The HBO Special: Baghdad ER
I doubt if the White House will have a special screening of this. You know, where they invite a few powerful supporters of the Bush administration in for dinner and a film. This is Baghdad ER, the HBO documentary that gives Americans their first glimpse at what the war in Iraq looks like on a daily basis. First, the good news: You get an overwhelming wave of pride watching these military personnel wrestling with the horrific nature of their jobs. There is a side of war that doesn’t change and this looks a lot like the film MASH with better helicopters. The doctors and nurses and orderlies – everyone involved – is so heroic you just want to reach through the screen and give them a hug. These are modern day Hawkeye Pierces, using humor and diversions to hold their psyches together to deal with an endless stream of young American soldiers and Iraqi civilians facing brutally horrific wounds.
The soldiers are occasionally cool and funny but most times they are seen in a traumatized state of shock – with what one Vietnam vet calls “the 1,000 mile stare.”
They are mainly dealing with their wounds and coping with watching their buddies die alongside them. One soldier says it was the most horrible thing he ever saw – his buddy with no face. You do not often witness people anywhere dealing with this level of emotional pain. One soldier sobs openly, and it's hard not to join in.
This leads directly to the final response to this documentary – you find yourself becoming extremely enraged at the leaders who cooked this up, and the right wing chicken hawks who supported it. Sure, you’ve felt this way all along but seeing the actual results of this unnecessary war, brings long repressed feelings out to the light.
As Washington, D.C. slowly moves to talk of containment in Iraq, and the macho bragging of a glorious victory fades, President Bush is back in the news describing meeting the families of these dead soldiers and how it is important that their deaths are not in vain. Watching the film, I wondered about a President who can live with himself knowing his lies caused this war to happen, while even the stated reasons turned out to be wrong. I don't see him reacting with the normal range of human feelings, especially any guilt or shame. My conclusion? President Bush is a sociopath – a folksy moron responsible for sending our young people to be ground up in Iraq, without a care in the world save how the war has affected his poll numbers. He loves the thought of war because it is a power rush for him personally. I believe he views the whole world as an extension of himself - a backdrop for his hopeless quest to prove he is a big shot, to compensate for the missing pieces of his wretched soul. I doubt if he’d waste his time watching Baghdad ER. Worse yet: If he did watch Baghdad ER, I doubt it would bother him. There are bicycles to ride and miles of lies before he sleeps.