I recently saw Michael Moore's incendiary documentary film "Fahrenheit 911." There are plenty of comments on the film in the media already, so why should I add mine?-- because I disagree with many of the film's ideas, yet feel it is eminently worth seeing.
One of the recent trends that most upsets me is partisanship: the idea that I'm totally right, so you're totally wrong. Anyone with half a brain realizes that both sides have ideas that are worth listening to. Good leaders listen to everyone before they make up their minds. Yet we now have partisanship at the highest levels, such as when the President and his cohorts didn't listen to the CIA's information that Saddam had no ties to al-Qaeda, because they didn't want to believe it.
If you step back and try to take a rational look at our invasion of Iraq (which is hard to do when our young soldiers are dying every day), it becomes obvious that it's a war about oil. Even though it was possible that Saddam had more WMDs that he turned out to have, Iran is now going nuclear and North Korea's Kim, a madman if there ever was one, already has nukes. So why attack Saddam?
The reason is this: Saudi Arabia is imploding. Instead of wiping out the terrorists among them, the Saudi royal family tried to placate them. A casual glance at history should have told them this would never work and now al-Qaeda is trying to take over the country, especially the oil fields. If they set those oil fields on fire, the West will be desperate for oil. But at least we'll survive; in the third world, sky-high oil prices will cause millions of deaths.
The Bush administration didn't know how to tell us this--or they didn't think we'd comprehend it--so they settled on a simpler explanation: Iraq was an immediate and lethal threat. Also, using WMDs as a cover meant that they didn't have to risk alienating the big business interests upon which all politicians rely by enacting higher automobile fuel standards and tough conservation measures. If they had done that, we could have taken the moral high ground in our invasion of Iraq. Not doing it meant they had to cover up the real reason we're there.
Moore doesn't get this, but he does get a lot of things right. One of them is that longtime business ties between the Saudis and the Bush family made this administration less tough on Saudi terrorism than it should have been, although our reliance on oil played a part in this as well. If anti- American terrorism was being allowed to flourish to this degree in an any other country, we would tell them to clean up their act before we did it for them--like we did in Afghanistan. If the President's family relies on a foreign country for much of its wealth, can his administration be objective when it has to be?
Another thing Moore gets right is the cowardice of today's media. Where are our investigative reporters? Here at unknowncountry.com, we notice this everyday. The BBC has at least one story per day on subjects like global warming and GM foods, but these are rarely seen in American media. There is a wonderful story in the current New York Review of Books, a literary publication, that explains how major drug companies are exploiting the American public. Why isn't this story in the New York Times?
We defeated communism, with its control of the press, only to have our own media become controlled by capitalism. The more the media consolidates into a few huge companies, due to the relaxation of anti-trust laws, the more it fears evoking government displeasure, which might lead to laws which would greatly affect its profit. That?s why there are no more Watergate investigations. Our reporters take the press releases that are handed to them and report them as "news." That's the reason we desperately need muckrakers like Michael Moore.
Moore deliberately tries to make George Bush seem foolish-- something that can be done to any politician, given the right outtakes. However, he does point out something that's been obvious from the start: Bush is more of a figurehead that other recent Presidents. He was chosen to be the front man for pre-determined policies to do with social control, weakening the separation between church and state, transforming the Middle East and changing U.S. business and monetary policy. Without a President who knows his own mind, we have one less level of checks and balances and more partisanship. It's the origin of the "if you're not for us, you're anti-American" policy which took its tune from fundamentalist Christianity: "if you don't believe what we believe, you're going straight to hell." But isn't the right of dissent one of the things we fought the Cold War for?
Lastly, Moore points out that it's always the poor who fight our wars, which gives us the moral obligation to make sure our wars need to be fought. Despite all the embedded reporters I've seen on TV, this is the first time I've seen this truth stated so boldly. We can't use the people who volunteer to risk their lives for ours as human fodder. We also shouldn't make them take the heat when embarrassing and illegal actions become public, as they are in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal right now.
No matter how you feel about Bush, Iraq and the upcoming election, I urge you to see "Fahrenheit 911" because there's too much shouting and too little dialogue about current events going on in our country right now. You don't have to agree with the film to get some valuable information from it...as long as you realize what a partisan undertaking it is.
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.