It’s not surprising that Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is storming the US. The film’s release coincides with Americans’ growing anger at George Bush and his right-wing regime.
Michail Moore’s documentary storming the US
In particular, Bush’s lies and deceptions over the war and occupation of Iraq are creating a political backlash. In one scene from the film an elderly resident of Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, fumes about the Haliburton corporation (formerly run by Vice-President Dick Cheney) securing another profitable contract from the Iraq ’reconstruction’ budget, and about the failure to find the ’weapons of mass destruction’. "We’ve all been duped!", she says in disgust.
The film shows how Bush cheated Al Gore to take the presidency in 2000, with the Democrats meekly accepting this electoral fraud. Installed in office, the film hilariously portrays a dysfunctional president responding to his falling popularity by spending more and more time on vacation.
Then, the twin towers are felled by passenger aircraft hijacked by suicidal al-Qa’ida operatives. Moore’s film here retreads much of the ground covered in his book Dude, where’s my country? He shows a president politically paralysed when told of the attack. (Bush ignored prior intelligence predicting such an event.)
Immediately after 9/11, when all commercial aircraft were supposedly grounded, high-ranking Saudi Arabians (the nationality of most of the hijackers) – including Osama bin Laden’s extended family – jetted out the country. Moore suggests that Bush was keen to get them out of the way in case intimate financial connections between the Bush family, the bin Laden’s, and the Saudi ruling dictatorship were revealed.
’War on terror’
But every cloud has a silver lining and for Bush and his neo-conservative White House buddies, the 9/11 outrage let them unleash their full political agenda on a stunned America under the guise of fighting a ’war on terror’.
This included the anti-democratic Patriot Act and its ’homeland security’ provisions, passed unanimously by Congress. Moore asks a Democrat representative why they passed the act without reading its contents. The Congressman replies that bills aren’t read beforehand – such scrutiny would paralyse government!
Assisted by the right-wing media, Bush concocted a spurious connection between al-Qa’ida and Saddam Hussein, and claimed the regime in Iraq was threatening the West with weapons of mass destruction.
Turning to the bloody war in Iraq we’re shown interviews with gung-ho US soldiers and their top brass. But later, as the insurgency against the US-led occupation grows and the casualties mount, the soldiers interviewed are mostly scared and simply want out. Several are contemptuous of their political masters’ lack of understanding about the occupation. One openly calls for defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation.
The film shows how the most oppressed sections of the US population – economic conscripts desperate to escape from their poverty and lack of opportunities – end up in the armed forces. These people do the fighting and the dying, for the ruling class.
In one scene Moore follows two US marine sergeants as they tour the poorest districts of Flint, enticing the unemployed to sign up for a spurious ’better life’.
But perhaps Fahrenheit 9/11’s most poignant scenes are the interviews with Lila Lipscombe, the mother of a serving Black Hawk helicopter crewman. She’s the archetypal ’middle American’ – a practising Christian who proudly raises the stars and stripes each day. But her patriotism is shattered by her son’s subsequent death in Iraq.
At a family gathering she tearfully reads out his last letter, which accuses Bush of lies and deception and questions why he’s in Iraq. I defy anyone to be unmoved by this scene.
Moore delivers his coup de grace by contrasting the losers in this war on terror with the winners. Cameras pan around a trade conference, where corporate fat cats are salivating over the huge profits to be made from exploiting Iraq’s oil reserves and from the multi-billion dollar budget for Iraq’s ’reconstruction’. One even says, without embarrassment, that "war is good for business".
Moore shows the US ruling class waging wars in order to maintain the established social order. No wonder the right-wing on both sides of the Atlantic are fuming at this film.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi England and Wales