Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Y'all gonna make me lose my mind

I caught Gunner Palace over the weekend. It is Iraq from the non-commissioned perspective. Yes, officers are interviewed, but far more time is spent with the 20 year old soldier who drives down streets with possible IEDs, has rocks thrown at them and breaks down people's doors at 3 in the morning. I imagine if you have strongly held views on the war, this movie may confirm them (soldiers are heros/Iraqis are oppressed,) but I think the more valuable insight is the lives and perspectives of the soldiers. The movie has a number of solider's rap interludes that remind you that the armed forces are a very integrated segment of society.

One sergeant comments that no one cares about them back in the US, even those people watching the movie will forget about them once they go get a soda from the fridge. I've heard from military people in DC that they do not like that they are suffering while the American people at large have made little or no sacrifice. Given the unpopularity of the war, it is not obvious what kind of sacrifice we are capable of making.

During one raid, "Ride of the Valkyries" plays over the soundtrack. This was an interesting choice, on the one hand we see the Army as giant intrusion into the lives of the Iraqis. On the other hand, they are remarkably restrained and when compared to the sheer carnage of the Ride scene in Apocalypse Now, they look like cops in a big city more than soldiers. The question is, can even a kind and gentle military presence not be resented.

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