Reaction to F-9/11 & Juan Cole’s Criticism


Pulled from Comments:

Review of Fahrenheit 9/11 by KrytonMy wife and I and our 13 year old niece went to see it Sunday afternoon.

I knew much of what was in this movie, but not all. I didn’t realize, for instance, that only one member of Congress has a child serving today. But seeing it all pulled together made for an unforgettable experience. I thought Moore could’ve added even more, but the film as it is lasts 2 1/2 hours. He couldn’t possibly put in everything

We’ve all seen the replays of 9-11 a thousand times. That’s what makes Moore’s extraordinarily respectful treatment of it all the more powerful. I could hear people literally choking back tears during that scene.

It’s a stunning documentary. My niece and wife both cried several times. Even I must admit to tears.

As a general rule, I thought that the movie was at its most scathing when it showed us raw footage: Bush sitting in the classroom (yes, it really was that long; Bush telling a roomful of billionaires, “Some call you the elite. I call you my base;” the Republican Stepford Wife attacking the mother of a dead soldier.

Bush and Jeb together, smirking aboard a plane. Bush smirking to a reporter that he’ll win Florida. “Count on it,” he smirks. “Write it down,” he smirks. His cousin John at FOXNEWS declaring him the Florida winner. The other networks retract their earlier call for Gore and go along with FOX. Bush with Kathryn Harris, his Florida campaign manager who just happened to also work for Jeb, who also just happened to be the person in charge of Florida’s vote.

Bush’s Arbusto/Harken ties to Saudis. Bush’s black-lined National Guard records. Bush practicing facial expressions before a televised speech; Bush sitting in that 9-11 classroom, eyes darting this way and that, searching vainly for brain matter. (I’d hoped Moore would’ve included the t.v. image of Bush’s vacuous terrified face the evening of 9-11 when he returned to Washington).

Bush grinning with Saudis. Cheney grinning with Saudis. Bush 40 grinning with Saudies. James Baker grinning with Saudis. Rumsfeld grinning with Saudis. Repeat. Repeat. Prince Bandar perched on the edge of a sofa with Bush 40. Ashcroft singing his soaring eagle song. (Anyone remember that eagles are carnivorous predators?)
Huge bombs bursting over Iraq, lighting up the night sky like the end of the world; Iraqi women and children screaming and crying, terrified. American GIs with limbs blown off. Bush smirking “Bring ’em on.” Bush smirking. Bush smirking. Bush smirking.

A Flint MI woman who in earlier years as a counsellor encouraged young people to join the military as a way to escape Flint’s poverty, is devastated when her own son is killed in Iraq. She sits on a sofa with her husband and large family around her, reading the last letter she received from her son. Her voice breaks. She reads on. Her voice breaks again and again. She can barely finish the letter. She finally does. She’s completely emptied. She sits silent, washed in grief, tapping the letter against its envelope, expressing extreme anguish by wordlessly hitting paper with paper…

Take kleenex with you. And vote Bush and his demonic crew out of office in November.

I was listening to Randi yesterday and people were calling in from all over the country (AA is on 14 stations now and has a large internet audience) about their experiences. I haven’t heard stories like that since Star Wars–lines around the block in small towns; theaters adding one or two showings and, in the multiplexes, putting it on a couple more screens; one guy, I can’t remember where he said he was from but it was a Red State, said he figured that, in his highly conservative area, he might be the only one at the showing but when he got there, the multiplex had put F9/11 on 8 screens and every single showing was sold out; another one said he saw it first with a university crowd, sort of leftish, and when he decided he wanted to see it again, he ended up in a conservative area (the only place he could find a ticket, apparently) and even there it was on 4 screens and the houses were packed; one woman heard what was going on and showed up 3 hoiurs early to get her tickets–she got the last two…for the day.

That last woman said, ‘There’s a hunger in this country for somebody to tell the truth about what’s been happening the past three years.’ From the sound of it, they’re not hungry, they’re starving.

Not that there hasn’t been criticism. charlie at BiteSoundBite has reservations after reading Juan Cole’s review.

My argument is that the Iraq connection to 9/11 is specious and that connections of the same type can be made between al Quaeda and governments of the region whom we call friends and do not invade. I thought that Moore was doing the same thing, but now I don’t think he was. I still enjoyed the movie, and would reccomend it. But read Juan Cole’s remarks first, go in with a cool head.

Cole took Moore to task for his ‘illogic’ and ‘Saudi-bashing’.

The Saudi bashing in the Moore film makes no sense. It is true that some of the hijackers were Saudis, but that is only because Bin Laden hand-picked some Saudi muscle at the last minute to help the brains of the operation, who were Egyptians, Lebanese, Yemenis, etc. Bin Laden did that deliberately, in hopes of souring US/Saudi relations so that he could the better overthrow the Saudi government.The implication one often hears from Democrats that the US should have invaded Saudi Arabia and Pakistan after the Afghan war rather than Iraq is just another kind of warmongering and illogical. There is no evidence that either the Saudi or the Pakistani government was complicit in 9/11.

I respect Cole a great deal, but he’s being very legalistic here. There’s no hard evidence that the Saudi govt or Musharraff personally were involved in or supported specifically the AQ action against the US, but there’s plenty of evidence that Saudi businessmen with close ties to the Royal Family (which is the govt) and even certain members of that family have been giving tacit financial support to fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups like AQ, Hamas and Hezbollah for years all during the time they were promising to do something just like this. The israeli govt has been protesting that support for more than a decade, and for more than a decade the Saudis have been denying it.

Pakistan has a military govt, and while Musharraf himself hasn’t been proven to have terrorist ties, certain of his high-ranking military officers, especially those in charge of the areas around the Afghanistan border, have been up to their necks protecting and supporting the Taliban and the AQ since the early 90’s. During the Afghan War, Israeli intelligence–and most of the other intelkligence services, including our own–were reasonably certain that bin Laden was hiding out in the mountains across the border in Pakistan, shielded by the Pakistani military; some of them think that’s where he is now, most of the time.

The relationship between the Saudi Royals, the Pakistani military, and AQ is way too complicated to go into here (part of the Saudi support is pure baksheesh, for example); suffice it to say that the connections are undeniable and decades long, and during all that time powerful elements of both entities have been supporting terrorist groups promising to do something just like the 9/11 massacre. If they weren’t directly involved in the planning and execution of 9/11, they certainly were parties to everything that led up to it. Like Moore, I think that makes them as guilty as if they flew those planes themselves. Cole is splitting hairs here, and while he’s technically accurate, it’s a distinction that’s hardly worth making to anybody except a lawyer.

As for Cole’s contention that the Saudis were picked ‘at the last minute’, I’d like to know where he’s getting this. All the information I’ve seen says that those cells were smuggled into the US over the course of two years; a year before the attacks took place, the pilots were getting flight training. Here. The pilots were mostly Saudi. Two years is not ‘the last minute’.

Some of Cole’s other comments seem uncharacteristically simplistic, as well.

The story Moore tells about the Turkmenistan gas pipeline project through Afghanistan and Pakistan also makes no sense. First, why would it be bad for the Turkmenistanis to be able to export their natural gas? What is wicked about all that? It is true that some forces wanted the pipeline so badly that they even were willing to deal with the Taliban, but this was before Bin Laden started serious operations against the US from Afghan soil, beginning in 1998 with the East Africa embassy bombings.

If Cole thinks dickering with the Taliban over the pipeline stopped in ’98, he’s misinformed. It went on through intermediaries in Turkmenistan right up until the Afghan War. Again, Cole seems unaccountably willing to accept the narrow notion that working through other people makes you innocent. I don’t. It doesn’t.

I still cannot understand why the pipeline is evil. Afghanistans would collect $2 bn. a year on tolls, and the Turkmen would be lifted out of poverty, and Pakistan and India might have a new reason to cooperate rather than fighting. I personally wish it could be built immediately.

This is startlingly naive. The pipeline is evil because the Turkmen would NOT be lifted out of poverty; they’d never see a nickel of the money. They’d be rooted out of their homes as they were in Burma and forcibly moved out of the way of the pipe to new villages where they’d be resented for taking up some of the village’s increasingly scarce resources–land, food, water–while individuals in the Turkmen govt got richer and richer.

That is the way it works and has worked for decades: Burma, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, the list winds ever on. Mr Cole has taken the view of investors that the pipeline will be of value; Mr Moore has taken the people’s view that the pipeline will be of value…to investors. Perhaps Mr Cole should look at the history of Halliburton/KBR’s pipeline in Burma and show us some evidence that it lifted the Burmese ‘out of poverty’. If he can do that, I may take him more seriously.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s