Can Academia Confront Iraq?

, Abraham Taylor, Leave a comment

Confronting Iraq, a new documentary by filmmakers Roger Aronoff and Jack Harris, provides an in-depth look at the conditions leading up to the war, the war itself, and the current political climate surrounding the War in Iraq.

The film challenges extreme but growing ideas such as that of Gordon Fellman, professor at Brandeis University who described terrorism as merely “ways of inflicting revenge on an enemy that seems unable or unwilling to respond to rational pleas for discussion and justice.” This film illustrates why such thinking is dangerous for America.

David Galernter, professor at Yale University, and himself a victim of terrorism (the recipient of a Ted Kaczynski mail bomb), urges America in the film to recognize and deal with the very real issue of terrorism: “It is terrifying to confront the fact that there are people out there who hate your guts and want to kill you. But if we don’t have the courage to face it we are going to lose.” Sadly, it took the deaths of 3,000 Americans (all at once) to realize the nature of the enemy that opposes us.

Through a display of extensive research, the film illustrates how events in the 1990’s led up to the tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001 and the subsequent War in Iraq. The film is not simply a rehashing of old and familiar ideas, but a refreshingly detailed look at issues leading to the present situation.

One “refreshing” and credibility-building aspect to the film, is that it gathers thought from knowledgeable and prominent parties, not just the, at times, too familiar guests who are occasionally no more than mere celebrity experts.

The film’s list of knowledgeable experts include: James Woolsey, former CIA director, Bernard Kerik, former New York City Police Commissioner, Christopher Hitchens, columnist for Vanity Fair, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, Bernard Lewis, the foremost Middle East scholar, Jano Rosebiani, a Kurdish-American filmmaker of Saddam’s Mass Graves, and Frank Gaffney, of the Center for Security Policy, just to name a few. These experts speak clearly and effectively on the issues at hand.

When speaking of the current political climate, Bernard Lewis, a Middle East scholar and emeritus professor at Princeton University, warns in the film: “We talk a great deal about what led up to 9/11; what is not mentioned is that there hasn’t been a single attack since 9/11 in this country…the reason for that is [the terrorists’] shock [at] the strong American reaction, first in Afghanistan and then Iraq, which made them re-think their assumptions. The danger that I see at the present time is that they may misunderstand what they see happening and say ‘maybe we were right after all, maybe the Americans are soft and pampered. Let’s go ahead to the next and final phase.’”

The film’s conclusion can be rightly summed up by Bernard Kerik’s concluding statement: “Listen to Bin Laden in ’97,” says Kerik, a former NYC police commissioner, “listen to him today. Listen to Al Zarqawi, listen to the others out there, listen to the people that beheaded Nick Berg. They all say the same thing; their job in life is to devastate our society. That hasn’t stopped, we have to combat terrorism.”

The film uses powerful footage to forcefully communicate its paramount message that Iraq was the “perfect second move” because Saddam was a “threat to this country [that] we had to remove.”

Abraham Taylor, a recent graduate of Brigham Young University, is an intern with Accuracy in Media, which is distributing Confronting Iraq.