The Corner

‘Fallujah’ Fantasies

I am always amazed at the variants of anti-Americanism in Britain, France, and Germany, because beneath the convenient left-wing sermonizing one always suspects lingers nostalgic angst, of the world of preeminence before the crass “swaggering” Americans took over.

Compare the latest example of the play “Fallujah” now in London. Most strategic thinkers thought our pullback in Falluja, Iraq in spring 2004 was a costly mistake, a half-measure that necessitated a belated reentry by the post-election autumn. Then in the fall after renewed, far bloodier fighting, our soldiers found torture cells, bomb factories, and a veritable terropolis of sorts. 

Not so in Jonathan Holmes’ play. Lest one thinks the drama’s criticism is simply fringe left-wing, consider the review by the supposedly staid Economist of what it conceded was an “anti-war, anti-American” drama.

The audience shuffles about his landscape while the action takes place around them. Soldiers push their way through, swaggering and malevolent; a roving stage light suddenly picks out two women in the audience as Iraqi aid workers. They weave gracefully through the crowd, telling their story, placing a hand gently on someone’s shoulder.

Again, lest one thinks that this is a fair and descriptive, rather than an opinionated, view of a British status quo magazine, consider the Economist’s final assessment that follows disclaimers of the plays obvious bias: “…’Fallujah’ can still be applauded for casting light on a shameful chapter in a disastrous war.”  “Shameful” and “disastrous”? This cheap sermonizing of Western elites reflects two unspoken truths: privately, no well-heeled British subject would prefer the world of beheading, gender apartheid, and Sharia law that flourished in lawless Fallujah to the legal system and audit that governs the American military. And yet most understand that their own professional advancement, psychological well-being, and political acceptance come from praising the former and damning the latter. Thus the war to establish democracy to replace Saddam Hussein’s genocidal rule must be reduced to “swaggering Americans” threatening female “Iraqi aid workers.”

Swaggering indeed.