Archive for June 11th, 2008

“War Made Easy” presents us with the time-tested recipe for going to war

| June 11, 2008 | 7 Replies
“War Made Easy” presents us with the time-tested recipe for going to war

In 2006, Norman Solomon wrote War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. His book detailed the information tactics the American government uses to launch wars.

War Made Easy has been such an influential book that it has now been made into a movie of the same name. You can view it here or you can order a copy of the DVD here.

I was able to attend a viewing of “War Made Easy” last Saturday night at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis (NCMR2008). This crisply edited movie was narrated by Sean Penn. Much of what keeps this movie engaging are the dozens of carefully chosen news media clips generated during various American wars for the past 50 years, including large numbers of videos clips from the Vietnam war and the Iraq occupation. The magic of “War Made Easy” is that the directors carefully edited and arranged these clips to show us that nothing much has really changed: If an American president has decided that he wants to go to war, the watchdog American media is likely to become a lapdog and we will inevitably go to war.

Following the screening of “War Made Easy,” I attended a discussion of the movie led by media critic Norman Solomon and the co-director and producer of the movie, Loretta Alper. The following morning, Ms. Alper granted me the opportunity to interview her further regarding the making of “War Made Easy.”

Whenever we Americans go to war, we get there through a well-documented series of stages. As I watched “War Made Easy,” I saw better than ever that these stages are entirely predictable in the context of America’s warmongering ways.

Perhaps this characterization of America sounds too shrill, but just look around. The evidence is everywhere that war is a sport in America just as sports are warlike. Our TV shows and movies overflow with violence as a first-rate method of dealing with conflict. The toys we foist on our boys extol violence as the most obvious way of settling disputes. We challenge each other with statements like “support the troops,” no matter what those troops are doing (and see here ). We are all too ready to invoke the word “war,” because that word triggers a ready-made conceptual frame for freely and guiltlessly expressing ourselves with bullets, bombs and blood. In America, this frame of war is such an incredibly effective filter that we proceed to consider only the “benefits” of war and we ignore the massive damages inflicted on both war-zone civilians and upon millions of Americans (and see here).

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