Thursday, September 30, 2004

Post-Election task for

I watched Fog of War last night. It was, of course, hard to watch this without thinking of Iraq.

I have two thoughts after watching it, neither too happy. The first one looks at the task of re-building a country after a war (or, maintaining stability.) Two models frequently held up as examples are post-WWII Japan and Germany. But the obsveration here is that both countries a) surrendered in a legal / diplomatic sense (I don't believe that Iraq surrendered as ceased to be an on-going entity), and b) lost significant population. For instance, in the case of Germany, it went into the war with a little under 80 million people (not to mention nearly 2 million more women), and lost over 10% of the population, ending up with a population of about 65 million. (I can't immediately find similar data for Japan, but I believe it to be substantially similar). Ten percent is a huge drop in population. I wonder to what extent the simple fact of being under-manned made it easier to establish control over the countries, and rebuild them in "our" image.

The next thought is that it's time to start seriously thinking about what the Iraq War (II) memorial is going to look like. Especially if W gets re-elected, it would be a useful task for one of the 527 groups to hold a preliminary contest for memorials. One could imagine a Maya Lin-like design where a central part of the the work (for several years) would be a daily addition of new names as they were announced. I doubt it would be possible to site it anywhere near the eventual "official" memorial, but I think it would still be worth at least conceptualizing. I don't think it would be too expensive (especially compared to a 30-second spot in prime time), and there would be lots of exhibition possibilities for the finalists.

In terms of FoW, I can't tell what to think of it. McNamara is clearly in a bid to try to clear his name (or conscience, or both), but he has some useful insight. I also realize how painfully unaware I am of the history of the Vietnam conflict (beyond the movie history I glean from things like "Apcolypse Now," and "The Quiet American"). In terms of a documentary, it was a fine piece of film-making, and once that I found more to my taste than the various Michael Moore expeditions I've seen. Of course, in full disclosure, I've not yet seen F9/11.


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