Hidden Wars of Desert Storm and Plan Colombia: Cashing-In on the Drug War Failure (review)

Anyone despairing over the state of journalism in America can take heart from Audrey Brohy and Gerard Ungerman, muckrakers in the fiery, old-fashioned sense, the kind that, when they roamed the Earth in mighty herds, used to make the powerful and corrupt tremble with fear. Today, seeking out work like theirs has become a political act in itself. Seek it out. Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, detailing the backroom maneuvering in Washington that engineered the first Gulf War, is downright prophetic: “To this day, Saddam Hussein remains Washington’s most convenient boogeyman,” narrator John Hurt suggests in this pre-9/11, pre-Gulf War II film, and so he remains. Though he was, of course, also a convenient tool for Washington in the years before his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Brohy and Ungerman ask — and answer — all manner of troubling questions about Hussein, Iraq, and the United States, from whether Hussein did anything the U.S. didn’t want him to do to whether he was ever a threat to Saudi Arabia to the purpose of the brutal embargoes that Iraq was under until GWII. It all boils down to oil, though the film is hardly the ravings of conspiracy theorists — and that such a disclaimer is necessary only demonstrates how unused we are to true investigative journalism like this; it’s all backed up with interviews with such names as former general and Gulf War commander Norman Schwarzkopf and former attorney general Ramsey Clark. Plan Colombia: Cashing-In on the Drug War Failure, a newer film, is similarly well-researched and chock full of both previously unseen archival footage and newly shot — and highly illuminating — documentary footage, and backtracks to the U.S.’s first covert oil war, in South America. Why did the U.S.’s dramatic — and perhaps illegal — plans to reduce the cocaine coming out of Colombia actually end up increasing those exports? What is the real purpose of the “drug wars,” from South America to post-Taliban Afghanistan (where drug production skyrocketed after the U.S. invasion). American governments — Republican and Democratic alike — take a beating in both films, and every American who cares about what is being done in his or her name ought to take a hard look at what Brohy and Ungerman have to reveal.

[reader comments on this review]

Hidden Wars of Desert Storm
viewed at home on a small screen
not rated

Plan Colombia: Cashing-In on the Drug War Failure
viewed at home on a small screen
not rated

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