Saturday, August 6, 2011

The WTF? Department

One of the curiosities lo these many years of the American Imperial Adventure is that there has been essentially no popular interest in or information provided through popular media about the lands and peoples Our Valiant Troops have been trying to conquer.

Meh. Who cares? Destroy their homes, slaughter them, take their oil -- or whatever it is we want -- and go. Leave. Pack up and move on. To the next conquest.

That's basically how this Forever Global War of Imperial Aggression has long been sold to the masses, without the slightest acknowledgement of where and among whom these would-be conquests are being undertaken.

The public had far more information about Vietnam and the Vietnamese -- as well as the rest of Indochina and its peoples -- back in the day that we have now about Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and all the other places around the world where Our Valiant Ones are busy with their... work.

Of course, maybe knowing something about the places and the victims of American aggression makes it easier for Americans to resist the call to Empire, I don't know. But it is shocking to realize just how vacant the knowledge well is when it comes to the basic matters of history and geography and society in our far away satrapies.

So. Here comes this movie, "The Devil's Double," the only one I am aware of that presents a more or less contemporary (well... ) Iraqi story from a more or less Iraqi perspective (again, well... with plenty of caveats...) and look what it is: a violence and blood-soaked melodrama just like any other high-life American crime family melodrama. Oh, please. "Scarface of Arabia" my wrinkled white ass.

Is this the only way we (I say advisedly) can approach those we have tried to conquer? It really is appalling.

Does anyone in or serving our Land of the Free and Home of the Brave have any idea where Iraq is and what it is from a historical standpoint? You know, Garden of Eden, Birthplace of Civilization, Homeland of Abraham, Issac, Ishmael? Babylon? Ur of the Chaldees? Etc? Baghdad?

Nobody cares, at all. So nobody knows. When the Baghdad Museum was looted after the Invasion, all we got were shrugs. "Oh well, bad things happen."

The invasion and occupation of Iraq were extraordinarily brutal and destructive; in the contemporary history of Iraq there has been nothing even remotely like it -- not even Saddam at his worst.

If the story were ever told for an American audience from an Iraqi standpoint, Americans, by and large, would be absolutely horrified and disgusted.

But instead, we get sympathetic stories of Our Brave Ones facing inconceivable hazards and conditions in that ancient and disturbing land -- and... this. "The Devil's Double."

What struck me about the trailer -- the movie hasn't been released yet -- is that as awful as Uday and the whole situation is portrayed, the characters and their excesses seem no different, except perhaps in detail, than any set of the High and the Mighty you might choose to portray anywhere in the world, especially among American Masters of the Universe, The Very Gods Who Walk Among Us.

No different at all.

Which puts a different light on our Imperial Adventures, doesn't it?


  1. I'm reminded of this article:


    At one large American airbase in western Afghanistan, military personnel did not even know the names of the leaders of the Afghan groups providing base security.

    Instead, the American troops called the warlords being paid to guard them Mr. Pink and Mr. White, which is what the British contractor that technically employed them called them.

  2. Actually, this version from Adam Curtis' BBC blog is more informative:

    BBC Blog - Adam Curtis: 'MR PINK, MR WHITE AND BOTTOM.'

  3. "But it is difficult not to do what you don't want to do in Afghanistan." -- Adam Curtis

    What a total cockup. But then, it's been that way from the beginning, how long ago now?

    Almost from day one, informed observers were pointing out that the Natives were using the foreign troops to settle scores with their rivals, and it was an endlessly spiraling game of revenge.

    And for whatever reason (their own fantasy game playing is my bet) the foreign troops never, ever comprehend what's happening.

    But then, they don't know where they are, they know nothing about the people and the history -- ancient or modern -- nothing at all except what they are told by their officer corps who also know nothing and want to know less than they do.

    I've heard that the British advice to the American Imperialists overseas is, "You're doing it wrong." But it sounds like the Brits have forgotten how to do it themselves.

    Or maybe they never knew and just got lucky.



  4. I remember that the Brits had some luck in their recent Imperial Administration of Basra in Iraq. Mainly by showing more physical courage than the Americans in similar situations. Incidentally, I don't think it was that the American troops were cowardly, but force protection is a very high level institutional bias in the US armed forces to the point it trumps other war aims.

    Currently, I suspect that the American troops in various foreign adventures are along the lines of Edmund Blackadder in "Blackadder Goes Forth" prior to the start of the First World War. In other words, they are just there to collect a paycheck, learn to say "voulez vous couche avec moi" to the local girls in the local language, and not caring one whit about the war aims. It's not that they are bad people, although they may be, it's just that that was the only way out of whatever stateside future-less Hell-hole they were in, whether Detroit or West Virginia. Heck, judges have been known to offer the choice of Army or prison to young offenders.

    Seriously, if my choice was killing random foreigners or being a wage slave for Wal*Mart.... well I'd hope I'd have the strength of will to kill myself, but otherwise murder for hire doesn't sound that bad.

    That's excluding the true psychos, who make their own entertainment while they are there.