Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dopeman, dopeman


As the President reaffirmed his tyrannosexual tryst arrangements for the last two years of his term, he announced his satisfaction with what he has achieved in office. If you can call curb stomping the economy and humanism with resolute arrogance an achievement, you can probably suck your own dick. Congratulations. But let me tell you about something I saw that hardened what up until now could have been merely dogmatic assumptions about our reign of violence.

Last month was the bloodiest in Iraq thus far, and it coincided with the first documentary I’ve seen which actually put the word and deed of the Iraq adventure into accurate perspective. My Country My Country is a documentary that chronicles the life of Dr. Riyadh (whose name is never revealed in full for security reasons) and his family during the run up to the January, 2005 elections in Iraq. Dr. Riyadh works his fingers to the bone trying to keep up his occupational duties at a free clinic. He is also running in the election in the largest Sunni party. Dr. Riyadh believes in the elections, though he decries the Occupation, and he engages in thoughtful debate with many throughout the movie. There is violence and kidnapping and the danger and instability are palpable. The documentary is spellbinding and frightening, and those emotions are real.

Dr. Riyadh is a perfect subject for this movie. He is religious but learned. He is passionate but articulate. He is a pillar of the community and a family man. He is an immensely familiar and sympathetic figure, and he lives in a world of shit. He stands in stark contrast to the American soldiers and Australian military contractors portrayed in the film.

The soldiers are by no means irrational or cruel, but they have so little control over the situation that their actions are substantially less purposeful than Dr. Riyadh’s. They want to conduct elections almost merely to say they’ve done so. They understand that Washington’s heavy handed framing of the actions on the ground are utterly meaningless and entirely disconnected from the heavy scent of desperation floating in the Sadr City air. Dr. Riyadh wants badly to believe in the possibility of success for the occupation, but like the Americans and the Australians, he sees the belief in a positive future slipping away.

He shudders at bomb blasts while eating by candle light. His daughters disguise their ink-stained fingers for fear of abduction. But perhaps these events are substantially less frightening than the fact that filmmaker Laura Poitras, who was allowed by the military to make this film, is now on Department of Homeland Security’s watch list and holds the highest threat rating they assign.

Sayin. No, not sayin.

[PBS: My Country My Country]
[NYT: Bush Reaffirms Support for Rumsfeld, Cheney]