In the late 1700s the Queen of France, Marie Antionette was quite possibly the most hated woman on the Continent. Monarchical discontent had been building for quite some time, François Fénelon’s “The adventures of Telemachus” provided the lining for the future revolution in the reign of Louis XIV, but by the time Louis XVI was removed, along with his family and the Queen from Versailles, the anti-Monarch sentiment was deep and profound, but ultimately it was whipped up in the first place, by lies. Pamphlets had spread, like tabloids, printing and shaping the public mood, moulding public sentiment, guiding the people like sheep, printing lie after lie about the Queen. Eventually, her reign and her life were taken, and history began to judge her as a monster. History now, is less vicious on her. History actually quite likes her. An awful and ignorant Queen, but a harmless woman who loved her children. The power of the press was born.
Interestingly, in 2004, the press really had taken on an anti-George Bush tone. Tabloids depicted him as a monster who was only interested in oil. The people followed suit. Joke after joke was aimed at his apparent lack of intelligence. The anti-Bush tone was set firmly against a tide of anti-Iraq war sentiment. The common wisdom now, seems to be that Bush was only interested in oil. Now, having recently came out as a left wing supporter of the Iraq war, and being quite the critic of George Bush on many policies, not least his frivolous tax cuts which simply quickened the onslaught of recession; I tend to cringe endlessly when George Bush jokes are made; they seem too simple, and too ‘milked’. The lack of understanding many on the anti-war Left have, when it comes to the horrific nature of the Saddam regime, and their willingness to allow that particular regime to continue and calling it ‘peace’ simply affirms my belief that they are the real war criminals. One of the heroes of the anti-war left is horrendous documentary maker, Michael Moore. To sit and watch Fahrenheit 9/11, is to be shocked at its content when taken at face value. Though, when one sits and questions every point Moore makes, and investigates them for oneself, on even the most basic of levels, one is presented with a whole host of inaccuracies bursting out of that film. I will talk you through a couple.
One of the main claims by Moore in the film, and in fact most on the anti-war Left in the US and Britain, and a key theme of Fahrenheit 9/11 is that Iraq;
“never threatened to attack the United States. A nation that had never threatened to attack the United States. A nation that had never murdered a single American citizen.”
- Leaving aside the fact that Hitler didn’t attack the UK, nor did Milosovich attack the US, the point that Iraq had never killed American citizens or threatened to attack the US, is simply untrue. Whilst it might be true that Iraqi soldiers were not waiting for the command to storm Pennsylvania Avenue, to say that Saddam had never murdered a single American citizen is disingenuous at best and a complete manipulation of the audiences emotions, jumping on the bandwagon of anti-Iraq war sentiment at worst. It is a fact that the Saddam regime had funded suicide bombers against Israel, which killed Americans. It is a fact that the Saddam regime paid the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who targeted Americans and Israelis. It is a fact that the Saddam regime gave refuge to terrorist Abu Nidal, a man who ordered the deaths of 16 people at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Rome from gunfire and killing two more when his men threw grenades at people boarding a flight to Israel. A man who said of himself:
“I am the evil spirit which moves around only at night causing … nightmares.”
It is a fact that Nidal’s men hijacked Pan AM flight 73 in 1986, and killed 7 Americans on board. It is a fact that Saddam hatched a plan to assassinate George Bush Sr in 1993 during his visit to Kuwait, with a massive car bomb that would have killed many many more, had the plot not been foiled. It is a fact that the Iraqi newspaper Babel, run by Saddam’s sun Uday, printed an article in 1997 an order to:
“American and British interests, embassies, and naval ships in the Arab region should be the targets of military operations and commando attacks by Arab political forces.”
- That sounds like a threat to me.
Another publication run by Uday, called Al-Iqtisadi, said:
“…The confrontation with the aggressors should transcend the means of condemnation and rejection, particularly in the Arab and Muslim street. They should use all means-and they are numerous-against the aggressors, including boycott, closing air and sea ports to civilian ships and airplanes that belong to the U.S. and its allies, striking their economic interests and establishments, and considering everything American as a military target, including embassies, installations, and American companies, and to create suicide/martyr [fidaiyoon] squads to attack American military and naval bases inside and outside the region, and mine the waterways to prevent the movement of war ships…
- Also sounds like a threat to me. It is bizarre that Iraq would have the nerve to refer to the US as aggressors, given the history of the Saddam regime in relation to the absolute genocide of the Kurds (the only war crime we can accuse the US of, in my opinion, is leaving Saddam in power for far too long)
Michael Moore played on his quote as if Iraq were innocent victims of American Imperialist aggression. He was wrong. Moore should apologise to the families of any American killed by an Iraqi funded Palestinian suicide bomber in Israel, for his crowd pleasing bullshit.
One wonders how the anti-war brigade would have responded during World War II. There is a scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 that show Baghdad before the invasion; a thriving city filled with people sitting at cafes and laughing in a care free manner. A happy child flies a kite. Everything seems lovely and joyful. And then the bombs hit! The insinuation is that media simply ignored the fact that Saddam’s Iraq was actually full of joy and that now you, having watched Moore’s film, know better! You are of course, not invited to investigate for yourself, nor are you given a picture of life elsewhere in Iraq. You are just asked to believe subliminally, that Iraq was a place of wonderment before the evil Americans destroyed it. The problem is quite severe here. Moore is responsible on the Left, for what we on the Left deplore institutions like Fox News for; total and utter misrepresentation:
If Moore had have focused on the Marsh Arabs instead of Baghdad, we would have seen a beautiful garden of Eden in the 1980s, filled with fishing communities and the most stunning natural wonders on the face of the Earth. Tiny islands, with one or two huts on each, like the waterways of Venice, but wider and lit up with the homes of families who had inhabited the marshes for centuries, floating between neighbours on tiny little home made rafts. He could then have contrasted that view of paradise, with now. In 1991 Saddam firstly had the water supply poisoned. This resulted in hundreds of deaths. Then, drained the marsh lands, purely because the Marsh Arabs were Shi’ites. He then rounded up the majority of the inhabitants, and had many tortured and killed. Paradise had suddenly turned into hell. It is now a desert. Since the 2003 invasion, there has been an effort by the Americans to reinvent the marshlands, and it is working. The Hammar and Hawizeh Marshes especially, accoring to USAID is back to 50% of 1970s levels, which is remarkable given the absolute destruction Saddam caused. Moore chose to ignore this.
To show a film reel of people drinking coffee and flying kites in Baghdad in 2002 is irrelevant beyond comprehension. It’s imagery is simply used to convey a prevailing theme, which is misguidance on a grand scale. Similarly, we could show film of happy Germans during the Holocaust, or happy Serbians during Milošević’s reign, it would be meaningless.
One of the bigger manipulations in the film, is the part where Moore says:
“out of the 535 members of Congress, only one had an enlisted son in Iraq.”
- Technically, the statement is true. Though it is true simply because of the emotive language. It is spoken by Moore in a sombre and disappointed tone, designed to provoke outrage. He is then seen stopping members of Congress and asking them if they’d be happy to send their children to Iraq. One of those Congressmen stopped by Moore was Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy (R-MN). Kennedy responds by pointing out that his son was en route to Afghanistan and his nephews had already served in the forces. This response was cut, and instead Kennedy is shown looking bewildered. When asked about this omission, Moore said:
“He mentioned that he had a nephew that was going over to Afghanistan, So then I said ‘No, no, that’s not our job here today. We want you to send your child to Iraq. Not a nephew.’”
- This is wholly disingenuous of Moore who absolutely knew exactly how the interview would come across, and that he was presenting one side of the story; in which Congressmen are selfish and evil, whilst other people’s families die in war. He had no reason to edit out Kennedy’s response, other than to promote his frivolous and sanctimonious crap. Further, Kennedy, whilst looking bemused by Moore in the film, actually offers to help Moore in the actual, unedited version:
Moore: Congressman, I’m trying to get members of Congress to get their kids to enlist in the Army and go over to Iraq.
Moore: Is there any way you could help me with that?
Kennedy: How would I help you?
Moore: Pass it out to other members of Congress.
Kennedy: I’d be happy to — especially those who voted for the war. I have a nephew on his way to Afghanistan.
Similarly in the film, Delaware Republican Michael Castle is seen on his phone waving away Moore’s calls to send his children to Iraq. He seems ignorant and refusing to answer the point Moore is making. The thing that Moore doesn’t tell you, is that Delaware Republican Michael Castle doesn’t have any children.
101 veterans served in the US House of Reps in 2005. 101 put their lives on the line for America. They should now stand outside Moore’s house and ask if the film maker is willing to do the same.
Aside from the glaring omissions and manipulations, the premise that Iraq was no threat and pretty peaceful before the invasion is itself gravely disturbing and bordering on criminal. Iraq under the Ba’athist regime was one of the most vicious and genocidal regimes in history. Perhaps the last great dictatorship of the 20th Century. To have followed the advice of the Michael Moore’s of the World, would have been to ignore the humanitarian disaster that was Iraq, and shout ‘peace’ on the streets, turning our heads to the suffering in the process.
The anti-war stance of Fahrenheit 9/11 was slowly blurred with an anti-Bush stance, as if the two are one in the same. As if being a supporter of the war means we must also support Bush, or vice versa. For example, in yet another sombre tone, Moore, sounding close to tears, says that the Bush regime:
“supported closing veterans hospitals.”
- This is vastly manipulative on so many levels. It is used to perpetuate the nonsensical idea that the Bush regime cared little about the soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, because their minds were on other things; oil. The problem is, it isn’t true. The Administration’s Department of Veteran Affairs did indeed propose to close certain Veteran hospitals, but only in areas with rapidly declining populations and under utilised equipment, where patients could be served better in hospitals close by. Along with this, the Administration proposed building new Veterans hospitals in areas with growing demand, and building new blind rehabilitation centers and spinal cord injury centers. None of this was mentioned in Fahrenheit 9/11.
I am slowly learning that even those who you believe have the same fundamental values as myself; a sense of social justice, redistributive wealth, freedom of expression, a desire to get to the truth – are often the people one should be most weary about. The black and white premise that the Left seems to attribute to the Bush regime; one of great evil, or to the Iraq war; one based on a lie, for oil, is often so disastrously simple and despairingly unconsidered, that it must not detract you from forming your own conclusions rather than pulling you into its merky waters of over reaction and over simplification, such as those on the Left who call constantly for Blair to be tried as a war criminal. The policy of non-intervention must be followed to its natural conclusion; Hitler would now rule Europe. Milosovich would have succeeded in genocide. Saddam would rule Kuwait. The Taliban would be funding terrorism and suppressing democratic change in Afghanistan viciously. That would all be the legacy of non-interventionism. It is a war crime in itself. I am almost certain that non-interventionism in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Serbia, in Hitler’s Germany, would have led to far more cruelty than interventionism.
Those in 18th Century France who had wholly legitimate complaints about the nature of the Bourbon dynasty, were unfortunately manipulated into a heartless and uncritical acceptance of every lie published by the anti-Antionette pamphleteers. Their simplistic acquiescence of everything they were told, by those whom they believed could never possibly distort the truth, or lie to them, because they seemed to be on their ‘side’, brought upon a decade or more of anti-intellectualism and what would have seemed like the death of the intellectual superiority of the Enlightenment.
We on the Left must learn to form our own opinions as individuals, as well as collectively. We must be able to disagree profoundly on matters that have for so long seemed so central to our uncodified doctrine. That is how we progress. We must engage on issues, and not just resort to blind acceptance of the prevailing wisdom of those on the Left who are most heard. That is how we unify. And unification of the Left, in a World that seems to be ever more dominated by the Right – in the UK, in Europe, slowly advancing in Australia, the Islamofascist regimes throughout the Middle East, and the dehabilitating and vicious nature of the American Republicans – is absolutely essential. We must not cling on to what can only be described as false prophets who perpetuate simplistic, one sided explanations and post them as objective truth. We must ignore the Michael Moores of the World. They absolutely damage and insult the intelligence of the Left.