Friday, February 02, 2007

Iraq, and Why We Fight

Today I was thinking about Iraq. I don't like to think about Iraq, because it is not a problem I can solve, nor a public policy that I can influence. So why was I thinking about Iraq?

I just want to know why we fight in Iraq. Perhaps it is the philosopher in me, always wanting to know the truth about some state of affairs. It's a bad habit that I maintain, this ever searching for the truth of things.

I was clicking around on the Internet, wasting time while my two-year-old was napping, and I came across a Google video title that seemed to call out for investigation -- "Why We Fight." And so I proceeded to invest one hour and thirty-nine minutes of my life watching this video. Here's a summary:

"The film describes the rise and maintenance of the purported United States military-industrial complex while concentrating on wars led by the United States of the last fifty years and in particular on the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. It alleges that every decade since World War II, the American public has been told a lie to bring it into war to fuel the military-economic machine, which in turn maintains American dominance in the world. It includes interviews with John McCain, Chalmers Johnson, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Gore Vidal and Joseph Cirincione. The film also incorporates the stories of a Vietnam War veteran whose son died in the September 11, 2001 attacks and then had his son's name written on a bomb dropped on Iraq, a 23-year old New York man who enlists in the United States Army citing his financial troubles after his only family member died, and a former Vietnamese refugee who now develops explosives for the American military."[1]

Apparently, the title of the film was drawn from World War II-era propaganda newsreels titled "Why We Fight," which had been commissioned by the US government.

The film indeed gives an almost hypnotic, yet carefully developed explanation for why America fights, with special attention given to the Iraq conflict.

Along the way, one of the more interesting insights comes from a speech that President Eisenhower gave back in 1961, cautioning the country about just how much domestic infrastructure gets sacrificed when one maintains (contrary to Pres. Washington's warnings) a standing military. Hospitals, medical research, space exploration, educational scholarships, community school programs -- who knows what else gets put to the side or stands long-delayed because of priority of military funds. Perhaps this especially struck me because, as is well known, Bush has "a plan" to send even more troops to Iraq, and which may cost taxpayers up to an additional $27 billion during *the first year*. (Figures are from the Congressional Budget Office.)

I remember when when I was a kid, we had a black and white TV that sat in the kitchen, and occasionally there would be evening news footage of the Vietnam war. (Ironically, therefore, Vietnam is a black-and-white issue for me, at least in terms of memory perception.) Now it's not like I was paying lots of attention, being perhaps only nine years of age. But it had to be on TV enough that I saw such coverage now and then. What is strange of today's media is the complete lack of television coverage of the more tactical engagements of our soldiers. This "Why We Fight"[2] video has a very convincing explanation of that lack.

Today I was thinking about Iraq. I don't like to think about Iraq, because it is not a problem I can solve, nor a public policy that I can influence. So why was I thinking about Iraq?

Maybe so that you might.


[1] Why We Fight (film)" Wikipedia (Accessed 2/2/2007).

[2] "Why We Fight (film)" Google Video 1hr, 39min. (Accessed 2/2/2007)


Labels: , , , ,


At 1:16 AM, Blogger Isaac said...

watched the whole thing.

the question of how industry and corporate interests affect our governments decisions is one of the most important out there... one that deserves our complete attention and sober judgement. however, this film contributes very little to providing any answers or perspective.

if you're going to tackle issues this weighty, less attention should be paid to human-interest interviews... especially when so many of the propositions can be countered by freely available facts.

for instance, the policeman who lost his son claims to have felt betrayed when he realized the planners of 9/11 weren't all puffing on a hookah in some baghdad falafel joint. at no point did the President or any of his staff say or imply the iraqis were in on the plot. in the man's defense, he wasn't alone. 45% of the population (at one point) thought iraqis were involved... but it's impossible to point to any statement by the President (much less a sustained persuasive campaign as the film suggests) that would give him the idea. this instance is more an indictment of misleading media information (the irony meter is pegging out) than it is any specter of a mil/ind complex.

another contextual point not mentioned in the film was the circumstances of KBRs incredible growth in defense contracts. the clinton administration spearheaded massive manpower drawdowns that (by design) stripped the armed forces of its non-combat or combat-support infrastructure. the thinking was: why pay an enlisted soldier to cook or deliver mail when we can pay KBR to do it w/out having to provide med care and a retirement? solid thinking in the short-term... but the inevitable consequence is Halliburton running bases in the desert and shady security firms populated by ex-special forces. in typical clinton-form, he tried to have it all... reduce spending while not making adjustments to military readiness and/or capability. maintaining the readiness posture asked of our forces necessarily entails building a bigger military or propping it up with billions in contract dollars.

hmm... may have gotten off-track a bit. my point is, every spoke in the wheel of the film's argument can be met with an easy rebuttal. the scarcity of discounts present within the film itself leads me to believe it's propaganda of the type it strains to identify.

and i know what you're thinking... no, i have nothing better to do on a saturday night. :)

At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, on that same TV I recall watching "Joker's Wild"


I dont recall much of the war efforts but I can remember that really old guy who was on with Walter C. He did about 2 minutes of commentary each evening. He was very creepy to me, sorta reminded me of the face that opened "Fright Night"

Perhaps I am overthinking...



Post a Comment

<< Home