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Would it matter if Hollywood never told the truth about American wars?

Title was: "We all have a stake in Hollywood telling the truth about US wars", 14 Jan 11

Many, who believe themselves to be progressive, against war, for the environment and for international peace, display an unreasonable prejudice against almost all things American, in particular the American film industry. That prejudice, in fact, makes the struggle for peace and justice harder, even if it can justifiably be said that by far the greatest of threats to world peace come from within the United States of America.


As great as the terrible harm that America has inflicted upon the world since at least the end of the Second World War -- the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the recent and ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen etc., covert interference to overthrow governments, including popular, democratically elected governments, who were seen as a threat to vested American interests by the CIA -- the harm inflicted upon the world is nowhere near as great as it could have been had the US Military industrial complex been given a free hand to do as it wished.

So, what stops the military industrial complex doing as it pleases?

What stops them is vast numbers of decent Americans of good will, who are prepared to stand up against evil, even at the risk of their own lives. In fact many have given their lives. More well known figures who have died to prevent war include: President John F Kennedy in 1963, his brother Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968, Martin Luther King in 1968 and Malcolm X in 1964.

From 1961 until 1963, when he was murdered, President John F Kennedy stopped the US military not once, but three times, from launching a nuclear war. As has been written elsewhere, humankind's debt to the late JFK is vast and unrepayable.

In the 1980's President Reagan planned to launch a pre-emptive nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union. We know this, because of the testimony of retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert (Bob) Bowman, Robert Bowman gave 6,000 speeches against Reagan's plans for nuclear mass murder succeeded in stopping Reagan. The debt of gratitude owed by the US public and the world to Robert Bowman, who is still using his voice to speak out against war, is comparable to that owed to JFK.

What makes it possible for such people to have prevailed to the extent they have so far, is public opinion. The fight to win US public opinion is a fight in which all of us, whether we live in the US or not, have a vital stake.

A most important part of the fight for US public opinion occurs in Hollywood. Much of what comes out of Hollywood serves to reinforce the lies used to justify past and present US behaviour on the world scene. The Vietnam war is a case in point with many movies and television series portraying the American military intervention as one of good intentions by the United States and its soldiers towards the people of Vietnam.

On occasions, films which, instead, tell the truth about the Vietnam War are produced in Hollywood.

One such film was Brian de Palma's "Casualties of War" made in 1989. It starred Michael J Fox and Sean Penn. Penn has more recently starred with Naomi Watts in Game [1] of 2010 which told the truth about the US government's Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Big Lie used as the justification to invade Iraq in 2003. (site previoulsy linked to at )

"Casualties of War" was of an incident which occurred during the Vietnam War in 1966 in which four US soldiers abducted, raped and then murdered a Vietnamese women. A fifth soldier, Private First Class (PFC) Eriksson, played by Michael Fox, refused to participate in the rape, and tried to talk the others out of committing rape. He was not able to stop the rape, but did try, unsuccessfully, to free the woman and save her life afterwards.

Afterwards, he reported the incident to his commanding officer. After his commanding officer refused to prosecute, he took his complaint higher and higher until, eventually the Army was left with no choice but to conduct the trial. All four, who participated in the rape were found guilty and sentenced to hard labour prison terms.

The courage of Eriksson is hard to exaggerate. By refusing to participate in the rape and by subsequently attempting to have the rapists charged, he put his own life at risk. His narrow escape from a grenade explosion in the toilet block before the trial showed the peril he faced to be very real.

That peril would have remained after the rapists had served their sentences and were released.

The production of "Casualties of War" can only make Eriksson's murder less likely and will make it more likely that others, placed in the circumstances similar to those in which PFC Eriksson found himself, stand up for what is right, rather than allow themselves to participate in crimes.

It is difficult to exaggerate the good done by those who produce such films as "Casualties of War" and "Fair Game".


[1] Site previously linked to at no longer exists. - Ed, 5 Mar 2012

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No, I have to admit I don't have much time for the output of Hollywood, these days. I think much better movies coming out of Europe for years and these go largely unnoticed by our media our movie critics.

I have also seen "Fair Game" and "Casualties of War" at the recommendation of a friend. I mostly agree with the political message of these movies but they both suffer from poor charecterisation and overacting.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I was personally very moved by the acting and the plots both movies (both based on real life historical events). It is hard to know how the decent and highly courageous people portrayed in these films, when faced with the circumstances they faced, could not have behaved without showing considerable emotion, so I fail to understand how anyone could consider the acting of these characters overdone.

It's hard for me to praise "Fair Game" which I have, myself, seen twice recently at the movies, too highly. In fact, I gained a better understanding of how the US Government lied about the supposed Iraqi "Weapons of Mass Destruction" to justify its (and Australia's) invasion of Iraq than I was ever able to gain from reading any articles in newspapers or magazines, whether mainstream media or 'left wing' prior to then.

Even though "Casualties of War" is not without some weaknesses in my view, that film stands head and shoulders above just about any other movie I can recall seeing about the Vietnam War, most of which unashamedly repeat essentially the official lies used to justify that war. Those who produced that movie have also done humankind a great service. Everything which tells even just a small amount of the truth about that war and other wars caused by the United States, particularly in a Holywood movie, makes it just that much harder for the United States to behave that same way in future.

By the way, the fears expressed in "Casualties of War" that those who were convicted of rape would not serve anything close to their sentences has been borne out by the subsquent events:

One of the soldiers was acquitted on appeal after it was determined that his Fifth Amendment rights were violated, and his confessions were ruled inadmissible. His brother's sentence was shortened to 22 months. The corporal and sergeant's sentences were reduced to eight years, with the possibility of parole after 4 years. (