Roger L. Simon

The Redford Reduction

I haven’t seen Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs yet, few have evidently, but that hasn’t stopped Roger Friedman, who hasn’t seen it either, from writing in its behalf as a brilliant and subtle anti-war film of sorts. Apparently the Republican owner of the Washington Redksins saw it and liked it and sent word to Friedman. One graph of Friedman’s article caught my eye:

It [the film] also brings up, ever so gently, comparisons with the Vietnam War. Through Streep, Redford and Carnahan get their message in loud and clear. “World War II lasted less than five years,” Streep says to a grinning – but not buffoonish – Cruise when discussing the length of the Iraq mission so far.

Hmmm… so the length of the Iraq War as opposed to WWII is supposed to be proof of the dubiousness of the current enterprise. Well, how about this? The total number of casualties in World War II was approximately 72,000,000, at least a hundred times Iraq, where attempts have been made consistently to lower the number of deaths. If we had decided to win the Iraq War by doing to Baghdad what we did to Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, etc., would will still be in that war now? I would strongly doubt it. This comparison to WWII, often made by the anti-war crowd, strikes me as particularly invidious. The quotes from Redford at Harvard at the end of the article are also banal and predictable, but that it is to be expected.