January 21, 2008


I had a bit of a strange turn mentally over the last few days which has driven me to get incredibly pissed and wander round bars on my own to see what happens. I've been ranting at people. Yesterday I saw the Respect party screening of Nick Broomfields Battle for Haditha in the Curzon, Soho. There is a behind the scenes article in Timeout, also the Times is interesting.

The guardian says

Where Broomfield's film stumbles slightly is in its recourse to set speeches in which characters outline their inner thoughts; perhaps a hangover of the documentary habit of getting people to explain themselves.

I thought this a few times watching it but the characters involved were great.

Afterwards Broomfield took questions, along with an Iraqi journalist who didn't seem to be part of the project. Lindsey German chaired. It was quite funny as it beame obvious the Iraqi guy didn't seem to like Broomfield or his film. First he questioned the veracity of the story, where Broomfields film claims a guy who filmed the famous scene where the Iraqi girl talks about Americans killing her family- was actually one of the guys who planted the roadside bomb.

Broomfield says he got that from the family. He said he had also done extensive interviews with kilo company, all of whom were quite fucked up. The Iraqi journalist also went on to niggle about accents, saying some of the Iraqi actors were Jordanian. This was all very amusing.

I thought the film was great, and I can see how tempting it must be to piece together such a story from so many peoples perspective. I just worry a bit about how the film will be used by people who want to believe all US soldiers are like this, and I worry that Republicans won't watch it. I didn't think it was anti the soldiers involved. Broomfield said he believed they were victims.

Afterwards I went round the corner with some Respect party workers and talked about revolution. I was wanting to buy another drink before I had finished the one I had. I'm not sure why these phases are occurring. I just feel an incredible darkness in my head which is lifted into blissful euphoria by alcohol.


BigDog said...

Most Americans, that is Americans who sincerely do support and appreciate our military, hold them to a standard of conduct, expecting them to behave as law-abiding adults capable of making moral distinctions. The military expends great effort to assess and weed-out the psychologically and mentally unfit from service starting in Basic training and continuing thruought their career.

Naturally, despite best efforts, a few 'bad apples' are bound to slip thru given the millions of men and women who serve every generation. Rational people understand that exceptions happen, rational peopel know that mistakes happen, and these do not taint the reputation of the many as long as systematic, sincere and consistant efforts are made to find and punish wrongdoers and correct mistakes.

Much has been made of Haditha. Many accusations have been made against US soldiers, in part because everyone knows, even our enemies that we take law and ethical conduct seriously. Those accusations that have merit should be investigated and prosecuted, coverups and evasions are unacceptable. However, almost all of these accusations have been without merit. Accusing US soldiers is easy. There is a ready audience of credulous journalists, academics, Europeans and leftist Americans. Plus there is no downside. Making false accusations makes you some money and never results in punishment.

"Broomfield said he believed they were victims."

This is the worst kind of patronizing insult. It shows contempt for soldiers, infantilizing them, making them hapless victims incapable of making moral distinctions. Broomfield may believe that his words and opinion make him enlightened and supportive of military personel, but what he really reveals is his sense of superiority.

DAVE BONES said...


Watching the film, I can see that Broomfield has taken some time to talk to Kilo company and has convinced them he intends to portray relevant events in sequence.

He's also working with non actors who have experience on the ground in Iraq.

He has pieced together this information along with extensive interviews with the families involved in the massacre and guessed at the mentality of those involved in the subsequent cover up.

It looked believable to me that a group of people under this stress could behave in such a manner. I am not sure how you can become mentally fit for any of this. I wouldn't really blame these guys. I think they are victims, and I'm not patronizing anyone.

BigDog said...

First off, I should mention that the 'Haditha Masscre' probably didn't happen. Two years of investigation have ended up with nothing.

BTW. Those wre Marines at Haditha, not soldiers. There is a distinction, which I did not make clear in the above post. I was using 'soldiers' as a overall term referring to US military personel who are often falsely accused.

Second. Lets assume for the sake of arguement that military personel are indeed 'victims'. Lets analyse the consequences. Military men are no longer responsible for their own actions. Their behavior is attributable to outside forces that are not under their control. Therefore they are relieved of moral constraints to their own behavior. Moreover, we cannot expect a standard of conduct of them - they are merely victims. This is a fundamentally dangerous and unsound principle to advance.

DAVE BONES said...

Yet it could easily be true in the case of war at any point in our history.

DAVE BONES said...

I would have thought that if it wasn't true Broomfield would have smelt a rat after talking to kilo company and the Iraqi victims. Stories wouldn't match up. Why did they talk to him?

Lazy said...

they tried to make me join someone else's army, once.

i think anyone who joins up for someone else's army is a f-ing fool and mentally unfit.

wars of defence and sheer national survival are a different question, maybe. and i'm sure even you can see why an iraqi who had lost friend or family to american force (no matter how inadvertent) would see the present conflict through that lens.

Lazy said...

"...as long as systematic, sincere and consistant efforts are made to find and punish wrongdoers and correct mistakes."

it doesn't look like they are, though.

military culture tends to protecting one's own.

nothing happened at haditha? what's your source for that?

Lazy said...

when the military press release says "10 insurgents were killed", it often means something like "there were pieces of approximately ten or so people in the rubble and we hope at least a few of them were bad guys".