Like the title suggests, this eye-opening documentary from Jeremy Earp (HIJACKING CATASTROPHE: 9/11, FEAR & THE SELLING OF AMERICAN EMPIRE) and Loretta Alper is a how-to manual, not for waging war, but how to make military intervention not only palatable to the public, but accepted as imperative. Based on the book by syndicated columnist and savvy media watchdog Norman Solomon, who appears throughout as the main talking head, Earp and Alper's documentary shows just how the U.S. government coerces a nation into accepting the very idea of war, and it's a job it couldn't do without the full cooperation of the media. Solomon came of age during the Vietnam conflict and as he approached draft age, he began to notice what he calls "the contours of the story" the Johnson White House was telling the country, a story that wasn't meant to inform the public but to sell them a war. According to Solomon -- and his evidence appears incontrovertible -- that story has been told time and again whenever the U.S. found itself heading toward a military intervention, be it in Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq. The narrative usually stars a powerful but reluctant United States which, after exhausting every peaceful option, must once again step in and selflessly spread democracy somewhere in the world; a fiendish dictator who's almost always compared to Hitler; domestic dissenters who are "unpatriotic" and don't "support the troops"; and an independent media that delivers the all facts directly into our living rooms with no spin or bias. But according to Solomon, those media are entirely complicit in the government's peddling of war, and he lays out exactly how newspapers, TV news and televised pundits repeatedly offer up government distortions instead of skeptical analysis and provide the drumbeat accompaniment for government saber rattling. And it's only getting worse the more news outlets rely on official government sources instead of independent reporting, and use former military officials perspective instead of doing their own analysis. The parallels and patterns Solomon finds are striking and disturbing -- compare the complete failure of the U.S. press to parse the official story of the "attack" in the Gulf of Tonkin that opened the floodgates in Vietnam with Colin Powell's "evidence" before the U.N. about Saddam Hussein's WMDs. At only 73 minutes, the documentary is nowhere as detailed as Solomon's invaluable book but see it anyway, and don't get fooled again.
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- Released: 2008
- Rating: NR
- Review: Like the title suggests, this eye-opening documentary from Jeremy Earp (HIJACKING CATASTROPHE: 9/11, FEAR & THE SELLING OF AMERICAN EMPIRE) and Loretta Alper is a how-to manual, not for waging war, but how to make military intervention not only palatable t… (more)