Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why We Fight

It's been entirely too long since my last post. Work has been very demanding lately, and it's left me tapped. All my critical thinking has been dedicated to my professional life. And I'd bore you with that, but I'd have to kill you afterwards. Which given the general anonymity of the internet is a task that I just don't have the energy for.

So I've been coasting along day to day. And invariably in a time like this the fluff in my Netflix queue sticks me with a bunch of heavy stuff. I'm loathe to switch the brain back on, but eventually I have to succumb. At least afterwards I never regret it.

The film this time was a documentary called Why We Fight. On one level it works to answer the question of how we got to where we are today in Iraq (which is summed up quite well, and you can watch it on YouTube here). But on a deeper level the documentary is an analysis of our gradual slip from an isolationist nation into the self-appointed global police force and what the implications of our militarization has on our social and political structure.

At the heart of the film is President Eisenhower's farewell address, which is startling in its candor… especially in the context of the modern world where our president is a complete tool. Seriously, I ache after hearing real public discourse like that - the kind that builds real confidence in our nation and its future. But one of the key parts of the message of Why We Fight is that there is no villain. The problem lies not in a person but the military-industrial complex - a interdependency of defense industries and politics that's good for business but bad for people.

While it seems that Michael Moore's documentaries lose a good deal of their bite by trying to blame the world's problems on a single person (be it Charlton Heston or George W. Bush), Eugene Jarecki's Why We Fight comes out a lot more sensible. Even Dubya comes off as a victim in this huge military machine that we've built for ourselves. Unfortunately that also makes the solution more complex: there's no motivation in the system to stop, so I guess it's up to We the People to say that spending more than half the budget on defense is officially ridiculous.

I'm finding myself so frequently frustrated with politics these days. I wish that the political wheels turned without having to be so carefully monitored. I realize that I get the majority of my information in entertainment form, but it seems to be the only honest filter out there. I don't have the heart to take it straight. Wrap it up in a joke, work it into a narrative (I caught Syriana a couple weeks ago, which incidentally is another (well told) story of shitty foreign policy)… just do something with it. Well, something other than spread it out over 24 hours of "crap your pants" fear-mongering that is at the same time both too serious and not serious enough. Wait, I take it back - maybe I can take it straight. It's just sad that my only reference of what that would be like is footage of our president from 50 years ago.