I found this movie very compelling and am putting it into circulation as a shared good. It is built around four specific veterans (one each from WWII, Viet-Nam, and Gulf I) and does a superb job of weaving direct interviews, past photos of the three protagonists, and archival film clips.
The Marine from Gulf I is especially compelling as he tells of his deliberate refusal to accept a Conscientious Objective discharge after killing over 30 people in Iraq, and ultimately, with the aid of a high-powered lawyer, prevails in getting an Honorable Discharge.
The same Marine–and the others–discuss how one must train normal people to kill, and there is no thought of how to untrain them (war dogs get reintegration training, humans do not).
The clear message, in these words: We are One, and War is no way to settle disagreements. That is of course both correct and naive–it discounts the fact that Empire is about money for a few, and the troops are merely cannon fodder. That’s the first thing we have to change–take the money out of war and into peace.
Speak the Truth, Lose the Anger, Be Part of the Whole
February 10, 2010
It took me fifty years to recognize the deficiencies of the command and control or top down elite-dominated model of governance, and to discover the spiritual and practical integrity of collective intelligence, openness, appreciative inquirty, deliberative public dilaog, and so on. It’s taken another seven years to discover detachment from outcome, and that in turn set the stage for what I find to be the absolute essence of this book: speaking truth to power is half the battle, losing the anger is the other half. Harder to do than it sounds, this Westernized version of the Bhagavad Gita does help.
Here are the two paragraphs I pulled from page 129 and then 147 for intelligence (decision-support) professionals:
“Those who transcend the gunas are in essence watchers, beyond the worldly. Although constantly aware of the inevitable cycle of birth, disease, senility, grief, and so forth, they dwell above it all, and merely witness it.
My personal take on the above is that sacred dispassion is a prerequisite for both spirtual vision and professional integrity.
“Always tell the truth, Arjuna, and present it in as pleasant a way as possible. If you cannot do that, remain silent. If something absolutely needs to be said, you must uphold the truth, but find a way to do it that is gentle and obliging.”
I was watching David Walker as he served nine of his fifteen years at Comptroller General, with light-weight whimpers to Congress until he finally got Peter Peterson to bail him out of government and give him a chunk of cash for making movies and writing a book and creating a web site that very few serious under 40 pioneers pay attention to.
I was thrilled to see him tell Congress in 2007 that the US was bankrupt–both Senator McCain and Senator Obama could have cared less–and so he walked quietly back to his holding cell at the General Accountability Office (GAO). His “loyalty” to impeachable masters is just as troubling to me as the loyalty of our military leaders during the neo-con rampage.
This book loses one star for the publishers arrogance and ineptitude in failing to use all of the tools Amazon provides, so that readers like myself who read a great deal and do not buy books on whim, can actually look at the table of contents. If you want a sense what the author has to say, see the Wikipedia page on the US Federal Budget where the author’s fingerprints are elegantly visible.
If and when the publisher acts more responsibly and provides Look Inside the Book information as well standard entries via Amazon Advantage (about the book, about the author, editorial reviews), I will buy the book, read it, and review it.
The book loses a second star for being wildly praised by all the unethical losers that got us into this mess in the first place by sacrificing their ethics and selling the two party system out to Wall Street. Bill Bradley in particular is a major disappointment, he slunk off to Allen and Company where George “Slam Dunk” Tenet is also in hiding, and they have profited handsomely for betraying the public trust for over a decade. Edumund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Even better is the following from Chief Justice Louis Brandeis: