"Confronting Iraq" by Scott O'Malley 

If the smart and passionate folks at PBS ever approached a subject with the sobriety of a conservative mind – the result would approach this finely crafted and superbly executed film.
In a Q&A session afterwards, producer/co-writer Roger Aronoff remarked that a reporter from the U.K.’s Guardian had said (and I paraphrase), “you just did what Michael Moore did from the other side.” “Perhaps,” the director chided, “but this version is true.”

The reporter is, not surprisingly, off-base. There are several films in the works which will fight for the title of being the right’s answer to Fahrenheit (one of which is reviewed below), this film is much more than a dubbed juxtaposition of graphic elements.

Confronting Iraq may not only change one’s view on Iraq, but may alter one’s view of the world.

How?

For one it provides the necessary context of the War on Terror. A war which was not, as many believe, conceived on 9/11. It started as a hot war in the early 80s, beginning with terrorist bombings in Lebanon and Reagan’s (yes Reagan’s) withdrawal of troops; to the tragic hijacking and destruction of Pan Am Flight 103.

(An event I might add, which took the lives of 35 Syracuse University students traveling abroad. The nation may have forgotten this tragedy, but students attending Syracuse, as I did in the late 90s, will not.)

The terror timeline continues to detail the impotency of the Clinton administration – who treated the first World Trade Center attack, Somalia, and USS Cole as a “national emergency on par with a hurricane rather than attacks on American soil,” as I again paraphrase one of the film’s pundits.

It was a hot war that the terrorists were winning because they were the only ones showing up to fight. This led Osama to label the U.S., in the words of Hanson, a “paper tiger.” Keep attacking and we’ll roll over, with 9/11 being the most lethal strike.

Here I found the film’s strengths: in providing an accurate historical context for and description of the enemy. The subsequent presentations: connections between Hussein and terrorists, discovery and/or movement of WMDs, one has to judge on their own (though I'd vote “aye”.)

The performances were spirited. Hanson is as clear and focused onscreen as he is in print. This man is the Ed Begley Jr. in the fight for the preservation of words.

Lewis enlightens with pointed humor. “From the terrorist’s perspective, when you attacked America, you were not punished with reprisals but were instead greeted by lawmakers, journalists, and professors rushing over to ask, ‘How did I offend you?’”

And Hitchens is the star. He’s the Terrell Owens of the political world – when he’s not on your team he’s infuriating, but when you agree he’s exceptional. His revelation and outright humiliation of the socialist funded A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-war protest movement is worth the price of admission alone.

On the whole the film ran a bit long - feeling more like a director’s rough cut than a polished edit. The latter half delves into sequential rebuttals of Joe Wilson, Richard Clarke, and Mr. Moore, with a sprinkling of media bias in their coverage.

And the title, a minor point admittedly, underachieves. “Confronting the Enemy” would be more accurate (though less catchy).

For this argument extends beyond Iraq and to a most pivotal point.
This is not preaching to the choir, as some will surely claim, because the choir hasn’t been converted. This is more teaching the choir, for I feel many of my peers on the right, though thoughtfully supportive of this administration’s initiatives, do not yet comprehend the enemy and the nature of this war – which requires not only a firm stance against the sexy sophistication of the left, but a change in one’s view of the world.

The right needs to see this movie as much as the more reasonable near the center and left. The far left is advised to first abandon their colonies on Mars.

As Hanson remarks at the end - the American mindset “is not there yet” when evaluating the discipline, resiliency, and patience required to defeat this enemy. “We will be there if attacked again.”

The next attack, if not nuclear, may be chemical, resulting in the suffering of tens or hundreds of thousands. The deterrence of such an attack demands action, which is precisely why the current administration confronted Iraq.


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