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Definition: Politics

From our books:

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

"Even though the war is supposed to be over, there is still fighting in and around Baghdad... The president said that our mission has been accomplished. But there are still guys getting killed, and Captain Miller said they were only counting guys who died on the spot" (126).
  • Here Birdy alludes to the politics involved in defining war. First he states that the war is "supposed to be over," but somehow the fighting has not stopped and American soldiers are still dying in combat. Further, not all those deaths are reported unless the soldier dies on the spot. If there's any truth to that statement, it's a fairly damning accusation against the U.S. government and military. Presumably the citizens of our country deserve to know just what exactly their soldiers are doing. This story is fiction, but these claims certainly raise the question of the accuracy of the information reported about the actual War on Iraq.

"I didn't know if we were winning here in Iraq or not. If we just talked about dead people, about bodies lying in the streets, then we were winning easy. But somehow it wasn't about who was doing the most killing" (212).
  • Similarly, Birdy suggests that the winner of a war between the most dominant force in the world, the U.S. Armed Forces, and a small middle-eastern country under the reign of a tyrant might not be so determined. Of course their side will suffer more casualties, that is a foregone conclusion. But if the insurgent Iraqis can continue to stand up against the U.S. forces, then declaring a final outcome is much trickier and something of a political game.

External Links (to be categorized later, as we build on this page).
  • "The Politics of War" by Fred Hiatt
    • An article about the political agendas of US and Iraqi forces during 2005. It includes commentary on how Bush presented himself during this time.
  • Apolitics and War Film by A.O. Scott
    • The director of “The Hurt Locker” stakes a claim on neutrality and given the distance between the policy makers and the men and women fighting the war, that may be true. Scott writes, "The disconnection between the policy players in those movies and the guys in 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Restropo' seems absolute. That may say more about reality than about the movies."
  • From A Well-Written War, Told in the First Person by Elisabeth Buhmiller. A new group of soldier-writers explore the futility of war---but wars that they for the most part support.
    • "If a body is what you want, / then here is bone and gristle and flesh, / ... because here, Bullet, / here is where the world ends, every time." -Brian Turner
    • This is from a collection of poetry called "Here, Bullet" by Brian Turner. The title and the poem above are born from the poet's realization that during combat patrols, he was often bait for the enemy. This poem hints at the complicated, political nature of modern warfare. Keeping troops safe is one objective, but so is luring the enemy into the open. The soldier is caught in the middle of this game.

Songs About the Politics of War:
  • "B.Y.O.B" by System of a Down
    • This song is a protest song about the War on Iraq. The band comments on how wealthy politicians are making the decision to go to war, but they're not fighting it themselves; they're sending the poor to fight their battle. This highlights the absence of trust between the public and the government.

  • "Saddam Hussein" by Weird Al Yankovich
    • Weird Al is famous for his parodies. Not only does he use music to make fun of other artists' songs, but he borrows their musical melodies to poke fun at other topics. "Saddam Hussein" is a parody of Chumbawumba's "I Get Knocked Down." In this song, he uses repetition to poke fun at the way the war is being handed. Sarcastic lyrics such as "[l]et's hunt him down/ and shoot him in the head/ and bomb Iraq into the ground" seem to condemn the attitude the Bush administration has taken towards Iraq.

    "American Idiot" by Green Day
    • This song was released during 2004, when George W. Bush was running for re-election. "American Idiot" refers to the stereotyped redneck that this former President is so often represented by. This song comments on the state of the nation at this time, asserting that the country is being governed by "redneck agendas". Lyrics like "Now everybody do the propaganda/ And sing along to the age of paranoia" portray the hysteria caused by the War on Terror.

  • Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival
    • This protest song challenged the preferential treatment given to some U.S. citizens during the Vietnam War.
    • "Fortunate Son" is a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival on their album, Willy and the Poor Boys (1969). According to Wikipedia, the song was inspired by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who married Julie Nixon, daughter of President Richard Nixon. John Fogerty was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine as saying, "Julie Nixon was hanging around with David Eisenhower, and you just ad the feeling that none of these people were going to be involved with the war. In 1969, the majority of the country thought morale was great among the troops, and like eighty percent of them were in favor of the war. But to some of us who were watching closely, we just knew we were headed for trouble."
    • The Politics and War connection is pretty self-evident here: John Fogerty flat out states that having the right political connections make it possible to avoid getting caught up in the messiness of the Vietnam War.
    • When Fogerty writes, "Some folks are born silver spoon in hand, / Lord, don't they help themselves, oh. / But when the taxman comes to the door, / Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes," he suggests that contrary to the premise of the draft, not all Americans (eligible for the draft) can be be reduced to a number. In this case, wealth equals the privilege of not having to fight for one's country.

  • "Bush War Machine" by Monte Wolvertonexternal image warmachine.gif
  • Source: http://yubanet.com/uploads/1/warmachine.gif
    • Monte Wolverton used this political cartoon to showcase the attitudes that politicians, like George W. Bush, can get out of control during wartime. In this cartoon, the tank symbolizes the Bush administration and Wolverton blames them for making a path of blunders, deception, torture, and death. There will always be a discrepency between what's right and what's wrong, but it seems that politicians, the decision makers, will always be blamed for something, that the public will never be truly happy with the decisions that are made.

  • "Bush War Machine" by Monte Wolverton
external image bush_war_machine.jpg
Source: http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/Y/j/1/bush_war_machine.jpg
  • Political cartoons often make bold statements about the government's decisions. This particular cartoon has a lot going on.

external image shoemaker5.gif
Source: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/shoemaker5.gif
  • It doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or a Democrat when you have a President like Roosevelt steering the ship through "war infested waters." Calling FDR "Captain Roosevelt" shows that he was in control, and the ship is certainly surging through rough waters, the country is pushing forward through rough times. The white flag shows that the entire country has pulled together under this captain. The country is united. This cartoon was first published in the Chicago Tribune in 1937 by Vaughn Shoemaker ("December 1937 - The Supreme Court").

Jane Fonda (1972)
Jane Fonda at North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery in 1972.

Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/04/jane-fonda-endo.html
  • Politics and Hollywood have always had an uneasy relationship. Pictured below is the actress Jane Fonda with the North Vietnamese Army. According the photo caption she had joined the NVA forces singing an anti-war song while preparing to shoot American soldiers. This visit to Vietnam earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane." Ironically, this picture resurfaced when Jane Fonda endorsed then Senator Barack Obama for President. The city named in her nickname is the very same city over which Senator John McCain's fighter jet was shot down.