Film

'The List': War's Unintended Consequences

As the Obama Administration and its allies contemplate entering into another world policing situation, everyone might do well to consider multiple consequences.

As the Obama Administration and its allies contemplate entering into another world policing situation, everyone might do well to consider multiple consequences. While the advocates of missile strikes insist that the US will not enter into war or "boots on the ground." One looming example of good intentions going wrong is the Iraq War, a lingering US misadventure. “There is the impression in the United States that Iraq had some problems in 2005 and 2006, but then we sent more troops, we sent Petraeus, and we won the war and we solved all of the problems. And so now there’s no more violence and the Iraqis who worked for us are in peace and they can just go home.”

As Kirk Johnson looks out on a Baghdad hotel room full of Iraqis “who worked for us,” they look defeated and hopeful, sometimes both at once. Their lives are at risk precisely because they worked for the Americans. And they’ve been waiting for months -- sometimes years -- to leave Iraq. When Johnson asks about recent threats, they tell him: one man’s wife was kidnapped, another’s son was kidnapped, a woman was beaten and knifed and her son was killed. Another young man’s father was murdered. There’s no shortage of such stories in The List, Beth Murphy’s poignant documentary about Johnson’s efforts -- along with lawyer Chris Nugent -- to help Iraqi allies leave Iraq. Premiering this month on PBS' Global Voices, the film is at once enlightening and heart-wrenching, as difficult an object lesson as you might imagine regarding the unintended consequences of war, however well-intentioned or limited the initial stages might be.

See PopMatters' review.

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