Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wind-Up Toy Soldiers

The last ten days have been among the most shameful in the history of American journalism.
So begins a piece by Arianna Huffington in today's Huffington Post. She decries the lack of media attention to the revelation by the New York Times Sunday a week ago about what can be described only as collusion between the Defense Dept and the tribe of so-called "military analysts" who beguiled us with their charts, maps, and expertise during the early days of the Iraq war. It seems these retired brass guys were specially schmoozed by Rumsfeld and cronies with special briefings and provided talking points on the Iraq situation. In other words, all these guys were primed and prompted by the Defense establishment to say exactly what it wanted them to say. So these guys dutifully trotted out Bush administration propaganda under the guise of unbiased expertise on military matters. Wind-up toy soldiers marching to their pre-programmed beat. This comes as no surprise to me. I was around the US military long enough to know what a duplicitous organization it is. I can remember how TV was full of testosterone chest-beating about the glorious US march to victory in the early days of the war. "Mission Accomplished" was right around the corner.

It also turns out that a large percentage of these mouthpieces are also lobbyists for various and sundry defense contractors, the bloated bastards who have and are still making obscene profits from the death and destruction in Iraq. Not to mention the billions upon billions they're getting for weapons systems still in development.

All of this dovetails with a very good movie I watched with my wife last night: "Lions for Lambs", a Robert Redford-directed flick (also with Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep) about Afghanistan conflict. Streep a TV reporter gets and exclusive one hour interview with Cruise, a high-flying GOP senator with his eye on the White House. Long story short: he advocates a "new" strategy to win the war, one that in Streep's eyes, seems destined to the same futile and bloody failure as all the previous strategies. The movie seems to bear this out. But . . . Streep's boss refuses to frame the story through her eyes, but rather insists that being a shill for the senator's views is the only correct way to go.

By the way, a lot of critics didn't like the movie . . . some explicitly damned it because it was more about ideas than characters. Well, there you go. Maybe that's why I liked it.
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