Popcorn Sunday: No End In Sight

by matttbastard

Chronological look at the fiasco in Iraq, especially decisions made in the spring of 2003 – and the backgrounds of those making decisions – immediately following the overthrow of Saddam: no occupation plan, an inadequate team to run the country, insufficient troops to keep order, and three edicts from the White House announced by [Bremner] when he took over: no provisional Iraqi government, de-Ba’athification, and disbanding the Iraqi armed services. The film has chapters (from History to Consequences), and the talking heads are reporters, academics, soldiers, military brass, and former Bush-administration officials, including several who were in Baghdad in 2003.

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Quote of the Day: Redefining What’s Possible

by matttbastard

One of the great dangers of the Bush administration is that it will permanently alter our sense of what is possible or acceptable. You can see an analog of this when people say things like: Bush won’t be able to do X, or: he will have to do Y, where these statements do not refer to physical necessity or impossibility. (E.g., if memory serves, when the surge began, some Republicans said: if it doesn’t work, Bush will have to withdraw.) The sense in which people who say such things think that Bush “has to” or “can’t” do something or other is just that there are certain things we do not believe that any President would do, and others we think he must do. There are lines we assume he would never cross.

But this administration does not recognize the existence of any such lines. They do not “have to” withdraw just because none of their plans have worked, the army is breaking, and the war has next to no popular support. They would “have to” withdraw only if someone put a gun to their collective heads and forced them to. They do not “have to” obey the law or the Constitution: they will only if they are literally compelled to. Likewise, they do not “have to” respect even the most basic principles of decency and humanity, even when obligated to do so by US law and treaties we have signed, which are, according to the Constitution, the law of the land. Neither moral suasion nor legal obligation seem to matter to them. The only sense in which they “have to” do anything is the sense involving physical necessity.

[…]

The Bush administration threatens us with the catastrophe of losing our sense that there are things the government cannot do every time they do one of those things. I never, ever want to go along with their redefinition of what is possible, which is why I refuse to stop being outraged when something like this happens.

– Hilzoy, Approving Torture: Better Late Than Never?

Related: Scott Horton on “The Torture Team”; Philippe Sands examines “how the torture at Guantánamo began, and how it spread”; Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris profile Sabrina Harman, “[t]he woman behind the camera at Abu Ghraib”; Jeremy Waldon reviews Cass Sunstein’s Worst Case Scenarios; and David Bromwich looks at “Euphemism and American Violence”.

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Popcorn Sunday: Why We Fight

by matttbastard

WHY WE FIGHT, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. It is an unflinching look at the anatomy of the American war machine, weaving unforgettable personal stories with commentary by a [who’s] who of military and beltway insiders. Featuring John McCain, William Kristol, Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal, Richard Perle and others, WHY WE FIGHT launches a bipartisan inquiry into the workings of the military industrial complex and the rise of the American Empire. Inspired by Dwight [Eisenhower’s] legendary farewell speech (in which he coined the phrase military industrial complex), filmmaker [Eugene] Jarecki (THE TRIALS OF HENRY KISSINGER) surveys the scorched landscape of a half-[century’s] military adventures, asking how and telling why a nation of, by, and for the people has become the savings-and-loan of a system whose survival depends on a state of constant war. The film moves beyond the headlines of various American military operations to the deeper questions of why…does America fight? What are the forces political, economic, ideological that drive us to fight against an ever-changing enemy? Frank Capra made a series of films during World War II called WHY WE FIGHT that explored Americas reasons for entering the war, Jarecki notes. Today, with our troops engaged in Iraq and elsewhere for reasons far less clear, I think its crucial to ask the questions: Why are we doing what we are doing? What is it doing to others? And what is it doing to us?

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A Few Items Worth Your Attention On This Snowy Sunday Morn

by matttbastard

Is much too chilly and inhospitable today in my neck of the woods to even think about venturing into the not-so-great outdoors. So, in lieu of going to church (snicker) or, more realistically, a greasy spoon for hangover mitigation, here are several worthy distractions that can be enjoyed from the comforts of home:

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