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Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

In the Loop

I saw In the Loop last night and I can’t recommend it enough. The film is an offshoot of the British television series “The Thick of It” which I have only seen a couple of episodes of. The series and film have a sort of docu-drama feel although the actors don’t confront the camera at any time and you don’t get the idea that what they are saying is made for public consumption, but it has the shaky camera the quick cuts that are normal in such films.

The premise is to take the events that led up to the UN Resolution to attack Iraq and to show them through lower level cabinet officials of both the British and the American governments. What’s fascinating about this film is that each major point is fact. We know that the British supported America in their endeavor to declare war on Iraq. We know that the reasons were inexplicable to a large percentage of the British and American public. Tony Blair’s inexplicable unconditional support of the Bush Administration led many to characterize Blair as being the lap dog of the Americans. We know that British intelligence was used by the Bush Administration as justification to the war. We know that opposition was squashed despite very serious reservations about the quality of such intelligence.

So in this film, we see a fictionalized account of how all of the above came to be. The characters are fictional, but again I think the major points of the film are accurate. The film is funny. Depressing. How can so many people put their careers above the common good in such a callous way? It’s hard to swallow. The dialogue is great though I think the dialogue of the American characters is somewhat off. I think Americans are more likely to smile to your face and tell you what you want to hear than stab you in the back, so I guess what I’m saying is the Americans talk a little bit too much like the Brits. The Brits swear with such foul relish. It’s poetry really and very clever. And very funny. But not so American which is why it sounds odd when the American characters do it. I suppose we’ve heard of politicians like Cheney throwing fuck yous out there, but that’s not really so clever and funny. Just foul.

I loved Peter Capaldi’s performance. Just like on the television series he is fantastic. I wasn’t so taken with James Gandolfini but again I think that’s because the words coming out of his mouth just didn’t quite sound right. A little too British and not so American. It’s certainly an uncomfortable film to watch at times because the humor is so incredibly dark. This is an incredibly dark subject and very smartly done. The next day I’m still thinking of what a tragic clusterfuck this all was.

Update: I’ve just been looking on google for what other clips they show of this film. Ignore all the trailer clips. The film’s charm is the swearing which sadly is not included in any trailer.
I enjoyed the crossest man in Scotland: “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa3eoMnMC80”

And the Steve Coogan clip: “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5kdOvsyv98”

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Oh, it will make you angry.

There are several dimensions to the debate over the U.S. prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that the media have largely missed and, thus, of which the American people are almost completely unaware. For that matter, few within the government who were not directly involved are aware either.

The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.

This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, of the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and of the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to “just get the bastards to the interrogators”.

It did not help that poor U.S. policies such as bounty-hunting, a weak understanding of cultural tendencies, and an utter disregard for the fundamentals of jurisprudence prevailed as well (no blame in the latter realm should accrue to combat soldiers as this it not their bailiwick anyway).

The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.

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We are the enemy

The widow of US anthrax victim Robert Stevens has called for US government compensation for her husband’s death.

Maureen Stevens thanked the FBI for their investigation into Bruce Ivins, who killed himself last week after being told he was to be charged.

But she said it was “shocking” that the army scientist had been able to handle dangerous chemicals when he had a documented history of mental illness.

It is shocking isn’t it that in order to give ourselves “protection” from others we create biological weapons that end up being used on us? What else could we expect? Ironic that we claimed we went to war in Iraq because Sadaam Hussein was creating weapons of mass destruction. Of course, we ourselves would never do anything like that.

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In response to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s withdrawl plan, Dana Perino makes what certainly sounds like a threat to me.

“We don’t think that talking about specific negotiating tactics or your negotiating position in the press is the best way to negotiate a deal,” Perino said after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was quoted in a magazine article supporting the 16-month troop withdrawal timeline proposed by Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate.

Frankly I don’t think openly threatening the Prime Minister of a country you claimed to have liberated is such a good idea either. Let’s face it the White House pushed al-Maliki into this position. Had they not tried to firm up a permanent presence in Iraq in the last few months of Bush’s presidency maybe Maliki wouldn’t have had to have pushed back.

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A good short article by Arianna Huffington.

Republicans love to portray Obama as naïve when it comes to foreign policy. Let’s go to the scorecard. Iraq: Prime Minister Maliki just announced he supports Obama’s troop withdrawal plan. Afghanistan: Obama has long argued that Iraq has been a dangerous distraction from what should be the real focus of the war on terror, Afghanistan, and has recommended sending additional troops there. McCain, who has opposed sending additional troops, did an about-face on Tuesday, all but yelling “Me too!” Iran: Obama has taken a lot of GOP fire for his willingness to negotiate with Tehran. This week, we learned the Bush administration has decided to send a top diplomat to a meeting with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, and is planning to open an “interests section” in Tehran. Score three for naiveté.

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I like how Naomi Wolf always takes a subject that the average American may think is far removed from themselves and puts that subject in a context that is recognizable.

I had a sense of déjà vu when I saw the photos that emerged in 2004 from Abu Ghraib prison. Even as the Bush administration was spinning the notion that the torture of prisoners was the work of “a few bad apples” low in the military hierarchy, I knew that we were seeing evidence of a systemic policy set at the top. It’s not that I am a genius. It’s simply that, having worked at a rape crisis center and been trained in the basics of sex crime, I have learned that all sex predators go about things in certain recognizable ways.

All this may sound bizarre if you are a normal person, but it is standard operating procedure for sex offenders. Those who work in the field know that once sex abusers control a powerless victim, they will invariably push the boundaries with ever more extreme behavior. Abusers start by undressing their victims, but once that line has been breached, you are likely to hear from the victim about oral and anal penetration, greater and greater pain and fear being inflicted, and more and more carelessness about exposing the crimes as the perpetrator’s inhibitions fall away.

The perpetrator is also likely to engage in ever-escalating rationalizations, often arguing that the offenses serve a greater good. Finally, the victim is blamed for the abuse: in the case of the detainees, if they would only “behave,” and confess, they wouldn’t bring all this on themselves.

Silence, and even collusion, is also typical of sex crimes within a family. Americans are behaving like a dysfunctional family by shielding sex criminals in their midst through silence.

Via Huffingtonpost.

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It’s encouraging to know that it is the Iraqis themselves who may end this war and thus control their own destiny. Think about every justification you have ever heard about the war from George Bush. Those justifications are tremendously hollow when the liberated people don’t want you there.

Iraq will not accept any security agreement with the United States unless it includes dates for the withdrawal of foreign forces, the government’s national security adviser said on Tuesday.

The comments by Mowaffaq al-Rubaie underscore the U.S.-backed government’s hardening stance toward a deal with Washington that will provide a legal basis for U.S. troops to operate when a U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared to catch Washington off-guard by suggesting for the first time that a timetable be set for the departure of U.S. forces under the deal being negotiated, which he called a memorandum of understanding.

Rubaie said Iraq was waiting “impatiently for the day when the last foreign soldier leaves Iraq.”

So Congress, including a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, have failed to end this war. The Iraqis must be very proud to know they have the power to end it on their own.

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