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Home > Politics

Fahrenheit 9/11: Oh for a private screening with Tony

16 July 2004

Whatever you think of Michael Moore and his film making techniques, Fahrenheit 9/11 is probably the most powerful movie you'll see for a while. It's angrier than Bowling for Columbine, more distressing than Nick Broomfield's Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, and even the scenes of mutilated Iraqi children are considerably more hilarious than anything Steve Coogan's done recently.

Fahrenheit 9/11's scope is wide: unlike TV news, it shows the true level of violence inflicted on the Iraqi people. Almost as shocking is the way it exposes Bush's idiotic triumphalism, the childish patriotism and bias of the US media and the Bush administration's shockingly close (corrupt?) connections with big
business.

It's got its flaws, of course, such as making too much of some tenuous Bush/Bin Laden family connections and its grossly misleading title (Julie Christie is nowhere to be seen). Nonetheless, it's one of those films that genuinely merits the advice 'If you only see one film this year...'

And if there's one person who really, really should see Fahrenheit 9/11, it's Tony Blair. So far Blair has been remarkably adept at dodging criticism over the invasion of Iraq. The government was, bizarrely, cleared of wrongdoing by the Hutton inquiry, while the Butler inquiry has enabled Tone to claim that everyone had acted in good faith. Oh yeah? Since when is it acceptable for a non-elected spin doctor to alter the wording of intelligence reports to make a case for war?

Since when is it OK for the prime minister to use vague and misleading language to imply that Iraq was somehow a threat to the UK? Should Blair, or any other Prime Minister, have a mandate to undertake an extremely risky foreign adventure that could well lead to a terrorist atrocity in the UK, and continues to result in the slaughter of ordinary Iraqis?

And here's the problem for Tony: so far he's avoided the chop because of technicalities, eg. no-one told an actual lie, they just fudged the truth. It's pathetic, really, like fatties who blame Macdonalds for making its food just *too* delicious.

However, a large part of the UK population isn't bothered about technicalities: they believe they've been lied to. They see a United States where policy making appears to be out of control, headed by a right-wing cabal that seems to have a congenital love of risk-taking. They have difficulty with the logic that you make people free by killing them.

When these people see Fahrenheit 9/11 they're going to be even less impressed. The film has already broken box-office records for takings (for a documentary) in the UK. It's entirely possible that a film by a slouching American humorist with a rather relaxed attitude to journalistic balance could do more damage to Blair than any number of inquiries, awkward parliamentary questions and journalists' probings.

But there's a kind of poetic justice too. Blair's style of government has been characterised by media manipulation. Most recently he's been saving his skin by dealing with the minutiae of criticisms: who did or didn't do what to dodgy dossiers. But now here's a film that looks at the big picture and says explicitly what we all knew from the beginning: the 'intelligence' was rubbish, the pro-war lobby lied to further their own agenda, the war was an insanely high-risk strategy.

Much as a new BBC documentary demolishes the lie that the BNP aren't racist by showing its members to be so racist they probably want to gas the Welsh, Fahrenheit 9/11 unashamedly shows what a huge fucking mess the war in Iraq was, and is.

What wouldn't we give to sit in a private screening with Tony Blair?



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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