The new documentary "War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" is based on syndicated columnist, media critic, antiwar activist Norman Solomon's book of the same name. U.S. presidents - since the end of World War II - have used the same cynical methods to get the American people to support their war plans. With brisk pacing and taut editing Solomon speaks eloquently; the thesis builds step by step, with troves of archival footage illustrating each point. Sean Penn narrates. Expanding on material covered in "Hijacking Catastrophe," produced by the same group at Media Education Foundation, and covering some of the same ground as Eugene Jarecki's "Why We Fight," and Tonje Hessen Shei's "Independent Intervention," "War Made Easy" is one of those films that should be required viewing for all American voters. It is a treat for history lovers to see Solomon's thesis presented so cogently with the archival footage. The original score by Jon Van Eps and Leigh Phillips adds a contextual layer.
Solomon says that in the past five decades presidents have lied, distorted the truth, asserted they are "reluctant to enter a conflict" and "seek only peace" as they are leading us to war. Media outlets collaborate with the administrations' narratives of their righteous goals. When someone dissents from the wave of propaganda, he is shunned. This is what happened to Senator Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania when he announced he wanted to pull our troops out. He was accused of wanting to "cut and run," and then attacked by the media.
The American media praised Colin Powell when he gave his pivotal presentation asserting that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 Iraq invasion, calling it an open and shut case. Even the so-called liberal media complied. But newspapers from Europe questioned Powell's assertions, which later indeed did turn out to be misleading.
Solomon says that each administration has shown "a steady and remarkably consistent storyline designed not to inform but to generate and maintain enthusiasm for support of war." Repeating the message over and over enough times makes it so. War propaganda is finely tuned and sophisticated and blends into the media terrain. It works to channel fear and anger to perceived enemies and threats.
Founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Norman Solomon is one of the most articulate and courageous scholars of our time who has been fearlessly speaking the truth for the last four decades. "War Made Easy" ends on a high note; Norman Solomon says, "If we understand the deceptions that lead to slaughter, and the consequences of the carnage, we can change the course of events and the events in this country."
"War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" is now playing in select theaters, and is also available on DVD on the website: www.warmadeeasythemovie.org
I will be interviewing Norman Solomon in a few weeks. For Movie Magazine, this is Joan Widdifield.
© 2007 - Joan K. Widdifield, Psy.D - Air Date: 10/24/07
War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us To Death
Directors: Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp; Based on the book of the same name by Norman Solomon.