Murray's Blog

The documentary it deserves

I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 a couple of days ago. If you read newspapers regularly then it doesn't contain much that's new, but it does package things up nicely for the average undecided voter. I think it actually tries to mention too many details, probably so it doesn't all look like unfounded insinuation. But a film is not the place for detalied citation of research and references. It looks like House of Bush, House of Saud contains more appropriate back-up material.

On one hand, it's a bit silly to focus on how corrupt one set of politicians are. All mainstream politicians (particularly the Republicans and Democrats in America) are terribly corrupt, with all kinds of conflicts of interests. But the Bush administration is an order of magnitude more corrupt so it's really worth taking the shots at this easy target.

Ralph Nader wanted Bush to win so it would show some real differences between the 2 parties, stimulate debate, and force them to take some principled positions. I think he was a bit too successful, and rather than wait for electoral reform, I'd prefer to see the slightly-less-corrupt party in power than the totally-corrupt-party. Otherwise the U.S. is going to break down completely. The framers of the constitution did not foresee this.

Before I saw the film I had been worried about the mention of the Bin Laden being flown out of the U.S. without following proper procedures. Though they are not exactly working class heroes, it sounded like a racist and insubstantial claim that those members of the Bin Laden family were somehow guilty by association, though they mostly disowned Osama years ago. So, I was glad that the film does not make this accusation and really just uses the incident to show the incredible influence that the Saudis have within the Bush administration.

The focus on the suffering of U.S. troops is a middle-America vote-winner but it's kind of distasteful. I guess the undecided voters are not ready to consider that the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis civilians are just as tragic as a those of a thousand U.S. soldiers.

It's not a great documentary or work of art, but it tells Americans some of the things they need to know, in the crude way they want to hear it. People have called it propaganda, and it's certainly like an extended campaign advert. But I don't think it's comparable to the classic WW2 propaganda of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and the Allies. Those were about demonizing whole cultures and races of people, instilling mortal fear of them and encouraging violence against them. Farenheit 9/11 does not do that, though the Bush administration arguably used those techniques to justify the Iraq war.

From what I read of the John Kerry nomination speach, he seems to have summarised many of the same points, probably for the same reasons. People don't like being lied to, and tend to hold the grudge when voting.

I'm not a U.S. citizen, but this election will have a massive influence on the whole world, for the rest of our lives.

Sorry for the rant.

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