Bush's War
March 26, 2008 6:29 AM   Subscribe

In honor of the 5-year anniversary of the Iraq War, PBS' Frontline presented a fantastic 2- part special on the issue this past Monday and Tuesday. It is now available in it's entirety online along with interview transcripts from senior officials, a video timeline of the war, and battlefield stories from soldiers. Bush's War
posted by auralcoral (100 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
The one positive thing that might come from the debacle of this war, is the potential for the American populace to come to understand once and for all the dangers of theocracy, fear, dogma, arrogance, macho thirst for power, ignorance and apathy of the civil service and the media to resolve to never again allow a man and a posse such as this to come to power.

I'll never underestimate the power of ignorant people in large groups but maybe works such as this, through the lens of history, will crystallize this for the nation at large. My cynicism wins however, and I don't think thats a reasonable hope.
posted by sfts2 at 6:43 AM on March 26, 2008


The nation at large has never heard of Frontline. Heck, I work with dozens of highly educated people and they will only be exposed to the truth about the Iraq war if I prepare and deliver a presentation about it. History proves that, in the long run, our nation will learn nothing from this tragic blunder.
posted by rotifer at 6:50 AM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


The media has already shown it hasn't learned any lessons. Look at the ridiculous nontroversies and unskeptical, superficial reporting on the next election.

It's great that Frontline has done a retrospective picking apart the mistakes of the past, but it would be even more helpful if they looked at the present to prevent the mistakes of the future. (Or if they had done so at the time.)
posted by DU at 6:53 AM on March 26, 2008


One thing I got from watching this is that evil is banal. Before, it was hard for me to understand how they could have gone so far into the darkness without there being some sort of satanic plot. But I think the truth is more likely that they are just small men, with very limited hearts. They are trapped in a dangerously obsolete world-view. Except maybe Dick Cheney. He's just evil.
posted by bitslayer at 7:04 AM on March 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


DU, just so you know, Frontline has been reporting on the war since before it began and this is not a retrospective, it's a compilation of the reporting they've done so far. Frontline is a dedicated and respected news source and I'm sure they'll continue to report on the war as long as the war itself continues.
posted by auralcoral at 7:12 AM on March 26, 2008


"We learn from history that we do not learn from history."

Still, "In destinies sad or merry, true men can but try."
posted by notyou at 7:16 AM on March 26, 2008


"macho thirst for power, ignorance and apathy of the civil service..."

Just what is your problem -- ignorance or apathy?

I don't know, and I don't care.

...

(RING AND A BOOMBOOM!)

Thang yu; thang yu verra much. I'm here 'til Thursday. Try the lasagna.
posted by Mike D at 7:17 AM on March 26, 2008


The timeline was excruciating. My boss (who wrote the underlying code) deserves at least a medal. The Online Producer who organized it did an amazing, fantastic job keeping a lot of loose ends straight. And she and the site's Editorial Director wrote about a metric ton of excellent copy to go with it. And I deserve a vacation for encoding all the video and sniffing out and cutting 150 screen shots.

I think it's one of the best sites we've done since I've been there and I'm proud of my role in it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:18 AM on March 26, 2008 [20 favorites]


It's great that Frontline has done a retrospective picking apart the mistakes of the past, but it would be even more helpful if they looked at the present to prevent the mistakes of the future. (Or if they had done so at the time.)

To their credit previous Frontline reports include:
Gunning for Saddam (November 8, 2001)

The War Behind Closed Doors (February 20, 2003)

The Long Road to War: A FRONTLINE Special Report (March 17, 2003)

Truth, War, and Consequences (October 9, 2003)

Chasing Saddam's Weapons (January 22, 2004)

Beyond Baghdad (February 12, 2004)

The Invasion of Iraq (February 26, 2004)

Rumsfeld's War (October 26, 2004)

A Company of Soldiers (February 22, 2005)

The Soldier's Heart (March 1, 2005)

Private Warriors (June 21, 2005)

The Torture Question (October 18, 2005)

The Insurgency (February 21, 2006)

The Lost Year in Iraq (October 17, 2006)

Gangs of Iraq (April 17, 2007)

Endgame (June 19, 2007)

Rules of Engagement (February 19, 2008)
posted by ericb at 7:22 AM on March 26, 2008 [17 favorites]


Hey, wow, MC, you worked on that? Congrats!
posted by notsnot at 7:24 AM on March 26, 2008


Isn't the central idea behind the creation of America itself that a bunch of guys from England left the country to avoid the kind of people that have gotten us into this current mess (via "...the dangers of theocracy, fear, dogma, arrogance, macho thirst for power...")*? That makes me doubt very much the ability of the general populace to learn anything about anything, really. A person might be smart and sophisticated, but people are stupid and fearful and this kind of thing will happen again.

*I know, not 100% accurate.
posted by Pecinpah at 7:25 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Frontline, I apologize to you. But you only. And stop looking at me like that, NPR, you are still in the dog house.
posted by DU at 7:25 AM on March 26, 2008


Hey, wow, MC, you worked on that? Congrats!

Thanks! I've worked on every FRONTLINE site for the last few years, but this one's special.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:27 AM on March 26, 2008


The video timeline is great! What a compelling way to present information/media.
posted by ericb at 7:29 AM on March 26, 2008


Great program. Seeing all of the pieces Frontline has done in the past years put together like this really illustrated how so many of the problems we've seen in Iraq are the direct result of incredibly petty infighting between the Pentagon, CIA, and State. I didn't think it was possible for me to think any worse of Rumsfeld than I already do. I was wrong.

I also got a kick out of the use of sound effects in the program. Nearly every black and white shot was accompanied by a popping flash and whirring shutters. And the seemingly random ringing telephone almost got me off of my couch a few times.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:33 AM on March 26, 2008


Frontline consistently does kick-ass reporting. Sadly, there is something powerfully soporific about Frontline Voiceover Guy's voice, and typically Mrs. Ev and I are knocked out 30 minutes into the show. It's pathetic, I know.
posted by everichon at 7:35 AM on March 26, 2008


Isn't the central idea behind the creation of America itself that a bunch of guys from England left the country to avoid the kind of people that have gotten us into this current mess (via "...the dangers of theocracy, fear, dogma, arrogance, macho thirst for power...")*?

That may be our national myth, but the the religious freedom the Massachusetts settlers were looking for was mostly the freedom to set up their own theocracy; they didn't call them 'puritans' because they were uncommonly tolerant. Thankfully, the narrow moralism of the New England colonies was later tempered by the naked avarice of the southern colonies, so it all worked out great.
posted by bluejayk at 7:39 AM on March 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


The one positive thing that might come from the debacle of this war, is the potential for the American populace to come to understand once and for all the dangers of theocracy, fear, dogma, arrogance, macho thirst for power, ignorance and apathy of the civil service and the media to resolve to never again allow a man and a posse such as this to come to power.

Amen, brother. I don't see it happening, but amen.

Case in point: whatever my personal feelings about Bill Clinton the President, he and his people implemented and oversaw a very well-run and effective federal administrative apparatus. At the end of those 8 years, I came to believe that people had finally figured out what good government was all about, and would no longer bow to ideological bullshit and petty obsessions with the private lives of their political leaders.

I could not have been more wrong.

Back to the war, the most frustrating thing about it, was that any of us with any understanding of the history of that region pretty much predicted in 2002/2003 exactly what has come to pass there. Various timeframes had thrown about, but it was pretty certain that, owing to historical religious tensions, the degradation of Iraq's infrastructure during 10 years of sanctions, and the animosity that engendered toward the US, the whole thing was going to dissolve into chaos over time, and would probably stay that way for generations.

A lot of very influential people who you would have expected better from then strapped on the blinders (Tom Friedman, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Christopher Hitchens, and editors at the New Yorker, Slate and the New Republic, etc. ) and pretended that this thing was going to work... "greeted as liberators", and democracy would bloom in the desert.

I just never bought the cynical "we were tricked" line from the left, and am moreover disgusted by it, when it was obvious to so many that this thing was going to go almost exactly as it has.
posted by psmealey at 7:48 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


History proves that, in the long run, our nation will learn nothing from this tragic blunder.

we didn't learn anything from the vietnam war, we certainly won't learn anything from this one
posted by pyramid termite at 7:49 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


This got me as depressed as I've been in recent memory. Good job.
posted by OmieWise at 7:49 AM on March 26, 2008


I'd have to agree that the chances of America learning anything from this war are slim to none. Isn't not learning America's MO.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 AM on March 26, 2008


History proves that, in the long run, our nation will learn nothing from this tragic blunder

except that Democrats will be vaguely yet solely responsible for the ultimate unsatisfactory outcome.

we didn't learn anything from the vietnam war

"Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war". -- Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1979
posted by tachikaze at 8:01 AM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


MC, that timeline is amazing.

Frontline is awesome. I first heard of Osama bin Laden on Frontline in 1998. That was the only place I'd ever hear about him until 2001, when the networks felt the need to give us a primer on him.

Frontline has done exceptional non-political reporting as well over the years. Off the top of my head, the profile of school shooter Kip Kinkel and an episode about the "Merchants of Cool" spring to mind.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:05 AM on March 26, 2008


We watched it Monday night and were amazed by all of the of the incredible information so tightly put together. It's an amazing narrative. If newspapers are the first draft of history (the beta, if you will), then this is definitely the first major release version. It belongs in every U.S. high school history curriculum.
posted by stevis at 8:05 AM on March 26, 2008



we didn't learn anything from the vietnam war, we certainly won't learn anything from this one
posted by pyramid termite at 10:49 AM on March 26


Sure we did. We learn that rioting in the streets, huge protests, and civil disobedience can get a guy like Nixon elected and prolong the war for another six years.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:06 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


to be the world's midwife to democracy

She's not wrong, but it's, to me, really sweet that she put it that way. The Vietnam war had about as much to do with democracy as invading Iraq did.

If we ever do get a point where our military is used to legitimately help defend or give birth to a democracy, I might actually support that effort. Hasn't happened in my lifetime, at least.
posted by psmealey at 8:07 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sadly, there is something powerfully soporific about Frontline Voiceover Guy's voice...

Ah, the mellifluous tones of Will Lyman (also currently "the voice of BMW," etc.).
posted by ericb at 8:18 AM on March 26, 2008


One of the lessons I took away from this great docu? Ahmad Chalabi is a tool, and so is everybody who believed anything he ever said. Imagine, fighting an entire war because one guy is talking shit to Cheney and his buddies. I can't tell if Chalabi's that good a liar or if the administration just wanted to believe him so bad they didn't question him.

Anyway, he's been entirely discredited at this point, and look what we're left with. Nice.
posted by Camofrog at 8:19 AM on March 26, 2008


#:Frontline has been reporting on the war since before it began and this is not a retrospective

As ericb has pointed out, it pretty much is.

And for good measure, I'd lalso add 'The Dark Side' -- PBS, 06/21/2006, not to mention numerous other docs of the past couple of years, including both 'No End In Sight' (2007) and this past year's Oscar-winner, 'Taxi to the Dark Side' (2007).

The writing has been on the wall for the past 2 years, just about.
posted by vhsiv at 8:22 AM on March 26, 2008


Hasn't happened in my lifetime, at least.

And it probably won't happen in ours. At least not for real. The concept of protecting a fledgling democracy is just too tainted right now, and I would be really surprised if we invested any efforts into a project like that while the memory of these last few years is still fresh.

Although, if that young democracy has huge reserves of natural resources, all bets would be off.
posted by quin at 8:29 AM on March 26, 2008


I missed the second part, but the first was striking in its montage of the sabre-rattling insanity that dominated US broadcast media in the first months of 2003.

And that site will become my quick reference link for Iraq. Chapeau to all involved.
posted by holgate at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2008


like Nixon elected and prolong the war for another six years

Nixon actually did a pretty good job of pulling troops out after mid-1969.

Draftee KIA, by year:

1968: 5319
1969: 4311
1970: 2286
1971: 652
1972: 43
posted by tachikaze at 8:36 AM on March 26, 2008


There is currently an online chat at WashingtonPost.com with Frontline producer Michael Kirk on the program. It started at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern).
posted by ericb at 8:37 AM on March 26, 2008


I noticed something odd about the Iraq casualty list . . . for the past 2 months, only 9 of the 53 KIA have been of the rank of Private or Corporal; the bulk of the KIA have been Sergeants. Theoretically, Sergeants are supposed to lead units, not be the majority of the warfighters. Wonder if there's been some "rank inflation", or if this is just a side-effect of the backdoor draft of duty cycles.
posted by tachikaze at 8:46 AM on March 26, 2008


Anyway, he's been entirely discredited at this point

You wish: Chalabi has re-emerged as a key player who could determine whether President George W Bush’s effort to secure Baghdad succeeds. Earlier this month Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, put Chalabi in charge of restoring essential services to the capital. Sunday Times of London, 11 Nov 2007.
posted by nicwolff at 8:49 AM on March 26, 2008


My 11 year-old son and I sat and watched this just shaking our heads, We knew most of what was said already, but still. It just stuns me the stupidity of a portion of America.

An incredibly well done piece of journalism, showing a murderous fraud perpetrated by someone who will make Warren Harding look like Lincoln when history has its say.

Or sadly, as half of America will view it, just more liberal bias in the media.

Tipping hat to Mayor Curley.
posted by timsteil at 8:49 AM on March 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


It was a good program, but from what I saw, in concentrated mostly on Year One. It excelled superbly at showing the Military/State Department/CIA backstabbing, but I would have liked to have seen something more about life on the ground these past few years. Also, I might have missed it, but they seemed to have made a big deal about the toppling of the Saddam statue, not mentioning the photo-op nature of the event.
posted by kozad at 9:07 AM on March 26, 2008


The number of personal agendas involved in the run up to and execution of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was startling, from Cofer Black's jarhead theatrics to Wolfowitz's boner popping at the thought of finally running the nation building experiment he'd been dreaming of for more than twenty years, to Rumsfeld's megalomaniac spotlight lust, to Addington and Yoo's insane fringe legal ideologies...the list goes on and on. All of these men were falling over each other to realize their own long held little personal jerk off fantasies and never once a serious discussion where the different agencies came together to talk about what might be best for the country.
posted by The Straightener at 9:16 AM on March 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would have liked to have seen something more about life on the ground these past few years.

Be sure to check out the upcoming episode of Frontline: Bad Voodoo's War.
"In June 2007, as the American military surge reached its peak, a band of National Guard infantrymen who call themselves the Bad Voodoo Platoon was deployed to Iraq. To capture a vivid, first-person account of the new realities of war in Iraq for FRONTLINE and ITVS director Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes) created a 'virtual embed' with the platoon, supplying cameras to the soldiers so they could record and tell the story of their war. The film intimately tracks the veteran soldiers of "Bad Voodoo" through the daily grind of their perilous mission, dodging deadly IEDs, grappling with the political complexities of dealing with Iraqi security forces, and battling their fatigue and their fears."
posted by ericb at 9:17 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I taped both parts because there was no way my wife and I were going to stay up that late, and I'm glad I did, because what we've watched of it so far is superb. True, nobody who can affect the course of events will learn from it, but it's good to get the truth on record.

Another hat tip to the Mayor.
posted by languagehat at 9:26 AM on March 26, 2008


I have enjoyed Frontline for many years, and not having a teevee, I'm glad they put these up to watch online. It's one of the few things I miss about television, and happily I can still get it. I'm looking forward to watching this one. Couple of my favorites over the years have been "The Man Who Knew" , and "Country Boys".
posted by Eekacat at 9:42 AM on March 26, 2008


I really like the idea of calling this whole thing "Bush's War." It's a testament to the fact that its only reason for going on so long was to assuage one man's ego.
posted by fungible at 10:01 AM on March 26, 2008


What Does Bush Mean by "Victory in Iraq"? His grandiose definition makes defeat almost inevitable.
posted by homunculus at 10:07 AM on March 26, 2008


Frontline really out did themselves with this one. It was fantastic to see all these power players brought together and telling it like it is— or was.

The nation at large has never heard of Frontline.


I think this is true. And why you get guys like Armitage and people who worked under Condi Rice coming clean - Joe Average won't be hassling them as Joe Average doesn't pay attention to the high brow shows. The players want to appeal to the smart people who do. The smart people who may employ them later. Who will be formulating the history books. These guys are already trying to align themselves with the good side of what is obviously going to be the harsh judgment of history. And most of them won't be able to seclude themselves in private estate compounds, just counting oil money, like Rummy, Bush and Cheney.
posted by tkchrist at 10:08 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley, That. Is. Awesome. I had a screening of "The Lost Year in Iraq" for my freshmen writing class last semester, and I think that it really had an effect on them. I doubt that many have become frequent Frontline viewers, but they have been exposed to it, at least.

The supplemental online materials are fantastic (though I did have a student plagiarize from some of the extended interviews).
posted by Tullius at 10:09 AM on March 26, 2008


I really like the idea of calling this whole thing "Bush's War."

Indeed it contains more than a few parallels with Mr. McNamara's War
posted by psmealey at 10:12 AM on March 26, 2008


And MC. Bravo. That time line is awesome. I can only imagine how long that must have taken. compiling all that copy, video etc. I'm curious though. Why do they still use tables for the main navigation when they have all this nice tidy CSS everywhere else? Was that a retrofit of some kind?

Anyway. Frontline's web site has long been one of my favorites.
posted by tkchrist at 10:21 AM on March 26, 2008


Kudos, MC.
posted by signal at 10:33 AM on March 26, 2008


Iraq fighting is worst in months; Maliki issues ultimatum
posted by homunculus at 10:39 AM on March 26, 2008


That timeline is amazing. So. Much. Information.
posted by Tehanu at 10:42 AM on March 26, 2008


Not entirely similar but certainly related and nicely made:

Bearing Witness: Reuters' Iraq coverage over the past 5 years.
posted by monospace at 11:24 AM on March 26, 2008


History proves that, in the long run, our nation will learn nothing from this tragic blunder.

To paraphrase someone, history begins anew with each generation.

The number of personal agendas involved in the run up to and execution of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was startling,

I noticed this too. It reminded me of a lot of the wars in medieval history, where the various nobles involved all had their own ideas about how to do things, and played power politics for personal gain or of sheer stubbornness. My, how far we've come since then.

Also, I agree with those that give kudos to Mayor Curley and his team. The various PBS websites are in general top notch, and Frontline site is one of the best of those. And I'm jealous I couldn't get a job there when I applied years ago.
posted by moonbiter at 11:32 AM on March 26, 2008


Another point Frontline makes very clear is what a douche Rummy is.

Condi Rice: Hi, Pentagon? How about a little intel? For, you know, the intelligence adviser?

Rumsfeld: Don't worry your pretty little head, missy. We're in control over here. *Pisses on hydrant*

Not that I am a Condi Rice fan, as they all were/are enablers to some degree, but jesus, what dysfunctionality.
posted by Camofrog at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2008


I'm curious though. Why do they still use tables for the main navigation when they have all this nice tidy CSS everywhere else? Was that a retrofit of some kind?

I'm not sure which part you're referring to, but there are a lot of reasons you might find tables (including recycling). If you're talking about the Bush's War interview pages, it was just a simple way to keep the listings organized into visual chunks because there were so many.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:24 PM on March 26, 2008


I really like the idea of calling this whole thing "Bush's War." It's a testament to the fact that its only reason for going on so long was to assuage one man's ego.

I got just the opposite impression. I think, if anything, Frontline made a good case (as has been made in a number of other outlets, the series called "The Angler" in the Times comes to mind) for how much of an empty vessel Bush was in all of this. Now, that's not some crack at his intelligence or an absolution of his guilt in all this, make no mistake. True to his word, Bush was the decider, a term that gets tossed around with a kind of mocking derision, though rarely appreciated for what it means. In the run-up to war, two camps with two different schools of thought had his ear, and ultimately, the more aggressive won out, but he's never portrayed as anything less than open to all the views his advisers were willing to put forth.

The Straightener really hits the nail on the head: The story isn't about one man's singular vision of himself as some kind of hero or liberator of an oppressed people or, for the more cynical, oil-fueled malice and a Napoleon complex. This war is more the result of a collection of personal fantasies and agendas finally given the chance to come to fruition. The blame is clearly laid most heavily on Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (and to a lesser extent, Wolfowitz), who have been shown time and time again to be bullying Cold War relics willing to shape facts to meet their needs at the expense of entire nations of people, and Yoo, Addington and Gonzalez, who were all happy to be reprehensible tools used to facilitate anything asked of them. Powell's State Department, Ashcroft's Justice Department, Democrats in Congress, and Tenet's CIA were all so busy trying to keep their jobs, trying to triangulate their loyalties and need for power with their better judgment, that the few objections actually voiced were rendered inevitably moot. Since then, it's been one long stumble, tripping ass over ignorance down a path paved with good intentions that we can't imagine leading to anyplace less majestic than an American-allied oil-rich bastion of democracy in the Middle East.

It's called Bush's War, in my opinion, less because he stands over it as the sole author but because he is now and forever will be so singularly defined and judged by it. It's overtaken anything else he might have hoped to be about. It's bigger than he'll ever be.
posted by StopMakingSense at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2008 [10 favorites]


McCain Called Chalabi "A Patriot" With Iraq’s "Best Interests At Heart" and Chalabi's a McCain booster, so he could be back in a big way.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:00 PM on March 26, 2008


Two interesting things about this to me are first, how bad Rumsfeld looks. This program largely lays the failures in Iraq at Rumsfeld's feet, implicitly, at least. And second, I found it interesting that Condi Rice ends up looking fairly smart, although almost completely ineffectual and ignored until way too late.
posted by rusty at 2:10 PM on March 26, 2008


"The Angler" series was in the Washington Post.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:20 PM on March 26, 2008


Did anyone else watching this have a momentary shred of enlightenment over Cheney's mindset when there was a discussion about the CIA completely missing the early nuclear program in Iraq when Cheney was with Bush 1? As venal and sociopathic as Cheney seems to me this particular moment in the series really made me see at some level how he could have come to unshakeable conclusions about Iraq's role in the larger theatre of geopolitics and why the CIA was not trustworthy in their analyses.
posted by docpops at 2:22 PM on March 26, 2008


Frontline is a dedicated and respected news source and I'm sure they'll continue to report on the war as long as the war itself continues.

...or until they finally drown in a bathtub.
posted by rokusan at 2:49 PM on March 26, 2008


Did anyone else watching this have a momentary shred of enlightenment over Cheney's mindset when there was a discussion about the CIA completely missing the early nuclear program in Iraq when Cheney was with Bush 1?

Actually, I immediately thought of Cheney's role in suppressing the CIA's attempts to expose Pakistan's nuclear program during the same period.
posted by homunculus at 2:50 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley : What's the rationale for breaking each episode up into 10 or 12 minute chapters?
posted by Dave Faris at 2:58 PM on March 26, 2008


I've only seen part one so far. The documentary addresses the way White House staff appeared on the Sunday shows quoting the very stories they fed the NYT, but other than that, the media seems to get off pretty easy.
posted by klarck at 3:02 PM on March 26, 2008


New National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to Remain Secret?
posted by homunculus at 3:10 PM on March 26, 2008


"Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war". -- Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1979

Oh, sure, quote your favorite knee-jerk pinko liberal, why don't you.

Thankfully, the narrow moralism of the New England colonies was later tempered by the naked avarice of the southern colonies, so it all worked out great.

I just got back from visiting Savannah (St. Patty's Day there is sumpin' else), and it was actually a multi-culti haven from the very beginning. I think we often demonize the South because of it's slavery history, but in the beginning they also had Poles, Irish, debtors, Catholics, Protestants of all stripes, synagogues, many free blacks of social standing, and a fierce nationalism early on. As slavery became more entrenched and threatened from without, they became more insular and parochial. Classic tragic flaw. We still reap the bitter fruits.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:14 PM on March 26, 2008


What's the rationale for breaking each episode up into 10 or 12 minute chapters?

It decreases load during peak times, makes for quicker buffering and means the cache is going to serve out less video that someone might not end up watching. It also makes for convenient breaks if you don't want to watch it all at once.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:24 PM on March 26, 2008


Thanks!
posted by Dave Faris at 3:25 PM on March 26, 2008


...its slavery history...(heh, heh)
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:27 PM on March 26, 2008


I need to watch more PBS. Thanks for the post, auralcoral, and thanks for the site, Mayor Curley.
posted by flatluigi at 4:20 PM on March 26, 2008


Taking Stock of the War on Terror: A Defeat Only American Power Could Have Brought About
posted by homunculus at 4:50 PM on March 26, 2008


Frontline is consistently excellent. Which makes me wonder why it hasn't been thoroughly demonized in mainstream America (or has it?).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:11 PM on March 26, 2008


Watched "Bush's War"...Can't wait to see how it ends.
posted by jaronson at 8:06 PM on March 26, 2008


Also...How about an Iraqi perspective?
posted by jaronson at 8:09 PM on March 26, 2008


The media has already shown it hasn't learned any lessons.

US media continually shows us it hasn't the ability/independence to learn... and I use media in the fucking loosest sense of the term.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:45 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


also featured on BuzzFeed.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:00 PM on March 26, 2008


It is a great piece of television, but it is presented from a very narrow perspective. When you think about it though, that's all it claims to be: Bush's War. As someone once pointed out to me in another thread, when it comes to personal motivations and intentions, we can really only build from what the person in question says. There just isn't going to be better evidence than that.
(And I'll add, since that evidence alone is enough to discredit them..)

That said, I was disappointed that there was no mention at all of the fact that combat operations were already being ramped up in mid 2002. Surely that figures into the analysis somewhere..

And, what I was really left wondering is, where are the histories of what Iraqis were doing in the last months before the invasion. The entire world knew it was coming, so some plans must have been laid..

(Mayor Curley, it would be great if you guys could add some hidden option that allows playing right through. Something that only a motivated user could figure out, like a really tiny checkbox, or something.. I was trying to do dishes while watching, and my laptop's touchpad did not appreciate the soapy clicking.)
posted by Chuckles at 1:23 AM on March 27, 2008


The programme uses the same archive shot (of men firing weapons in a street) for both the Mahdi army conflict with US forces in Aug 2004 and the factional fighting of March 2006. That's not good, and makes me wonder if other archive is showing the events described (notably the August 2003 explosion at the Jordanian embassy). I see, though, that the video timeline does not replicate those shots, and although it's often the same audio and interviews as the programme there are many differences in the archive vt.
posted by Mellon Udrigle at 5:01 AM on March 27, 2008


Frontline, The American Experience, and sometimes Nova are the best thing TV has ever produced.
posted by Senator at 7:36 AM on March 27, 2008


In other news, Bush proposes halving PBS' federal funding.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:36 AM on March 27, 2008


Frontline, The American Experience, and sometimes Nova are the best thing TV has ever produced.

And all three programs are produced by WGBH/Boston.
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on March 27, 2008


It's called Bush's War, in my opinion, less because he stands over it as the sole author but because he is now and forever will be so singularly defined and judged by it.

Aw man, I hate it one of my one-off snarks inspires someone else to write something so long and well-thought-out. I'm such a dork.

But anyways, my point was not so much that Bush was the sole author, but that he and his lackeys won't give up on the war because then they'd actually have to admit they made a mistake.
posted by fungible at 12:19 PM on March 27, 2008


And all three programs are produced by WGBH/Boston.

Although it turns out that a lot of Nova shows are repackaged/renarrated episodes of Horizon from the UK.
posted by smackfu at 9:42 AM on March 28, 2008


Five Things You Need to Know to Understand the Latest Violence in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on March 28, 2008


Just finished watching it:

1) Very annoying that part 2 has some repeated interview snippets from part 1. Not sure why they felt the need to do that... did they think people would not watch both parts together?

2) The online player in fullscreen mode shouldn't have the playback position. It looks like it's actually encoded into the Flash video. Just really distracting to have a blurry yellow bar along the bottom of the letterboxed video.

3) My local PBS station (CPTV) actually didn't show the last 30 minutes of the first part. They cut in mid-sentence to some public affairs show. I think they're just idiots there though.
posted by smackfu at 5:06 PM on March 28, 2008


These kind of analyses are certainly helpful for historiographical purposes, but isn't the big question, what would have happened in Iraq and the Middle East if Iraq hadn't been invaded? The religious tension being unleased was not created by the war.
posted by vizsla at 5:14 AM on March 31, 2008


These kind of analyses are certainly helpful for historiographical purposes, but isn't the big question, what would have happened in Iraq and the Middle East if Iraq hadn't been invaded? The religious tension being unleased was not created by the war.

But,

1) Isn't that an unanswerable question? That the religious and ethnic tensions were there prior to the US invasion does not mean they would have lead inevitably to civil war.

2) Doesn't framing it that way beg the question of the US invasion? By referencing real tensions from a historical past, and using that reference to discuss the current civil war, one tends to excuse the current invasion as a teleological aspect of history. What we know is that the US invasion fucked shit up. We don't know anything more than that.

3) Doesn't referencing the US invasion and historical tensions in the same formulation make Iraq seem like America's business in a way that it isn't? It's hard to imagine a more destabilizing action than the one we've taken, so why didn't the US just mind its own business?
posted by OmieWise at 6:34 AM on March 31, 2008


“Iraq Has Become Somalia…A Collection of Different Militias”–Back From Baghdad, Journalist Nir Rosen Paints a Picture of a Broken Iraq
posted by homunculus at 10:15 AM on April 1, 2008


Iranian who brokered Iraqi peace is on U.S. terrorist watch list
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on April 1, 2008


McCain admits “hundreds of thousands” Iraqi deaths
posted by homunculus at 9:33 AM on April 2, 2008


Bush shamefully flees Iraqi refugee crisis
posted by homunculus at 9:46 AM on April 2, 2008


Chiefs of Staff: Change Course, Face Draft, or Lose Army
posted by homunculus at 4:49 PM on April 2, 2008


The religious tension being unleased was not created by the war.

Not only does that beg the question, it's just plain stupid. Of course the religious tension was not created by the war, but the unleashing of it definitely was caused by the war.
posted by psmealey at 4:59 PM on April 2, 2008


The War Nerd: Who Won Iraq's "Decisive" Battle? What happened in Iraq this week was a beautiful lesson in the weird laws of guerrilla warfare. Unfortunately, it was the Americans who got schooled.
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on April 4, 2008


Democracy has become a dirty word in much of the world
posted by homunculus at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2008


Investigating Bush: Henry Waxman's aggressive oversight offers Democrats a model for taking on a secret and corrupt administration
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on April 12, 2008


US and Iran holding 'secret' talks on nuclear programme
posted by homunculus at 11:21 AM on April 16, 2008


President Bush: “Probably true” that next attack will come from neglected Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2008


'Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.' Pt. 2
posted by homunculus at 3:49 PM on April 18, 2008


Iraqis see red as U.S. opens world's biggest embassy: The 104-acre, 21-building enclave was cleared for occupancy recently and will open next month.
posted by homunculus at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2008


New embassy in Iraq short of fortified space -- "The new U.S. Embassy complex does not have enough fortified living quarters for hundreds of diplomats."
posted by ericb at 4:16 PM on April 25, 2008


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