Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and US films


This video from the USA is called Rethink Afghanistan War (Part 5): Women of Afghanistan.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

San Francisco International Film Festival 2010 Part 3: War, and more war

14 May 2010

This is the third in a series of articles on the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival, held April 22-May 6.

Justified since 2001 as components of the “global war on terror,” the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have always been an attempt to impose US dominance over a strategic area of the Middle East and Central Asia. A continuum exists between the Bush and the Obama administrations, whatever their tactical differences, on their conduct of the occupations.

Of late, highlighted by the honoring of The Hurt Locker at the most recent Academy Awards ceremony, sections of the liberal establishment and intelligentsia have turned toward rehabilitating the two wars. These upper middle class layers have now climbed aboard the military train.

In reality, the “global war on terror” is a code phrase for neo-colonial wars of conquest. The militarization of US foreign policy, whose aggressive escalation is occurring under Obama, threatens the whole of humanity. …

However, to the extent that filmmakers accept any of the premises of the “war on terrorism”—that the current conflicts are indeed about terrorism; that the US military effort, while perhaps ham-fisted, is a legitimate response to 9/11; that Washington’s aim is to promote “democracy” in the region—they will be politically and artistically hamstrung. They may criticize this or that aspect of US policy, even quite sharply, but they will miss its driving force. The artistic results will tend to be passive or timid.

Many filmmakers now fly the banner of “nonpolitical” over their work, as if a serious grappling with the politics of a phenomenon were the kiss of artistic death. Outrage, taking a strong stance, speaking out against authority, all of this has somehow become identified with “didacticism,” and even Stalinist “socialist realism.”

Yet contorting oneself to avoid saying the harsh and sometimes unpalatable truth creates its own problems. Artistic “bad faith” makes itself felt in the bone and marrow of a film. We know when the director or writer is pulling his or her punches. Moreover, art also abhors a vacuum. Refusing “to take sides” and merely planting oneself in the immediately given facts, which go unexamined, leaves the artist vulnerable to the dominant social forces and politics.

Of course, it must be said that the notion that one can treat a war “nonpolitically,” when the driving force is geopolitics, is simply absurd. These are, above all, world-historical political events.

Without consciously working through the social and historical character of a given war, one is vulnerable to the falsehoods promoted by the ruling elite. For example: Yes, there have been blunders, but, as one director said at the festival, not all Great Power interventions are necessarily bad. After all, isn’t it necessary to fight terrorism? Can’t there be a democratizing component in such interventions? Etc.

Several documentaries screened at the San Francisco festival criticized aspects of the current US interventions.

During question-and-answer sessions, the directors of The Oath (American Laura Poitras) and Restrepo (co-director Tim Hetherington from Britain)—which deal with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively—described some of the perils of filming in war zones or contested regions. The courage and self-sacrifice demonstrated by these filmmakers was certainly striking.

But neither documentary is overtly anti-war, nor explicit about the colonialist character of these conflicts. This reviewer asked Restrepo’s Hetherington whether he was an opponent of the Afghan intervention, to which he could not give an unequivocal reply. He acknowledged at another point that “war is absurd,” but claimed that in making the film, “we really did not care about politics. Whether you are left or right wing—these guys [US soldiers] need to be respected.”

The Oath’s Poitras, in her question-and-answer session, made clear her opposition to the torture and abuse at Guantánamo and criticized the undemocratic Military Commissions, which have undergone another revision under Obama. She too, however, never condemned the war outright.

Britain: Former minister Adam Ingram has admitted he misled Parliament over the hooding and inhumane treatment of Iraqi detainees: here.

ADAM Ingram – Armed Forces Minister during the British occupation of southern Iraq in 2003 – has admitted wrongly informing MPs that Baha Mousa was not hooded during interrogation: here.

Baha Mousa death ‘a stain on army’s character’: here.

4 thoughts on “Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and US films

  1. The Monitor (Kampala)

    Africa: U.S. Cautions On Crime of Aggression

    Angelo Izama

    2 June 2010

    Munyonyo — The head of the American delegation to the ICC review conference, Ambassador Stephen Rapp, yesterday warned that a rushed decision on amending the founding statute of the court to include a crime of aggression could hurt the Hague-based institution.

    America has taken a beating to its image for the 2003 Iraq war – which is based on a principle of pre-emptive strike – some delegates said would have come under the cover of this crime.

    At the People’s Space at the Munyonyo conference, an inscription on the Wall of Peace launched on Monday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls for the ” ICC to investigate crimes committed by the Americans in Iraq”. The division over the crime is whether or not it can be determined by the court or by the UN Security Council.

    Addressing delegates Mr Rapp said progress on a crime of aggression should happen only with ” genuine consensus” amongst the state parties to the court. America is not a state party but Mr Rapp said it has a partner in the process.

    He said the crime raised serious concerns including that of national jurisdiction, whether states would continue cooperating with the court and could also undermine efforts by individual states to curtail ” the very crimes the ICC is trying to prosecute”.

    He said ultimately a compromise should be found to ensure that perpertrators are brought to book. The US had lobbied Uganda ahead of the conference, according to Ministry of Justice, to block the inclusion of the crime. Uganda has an agreement with Washington not to hand over American nationals to the court – although it was the first country to refer a case to the ICC.

    Its unclear what Uganda’s position is thus far but at the weekend the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs James Mugume said the country was cognisant of the serious issues that the new crime would mean to international security. As debate on the crime of aggression continues, it is expected that controversy linked to international peace will once again postpone consensus on it.

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