August 30, 2006

The War Tapes

A very thought provoking movie. At Real Art Ways through Sept 7th.

What's to say? The horrors of war - the dead combatants, the civilians caught in the cross-dire, the burned out and beat up vehicles. The surreallism of children playing and going to school mere feet from a machine gun position. The cynicism of the soldiers, angry about Haliburton, confident that we are fighting this thing over oil. Even the guy who's SUV at home sported the W sticker was pretty jaded when he got back. The evident PTSD, the wives and girlfriends comments that "He's changed", the reluctance to go talk to someone about it afterwards. You wonder if the relationships will endure.

What broke my heart most was Sergeant Bazzi - born in Lebanon, whose family fled to the USA to escape civil war, who became a citizen only after his tour in Iraq. Imagine our mission in Iraq had all of our troops been of his calibre and commitment, with Arabic language skills. As the other troops dehumanize the "Hajis" - he alone seeks connection, and for that his fellow soldiers joke about him being a traitor. I've read enough Tom Clancy to honor and be sympathetic to the professional soldier, to get where he is coming from. He says something like "the thing about the army is you can not always choose your war" and I can only imagine his heartbreak at being called to duty to fight in the middle east.

And Sergeant Pink - who writes at one point about being eager to kill an insurgent, but then refuses to kill a dog, come to pick at the bodies. One of the soldiers points out the different status of TNC's (Third Nation Civilians) in terms of armor, protection, treatment. So dehumanizing.

We drove home and thought of urban warfare - of Hartford as a war zone, with gunfire from apartment building, of bombs planted in garbage bins, of narrow streets being ideal for ambush.

Without doubt, this movie convinces me that whatever our motivations for being in Iraq, its time to get out. We own a small pack of dogs, and oftentimes, if there is trouble brewing, its only when we are there. The dogs sort it out for themselves when they are alone - but the addition of a dominant power (i.e. - Zippy or I) to the pack makes them struggle for position, and squabbling and injury might ensue. In Iraq, I suspect the bloodshed will end when we leave. And sadly, what was once a stabilizing counterbalance to the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran, will probably become a more or less Iranian ally and potentially Islamic superstate once we leave.

Nice job, neo-cons. Again, its not the evilness of your tribe I object to. It's the stupidity.

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