the heads of other journalists and might have hit Bush square in the face had he not ducked to avoid it.

"This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog," the man said at the press conference in Baghdad. He was Muntanther Zaidi, a correspondent for Baghdadiya, a satellite TV channel.

Seconds later, the journalist hurled his other shoe with similar precision as another Iraqi journalist reached over in an attempt to stop him.

"This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," he said, according to the translation. (LA Times, 15 December)

Bush laughed it off. A normal reaction to being told you are responsible for thousands of deaths. The reaction of a man with principles. With a conscience.

This was on Sunday. On Thursday a major attack took place in Kirkuk, an attack that killed more than 50 civilians, the 9th such bombing this year.

Overall, it was one of the better weeks, for Iraq. About 95 civilians were killed or found dead, 8 children among them. A few more orphans were created, a few more widows were left alone to support their families, a few more victims added to the ‘cost of war’ list.

A laughing matter for Bush, perhaps, but it is no laughing matter for the Iraqis, or any half-decent person. It is only men like him, and like Tony Blair, who feel no shame, no remorse over the deaths they have caused. And it is precisely men like them who are in fact capable of such atrocities. Men without honour. Men without a sense of humanity. Men without mercy.

Blair made his exit last year, and Bush is about to make his own. What is the proper farewell to men like these? What can make them see and understand what it is they have done? What can make them give a damn?

The answer is probably ‘nothing’. Because only men like them –deaf and blind to the suffering of others- could have committed such acts.