The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends is one of many documentaries to hit theaters over the last year that take a look at the growing costs of the Iraq war, and by "costs" I mean the human toll and the capabilities of the United States to exert its power on other countries. Of course, The Ground Truth also begs the question: does every soldier in Iraq actually think it's a waste of time?
Personally, I don't see why we went to Iraq in the first place. Sure, Saddam was a bad man, but he had done nothing to actively provoke us. He wasn't harboring al Qaeda, he apparently didn't have much in the way of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and with a war already raging in Afghanistan, it was absolutely absurd to open up a battle on a second front. Along with the fact that the Bush administration lied to us to get us to go to war, they clearly did not have a good plan for securing the country once they toppled Saddam's regime, as is clear from the constant attacks and suicide bombings that come so often now most people don't even read the articles about them anymore.
So that being said, I feel for the soldiers in Iraq. It isn't to the same scale as Vietnam in that the country is turning its back on its soldiers, but these guys are over there dying for what was an absolute misstep on the part of the President. At the same time, they have to do their job, and if they don't do their job do we actually think the country is just going to get better overnight?
The Ground Truth takes a look at the lives of about a dozen soldiers who have returned from Iraq, most of whom have suffered some kind of crippling injury. Most are young, and most were naive when they entered the Army. One sargeant, Rob Sarra, is probably the most blunt about the reasons why people went into the military: they wanted to blow shit up. The movie critiques war in general and the way the United States recruits its soldiers. Writer/director Patricia Foulkrod clearly had a goal in mind: to point out just how flawed this country is in regards to its military practices.
There isn't anything in the movie that I don't agree with. Poor people are much more likely to get drawn into the military because they don't have anywhere else to go. The military advertises itself as a cool place full of opportunities, when in reality it is just recruiting to dump people on the front lines. You've all seen the commercials on television or at the movie theater, where the Army is promoted as a place of prosperity and excitement, without ever actually showing anyone in battle. I think it's sick (but possibly necessary?).
Even though I agree with everything this movie says, it is certainly biased toward a specific viewpoint. I can't imagine that all soldiers in Iraq think the same way as these individuals, and it would have been nice to see a more balanced approach to the interviews. I'm more interested in knowing what the soldiers who aren't dismayed by the war think. What keeps them motivated? Does everyone have problems killing people? What do they think when they see civilians getting killed? Everyone has different perspectives, and it seems as though The Ground Truth just focused in on a segment of the population.
The Ground Truth is a well done movie withs some powerful interviews and Iraqi footage, but don't consider it "the whole truth." A more balanced and unbiased perspective could have been much more effective in speaking to people outside the liberal base.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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