Review: Generation Kill – episode 1

Do we really need yet another drama about the Iraq War? Even if it is from David Simon and Ed Burns the creators of arguably the greatest show on TV. Having now watched the first episode of the HBO miniseries Generation Kill I’m still not sure I can answer the question.

It is a dramatization based on the book of the same name which was a real life account of the journalist Evan Wright who was embedded with the First Recon Battalion of the USMC and so it is as close to the truth as it can be without being a documentary. Yet as you might expect it has gained harsh criticism from many sides with people decrying it as being anti-American and others attacking it for the homophobic comments made by marines in the show.

Based on this first episode I think Generation Kill is going to be a fantastically well made miniseries and will offer a different perspective on the Iraq War to the one we’ve been having for the last five years as it will depict only the 40 days that constituted the actual invasion.

A positive review from Marine Corps Times

A critical review from Democracy Project

Review: No End in Sight

No End in Sight

Fantastic documentary about the war in Iraq and the policy decisions that have led to the current situation. It has really clarified my thoughts on the whole Iraq question especially in light of the opinions and statements of the people who are now running for the next Presidency of the United States.

I was of the opinion that the US forces should remain in Iraq until they had cleaned up the mess that they had created and achieved some kind of stability. I believed that if the US military withdrew then Iraq would descend into an even more chaotic situation than it is currently in.

But in the past year my opinion started to shift as some stability was achieved, however it has not been due to The Surge but instead due to the ceasefire between the US and the Mahdi Army and an equilibrium between the rival armed factions who control different districts of Baghdad. The Iraqi government is a joke that has lost the respect of the people and the US has just become one of the many armed gangs that control Iraq now albeit with better weapons.

Considering the way the Bush administration botched the entire post-war period and occupation as is depicted in this movie I hold out no hope that they can produce any positive results in Iraq. Perhaps a new President could but none of the possible candidates inspire me with confidence that they have any real grasp on the situation.

The title of the movie is interesting, to what is there no end in sight? The obvious answer is the war. Will there be an end to the War in Iraq?

Two answers to this basically.

Either it ended on April 15th 2003 or it will end a long time from now depending on whether you believe that the events that occurred after the invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s government are part of that same conflict. What can be considered victory in Iraq? Was it defeating Saddam? If so Mission Accomplished. But if it was to do that and then build a stable democratic Republic of Iraq then it isn’t going to happen for many years.

Pulling US forces out of the region will not end the “war” it will just mean fewer dead American soldiers, because the war now is a conflict between many different armed factions it is an extremely complicated kind of civil war. The US just happens to be one of these armed groups albeit with better weapons.

Iraq five years on: Epic Fail

British people deceived on entering the war and deceived about our withdrawal.

We have left a mess of Basra and Southern Iraq.

Iran and disparate militias have control basically, and former translators are being abducted and killed.

Violence is down in Baghdad but the new Iraqi parliament is a failing system and many MPs having suffered threats and attempts on their lives are not attending parliament and due to sectarian division very little agreement can be reached on any legislation.

Former enemies are being paid to secure their own neighbourhoods, the insurgents have been given territory.

The US is effectively governing Iraq through Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) militias

Numbers of Al Qaeda will dwindle when the US pulls out as the locals get reabsorbed into civil society or join militia and foreigner will return home.

The Kurdish north has become a self governing autonomous region. Iraq has broken up.

Cheney again links Iraq invasion to 9/11 attacks as bombing victims are buried

“The improvement may be due at least in part to the “surge”, the increase in US troops”.

The downturn in violence has nothing to do with the surge. The downturn in violence is due to;

- the ongoing cease-fire with Muqtada, a cease-fire that he recently extended;

- most of the internecine fighting is over with and the Shias and Shiites now live within their own ghettoes and will not travel outside them. Baghdad today is a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls. Different districts have different national flags. Sunni areas use the old Iraqi flag with the three stars of the Baath party and the Shia wave a newer version, adopted by the Shia-Kurdish government. The Kurds have their own flag.

- Americans paying and arming those they were fighting a few months ago. The Sunni defeat in the battle for Baghdad in 2006 and early 2007 was the motive for many guerrillas, previously anti-American, suddenly allying themselves with American forces. They concluded they could not fight the US, al Qa’ida, the Iraqi army and police and the Mehdi Army at the same time.

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Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country, but the media carries on and reprints Bush’s mendacious claims of victory and a noble cause without even blushing.

The Guardian: There must be a reckoning for this day of infamy

Ten Days to War

The BBC has over the past several days been running a daily series of short dramas based on the true events leading up to the war in Iraq. The series is titled Ten Days to War and the episodes can be seen online via that link although as it uses the iPlayer interface it will be restricted to the UK only.

One episode however has been put up on YouTube by the BBC, Why this rush?

A diplomatic battle raging at the UN where the British and Americans are intensely lobbying for a second resolution that will authorise war. They are met by fierce hostility and resistance by countries who want to give the weapons inspectors more time in Iraq.

Patrick Malahide and Tom Conti feature in this story of a diplomatic poker game where the fate of the UN itself is at stake. Director David Belton.

Another excellent episode was These Things Are Always Chaos which stars Stephen Rea as General Tim Cross, the man charged with the mission of Reconstruction of Iraq after the war.

Iraq’s WMDs merely ploy to scare Iran

CBS News’ 60 Minutes interviews George Piro an FBI agent who had been assigned to interrogate Saddam Hussein upon his capture.

Piro reveals that the Iraqi dictator miscalculated the threat that the US posed to his regime.

Saddam Hussein initially didn’t think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture.

I have to say that this comes as no shock to me. Saddam believed he was playing a regional game by feeding disinformation to Iran unaware that his game would backfire on the world stage with a US President needing a victory for propaganda purposes having failed to capture Osama Bin Laden.

It seems that both Saddam Hussein and the Western leaders that took us to war had failed to heed the words of Sun Tzu to “Know your enemy”.

Or as the Japanese learned following their attack on Pearl Harbour “Never underestimate the United States willingness to go to war”.