Thursday, September 17, 2009

[Reaction] “Bush’s War”

Back in March of 2008, I watched a documentary entitled “Bush’s War” on PBS. It gave a timeline of how and why the war occurred. The documentary was an okay retrospective and had a few good points and many flaws.

The strength of the documentary was in its timeline of events and people interviewed. The timeline provided a concise overview of key moments from the lead-up to the war until how the war fell apart. The focus of this series was on the main political actors involved and so it is a top-down recollection of events. However, there were many issues that were ignored.

The flaws in this documentary are numerous. Above all, it was not trying to rock the boat or do any gutsy investigative journalism. For example key issues, such as the US desire for permanent military bases in Iraq or control of Iraqi oil, were ignored. Key figures like Alan Greenspan and Gen. John Abizaid have come out and said the war was about oil. If one looks at the immediate occupation of Iraq, the US only protected the ministry of oil and interior ministry (for WMD claims) from looting, while the rest of Baghdad was a free-for-all for looters. Furthermore, there was no analysis on how the media was instrumental in supporting the war. They also offered the administrations line on some issues—such as WMDs—but left it at that. They didn't give the UN inspectors dissenting voice which said at the time there was no evidence of WMDs in Iraq. In describing the Guantanamo Bay prison complex, they accepted the claim that it housed "Bin Laden's foot soldiers", which is patently false. The vast majority of those imprisoned at Gitmo were/are innocent and only a handful of prisoners had any sort of ties to Al Qaeda. So Frontline seemed to miss some of the glaring issues surrounding the war in favor of a more traditional discussion of it.

These obvious problems with the documentary, on top of the fact that it was released five years after the invasion, make it a weak critique of Bush’s War. While it was a good refresher on the timeline of events in Iraq, it did not probe into the meat of the war. Overall, I would say only watch this documentary if you want a general timeline of significant events that occurred during the Iraq War, but don’t expect any real substantive reporting.

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