Psychological operations directed against the people of the United States are not lawful. But the propaganda was so subtly crafted that the constant mantra, "Support the Troops," was never recognized for the actual message being delivered. The Iraq War was unassailable because to criticize the war was to criticize the troops. Then an unlikely propaganda ally gave the neocons 9/11. Politicians feared airing questions that begged to be asked. The military and veteran bandwagon took on a life of its own. There was no support for mass demonstrations against the war. Senior officers could take bribes and give girlfriends classified documents without indignation from our elected representatives. Support the Troops. What a contrast to the Viet Nam era. But in the end, how much support is there: compare the spending on veterans' programs to that on the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You might recall that Bob fashioned himself as a friend of business; the "Jobs Governor." Now that it is convenient, he feigns disinterest in the details of business and investment. Even Jonnie Williams recalls an investment proposal putting the Governor to sleep during a plane ride. Many remark that it is a shame that such a fine man finds himself in this situation and look for someone to blame. Maureen is a convenient straw-woman; for them and for Bob's attorneys. Some say that he is so bright that it is surprising that he was taken in by a snake oil salesman. Others believe that he was simply too trusting. This reflects a public persona that he cultivated along a path of retrofitted accomplishments and, as it turns out, malleable, maybe even bankrupt, fundamental values.
Bob was born with the gift of physical charisma; aka good looks. Many people rely on that gift to advance themselves. If you've got it, flaunt it, so they say. But when there is not sufficient desire to develop internally yet personally ambitious, the alternative to interpersonal and intellectual development is building socio-pathological, manipulative skills. Bob McDonnell's accomplishments were singularly adequate and hardly distinguished but sufficient to pass as achievement among a close knit group of Virginia Beach, then statewide sycophants.
Two important forces converged at the moment George Bush decided to throw more troops into the fray against the growing Iraqi insurgency. Neither were military. Neither were affirmations of support. It was the story of choosing the lesser evil as perceived by the Iraqi people.
American military forces committed atrocities that alienated the most important factors in any insurgency: the hearts and minds of the populace. It is a convenient fact that the American people were never allowed to grasp the full impact of Abu Ghraib and other moral lapses committed by our troops and their leadership. That failed leadership extends, by the way, all the way to Washington D.C. and is not limited to the principal resident of the White House. But as my Australian officer classmate, Mal Reardon, liked to aver, "Winners are grinners."
If you love America, you should read this even though it won't be pleasant. But for you super-patriots who love a place that doesn't exist, beware of cognitive dissonance.
In the fall of 2003 the rules of engagement for the invasion of Iraq included sweeping suspected regime sympathizers into custody. The term sympathizer was applied broadly and interpreted by at least one unit to include reporters for Arab news media. As told to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Iraq After The Invasion, one reporter from al Jazeera was taken into custody when he responded to an explosion of a mini-bus in Diyala province north of Baghdad. He had been detained before and thought it would be the same questions and same result: release after an hour or two. This time was different; he was taken to a prison that had been infamous as a site of torture and execution under the Hussein regime: Abu Ghraib. We had taken part of the facility and used it as a military prison.
"I'm going to be a candidate of "yes." I'm going to be about the positive. I want to be able to reach across the aisle; I want to work with people. My career in academia ... I have friends here in the crowd who work at Randolph-Macon ... in academia we learn that research and social science functions within a peer review process where you work together collaboratively to solve problems."
Trammell's open and engaging personality is matched by his genuine sincerity and optimism. These qualities will more than make up for his freshman political status as he campaigns for soon to be former Congressman Eric Cantor's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is reflected in his supporters who are motivated by what is right about America rather than by bitterness and anger toward their own shadows.
"I like to say "yes" rather than "no." I say yes to change; I say yes to diversity; I say yes to ownership of your own body and mind; I say yes to possibilities; I say yes to equity; I say yes to opportunity; I say yes to responsibility to our collective good, we're too wealthy and too successful to stand by to watch that just happen without us; I say yes to a clean environment; I say yes to rules for fair play; I say yes to care before punishment; I say yes to access to healthcare; I say yes to love who you want to love; I say yes to access to education; I say yes to a fair wage."
There is much more to Jack Trammell as we will all discover going forward. My connection with him was immediate and personal as I learned his son attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro and later served in the Marine Corps. Mine served in Iraq; his Afghanistan. Mine returned whole; his was wounded by an IED (sadly, I don't have to spell out the acronym). There's just a whole lot more that I look forward to watching unfold.
Yes, Virginia, Trammell is positively a serious force to be reckoned with.
What this film seems to be trying to answer is whether Iraq and America, Iraqis and Americans, are better off for the war. After an unsuccessful run for Congress as the Democratic candidate against Rob Wittman in Virginia's First District, Forgit turned to this project. Returning to Iraq during late 2009 and 2010 he recorded the efforts of U.S. and Iraqi troops to keep the peace in Saab al Bor on the outskirts of Baghdad. It focuses on a single troop in a single village but it is a microcosm of something much larger.
Forgit was an intelligence specialist in the navy reserve for 10 years. As such, in his assignment in Iraq he was immersed in the complexities of religion, tribal influences, trade and economic relationships. His perspective is shaped by his personal and professional relationships with Iraqis, both military and civilian. From that perspective, he believes most Americans do not fully comprehend the effect the war has had on themselves or the Iraqis. This is among his reasons for telling this story.