Friday, September 15, 2006

The War Tapes

Though not a post on poetry, I figured this would be a more appropriate forum for this than other blogs I spit electronic spatter at. I watched a film tonight called The War Tapes. For those of you interested politics and more particularly, the modern politics of war, this film is most enlightening. I would recommend it, but with a strong caution in regards to the language ( more a cultural artifact than anything) and some morbid and excessively gory images. The film is a collection of videos shot by a national guard squadron that was stationed in Iraq. It follows them from just before leaving until a few months after their return to the states a year later. The assignment is for the soldiers to escort cargo shipments back and forth daily. The precious cargo is food rations provided by a branch-off company of Haliburton. One soldier openly queries why soldiers were giving their lives for CREAM CORN. He goes on to say that for every meal they feed soldiers, Dick Cheney's company gets 24 US dollars and most soldiers require 2 meals a sitting, earning Dick and co. 48$ per soldier every evening. Even these front line National Guard Soldiers have no choice but to see the business of War as it hits them constantly in the face like bugs on a bike ride through the marsh. The film is filled with little facts like this. The squadron is made up of a number of Bush hecklers and a few pro-Bushies but regardless of politics, the absurdity of this war was apparent to all. Perhaps the most memorable quote is at the end of the movie when a soldier, who couldn't sleep anymore due to his Post traumatic Stress Disorder, said upon returning, "Your D%$# right it's about oil and money!, it better be and we better get our share or we've wasted our time over there!" Yikes. For a peace loving nancy like myself I was blown away by the guiding principles that lead to such a ridiculous comment. Further more, I've always believed that there is no one that wakes up in the morning and says, "I think I'm going to do terrible things today and be evil". I think we are all trying to make sense of our world and do the best we can based on our perceptions of reality. So I question the climate that could foster such a concoction of distorted views and erroneous humanistic reasoning. Most important though, I question what the solution is? or even if there is a solution?

6 comments:

Dagga said...

Good post, thanks Sean.
I read in todays paper that the UN is not sending any troops to Darfur in Sudan, and the African nations peace keeping troops that are already there are pulling out. They (the UN and everyone else) are expecting a genocide in Darfur. Why send no help? Just like in Ruanda there is no oil, no western bussnesses to protect.
So genocide it is...

Seaneria said...

I'm currently chomping my way through "They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" by Benjamin Ajak and Alephonsion and Benson Deng. The book is an autobiography of three Sudanese 'Lost Boys'. The authors were between the ages of 4 and 6 when their villages were raided and slaughtered by the predominantly muslim government forces. The boys families were killed and homes burnt forcing the boys to set out alone alone, without provisions, for over a thousand miles of sudanese desert to reach the Ethiopian border. From what I know about African issues, Ethiopia is not exactly Utopia in any sense, yet for these kids it was Safety. Who flees to Ethiopia for safety? honestly,,, either way the story is great so far and really makes me sick towards some of the atrocities around the world. At as young as four years old, these kids endured some tremendous things. At one point in the book, the kids are riding on a water tanker driven by the Sudanese guerilla forces because, due to dehydration and starvation, they are too week to walk. During the night Lions jump from the road side and try to pull the boys off the tanker... unreal! The problems in Sudan are amazing... currently over 2 million are dead and 5 million are displaced and at risk. The Sudanese conflict has claimed more innocent lives than Angola, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Liberia, The Persian Gulf, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Rawanda combined and I came to discover it because a book with a bright yellow cover caught my eye in Chapters and the write up sounded interesting. I cant help but feel ashamed. With WWII over fifty years behind us and whole units of high school history devoted to it, a holocaust occurring as we speak and under the turned up noses of the rest of the world yet it gets less air time than what Tom Cruises Spawn ate for breakfast yesterday. I work for CUPS a community health center and homeless resource facility. Every day I speak to displaced Sudanese refugees about getting them beds, clothing and other basic needs. They are always humble, polite and give little evidence of the horror they hide behind their off white and bloodshot eyes. But hey... good luck setting up a democracy in Iraq boys, way to fight the good fight and thanks CNN for the relevant fact finding... I hope Jennifer Aniston can get over Brad and who knows a secret wedding my be in the works with Vince. who cares.

elisabeth said...

you said it sean.
people turn to stupid things like following the lives of celebrities because it is easier to focus on the trivial and ignore and deny the important issues. i find that when i talk to a lot of people about disturbing facts, they just become uncomfortable and want to change the subject. one friend once told me to quit talking about it cause it was just depressing her.
then i hear something like someone just bought a 1.5 million dollar home outside of calgary but is tearing down the mansion on it to build another one more suited to their tastes. just think of what i tiny fraction of that money could do for any of the millions of impoverished families around the world. even just in calgary, it could be put to so much better use. it infuriates me. i felt a little bit better when a lady said she believes that we will be judged for how we spend our money.

elisabeth said...

oh, and the solution?
i think the problem is so deeply rooted and the politics so complex, that i can't even begin to imagine all the things that need solving and how to go about it except maybe to love everyone? and teach others to love each other? one mere mortal such as myself feels overwhelmed. when i hear a comment like that one from that soldier, i just want to cry in frustration.

Seaneria said...

I don' think the politics are complex... I think they are a simple as apple pie and bowl cuts. Just another case of someone feeling they're entitled to more than some one else. The reasons for this differ but whether its based on religeon, culture or what brand of jeans you wear, and whether the something sought is land, wealth, material goods or food it all the same. CS Lewis said it so well in Mere Christianity, "the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkeness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind"..."Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone."..."The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But Pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man but enmity to God."...
If only Bush worshiped the same God as CS Lewis and the rest of us or maybe better understood the fundamental points of his religion.

Anonymous said...

what bugs me more than the turned up noses of politicians towards these atrocities is the turned up noses towards us. the voters, the people who make this country. the lower, lower middle and middle class people. and even more that we, and i don't do anything about it. i would love to help. but i think i would get 1/2 a metre past the sudanese border after i threw my throwing shovel at the first guard. and what would that do for my family. i am probably more complacent about these issues than i should be. i should scream at my elected representative to straighten it out. sad that they have their own, and not the voters' agenda. without getting to "christian" i am glad that i belong to a church and believe in the gospel that provides for everyone it can and who is willing to receive. as i do my duty to God and concern myself with His work, though u know they will suffer and it hurts to know it, these oppressed and largely forgotten and overlooked people will find rest. AND more importantly those who commit these atrocities, directly or indirectly, will receive their reward. there are problems here and there are problems there. they are all problems caused by pride. i can try to help stop them by removing pride from my home, hopefully that can help a small bit.