[spoken over carrier landing scene at end of film]
In some respects, it's as if Viet Nam never even happened. It's as if a lot of our leaders have suffered some sort of historical and political lobotomy.... The United States ultimately is supposed to be an exemplar for the rest of the world.... We've violated fundamental principles... that have guided this country's foreign policy so successfully since 1947.
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Watching the talking heads in archival news clips from TV in this documentary one is just amazed at how obvious it is that the Bush administration lied about its reasons for invading Iraq. Of course we have the benefit of hindsight and know for a fact that the weapons of mass destruction were not there. But the really striking thing is that all these so-called leaders of our country--Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and yes, Colin Powell--KNEW they were lying.
As Al Franken so succinctly said, "It's one thing for a President to lie about his sex life. It's another to lie about why we are sending our young men and women into battle."
What this documentary does through interviews with leading experts in government, the military, and the intelligence communities, juxtaposed before, between and following the many dire pronouncements from the administration, is demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they said was propaganda, disinformation--the Big Lie--dished out to the Congress,the Press and the American people.
The real question is why? What were the real reasons for Bush's invasion of Iraq? Before I attempt to answer that question, two things, One, this documentary is utterly convincing in its indictment of the Bush administration and will be almost impossible to watch by those who supported the war and continue to support the war. The evidence for the massive mendacity is so vividly expressed by knowledgeable and experienced people within and without the government--people like former Ambassador Joe Wilson, former Director of the CIA Stansfield Turner, anti-terrorism expert Rand Beers, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Philip Coyle, retird Col Patrick Lang, and at least a dozen more--that only the most hardened neocons and faith-based True Believers could doubt the subterfuge. Incidentally, it was Wilson's wife, an undercover agent for the CIA, who was deliberately exposed by leaks from the Bush administration in order to punish Wilson for his expression of the truth about WMD.
Two, the real blame beyond the Bush administration lies with the Press and with the Congress. If medals were given for cowardice, members of the Press and the Congress would have chests ablaze with bronze, silver and gold. The Press simply abdicated its Fourth Estate responsibility through fear of reprisals from the Bush administration, while the Congress dared not go against the Bush propaganda machine for fear that it would be labeled anti-American. In fact their cowardly and irresponsible behavior was deeply anti-American while it was solidly pro-Bush. They both kept the American people in ignorance about the real reasons for the war.
Okay what were those reasons? Oil? Of course this was a factor. Notice that other horrendous dictators elsewhere in the world are not removed from power by an American invading force.
To right the wrong that the first president Bush did when he kept Saddam Hussein in power after the Gulf War? Yes, but here is the beginning of the stupidity. The senior Bush pulled up short of deposing Saddam Hussein because keeping him in power was considered in the best interests of the United States. We had good control over him and he served as buffer to Iranian theocratic ambitions.
To demonstrate to the world the awesome might of the US military (the "shock and awe" that had Rumsfeld practically drooling) and show our willingness to use force if necessary? Yes. This is probably the most important psychological and geopolitical reason for invading Iraq. That it was immoral and likely to further alienate our allies and turn the vast majority of Muslims throughout the world into enemies didn't seem to occur to Bush and the neocons. Notice that another effect has been to convince Iran that it needs to acquire nuclear weapons, since it is obvious that the Bush administration isn't about to invade a country that has them (e.g., North Korea, Pakistan).
To mollify the American people, so many of whom naturally felt a great need after 9/11 to see some kind of action taken, any action to Show Strength, like a bull whirling around, swinging its horns at anything near.
To smoke-screen our failure to get Osama bin Laden and the general failure in Afghanistan? Absolutely. Blowing up great mounds of dirt in Afghanistan was NOT satisfactory, and going into nuked-up Pakistan to get bin Laden was not palatable.
To provide business for Halliburton and other corporations close to Bush and members of his administration? Well, that was one of the effects of the war.
To subconsciously get into the minds of soccer moms and make them feel safer by making US soldiers (who get paid for this sort of thing) the target for terrorists in Iraq instead of civilians at home? Possibly. Again, that was part of the effect of the war.
To help Bush win in 2004? Without doubt. Being a "war time" president would give Bush a big advantage over any Democrat. A quick "victory" over Iraq (celebrated aboard an aircraft carrier with Bush in pilot's gear strutting around with a helmet tucked under his arm shaking hands) would allow him to go one up on his father who foolishly abdicated such a possible advantage and lost the next election. BTW, film of the Bush strut is shown in the documentary more fully and more embarrassingly than the nightly news dared show it at the time. You have to see it to believe it.
I think this last reason is the most compelling reason that Bush went to war, whether he realizes it or not: he wanted to win, not so much the war on terror, but the next election.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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