Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day! What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Film Recommendation
I saw No End in Sight, a documentary about the devastatingly bad decisions that have helped make the Iraq War such a disaster. It's very well-done and organized, and it has some very impressive interviews with people willing to speak their minds - Jay Garner, Richard Armitage to name just a couple. Most of these things we knew already from the news. Still, it is truly maddening to watch them pieced together, having the stories told by incredulous officials, who seem genuinely shocked that the war was conducted so foolishly. There was little to no planning, no communication and no listening to experts. Our war was conceived and executed by a handful of naive, tyrannical misfits. They knew nothing about warfare, nothing about Iraq, and especially nothing about running a large-scale peace-keeping and reconstruction project. And they compensated for this majestic lack by making monumental decisions in secret, consulting no one who needed to know and no one who had already developed better ideas for how to proceed.

Like I say, no news there right? But it is instructive (in a want-to-bang-your-head-into-a-wall kind of way) to hear the Army's Colonel in charge of organizing the Iraqi military - for the purpose of integrating them into the rebuilding process - explain how he learned of Bremer's shocking, fateful decision to disband the military through television. The look on his face and the expression of disgust and disbelief in his voice are the kind of thing you can't get from reading the newspaper. It's that kind of moment that makes the film so worthwhile. I've given up thinking that a strong film can change the present, but this should be an essential document for the future...when generations beyond us are wondering how the world managed to get so screwed up. This will be one of the answers.

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