Thursday, December 06, 2012

"The World Without Us" is an "opposing viewpoint" to "Why We Fight" and "The Fog of War"

The World Without Us” (2008), by Mitch Anderson and Jason J. Tomraic, from Deep Water and Singa, is indeed a “conservative” or “right-wing” film, I suppose, but it is reasonably effective in getting its points across.  The film starts by having a leftist candidate for President get elected and promise to withdraw American forces from abroad and spend money on programs at home.

The film then examines, in three sections, the unstable conditions in the three big major areas of the world:  Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. 

It covers the history of Bosnia and the Balkans in the early 1990s, and the resurgence of violence in Kosovo in 1999.  It depicts soldiers going into private homes and evicting residents, much as Nazis did in Poland in 1939. 

The Middle East portion of the film starts with Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and interviews Kuwaiti businessmen characterizing themselves as rich people living in bad neighborhoods, unable to seclude themselves from hostility forever (and that seems to play into left-wing ideas about “revolution”).  It covers Israel briefly, but is superficial on the issue of the settlements. 

The most interesting portion deals with Asia.  It interviews a North Korean man planning to leave for China, where, ironically, he would be more “free”.  It then explains why South Korea and then Japan would not be able to defend themselves without American help.  It finally moves on to  China, which it describes as having developed “Leninist capitalism” , and then discusses the inability of Taiwan to defend itself (there was a serious issue in the spring of 2001 which blew over).  It says that China has developed special missiles which can reach anywhere in the IS (North Korea is known to be trying to do that).  It finally supposes that a dovish president has been in office for a full term, and supposes that China might mount a nuclear attack on its neighbors, and shows the results, as a re-echo of Hiroshima (or maybe “The Day After” in 1982).

The film has some clips that appear to come from the 1960s era North Korean propaganda film "The Flower Girl" about a girl who works as a peasant to buy medicine for her mother.  I remember seeing some of it at Washington Square Methodist Church in Greenwich Village in 1974,  There is some saccharine unison major-keyed music with songs about "lots of pretty girls". 
One of the interesting things about this presentation is that it goes back to the “big bad state” and seems to ignore the effects of asymmetry – that is, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and Hamas or Hezbollah.  It mentions but glosses over severe problems in central Africa (like Rwanda), and doesn't play up the dangers of failed states as much as it might. 

The link for the film is here.

I had let the 2005 film “Why We Fight” (Sony Pictures Classics, director Eugene Jarecki, with Gore Vidal) come from Netflix, before realizing I had seen it in a theater and reviewed it on my  The film is a sequel, effectively, to “The Fog of War” (2003, Errol Morris).   (The Jarecki  film is certainly an “opposing viewpoint” to the first film on this posting.)  The DVD for the Jarecki film, however, has nearly an hour of extras that are worth watching.

The DVD offers interviews of Jarecki by both Charlie Rose (PBS) and Jon Stewart (Comedy Central).  Jarecki makes the point that policy is being heavily influenced by “unelected” people who work in think tanks (as opposed to K-Street lobbyists) – the so-called “neocons”.  Actually, one could say that policy may be disproportionately affected by self-appointed bloggers (me), as policy seems to navigate an asymmetric course.  However, this viewpoint differs from the more common complaint that politicians are bought off by well-financed (often ideologically extreme) special interests who contribute to their campaigns.

The Question and Answer session has a question from a high school or college student, in which Jarecki says that students should consider the possibility of another military draft of conscription (which Charles Moskos had pushed after the 9/11 attacks). He says bluntly “These things are going to affect you in a very real way – and you have to be engaged – do not let everybody else be right “.

The DVD also has five(!) short films. The first is “Ike’s Evolution”, in which daughter Susan Eisenhower explains Ike’s farewell speech in 1953 and his warnings about the growth of a “military-industrial complex”, as the natural outcome of special interests infiltrating of government by twisting a naturally appealing (post WWII) idea.  Then there is “The Missing ‘C’” about Jack Cirinichome.  Next is Frank Capra’s original “Why We Fight”,  made around 1936.  (Capra made “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”). Then there is “The Dangerous Illusion of Precision Guidance” about smart bombs and cruise missiles.  Finally, there is “What You Can Do” which is, don’t trust your government. 

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