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Bloviating Zeppelin: Flags Of Our Fathers

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Flags Of Our Fathers

I went to go see the film "Flags of our Fathers" today and found myself deeply moved. Some persons have quantified this film as "anti-American." I would completely disagree with that conclusion. I found it refreshingly realistic.

Clint Eastwood, still a major, major force in filmdom, directed the cinematic interpretation of the 2000 James Bradley book of the same name. In interviews the 76-year-old Eastwood has said:

As a young man I started out in a lot of action movies, but now I have reached that stage of life where I just felt it is time to address a lot of different things that are more important to me than fantasy characters."

"It is important to realize that war is a futile exercise at best. It doesn't speak so well for mankind that we keep on having wars, but we have had wars since the beginning of mankind. I don't have the answer."

And keep on having wars shall we do. Despite this, Eastwood has created an emotional, jarring, realistic and factual film about a different time, a different age, a different generation whose power brokers, in my opinion, did the right things for the right reasons. That is to say, "considering the alternatives."

The film focuses on three of the raisers of the second flag over Iwo Jima: Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon and John "Doc" Bradley (father of the author of the book). Photographer Joe Rosenthal happened to be in the right place at the right time in order to snap "the" photo of World War II.

The movie, more than the book, attempts to make something of the propaganda war effort behind taking these three men back from the Japanese theatre and placing them smack dab into a massive war bond effort -- an effort to raise more money from the civlian populace to produce more bombs, bullets, ships and aircraft for the war.

But this, in truth, should come as no shock to anyone familiar with history; the Germans were Masters of Propaganda (Joseph Goebbels sound familiar?) as were the Russians and certainly every country these days.

In fact, Goebbels had the title of Reichsminister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment. He wrote of his Principles of Propaganda:

1. Propagandist must have access to intelligence concerning events and public opinion.

2. Propaganda must be planned and executed by only one authority.
a. It must issue all the propaganda directives.
b. It must explain propaganda directives to important officials and maintain their morale.
c. It must oversee other agencies' activities which have propaganda consequences

3. The propaganda consequences of an action must be considered in planning that action.

4. Propaganda must affect the enemy's policy and action.
a. By suppressing propagandistically desirable material which can provide the enemy with useful intelligence
b. By openly disseminating propaganda whose content or tone causes the enemy to draw the desired conclusions
c. By goading the enemy into revealing vital information about himself
d. By making no reference to a desired enemy activity when any reference would discredit that activity

5. Declassified, operational information must be available to implement a propaganda campaign

6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.

7. Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.

8. The purpose, content and effectiveness of enemy propaganda; the strength and effects of an expose; and the nature of current propaganda campaigns determine whether enemy propaganda should be ignored or refuted.

9. Credibility, intelligence, and the possible effects of communicating determine whether propaganda materials should be censored.

10. Material from enemy propaganda may be utilized in operations when it helps diminish that enemy's prestige or lends support to the propagandist's own objective.

11. Black rather than white propaganda may be employed when the latter is less credible or produces undesirable effects.

12. Propaganda may be facilitated by leaders with prestige.

13. Propaganda must be carefully timed.
a. The communication must reach the audience ahead of competing propaganda.
b. A propaganda campaign must begin at the optimum moment
c. A propaganda theme must be repeated, but not beyond some point of diminishing effectiveness

14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.
a. They must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses
b. They must be capable of being easily learned
c. They must be utilized again and again, but only in appropriate situations
d. They must be boomerang-proof

15. Propaganda to the home front must prevent the raising of false hopes which can be blasted by future events.

16. Propaganda to the home front must create an optimum anxiety level.
a. Propaganda must reinforce anxiety concerning the consequences of defeat
b. Propaganda must diminish anxiety (other than concerning the consequences of defeat) which is too high and which cannot be reduced by people themselves

17. Propaganda to the home front must diminish the impact of frustration.
a. Inevitable frustrations must be anticipated
b. Inevitable frustrations must be placed in perspective

18. Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.

19. Propaganda cannot immediately affect strong counter-tendencies; instead it must offer some form of action or diversion, or both.

In America this was nothing new; following their successful completion of a 25-mission series, the crew of the Memphis Belle found themselves likewise returned to the US to make a public tour of the nation and a 1944 documentary. The US needed conspicuous heroes and the crew exemplified heroism.

The movie was effective and factual; for those unaware of the effort behind the effort and the personal toll that war takes, it will be relevatory. For me, it was decent storytelling and wonderful cinematography -- the producers being not only Clint Eastwood but Steven Spielberg as well -- many of the beach and land scenes reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan.

Despite this, I do not feel Eastwood's effort is an anti-American film.

It is simply a story that can be told and is being told -- but something that should come as no shock to those familiar with history.

In war, there is always a toll. War is Hell. Make no mistake. But I still feel that, in the overall context, we did what we needed to do, in WWII, because we needed to do it when we needed to do it. And that includes the dropping of two atomic bombs. Truman made the right decision. Sacrifice two cities in Japan, or commit hundreds and hundreds of thousands of American and allied troops to death by making a beachhead and air assault on the nation of Japan.

In retrospect, having years and years to think of alternatives I conclude: there was no alternative. And no right thinking American can believe there was any alternative. Without that sole decision I submit we'd be speaking German or Japanese to this day.

Easy Monday Morning Quarterbacking.


We would do well to read Goebbels. Our enemies certainly are.


Blogger James Manning said...

I didn't know that people were that about this movie. I didn't want to see it until I found out that Eastwood was the director. I'm going to check it out now.

Fri Oct 27, 09:55:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bushwack said...

A fine editorial there BZ, I saw it last night and wrote my version of thoughts about the film.

One day maybe I can eloquently state things at a MASTERS DEGREE'd level..

Damn I'm jealous.

The movie was moving... LMOA.

Sat Oct 28, 02:05:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Kip said...

Chance: Hermann Göering was The second leader in command of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler was first in command and then hermann Goering under him. Goering spoke of how to get citizens in a country involved in war even when they did not want to go to war or support war.
Hemann Goering said: Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Chance Goering spoke accurately here and if we look around today we can clearly see that what Goering said is true. I learn many truths from negative people and I learn truths from positive people truths are truths.

By Chance

Sat Oct 28, 03:30:00 AM PDT  
Blogger RC said...

hey, i agree with many of your thoughts on the film...and you're right, the film is refreshingly realistic and tells a very unique story and asks important questions about what it means to be recognized as a hero.

--RC of

Sat Oct 28, 10:43:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Gayle said...

I haven't seen it but have every intention of doing so when it comes out on DVD. I'm glad you wrote this review; when I found out Eastwood directed it, I didn't know whether I wanted to watch it or not, so thank you, BZ.

Sat Oct 28, 12:50:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Dionne said...

I'm glad you liked it. I was excited about it the second I heard about it. I'm a war movie buff so I'm looking forward to seeing it after the elections :-).

Sun Oct 29, 06:58:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

James: I do not think you will be disappointed.

Bushwack: Masters. Please. Gimme a break. And yes, it was quite moving indeed, agreed.

Chance: Goring was second in charge of the Third Reich and Luftwaffe commander. You are correct. You are wise enough to consider and learn from history.

RC: thank you so kindly for visiting and for posting comments. Please come back! I am glad you agree with the post in terms of realism. Excellent series of questions: what is a hero? Is it what you think?

Gayle and LMC: you would do well to see it, and I do not think you will be disappointed.


Mon Oct 30, 07:34:00 PM PST  
Blogger Kip said...

Thankd for responding to the comments B Zep.


Tue Oct 31, 01:04:00 AM PST  

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