Sunday, July 01, 2007

Why We Fight.

I watch the 2005 film “Why We Fight” last night. I was enraged and depressed after it was over, even more than after I saw “Fahrenheit 911”. The film was aimed in several different directions, but each was pretty devastating in its critique. One direction was regarding Eisenhower’s warning, back in 1961, about letting the industry whose job it is to produce armaments, big and small, for the military get out of control. It also took aim directly at George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and all the rest of the cabal about how they used the terrible events on 9/11 to stampede America into a war that they had wanted from the beginning of their administration. I was incredibly angry every time Bush showed up on the screen, spouting what we now know to be complete nonsense about the need to go to war.

The film made the case about, no matter how much we would like to believe the opposite, that this country is one of the most militaristic the world has seen. The United States currently spends more on its military than the rest of the world, combined. Yes, we need a strong military. However, things are out of control. There is no reason why we should be building weapon systems designed for the Cold War today. We do not need more attack submarines. We do not need new, outrageously expensive anti-ballistic missile systems that are yet to work. Yet, the forces at work in our country today make it impossible for any single person, including the president, to turn the spigot off and return to some sanity to the process.

The film was also devastating in its critique of how the war has been managed. And this was only up to 2005. I was appalled to find out that 90% of the victims of the first attacks on Iraq were civilians, including women and children. The U.S. launched something like 50 attacks using so-called “smart bombs” in the first week of the war. None of them scored a direct hit on their intended targets. We feel so good about ourselves that we are limited “collateral damage” by using these weapons. Yeah, I guess they beat firebombing an entire city like Kobe or Dresden, like the Allies did in WWII. But if you aren’t hitting your intended targets, then what good are they doing?

This country has strayed very far from the ideals, like freedom, dignity and respect for all humans, that we espouse. We are deluding ourselves about how righteous we are, how we are the beacon for the rest of the world. Our actions speak for themselves. That is what the rest of the world believes, not the pabulum that is produced for domestic consumption.

Here are some good quotes from the film, from the IMDB. And I must say, John McCain has really changed his tune since he hit the campaign trail.

John McCain: The United States is the greatest force for good in the world.

John McCain: We have, not an obligation to go out and start wars, but certainly to spread democracy and freedom, throughout the world.

John McCain: ...When does the United States go from a force for good, to a force of imperialism?

Charles Lewis: We elected a government contractor as vice-president.

Karen Kwiatkowski: I think we fight because basically not enough people are standing up saying, "I'm not doing this anymore."

John McCain: The question is, where is the line between being a force for good, and imperialism?

Karen Kwiatkowski: I have two sons and I will allow none of my children to serve in the United States Military. If you join the military now you are not defending the United States of America, you are helping certain policy makers pursue an imperial agenda.

Charles Lewis: We [Americans] have this idea that we have lots of information available. There's so much that's not available and so much of the truth, quote, unquote, is obscured by political actors who don't want the world to see what they're doing.

Karen Kwiatkowski: We have a congress that failed, in every way, to ask the right questions, to hold the president to account. Our congress failed us miserably, and that's because many in congress are beholden to the military-industrial complex.

Joseph Cirincione: In some ways, the military-industrial complex may become so pervasive that it is now invisible. This is about, you know, ideas and influence and what's safe for your career. Being seen in opposition to strong defense policies is a liability. Not just for a politician who wants to run for president, but for an expert who wants to make a name in town, or a journalist who wants to get his or her story on the front page of the paper. In this way, restricting the level of discussion to this rush for war.

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