Friday, February 22, 2008

Operation Stop Deceiving Ourselves

I just watched the Oscar-nominated documentary Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience. It has an original concept: interviews with soldiers and authors who've written about war, interspersed with the poems, stories, and other actual words of soldiers in Iraq etc (but mostly Iraq). So you'll have interview bits with recurring soldiers, authors such as Tim O'Brien and quotes from Hemingway and Plato, and then an actor like Robert Duvall or Beau Bridges reads some account of a convoy killing children or of a medic attending to the wounded father of a civilian Iraqi twentysomething that's just been killed.

OK, so it is interesting.

And it has all kinds of "revelations" about war and how horrible it is. And how all these young people fighting it are changed by it. And it basically goes on and on "revealing" this, and once again I am frightened -- just as I was frightened watching No End In Sight -- because there are actually still people out there who need this revealed to them. I don't care how snotty the following sentence sounds. I seriously start to think, upon watching a film such as this, that maybe some of us are just more evolved and are able to see so clearly what it apparently is taking others a reeeeeeallllllly long time to figure out, i.e. that war is hell.

Man-made hell, no less. At least that point was made in the film, that obviously there is no god of any sort behind this madness. But I just kept thinking: you all volunteered. Our all-volunteer military is out there doing this, and if everyone would just stop agreeing to do this, then it wouldn't be the same. One Vietnam vet even mentioned that in part of his interview, that it's interesting how they were all drafted but these people are volunteers in Iraq, though he supposes once you're out there and your body is being ripped to shreds those distinctions probably fall away.

And so please don't misconstrue my words. I'm trying really hard not to blame random-ass soldier when the so-called "leaders" of our nation clearly deserve blame. But it was the thing I didn't like about this film: it approached the whole thing with a sense of powerlessness. A very much woe-is-me attitude of "what is happening to us out there?" And then it purports to answer that question of what is happening without stopping to critically examine the "to" in "to us." I daresay we'd best reconsider the soldiers and the U.S. military's role, which is clearly that of acting subjects, not passive objects.

One soldier actually says the following:

"Before I went I think I was kind of one of those kids straight out of college who wants to save the whole world and I worry sometimes that it changed me in a way where I realize maybe I just can't care about everything."

To save the world? This seemed like a viable option of a way to help save the world?

For that I can fault the never-ending warmongering propaganda machine of government and the military complex. Largely. But I also really want the 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, and the older young adults, and especially the old adults, to wake the hell up and realize that they can't swallow this crap and expect to escape unharmed.

War is over. If you want it.
-- you know who. you'd better, anyway.

2 comments:

Catherine said...

Did you know that two USC alumnae were the associate producer and production coordinator for this documentary? At least that is what my alumni email told me.

jnap said...

Of course, war is hell... And we don't seem to care that it is... History is His Story (mankind's story) but we do not learn from it... Obviously... Having visited both the Gettysburg and Vicksburg Battlefield Memorials from the War Between the States, the Civil War, or as I learned it was called when I moved south, The War of Northern Aggression, there is no more obvious proof of the hell of war... But, do we care? Well, some Americans apparently do not.

Last Saturday, I attended a campaign speech by President Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife, Senator Clinton...He talked about the fact that the rest of the world does not like America and Americans, and I sat there thinking, who can blame them...We have allowed our leaders to make our nation "an enemy of the world" if you will... I told a friend, who agreed, that we are now treating the rest of the world the way we (our government)treated the North American continent, and more importantly, the Native Americans (sorry if that is not the politically correct term.) And, does it surprise you to hear that it is said that the Bush family descends from the original settlers who came to Massachusetts on the Mayflower...What gives some people more entitlement, more equality, more rights than others....I don't know...

But many of us early on were sure that the war in Iraq was not about "weapons of mass destruction" as much as it was about oil and greed. I think time has proven that to be true... Mix in some gruesome torture, which is indicative of the moral bankruptcy of our leaders.

Lemming that I have become, I have not spoken out or protested in any way...I admit it....

War is hell. Linda, I remember asking your great Uncle Vos, what he did in the war (World War II) (he was in the Navy.) He said he went to England, and would not discuss it. After his death, we found a letter of commendation regarding his participation in DDay. He saw the hell of war, and would not talk about it...

When I was in the 6th grade, one of my class mates commented that his father was on Iwo Jima during World War II... We invited him to come to class to speak, and he declined, because he said there were some things you just don't talk about...

Maybe we need to talk about the hell of war more and more, because hiding it has not worked....

Watching the Obama-Clinton debate the other night, Sen. Clinton talked about seeing the patients at the Intrepid Center, and how the adversity she has faced is NOTHING compared to what these veterans face... More of us need to keep that in mind... Maybe having a president who knows that will go a long way toward world peace.. It has been said if we elect mothers for world leaders, wars will cease...