War movies have had a bad habit over the years of putting extreme political views ahead of actually telling a story. Thankfully, we have a director like Kathryn Bigelow who can put the blinders on, and give us something refreshing, something that seems nearly impossible: a film about a modern war that is not top-heavy with political preaching and agendas. Zero Dark Thirty is not a great movie, and certainly not worth all the hype surrounding it. I would render a guess that if this film had a fictitious plot, or was about a manhunt of someone of a lesser caliber of evil, it would have been panned by critics before reaching a slightly positive edge. Unlike The Hurt Locker, this is not an action movie, nor is it a “war” movie in the strict sense, though I have loosely labeled it as such earlier, because it is difficult to find another moniker for it. This is a film that is effective in telling the story of the ten-year long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It is nothing more, nothing less. There is hardly anything artistic about this film except the way it sticks to a narrative, almost documentary flow, jumping from person to person, event to event. While parts of it were entertaining (such as the final “kill” scene and all of its deliberately paced build-up), I must admit that the scope of this film was almost too big for its own good. Cramming ten years of information, facts, statistics, and repetitive location settings begins to make your head spin, though it never gets entirely too much to handle. Perhaps this would have worked better as a two or three part HBO mini-series.
I originally published this yesterday, but took it down because of the sensitive subject this is. After sending it to a few people, they convinced me to put it back up. I have made some edits, including the final paragraph which is newly added.
Sunday night it was announced on national television that the most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden, had been killed by American forces, after being sought after for nearly ten years, since the 9/11 attacks. When everyone else screamed, “Woohoo!”, I said, “This is news?”. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2005, or maybe even earlier than that. The man with Kidney disease and a slew of other ailments who orchestrated massive terror plots around the world while wrapped in towels in a cave is finally dead. Personally, I thought he died years ago and it was just never released because we needed to keep the war going. As you have read on this blog, convenient events seem to happen that drive countries, namely the United States, to war. We needed Bin Laden all these years to have our little war, George W. Bush’s Holy Crusade, and now that it is finally reaching the height of its unpopularity, with whispers of our troops pulling out after nearly a decade of seeing our men and women killed so we can have
oil freedom, the man who caused all that needs to take an eternal nap.
This is not a conspiracy, folks, it is just another C-word: convenience. The United States has the most powerful intelligence and defense system on the planet—they probably know what I ate for breakfast this morning. I will leave my thoughts on the September 11th attacks alone, so you mean to tell me they could not find him all this time? How many thousands of people did we send into the desert looking for a man who was hold up in a mansion just a hundred miles outside of Pakistan’s capital? The US knew what they were in for, and still thought that an all-out war was the only way. How come, ten years ago, we couldn’t put together an elite team and send them looking? And more than ten years before that, we could have thanked Bin Laden for causing the fall of the Soviet Union, who saw their economy collapse and run out of money because they were chasing him all over Afghanistan.
To quell the idea that people may be thinking I am not happy about this, I will tell you that I am thrilled. The man who was involved in the attacks that brought down where my father used to work is dead—an icon of religious fanaticism. Let me be more specific: I am happy that he is dead, I am just not happy with how he came to die because it all fits into the storyline above. We need to start a war, so we go looking for someone evil. We need to keep the war going so we build up how hard it is to find him, and call for more troops. We need to end the war, so we kill him. Bin Laden dying in a shootout with US Navy Seals after we sent tens of thousands of soldiers scouring the desert for him is nothing less than our leaders (and I don’t mean generals) turning a blind eye. Bin Laden was right where he was supposed to be at the right time—perhaps we knew all along, but the American people are sheep who can be made to believe damn near everything.
On a more positive note, how thrilling is it to see the Democratic Obama administration get credit for the kill and not the war-mongering Bush Republicans? It is those same people who should be put on trial for war crimes that do not get to relish at the culmination of the campaign they started, which got the ball rolling to send 10,000 men and women to their deaths or life-long disability so that this day would come. The speech Sunday night by our president was nothing short of perfect. There was plenty of “I did…” and “I authorized” used, singling him out as the one who will get credit. There was only one mention of President Bush, and it was not in any context that people could think about wanting to give him credit too. My only question is, why release this information now? Had they waited closer to election time, the Republicans could have basically thrown their arms up in the air and said, “Just take it.” Instead it comes out now, and their must be a reason. The next few days and weeks should tell us what. I believe that Obama will now be reelected anyway. After all, how could he not? One of the most hated men in world history died under his watch? How can the Republicans attack that? Who has anything better than that to put on their resume? The party that started this war could not even finish it—that’s the irony.
So yes friends, these should be joyous days, despite my skepticism. Should the War on Terror finally come to an end because of this, then perhaps it was worth it. But until then, I will not be fully happy, not until all our soldiers come home, and this war in the Middle East is truly over.
EDIT: It has now been revealed that Bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea, in accordance with Muslim tradition (within 24 hours after death). While I have absolutely no problem with respecting their religion, was putting him out to sea really the best idea? The general public will now never get a chance to see the body, because it is doubtful that anything other than a blurry and obscured shot will be released. And people wonder why there are conspiracy theories…
Normally, this goes at the end of my “Week in Review” article that gets published on Sunday nights, but since my week has been filled with so many wonderful things that trump this one (no pun intended), I figured I would just throw out my nomination tonight. Drum-roll please….this week’s ultimate idiot goes to none other than Donald Trump, after President Obama finally released his birth certificate to shut up the egotistical 2012 presidential hopeful. As I said in my manifesto on politics last week, I do not favor one party over the other, but you have to admit, this move by Obama (including his follow-up speech) was nothing short of brilliant in making the “birther” contingent of the Republican Party look like a bunch of fools.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be defending Barack Obama, a president who I vehemently did not want in office last election, but after these last few weeks, I have grown to respect the man little by little. Not to say that I would vote for him in 2012, because as I stated last time, I am done with partisan politics, but I admire how he handled the situation. Had it been me that was being attacked (but I’m white and my name is Greg, so I wouldn’t have been), I would have said, “Screw you. You’re not getting it.” which was pretty much what happened in the last month or so. One would have thought that Trump’s holy crusade would have faded away, but instead, it only grew. He made speeches, appeared on television and radio, unleashing a furor of barbaric absurdity trying to convince people that Obama was not an American citizen. The main reason for this being that no one had ever seen his birth certificate.
When has any other politician been asked to show it? To be honest, I really do not understand Trump’s angle at all. Call me naive, but I am 19 years old and have only seen my certificate once, when I got my driver’s license and needed to show six points of identification. I’ve been best friends with someone since I was four years old, and have never seen his. I also do not know of anyone who carries it around with them in their violin case. This was just Trump and the fringe-conservatives trying to grab whatever little shred of a possibility they could find. There was never any proof of their preposterous claim, so they jumped at this dismal opportunity.
Finally, after months of this nonsense, Obama released it yesterday. It truly was a sad day for America, because this whole situation is testament to how dumb we really are as a country. Then again, half the people here still think he is a Muslim.
Back to Trump, what did he really accomplish here? We have soldiers dying in the Middle East every day, an economy in the crapper, gas approaching $4 a gallon, and you’re worried about a piece of paper, Donald? Have you nothing better to do with your life, one that you remind us every chance you get at how successful it is? This was all nothing but a frenzy stirred by racial unease, I am convinced. If Obama was white, this would not have happened. If Obama’s name was not one letter removed from Snapple investor Osama Bin Laden, this would not have happened.
This country is an absolute disgrace, because we put on this charade in front of the entire world, and Trump is partially to blame. Say goodbye to your chances at the presidency in 2012, if you were even going to run in the first place. Jesse Ventura is right: Donald Trump, you are nothing but an attention whore. Donald Trump, you are an idiot.
September 11, 2001—a date surpassing the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 as the “date that will live in infamy”. Everyone alive and old enough to have a memory will live with the events of that day for the rest of their lives. I have already given my thoughts on the attacks, as well as my experiences here, and the general response to it has been tremendously successful. However, in this article, I offer no sympathy or recollection of that traumatic morning. Instead I will project my energies on a question that has been burning in the American public for the last nine years, and much more passionately in the last year or so, as groups have gotten together in a quest for “9/11 Truth”. That is exactly what I am after: the truth. I never was a gung-ho believer in a 9/11 conspiracy, but have only recently began to open up a bit more.
I must admit, I was mesmerized by the documentary Loose Change when it first came out, but because every few years they make edits and remove information from their film that has been proven false, I wonder how much of it is actually credible to begin with. For that reason, I will not cite them further or encourage others to view their hunk of rubbish as a source for anything other than comedic revelry.
My concerns of a 9/11 conspiracy are less technical, meaning I am not going to sit here and pretend to be an architectural expert. People stand on top of their soapbox and claim that the flames did this, but they didn’t do that. Fire could have caused this, but not that. There had to be bombs planted, but if there were, who planted them? These are just a few of the questions included in the dizzying array of melodramatic and paranoid lunacy that gives a bad name to those of us theorists who are more interested in how the United States benefited from such an attack, and not the tin-foil helmet inducing refuse that causes others to sit in a fetal position in their newspaper lined closets chanting how the government is out to get them.
The only concern I have that the buildings were brought down by something other than a single plane each is this following picture. It is not new, nor is it exclusive. It is one of the many taken on that day, and shows a fireball exploding out from the building at the place of impact:
Here you can see a clear fireball, because that is all that is there. There are no missiles, no hidden weapons assisting the plane—all we have is the jetliner that slammed into the tower. Immediately it was announced that jet fuel caused the towers to collapse. Since fuel burns at such a high temperature, if it seeped down the elevator shafts and burned intensely while sticking to the beams, that is what obviously caused them to melt, thus making the building fall on top of itself and implode. But this is where that theory does not make any sense. You see the fireball, do you not? That massive explosion that sent shards of glass and steel flying into the air? THAT is the jet fuel. What could that flame be besides the fuel burning? Steel does not ignite, the wooden desks and Sheetrock do not combust to form a flame like that. The only explanation for that flame is the jet fuel, which all ignited within seconds of the plane striking the tower. So what jet fuel is left to flow down into the center of the building?
I will now end here in regards to the actual World Trade Center on that fateful day, because there are hundreds upon hundreds of websites and documentaries (some good, some not so good) that can explain the building structure and theories of a controlled demolition down to the dots on the I’s. But one more question regarding this: when in the history of human architecture has a building ever been destroyed because of a fire? Not gutted, destroyed. When has a solid, steel frame building (arguably the strongest in the world) ever fell because of a fire?
Where my interest lies, as mentioned earlier, when dealing with conspiracies, is how the US government benefits from such an attack. It’s quite comical that every time this country needs something, or a boost in economy, we conveniently go to war because of an assassination or attack on our soil. We needed a little boost in 1941, which is why the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was allowed to be attacked on December 7, yes, allowed. The government had full warning that the Japanese were going to attack because of intelligence, and rather than scramble their soldiers to prepare or evacuate, they had the planes and ships moved into nice little lines, side-by-side with each other so that Japanese bombers could not miss.
The result of this? A swift, and patriotic response to join the US Army by volunteers all over the nation. There were no questions asked; just an overwhelming sense of patriotism. The US had been looking to go to war for some time, but how could they persuade people to enlist to fight a war that they seemingly had no reason entering? Simple: you let the nation be attacked to inspire people.
This quote here comes from Hermann Goering, the president of the Nazi Reichstag, uttered during the Nuremberg Trials:
Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country…
What is the first thing you remember about the days following the attacks on 9/11? A sense of patriotism, of course. We wanted revenge on our attackers and the government quickly saw to it that we would have a war in the Middle East. How many of us know someone who enlisted in the months following, when they never had any intention of doing so previously? How many people were attacked for denouncing the oncoming war, called cowards and un-American? How is it, that for a country whose two main political parties that could not agree on the color of the sky, almost unanimously voted to go to war? Why? Because they were inspired. To serve your country is to do so without questioning its integrity.
The invasion of the Middle East was an illegal one, made so by a rushed sham of a declaration of war. And why, if it was pounded into our skulls day and night, that it was Osama Bin Laden who organized the attack, did we invade Iraq? Was Saddam Hussein ever mentioned with being in cahoots with Bin Laden? No, of course not, but he had those infamous (and now comic) weapons of mass destruction.
Oh yes! Those four words echo through my brain like a razor blade bouncing in a spinning dryer. Those four words single-handedly convinced the American public that war is alright. Where did these weapons go, though? Did we ever find them? And how about Saddam Hussein? We were able to capture him yet we do not have the slightest idea where Bin Laden is. Sure, he releases his tapes every few years, shaking his finger at America and the world and promising jihad. How do we know he isn’t dead already? How is it that this man, who has been on the run for nine years while living in cave after cave, who supposedly has kidney disease, has not turned up dead? Maybe it’s because he isn’t supposed to. Maybe Bin Laden never really existed, or perhaps he was just an insignificant little peon whose worth was exaggerated by our government to scare the hell out of us. Is it so unbelievable? Shall we make reference to McCarthyism and the Red Scare?
Is it so unbelievable, coming from the nation who will murder and invade at the drop of a hat, a nation that concocted the Tonkin Gulf Incident out of thin air to give us reason to invade Vietnam? Yes, out of thin air. This incident, which supposedly had one of our ships attacked by a Vietnamese gun boat, never happened. It was made up—a “false flag” operation if you will, and the scary part is, the government admitted it earlier this year. But that’s alright: the 50,000 Americans who died during the struggle were just pawns in a chess game, a mere sacrifice for the boost of our economy, which thrives on war.
War is a business, and it does not take a brain surgeon to figure that out. War means weapons need to be made, which means factories need to be opened or filled with additional workers. Then there are tanks and other vehicles, and uniforms, and food, and computers, and so on and so forth—the list is endless. And of course, there’s the oil, the one liquid on earth that will drive men to the edge of insanity to claim it for themselves. We needed oil in the 90′s and today, just like we needed the rubber trees in Vietnam, and in case you have not realized it, what the United States of America needs is what the United States of America gets. That should be painfully obvious by now. It only cost John F. Kennedy his life, because he would not commit to an all-out war in Vietnam, and let the CIA have a chance to redeem themselves after the Bay of Pigs disaster in the early 1960′s.
But now the United States does not even have the common decency to let our own soldiers being the sole purveyors in this fruitless war, but they need to contract jobs out to companies like Blackwater, who carry out covert political assassinations, and who have ties to none other than Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
So I will end with this question: DO YOU TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT?
I would like to sit here and think that 9/11 was not an inside job or anything but a terrorist attack on our nation. I remember much simpler times when I was younger, when the world seemed like such a better place and whatever I was told was the truth, and even if it wasn’t, I was not burdened by some underlying sense of guilt, that it is my job, and the job of us as Americans to ask questions. Historian Howard Zinn once said, “Dissension is the highest form of patriotism”, meaning it is ok to ask questions, and that we have a right to, as citizens.
Look at the middle east today, look at our soldiers dying. What is the purpose of war? How have we not learned in our human existence? For a country that saw 600,000 men die during the Civil War, how did we not learn? World War I was the war to end all wars, and less than 30 years later, there is a second world war. Then came Korea, then Vietnam, then Desert Storm, and now this mess. And what is this for? Our men and women are giving up their lives fighting on a dusty piece of land that holds no more significance to them than a piece of spit-out gum in a storm drain. Is it worth it? Is it worth it for this country and others to engage in fruitless wars?
I am 19 years old, and I have only known nine years without war or terrorism. I look at the children born today, and some of the boys and girls I have taught in the last few years at CCD, and I just think that these kids will never known anything but terror and violence. Since they first developed a memory, there has been war. At least I can look back at a time in my childhood where there was no worldwide fear—no danger in going on vacation to a foreign country and having to worry if you will come back alive, no danger in getting on an airplane wondering if the person behind you is going to hijack it or blow it up, no danger in looking at every person of Middle Eastern descent and thinking to myself, could they be a terrorist? Do they want to do me harm? It is a generalization and a prejudice that I, and everyone else, should rid themselves of, but I fear that will be impossible so long as the world works this way, and continues to head in a path of destruction.
That is what angers me, that there are people in positions of power who stand to make a buck on the death of others. I hate to sound like a hippie, yelling for peace and not war, but as someone who has immersed himself in history, and past wars, very rarely do I find a war with a real purpose. Again, what is the point to send people to die in a foreign land when we have threats right here in our own country. I do hope that one day there will be peace, that children can grow up in a world without fear, and maybe it needs this generation’s bones in the ground before that can be accomplished, I don’t know. And that, my friends, is the real conspiracy.