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"The right thinks that for every question there's an answer. The left knows that for every answer there's another question." Michael Moore's new film "Fahrenheit 9/11" is an exemplar of that aphorism. The simpleminded view of the world that led us to invade Iraq - We're good, they're bad - and the lies that justified the invasion are spelled out in excruciating detail by Moore in the course of the film, as is the more realistic view that the world is a hugely complex place that does not reward a crusader mentality. There's little in the movie that you haven't seen before, and yet Moore has put it together in a way that no thoughtful person can contradict. He enhances his argument with some brutally frank looks - from news footage - at the ways in which Bush and his key people are simultaneously both clueless and fanatically driven. It's a devastating portrait of a man and his administration who admit of no ambiguities in their world-view, even as the policy they've created is collapsing around them.
And then Moore adds two more topics to his statement. First, he details the links between the Bush family - father and son - and the Bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia, who it turns out have invested in Bush family ventures more than one billion dollars over the past thirty years. This would not be so compelling were it not for the fact that on September 13, 2001, the White House authorized the exit flights from the United States of 124 members of the Bin Laden family and their friends. No interrogations, no checking of identities, not even an exit interview - this in spite of the fact that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis.
The second element, and the saddest, is his interviews with American soldiers in Iraq and with the mother of one who was killed. Between the mindless gung-ho attitude of some, reminiscent of the way we referred to 'gooks' in Vietnam, and the thoughtful rethinking of others about the value of their cause, plus the view we are given of the mother's pain, we are privileged to see the entire war in microcosm.
Unlike either "Roger and Me" or "Bowling for Columbine," Moore has only inserted himself here as a voiceover narrator, with the exception of a sequence at the U.S. Capitol in which he waylays various Congressmen to ask them if they would encourage their sons and daughters to enlist in the fight that they voted to support. Their responses are priceless.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" is probably the most powerful argument that can be made, in two hours of screen time, against the Bush administration and its policies. All cards are laid on the table and Moore's view is stated frankly and completely. Those who can listen, whichever side they're on, can learn a great deal. <! new pasted review ends on line above>