Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Pentagon Works in Mysterious Ways

I remember hearing about this back when I was in short-pants, but it still struck me the second time around, so I will share:

In 2003, [The Battle of Algiers] again made the news after the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict at The Pentagon offered a screening of the film on August 27, regarding it as a useful illustration of the problems faced in Iraq. A flyer for the screening read:

"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

According to the Defense Department official (Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict) in charge of the screening, "Showing the film offers historical insight into the conduct of French operations in Algeria, and was intended to prompt informative discussion of the challenges faced by the French."

The 2003 screening lent new currency to the film, coming only months after U.S. President George W. Bush's May 1, 2003 "Mission Accomplished" speech proclaiming the end of "major hostilities" in Iraq. Opponents of President Bush cited the Pentagon screening as proof of a growing concern within the Defense Department about the growth of an Iraqi insurgency belying Bush's triumphalism.

Huh. Oddly, I commend the honesty of the D.O.D. for acknowledging the quagmire that is Iraq, as well as for being concerned enough to consider playing a movie--all after being there for a little over a month.

And yet, it's hard to shake the fact that this should have already been common knowledge that prevented the war--if we're really baring our souls here, and I think we are--but...is showing a mere movie really the way to drill this point into the minds of the military might? I would have a propensity for wisdom, open ears, an open mind, and a good education. Then again, educated soldiers tend to avoid war...

Hey, but what do I know? Maybe it is. I mean, who are the soldiers?

Let's get to know them:

The soldiers are a lovable and sacrificial lot, dusted with sand, wise beyond their years, and cleverly sliced out of the lower and lower-middle classes. Whether they are like you or not, they are the real everyman. They are the guys who go to see Another Scary Movie, the guys who go to see Next Next Friday, the guys who watch King of Queens and laugh.

Huh. Maybe movies are a good way to subtly teach them something, you know--while they think they're just being entertained by clowns during a reprieve from the grind. Except that The Battle of Tangiers is in black and white with subtitles! DOH! wtf?

So nobody watched it. Nobody learned anything! Or is that what the Iraq Veterans Against the War are all about?

Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain:

I want my business card to reflect that I am employed by the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.


Bonus Round:

Do you like Statistics? I do! I do! Check this shit out:

Troops in Iraq - Total 130,000 U.S. troops as of August 31, 2009. All other nations have withdrawn their troops.

U.S. Troop Casualties - 4,345 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army.

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

(statistics courtesy of usliberals.about.com)


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