Meandering mind keeps me up at night

This blog is meant to serve cathartic purposes. After being so silent about so much that was so bothersome, I began blogging because of the inspiration Salam, Riverbend, then Zeyad gave me. Now, because I've had a cold during the past 4-5 days due to little rest and too much work to do...I think I've gone a little over-board. Things have been both incredibly fresh and exciting & horrible and terrifying at the same time. The hot and cold of it and constant travels have worn me thin. Recently morose off of an excruciating election result, Falloojah, and more family stresses...I'm forgetting what I have right in front of my face.

So, I watched a film called "A Taste of Cherry" by Abbas Kiarostami the Iranian director. It's about a man that tries to get somebody, anybody, to help him committ suicide. Yet along the way, he learns a lot about life from total strangers that are not from Iran. It's a poetic externalization of an internal existential battle. The visualizations are breath-taking. I believe it won the Palm d'Or in 1997. I recommend it. Film can be escapism. But it can also serve cathartic purposes and even teach one through stories and method. Though it can torment through allusion, as well.

Speaking of which, I've been watching a lot of war movies lately. You know, the classics like Apocalypse Now/Coppala, A Thin Red Line/Mallick, Full Metal Jacket/Kubrick. And a newer classic of Errol Morris' called "The Fog of War." The first time I tried to watch the film I couldn't handle the powerful allusions to the situation in Iraq. You see, Robert S. McNamera eerily reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld. I was watching it a bit earlier and something he said struck me as interesting. Being wide awake and just finding out my family's ok...I've had a sudden burst of energy & lucidity. Anyway, he says something in a very poigniant part of the movie that I've transcribed,

The U.S. Japanese war was one of the most brutal wars in all of human history. Kamikaze pilots , suicide, unbelievable...what one can criticize is that the human race prior to that time and today has not really grab-bled with what i call 'the rules of war'...was there a rule that said you shouldn't bomb , shouldn't kill, shouldn't burn to death a 100,000 civilians a night. LeMay said if we lost the war we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he's right. He, and I would say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought of as immoral if his side has lost. Well, what makes it immoral if you lost and not immoral if you win?

And there are so many parts of the film that serve as an echo-chamber for what I see happening in Iraq today. Comparing Vietnam with Iraq was just done by a commander in Fallujah. "Another Hue city"...I believe. Lyndon Johnson sounds like Dubya, too. The bombs are just bigger...not smarter. Ordinance cannot be smart when involved in urban warfare. And the way peoples bodies are broken are similar, the tools are just a bit more "sophisticated" and destructive.

And then, there's the issue of history. Because of the ignorance of history or the misinformation in history books in the US, Americans have complete misconceptions about entire races of people. We seem to be moving backward over here. How can you continue modernizing an army, and stop modernizing your mind or outlook on the world?

When McNamera talks about using Agent Orange...I think, how ironic...over and over again. That's a chemical weapon. In the movie there are 11 lessons, Lesson #9 In order to good you have to do evil. How much evil must we do in order to do good? he asks...well, this is essentially what the Marine's outlook was that I mentioned in a few posts earlier. I just don't buy it along with all the double-standards that go along with it. What makes America so righteous to make such horror in peoples lives? I don't think it's right. War is not right. And killing people will not help create the example for democracy to thrive. Fallujah will have the opposite effect of the stated intentions that Rumsfeld stated yesterday.

Lesson #11: You can't change human nature.

We all make mistakes. We know we make mistakes. I don't know any military commander who's honest who would say he has not made a mistake. There's a wonderful phrase: "the fog of war". What the fog of war means is that war is so complex ...our judgement and our understanding are not adequate. And we kill people... unnecessarily. Wilson said, we won the war to end all wars. I'm not so naive or simplistic to believe that we can eliminate war. We're not going to change human nature any time soon. It isn't that we aren't rational. We're rational. But reason has its limits. There's a quote from T.S. Elliot which I love, "We shall not cease from exploring. And at the end of our exploration we will return to where we started and know the place for the very first time." Now that's in a sense where I'm beginning to be. [he chokes up with tears]

And I hope that is where Rumsfeld and others in this administration get to at some point. Because they will all be better people for it if they do. Values...


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