Tuesday, August 24, 2004

On Fahrenheit 9/11

Yesterday my son, his friend and I went to see Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." It was a very effective documentary on the bush administration, though it didn't really effect the way that I think about W and his performance to date. It also did a great job of putting together some themes that have, to date, gone unconnected. One thing the movie did not do is to address foreign opinions and feelings about America after W got in the White House. That was beyond its scope. It also did a disservice to the soldiers who willingly forfeit their lives to protect our country.

The bush regime has lied to the nation and the world. It used faulty evidence to bait the American people into believing that Iraq was a threat to their lives and their freedom. G. Tennent has left as CIA chief to take the blame for such an oversight, but the man who bears the ultimate responsibility for the errors is W. He is where the buck stops. If he didn't know, why didn't he? Will he make the same kinds of mistakes again? Likely, because it was never about American security.

The bush regime, instead of protecting our freedoms in a war with Iraq, has gradually eroded them at home. All in the name of security and freedom, he takes ours away to stifle us, to rob us our liberties to support the rich. The "War on Terrorism" will go on indefinitely, because it serves the purposes of the rich.

These are not new ideas, but M. Moore has done a terrific job of presenting them in a digestible way.

Unfortunately Moore insults soldiers while at the same time defends them as victims. I approve of the latter. I have written before about how W and the rich old men who support him squander the lives our soldiers, brave men and women ready to die to protect our country and the flag. They make a mockery of their bravery and sacrifice. At the same time, Moore paints individual soldiers as homicidal half-wits. For example when he shows one soldier singing the lyrics to the song that suggests that we let someone die in a fire. I am sorry that there are people who are in that position, but my guess is that there are psychological methods of dealing with a very messy business that is soldiering. A very good friend of mine, a veteran of the Viet Nam war, said that a soldier's job is, "killing people and breaking things." We send our young people, as humans have for millennia, to kill people and break things. That is their job. The toll it takes on these people is enormous. We hear about the physical toll, but rarely hear about the psychological havoc it wreaks. These young people signed up to protect America, to protect the flag, and the rights that we hold so dear. They fight to protect my rights to write and publish this, and they die to protect Moore's right to make films or write books. If they say and do things that are a little odd, let them go. Tell us what it is like.

Finally, Moore doesn't address America's image in the world. It's well beyond the scope and intent of the movie, so I don't blame him, but there is a big world out there, and hardly anyone is happy about America right now. After 9/11 everyone was an American at heart. A great nation had been attacked, and the victims were innocents. People make connections between this horror and Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was an attack by a military on a military. This butchery was not. I was in the US on the day of the attacks. I had to stay on afterward, but when I returned to Japan, all of my friends and colleagues were worried about my safety and concerned about my emotional state. America and what it stood for was awesome to people abroad then. America had everyone's attention and concern. America had all the shock and awe it needed to do anything then. It did not need to kill 10,000 Iraqi civilians.

No Japanese person I have spoken to within the last month has said anything positive about America. No Canadian person I have spoken to within the last month has said anything positive about America. No Iranian person I have spoken to within the last month has said anything positive about America. No American I have spoken to within the last month has said anything positive about America.

Great documentary, with a few minor drawbacks. Says in a very easy to digest way everything I would have said.

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