The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Saturday, October 18, 2008

"W" (2008)

I think I know why there haven't been movies supporting the Iraq War: it was the WMDs. The initial reason for going there was about 80% WMD, and if they'd been found, then a movie could be made that was supportive and congratulatory. But their absence is a HUGE embarrassment. No one who supported the idea is going to be happy about talking about it in a film. Now...if we "win" and withdraw "victorious" then there's a happy ending. WW2 films were made while we were still in the war, yes, but there was full expectation that "The Yanks" were going to kick ass, and the notion that we were teh good guys there was totally undisputed.

Suggesting that "Hollywood" won't let such films happen betrays a lack of understanding about how movies get made and distributed. A 10-million budget film could be put together with Stallone, Eastwood, and Willis' pocket change, let alone the production deals each of them have. If one of them starred, it would get SOME distribution, even if only the kind of distrib deal given to ego projects. If there was then a positive audience response, Hollywood, being the whores they are, would make more.

The only question to ask yourself is, why won't Conservative actors put their fortunes and careers on the line for their beliefs like Liberal ones? They have the motive, means, and opportunity...and don't do it. Vanity projects get made all the time. Why not one about Iraq? My suspicion: as badly as anti-Iraq films do at the box office, pro-Iraq film would do even worse. There is simply nothing much entertaining about this. It isn't a "good war" in most people's minds, costing more in lives, time, and treasure than we were told. We're kept away from the body bags and funerals, and the Iraqi fatality total is something the media would put front and center, 24/7, if "they" were really that Left-leaning.

I don't believe that Righties are moral cowards. Why they don't pool their funds and make a film, if that's what they really believe, is beyond me. But money talks in this town...make no mistake. I think that's the closest thing you can come to truth about it.

##

Saw "W." yesterday. It is hardly a masterpiece, but it is certainly Oliver Stone. It doesn't demonize him, and it's portrait of his father suggests that Bush Sr. is a genuinely Presidential man. But I watched some people walking out of the theater, and I don't think they were going to the snack bar. It clearly takes the position that Bush was not qualified for the job, and made mistakes a more prepared man would not have made. I wouldn't enjoy it if I was a Bush fan. Stone clearly wanted to get it out before election day (feels a little rushed at times) probably both for the profit and the cultural influence. I'd only give it a "B." If I was a Republican who still believes Bush is a great president, unless I had one hell of a sense of humor, I'd probably stay away.

But Josh Brolin deserves an Oscar nod.

38 comments:

Nancy Lebovitz said...

The funny thing is, I don't think it would that hard to write a happy-ending pro-Iraq war movie. People on the right keep saying we're winning.

Start with Saddam's atrocities. Then the conquest of Iraq. Then things getting messy, with a tone suggesting that it's just the Iraqis being unreasonable. Then things get better with the surge. Finish up with a neighborhood that's gotten safer and a note of hope. Maybe a home-coming like this.

Mike Ralls said...

> WW2 films were made while we were still in the war, yes,

So were Vietnam war films. And Korean war films. And those were both controversial wars at the time.

The Green Berrets was made in 1968, during which year Gallup asked the question "In view of the developments since we entered the fighting in Vietnam, do you think the U. S. made a mistake sending troops to fight in Vietnam?""

The results were roughly 50% in 1968 (it fluctuated month to month), which is not that far away from the % which answer the same way to the same question about the Iraq War today.

>A 10-million budget film could be put together with Stallone, Eastwood, and Willis' pocket change<

Rather a higher standard there, isn't it? AFAIK, none of the anti-Iraq films were financed privately by the actors involved (Lions for Lambs probably comes closer, but IIRC that was with United Artists, so it's not like Cruise ponied up all the cash and took all the risk). I've read that one of the central tenants of being successful in Hollywood is to never use your own money.

>The only question to ask yourself is, why won't Conservative actors put their fortunes and careers on the line for their beliefs like Liberal ones?<

Smaller size to sample from and a greater risk-to-benefit ratio IMO.

What's the ratio of pro-war actors to anti-war actors? I'd guess it's probably 20-1 or more, but let's be generous and say 10-1. So right there you've got a much smaller pool in which to draw from. Say there have been 20 anti-Iraq films, we could expect 2 pro-Iraq films then, right?

Well, except to get that two, you've got to find someone who is willing to make a film that will result in much of the rest of Hollywood HATING them. And that could damage their career for a long time if not forever.

How much riskier is it to make a huge investment into something that will piss off ninety-plus percent of your co-workers and business relations as opposed to something that will please them even if it bombs?

My main question to you would be, "Do you honestly think there is not a huge penalty in any business, Hollywood included, for being an outspoken supporter/critic of something that over 90% of that business vehemently disagrees with you on?"

That seems like a likely enough reason to me for the 2 pro-war people who could get a pro-war movie made to find other things to work on.

> There is simply nothing much entertaining about this<

I see it as much the same potential "entertainment" as any other war we've been in. For Pete sake, Saddam had Rape Rooms. It's not that hard to portray the ending of that regime as a good accomplishment, in and off itself.

"We're good, the enemy is evil, here is a story about our tribe killing the enemy." It's a classic tale that has been told or shown in virtually every single culture in human history.

It's not that hard to make that narrative into an entertaining story and stories that show "our tribe" as being good are inherently more popular than those that show "our tribe" as not being good, all else being equal.

>costing more in lives, time, and treasure than we were told.<

That was true of WWII as well as Vietnam and Korea, incidentally.

Steve Perry said...

MIke --

You truly don't understand how the biz works. You can be nicest, sweetest, most beloved actor in Hollywood and if every project you are in tanks, you won't get hired. They are superstitious down there, and if they think you are Jonah? You are doing dinner theater and hoping somebody doesn't eat all his prime rib and baked potatoes.

You can be a drunken, racist, sexist asshole, and if your movies make money? You will always get work. I could give you a list of guys and gals in and out out rehab, jail, and hated by everybody they work.

It doesn't matter. Barnes has it nailed: Money talks. Everything else runs second.

Are there producers, directors, and actors who make small movies who do it for love? Sure. But if they don't earn out, they don't get to make the next one.

Nobody cares who *likes* anybody in LaLaLand, they care can they put bodies in the seats. That is, and has been for a long time, the bottom line for studio product.

And I say it again, language notwithstanding: If you are pro-war in the opposite way that the anti-war people mean it? You are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Get psychological help.

Christian M. Howell said...

There is a very simple reason why Iraq war films don't work.

Semantically people keep making films about the "Iraq war" instead movies about a war that takes place in a desert country.

The political reasons are overshadowing the opportunity for dramatic cinema.

It's hard enough to convey the type of tension you can in a jungle but a desert hides nothing so you really have to make an urban war movie.

Cities can offer those hidden bunkers and invisible perches to raise tension.

I'm sure Oliver made a proficient film about a really, unfortunately, inept President; which, of course is a film about reasons rather than actions.

Anonymous said...

Steve Perry helpfully advised Mike Ralls:

"If you are pro-war in the opposite way that the anti-war people mean it? You are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Get psychological help."

That's right, Mike. You wouldn't want to be some sort of baby-killing psycho like John Stuart Mill, now would you?

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

From "The Contest in America," Fraser’s Magazine (February 1862).

[Historical footnote: 1862 was, of course, the high-water mark of the American Civil War -- per capita, the bloodiest war in U.S. history.]


--Erich Schwarz

Nancy Lebovitz said...

IIRC from Tolkien and the Great War that there was a shift in writing about war after WWI, which knocked the glory off of it.

Also, there's a essay by David Drake in which he argues that war became a lot worse for soldiers in important ways as it became more mechanized. War became more continuous, both through the night and seasonally, and death became more random.

Marty S said...

The anti-war people always have an advantage while a war is going on. All wars are bad by definition. Lots of people are getting killed and they are expensive. All an individual has to do to make an anti-war film is make a film about the horrors of war that always exist during a war. However, some wars are necessary. Until a war is both successful and seen as necessary it is difficult to make a pro-war film.

Steve Perry said...

War -- Mill notwithstanding -- is the acme of stupidity. Organized killing on a grand scale. It ought to be the last tool in the box, a thing done with the greatest reluctance when all reasonable means have failed, when it is the only choice for survival.

There are no good wars. No just, fair, wars.

There have been some that had to be fought, but Iraq isn't one of them. America, led by Cowboy Current Occupant, invaded a country that was talkin' smack, kicked in its door, hosed the occupants with a sleet of gunfire, and spent blood and money to accomplish what? There weren't any al qaeda in Iraq. No WMDs. No Iraqis on the planes. The country is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and as long as there are Sunni, Shiite, and Kurds who hate each other's guts, has as much chance of becoming a peaceful democracy as the King's Men have of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Is there nobody here who has ever studied the history of Middle East? Ask the British. Ask the Russians. Ask Americans with two neurons to spark at each other.

The current administration lied about the reasons, lied about the justifications, and cowed people who should have known better into going along. It played on fear.
And it was all part of the Bush/Wolfowitz Doctrines. They were looking for ways to do it before 9/11.

If we don't attack Iraq, why, Saddam is going to drop a nuke into your backyard barbecue!

Saddam didn't so much as throw a rock at us.

It was bullshit then, it's bullshit now, and if you want to stick your fingers in your ears and close your eyes and pretend that John Stuart Mill's jingoistic rhetoric justifies it, go ahead.

Anonymous said...

"... John Stuart Mill's jingoistic rhetoric ..."

Mill was British, writing about the Civil War, in favor of the North, at a time when the bulk of respectable British opinion favored the South.

Mill wrote what he did because he thought that freeing blacks from slavery was worth fighting a war to achieve, and thought that advocating the North's victory -- at a time when most British men in his social class sneered at the North and cheered on the South -- was preferable to being liked by his own countrymen.

How any of that makes Mill, or Mike Ralls, "jingoistic" or "a few sandwiches short of a picnic" is really not obvious.


--Erich Schwarz

Anonymous said...

War is fun. I say so because I've been in a few. By fun I mean that war seems to be taken upon as a kind of recreational pursuit like no other in human endeavor if you set sex aside momentarily. And yes, I included the oxymoron of recreational very much on purpose.

War is profitable to say the least. Current events aside, has the USA ever been involved in another one in it's history with a recession in tandem? I'm hard-pressed to recall one. Can you? If so it can't have been many or even a few of them.

War provides mankind to act on it's highest level of destructive creativity in war. This I know well. Subsequently out of this creative binge there's almost always some sort of technological upside in several shapes, forms, and fashions. For example, ironic as it was that a German invented radar, it was the British in needing a quick heads up for inbound German planes during WW2 that has more to do with you being able to pop popcorn in under a minute or so than anything else, along with other radar inspired usages and other techno-advances as well. Like GPS, and more. A LOT more.

Then too, there's a thought that Thomas Malthus proffered long ago. Basically, as a society grows it MUST be fed figuratively and literally with all things food and otherwise to keep it happy. Historically it's been shown over and over that an unhappy populace is and can be a very dangerous and rebellious populace. Civil war kind of rebellious. Leaders that predate Caesar knew this well and nothing concerning it has changed one iota.
What can't be produced is almost always taken and that's when war gets useful because those beyond your borders generally don't and won't comply or share your country's internal feelings concerning the needs and wants of it's populace. Japan didn't bomb Pearl Harbor just for shits and giggles and the lack of something else better to do. It had a growing population it had to feed and thought China and the rest of SE Asia would make a nice annexed garden. However, it needed oil for it's war machine and the then closest known place to take it was the Dutch East Indies. The only thing stopping them was the US Seventh's Fleet presence.

Finally and skipping quite a bit. Guys like to blow shit up and watch it go sky high. In other words, war provides mankind to engage in all kinds of unrestricted and id absent actions and behavior. Sacrifice, bravery, adventure, recognition, a group of like minded individuals with a single sense of purpose, survival. The brothers-in-arms connection that is very, very real. Satisfying what would appear to be aggression needs in males all over. And more. War is the perfect delivery-system for all of this and the only one that up to now appears to be the only one that can be produced on a mass participation level. There's only so many guys that can be on a football or soccer team. War can get EVERYBODY into the act, men, and women. It's worldwide regional global sport.

If you want war; covert, clandestine, open, hot or cold, explained in great detail as far as this country goes, get your hands on a copy of the book, WAR IS A RACKET, written in 1935 by then retired Major-General Smedley Butler. Nothing has changed. Not one bit. He knew a little something about war, how it worked and came to be, as he received the Medal of Honor, twice, in his 34 year USMC career.

Shady_Grady said...

Iraq did not attack the United States.

Iraq had no plans to attack the United States.

War is such a horrible thing that the only thing which can justify it is self-defense.

The support for the US war on Iraq is logically and philosophically inconsistent. It fails the Categorical Imperative. How many people would be willing to grant other nations the right to invade a country that hadn't attacked them?

The US attack on Iraq was in no means self-defense. The people who drew up and carried out the attack knew that Iraq had neither the capacity nor the will to attack the US. They knew that Iraq did not have any nuclear weapons.
The country with the most powerful military in the world attacked a country that had no effective military.

Leaving aside the fiction that the US invaded Iraq to rid the Iraqis of Saddam Hussein, there were a million ways to get rid of Hussein short of war.

Aggressive war is an international crime, per Nuremberg. Invading a country that has not attacked you is illegal under both US and international law. Bush and Blair are criminals.

I wonder if the people who think that the war has been worth it or is a good thing could in good conscience say that to the families of the Iraqis who've been impacted by it-whether it's relatives of the 50,000 women and children who are prostituting themselves in Syria or Lebanon so that they can eat, or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed by interreligious slaughter or by American forces or the millions of Iraqis who now live as refugees or even to the average Iraqi who has to eke out a living surrounded by checkpoints, trigger happy foreign soldiers and newly emboldened religious or nationalistic nuts.

But even the people who are not moved by those costs should at least think about the fact that we can't see the future. We don't know what blowback or future threat will arise from this disgusting war, any more than the people who overthrew the democratically elected government in Iran in 1955
could foresee that their actions would eventually bring about the Iranian revolution in 1979.

War is an obscenity.

Josh Jasper said...

Well, retired General Colin Powell just endorsed Obama. I think he knows a thing or two about war, foreign policy, and peace.

Anonymous said...

"... we can't see the future. We don't know what blowback or future threat will arise from this disgusting war ..."

Unfortunately, that very much cuts both ways.

When Germany under Hitler occupied the Rhineland in 1936, France and Britain could have militarily routed the German Army. They chose not to, because of the sorts of arguments made against the overthrow of Hussein's regime in Iraq.

That ended up being a fantastically bad political decision which led to the deaths of tens of millions of human beings; but only a few cranky people argued against it at the time. And if the French and British had intervened, there would, as a necessary byproduct of the intervention's success, have never have been factual evidence of just how consequential that intervention was -- since the world would have been spared the further rise of Nazi Germany pre-emptively.

Since we can't know the future infallibly, I'm afraid both pro- and anti-war arguers are left with the same frustratingly imperfect tools: guesswork about possible consequences, and their best efforts at moral intuition. I don't fault the anti-war side for making different guesses than I do; that's what they pretty much have to do. I just wish they had more awareness of the possibility that not everybody who disagrees with them is stupid, evil, or crazy.


--Erich Schwarz

Josh Jasper said...

Erich -
When Germany under Hitler occupied the Rhineland in 1936, France and Britain could have militarily routed the German Army. They chose not to, because of the sorts of arguments made against the overthrow of Hussein's regime in Iraq.


Actually, a better parallel would be to say that we learned that lesson when we kicked him out of Kuwait. A tin pot dictator atacked an ally, and the world, US and UK included, kicked him out.

Keep in mind, may of the "anti-war" left didn't even march much against invading Afghanistan. Iraq II was the war that divided the country, not Iraq I, Afghanistan, or even NATO's action in Serbia.

I was pretty sure that the UN inspectors, and lack of an international coalition supporting us meant that Saddam Hussein was just an evil tyrant, not a threat.

Instead, what we did was the equivalent to the Allies kicking the Germans out (Afghanistan), then turning and invading part of Russia (Iraq) because communism (Baathism) was bad and evil.

Is it evil to have been in favor of the Iraq invasion? If you really thought there was an imminent threat of invasion of the US, or major attacks against our forces or allies, then no.

But I do think it was stupid to think there was such a threat

Marty S said...

There are really three issues here. One is when if ever is war justified. The second is should we have started the war in Iraq. The third is given the historical fact that we did start it, when and how do we extract ourselves from Iraq. At the very least some of the posts are answering question one in terms of question two. Eric's example and the civil war example make the case that sometimes war is justified. I agree with this. They don't have any relevance to whether the Iraq invasion was justified, which I personally believe was a big mistake.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Anonymous, I don't know if you're still reading, but I hope that if you come back, you chose a nickname.

In any case, while I detest his point of view, we'd better know that people like him exist, especially if they're at all common. They're going to be part of the decision to have wars or not.

Anonymous said...

"... why won't Conservative actors put their fortunes and careers on the line for their beliefs like Liberal ones?"

If you do personally know conservatives in Hollywood, then, instead of trying to guess at their motives (perhaps ineptly), why not ... you know ... ask them about this?

If you don't personally know any conservatives in Hollywood, that suggests a partial answer right there: either they're very much in the minority, or they find it impossible to be publically conservative and get work, or both.

The "can't get work" explanation would seem to have at least some anecdotal support:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/features/people/e3i047c06d053d60ec823bb8e72ef411538


--Erich Schwarz

Josh Jasper said...

Marty - There are really three issues here. One is when if ever is war justified.

Yes, it is sometimes justified. Imminent threat, an attack on an ally, or massive humanitarian reasons. However, the last two should be mitigated by a clear plan for success, a cessation of hostilities after the conflict, and the support of the international community.

The second is should we have started the war in Iraq.

We should not have invaded Iraq. He was not an imminent threat. We already kicked him out of Kuwait. Despite Saddam Hussein being horrible, conditions there are now worse than they were, and show no sign of getting much better. We did not have sufficient international support for the invasion.

The third is given the historical fact that we did start it, when and how do we extract ourselves from Iraq.

If Iraq is a sovereign nation, we have to leave when they says so. They said somewhere close to 16 months from now.

Steve Perry said...

"How any of that makes Mill, or Mike Ralls, "jingoistic" or "a few sandwiches short of a picnic" is really not obvious."

Ah, but see, that's another place where we differ. It's pefectly obvious to me.

You know what the term "jingoistic" means? It came from the Brits, by the by. Somebody who starts out with, Yes, yes, war is awful and all, but -- and then goes on to make the case for it, regardless of eloquence, isn't convincing.

You're a hawk, Eric, and we don't need any more of those right now, thank you. The one we have in the White House has screwed us up real good.

The war in Iraq was wrong from the git-go, based on lies, badly prosecuted, and the differences between it and Vietnam are that we have lost fewer troops in the sand than we did in the jungles.

The world is full of tinpot dictators, always has been, and I don't recall that anybody elected America Gort to clean their clocks.

That you are so adamant in defending a foreign policy that is morally bankrupt and patently a failure indicates that you aren't really paying attention. If you want to bring back American Imperialism, the days when the darkies knew their places and the women didn't have the vote, count me out.
The bridge to the past doesn't call to me. I'd be more than happy to see it fall into the river.

Steven Barnes said...

I will go out of my way to find some Conservatives who live and work in Hollywood to talk to. But it will take time--I really don't go door to door asking people what their political orientation is. My former agent is very conservative, but left Hollywood to care for an ailing father. But next time I'm at a party, I'll see if I can get some answers.

Casper said...

Nancy,

Anonymous, I don't know if you're still reading, but I hope that if you come back, you chose a nickname.

In any case, while I detest his point of view, we'd better know that people like him exist, especially if they're at all common. They're going to be part of the decision to have wars or not.

Anon, as in me? If so, call me Casper if you like.

I'm a long, long pal of Steve's. How long? Knew each other when we both were sprouting 'pubes. He asked me awhile back if I'd drop-in occasionally and lend a view here and there and in I guess, my area of dubious expertise.

Now, the people that ultimately decide whether we have wars or not? Easy one. The cast of characters change, but not their motives or areas of profession. Here's what I hope to be an abbreviated version of Making War 101:

1. Have a covert action group that is just an extension of your foreign-policy making machine. Those within the government, and those not. Follow me?

2. Provide this covert action group with a cover organization, and be sure to add "intelligence" in it's formal name to imply that that's what it's function is, to supply intelligence.

3. This part is CRUCIAL. Tell your cover organization that it's SOLE job and purpose is to supply it's leaders, or foreign-policy honchos with the justification for employing your covert action group. In essence, manufacture whatever evidence you need to suit your purposes. Truth is optional. You're only trying to bullshit a very small portion of the population to make your subsequent actions reasonably plausible.

4. Get your propaganda machines up to speed. Long before Josef Goebbels came along we had Wm. Randolph Hearst, and it is because of him and his machine we all can go to the Virgin Islands w/o benefit of a passport, and call Puerto Rico a territory. We gave The Philippines back to the natives. Oh, the story? "Remember The Maine!". Turns out the Maine blew itself up. This has been confirmed.

5. Once you have #4 in order, let 'er rip. Use racism, bigotry, and if that won't work, zenophobia isa good 'ol reliable. Tell BIG lie, half truths, show photos of dead kids, call the other guy insane and demonize him silly, and do all of this and more with a sense of imminent danger and urgency. If you can't plant evidence, make some up just to get the door open (Gulf of Tonkin, anyone? Bueller, Bueller?) and don't worry about expousure when the cat gets out the bag. You'll be in there already and US blood will already have been shed.

That's the short of it. Do all the above and you'll have a war on your hands in no time flat. A wise old man I once knew in another life laid it all out in the open in a book that *cough* "mysteriously" had EVERY printing of it bought up. Well, almost all. Copies can be found, but mostly overseas or collectors willing to part with theirs for several hundred bucks. However, the good news is that you can find it online. The author is the late Colonel L. "Fletch" Fletcher Prouty, and the title is THE SECRET TEAM.

It's the real deal and dead-center correct.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Casper, I admire your innocent enthusiasm, but that's just on the emotional level. After a short time, practicality kicks in.

If people had their wars in places where no one else was living, I'd think of it as yet another hobby I don't have to understand, especially if the fighters paid for their own fun.

However, the proportion of non-combatants killed, injured, and impoverished by war keeps going up, and some proportion of soldiers hate war, even if they're there out of duty, loyalty, need for money, or because they've been drafted. Those people are just as real as you are.

I'm not going to say war is totally useless, but we don't know how many inventions haven't happened because of the costs of war.

It might be interesting that I brought up why people start wars, and you went into detail about how they start wars.

Greg said...

'Nan,

INNOCENT ENTHUSIASM and EMOTIONAL LEVE?! OK. If you only knew. I was an active participant.

"However, the proportion of non-combatants killed, injured, and impoverished by war keeps going up, and some proportion of soldiers hate war, even if they're there out of duty, loyalty, need for money, or because they've been drafted. Those people are just as real as you are".

Yes, they are. Very much so. And I am in no way attempting to marginalize them. But in the very practical-matter sense, so what? Now that's not necessarily MY feeling and view on the subject, but wars are started by the people I mentioned using something along the lines of detached remote-control and tallied up on a sort of indifferent at best, and malevolent at worst, balance-sheet. I kid thee not. Human life is an actual mathematical equation. Just consider a soldier's life insurance policy under the bottom line of a war-profiteering machines (yes, plural) balance-sheet. Draconian and Machiavellian, but it is what it regrettably is.

"I'm not going to say war is totally useless, but we don't know how many inventions haven't happened because of the costs of war".

And thus, it enters not into the equation. It's not the unknown that war makers are attempting to justify and quantify. It's the known or highly suspected based on past performance that is. War has made and produced much. That's what's understood. It's a BUSINESS. P&L, Risk, a certain liability, capital gains, the whole nine-yards. A giant widget factory where people are only a material resource. Sucks, but ...

"It might be interesting that I brought up why people start wars...".

The whys vary. At the end of the day you could pretty much say the whys are the same as any spat between any given individual, just on a much larger scale. Most of mankind's Seven Deadly Sins would account for a good many. However, it would appear that land, money, natural resources, secular and social differences etc., etc., would account for almost all in the 20th and now 21st century. Certainly all the ones I've attended had an underlying pecuniary interest to them.


"...and you went into detail about how they start wars".

It's what I know best.

I thought that by explaining the partial hows it would help to explain the whys.

Go back if you like and pick out the war making buttons that were pushed. That's the key. Get enough people going along those lines and the rest is easy. Easy to assuage things post-war, too. Not everybody. Isn't meant to. But, enough. History bears this out. That's why wars have been so popular in history. You think the Romans back home in Rome living good and enjoying incredible prosperity and wealth gave a good goddamn about Caesar and others tear assing all over Europe and Asia Minor and killing people by the bushel as they went about it? Come on now. Not much has changed. Only the wars have gotten smaller, more regional. World wars came to an effective and practical end on August 9, 1945.

Casper

Greg said...

Nancy,

A PS:

Seems like a pretty dismal personal view huh? Would be, only it's not my personal view. Just an observational one based on professional experience.

Like most retired "participants" I've read about, know, and knew, a career life in such matters tends to alter one's views in mellowing and almost...ALMOST...pacifying (as-in pacifist) degrees. It's almost like the allegory of the old sailor that retires and drops his anchor far inland when he can't smell the sea anymore. The old samurai that spends his remaining years tending a garden and fooling around with his bonsai making. That sorta thing.

Professional soldiers and those with like soldiering duties in other veins spend little, if any, time while in the pursuit of their careers mulling over what politicians do, or don't. It's philosophically unhealthy and unsuited to the tasks. I suppose you can liken it to the thousands of people that are employed by the IRS. Probably all very nice people just doing a job or making a career out of things. I highly doubt they sit back at night pondering woefully over being in the employ of legislative thieves who next to the Border Patrol mirror the closest thing we have to the Gestapo in this country.

Casper

Steve Perry said...

Unfortunately, Casper -- now there's a telling nom-de-screen -- has the how and why of things down, vis a vis the strategy and tactics of moving men and machines to war.

Way too much resonance ringing true unless he's been there, done that.

Long ago, I gave up on the notion that we the people were getting the real skinny from our elected leaders as to what's what. I was not disturbed by the notion that Nixon was a lying crook, by by the fact he was an inept lying crook. His crack, elite B&E team, supposedly formed of pros had so little tradecraft they were nailed by a night watchman? Oh, how low the spooks have fallen!

(I was working as a PI at the time, doing, um, quasi-legal things, and I just shook my head when I heard the story. What, as Bugs Bunny liked to say, a bunch of maroons.)

But the hand that swings the sword does change from time to time, and the reasons that cause the blade to be drawn can be adjusted. I am not so cynical that I won't believe that.

That the current administration didn't want to hear the truth from its intelligence agencies has been reported high, wide, and repeatedly. That the VP essentially told the reporters to bring him want he wanted to hear or stay home was no surprise, nor is it shocking that the guys who worked for agencies with three initials gave him what he wanted. Truth, justice, and the American way gets subverted when somebody is trying to keep a roof over his head and food on the table. Spooks I have known tend to be very pragmatic people. When the river is running high and fast, you don't swim against the current.

"Shit happens." had to be coined by a soldier, sailor, marine, or spy.

Maybe it doesn't matter, but I believe that the guy sitting in the big chair needs to be somebody who wants to hear what's really going on. Whether he'll choose to go with truth or not is another question, but if he doesn't want to know? That's scary.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Cheney-Bush-Wolfowitz agendas are what got us into the current craphouse. I don't think Obama is The One, but he certainly would have to work really hard to fuck things up worse than the guys running things now.

Is he gonna do everything he promises? Of course not. But if he delivers 10%, he'll do a better job than the Current Occupant.

That's worth my vote.

Casper said...

Steve P.,

Yes, Casper has been there, done that, has several t-shirts. Mr. Barnes can confirm.

I really don't know what to tell you, but I'll try based on personal and observational opinion.

Our intelligence services operate under several inherent handicaps. The primary one being is that the head of any given one is a POTUS appointee or approved one. There's a noteworthy dance-to-the-piper's-tune and nobody wants to tell the king he's naked aspect to this for the most obvious of reasons.

Add to that, you have those in the Senate Intel Committee, Nat'l Intel Review Board, the Cabinet, and perhaps the POTUS himself with a certain myopia and hearing disorder when things are shown to them that they'd rather just not see or hear.

To compound this, you have a very, very human element to have to deal with concerning the intel employees themselves with directives to find SOMETHING because those you report to just KNOW there's something to be found and don't want to hear anything to the contrary. This is where the production manufacturing aspects come into play. Not always, but often enough.

Then, there's the military where assets are drawn to carry out "alternative diplomatic discourse and actions" who have no say in the matter whatsoever. Well, sometimes. It depends.

On the Plumbers:

There was another thought on that matter that several older gents told me long ago that made more and more sense as time went along. Intelligence communities are AWFULLY vengeful and vindictive entities that forget nothing and just bide their time. From what I was told (I was still in my "infancy" at that time) Nixon made enemies, bad ones, in that community. If you recall Monsieurs Hunt, Fiorini (Frank Sturgis' real name) & Company and where the equipment was drawn you'll see that the Big Bad Wolf was in on things, too. Now do you REALLY think that guard just stumbled in there on accident and found some tape on ONE door in an entire building he was responsible for and THEE very right moment?

Do a little online research on Frank Willis and see what became of him. Look into his subsequent life very, very closely. You will quickly notice a pattern when you compare him to other "civilians" caught up in intelligence games.

I'm not saying that is what happened for SURE. But it DOES fit a very long pattern and those folks tend to do what has worked before. I have no problem accepting Mr. Willis was directed to either Larry O'Brian's floor or very door at the right moment in time. Things went TOO smooth in that regard. Those guys had way too much skulduggery experience going back over a decade to be caught that flat footed. Their trade and fieldcraft was well enough...I just don't think they counted upon an inside joker in the deck with a fast last-minute shuffle.

Finally, you'll have to talk to Steve one day on this one. I'll tell him to tell you.

Intel folks do two things EXCEPTIONALLY well. CYA and create the scenarios that insure it's success more often than not. What gets reported is what THEY WANT reported. How else would the reporters know what to report? This kind of ass covering can be done any number of ways to circumvent calling a poop session on the grounds at Langley, or wherever. "Sources", or rather assets are in every department of government. This is how a good many covers come into being during ones career. It's nothing, nothing at all, go get a tap on the shoulder from another member of the club and have a "Tell so-and-so such-and-such" and viola! Reported.

The good part is those that received the info and either paid attention to it, or not, won't tell. Those that told sure won't be saying too much about it. And those that did the actual reporting to the people don't and won't know any better. Another jolly good and well tested way to do things is to get an ally to do it for you and blame any mistakes on them. Recall Colin Powell's experience with that? It wasn't an accident.

Steve Perry said...

Now do you REALLY think that guard just stumbled in there on accident and found some tape on ONE door in an entire building he was responsible for at THE very right moment?

I confess I'm not big on Grand Conspiracy Theory, the old malice-versus-stupidity argument, but this does shine an intriguing light on things that I also confess I hadn't considered.

My, my. If this is true, 'twould make a whole lot more sense.

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