Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bunker Busters

I watched a documentary on The History Channel last night called "Saddam's Secret Tunnels." The title is deceptive - the show is far less about the tunnels than about the massive bunkers connected via tunnels. It's almost as if they purposefully changed the title to make the show seem more boring.

They could have called it "Saddam's Hidden Bunkers" or something, which is a bit sexier than actually including the phrase "tunnel" in the title of your TV show. If I were designing an hour-long documetnary for TV, I wouldn't think to include the word "tunnel" unless I absolutely had to. If the documentary is about the Holland Tunnel, though, you're kind of screwed.

Anyway, the documentary was okay, even though it did contain a lot of the same file footage repeated over and over again. Soldier Opening Heavy Metal Door, you've now officially had your 15 minutes of fame, plus an extra 45, not counting commercial breaks. What took me by surprise is how completely the film bought into the American government's view of the war in Iraq.

The entire film comes from an American mindset - Saddam was a great criminal, we went in to find him and set the Iraqi people free, we did so swiftly and efficiently, now he's in jail where he can't hurt anyone and Iraq lived happily ever after.

I mean, during a discussion of the spider hole in which Saddam was actually found, the film cuts from an image of Saddam being arrested to Iraqi kids dancing in the streets and waving American flags. Now, I mean, sure, there is some file footage in existance of happy Arabs praising the US. But would you say that's a fair representation of the aftermath of this war? Or of the aftermath of even Saddam's capture?

Granted, it's not terribly hard to make Hussein look like a bad guy. He is a bad guy. A spectacularly bad guy. An accept-his-brother-in-law-into-the-family-only-to-turn-on-him-and-have-him-tortured kind of bad guy.

But the documentary was so focused on revelling in his malevolence, elevating him and his nitwit small-time Iraqi goon squad to the SS at the height of the Third Reich.

I'm not saying History Channel is despicable or unAmerican or anything. Just that it's amazing to me how quickly this stuff becomes set in our minds, becomes "history" instead of just "factual information." Will this be the official narrative of this war? Will future textbooks read like this:

9/11 - The Aftermath

In the months that followed the attacks on the World Trade Center, American president George W. Bush made a concerted effort to track down terrorists abroad, using what he and his Vice-President Dick Cheney termed shock and awe tactics. In one instance, American troops liberated the nation of Afghanistan from its cruel, totalitarian regime The Taliban. In another, the military briefly occupied the city of Baghdad, deposing thuggish dictator Saddam Hussein and replacing him with a government of the Iraqi people, under the authority of the Halliburton Corporation and RJ Reynolds.

Discussion Questions

1. Doesn't George W. Bush kind of resemble an ape? Explain.

2. After his arrest in Tikrit, many things were removed from Saddam Hussein's beard. Identify and briefly discuss three of these things.

3. Did you know that members of the Taliban had been in Washington only a few years before the invasion of Afghanistan, to discuss the American War on Drugs? Who gives a shit?

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