Diary

Patrick Cockburn

There used to be a mosaic of President George Bush on the floor at the entrance to the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad. It was placed there soon after the first Gulf War in 1991 and was a good likeness, though the artist gave Bush unnaturally jagged teeth and a slightly sinister grimace. The idea was that nobody would be able to get into the hotel, where most foreign visitors to Iraq stayed in the 1990s, without stepping on Bush’s face. The mosaic did not long survive the capture of the city on 9 April and the takeover of the al-Rashid by US officials and soldiers. One American officer, patriotically determined not to place his foot on Bush’s features, tried to step over the mosaic. The distance was too great. He strained his groin and had to be hospitalised. The mosaic was removed.

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