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3.7 out of 5 stars
Standing Army
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I normally don't write reviews, but my background is unique in that I'm second generation Okinawan, both my parents were born in Naha, but I am also a veteran of the USAF. Most of my extended family still lives in Okinawa. My cousin married an American. I spent a year in Afghanistan and I've been to Kadena AFB so I know a little about living in a base overseas. I see both sides of the story on Okinawa.

Philosophically, I disagree with Chomsky on many, many points, but the reason why I keep reading him is because I like being challenged to think. And so I ask myself, did this film make me think? To that I'd say yes but you must watch it with a critical mind.

The argument set forth is that the American Empire builds bases to project force and this displaces locals, destroys the environment, and causes more war. So the interview of Okinawans has valiant protesters mourning the loss of life and land. The crying children was an especially emotional scene. But it's all extremely one-sided which is fine as long you understand this kind of film is supposed to be.

The portrayal of base life is a bit less focused. Larger bases definitely have BXs, gyms, and food courts with BK. Bagram is like that in Afghanistan. But the FOB I was assigned to didn't have any of that. If the point was to show that bases were being setup for permanent occupation and how that's a bad thing, it sort of missed the point. I also found that it humanized the military, so instead of being a faceless, evil military industrial complex, it became a young soldier who likes Burger King and loves his country.

The biggest critique I have of Chomsky is that while he's extremely good at pointing out the problems, I haven't read any convincing solutions by him. It's the criticism I have for this film too. So say you protest and get all the bases shut down and cut our "standing army" down to pre-WW2 levels. We give up the doctrine of Force Projection and adopt a policy of military isolationism (which is implied in base shutdowns).

That isn't peace, that's a power vacuum. All it takes is another aggressor(who hasn't read Chomsky) to come along and you've got war again.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
This film offers an interesting perspective of the American military that most American citizens haven't considered and provides information not commonly found in the American media. There was a lot of focus on the suffering of the citizens of Okinawa and Diego Garcia. While I sympathize with them, the strategic location of those islands means that it is highly likely that they would be occupied and used for military purposes, whether or not the US is the occupying force. And I certainly can appreciate the ire of the citizens of Vicenza, Italy.

I think that this film would be especially interesting for policy wonks like me :-).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The issues raised in this documentary are of vital importance to the current and future state of the human condition. Unfortunately, it suffers from several fatal flaws which, I regret to say, many such documentaries fall prey to.

It is ironic and tragic that those investigating and lamenting a problem so profound in its implications and so tied up with obvious and immense power, are not capable of perceiving the intrinsic capacity of said immense power to exploit naiveté and cognitive dissonance for its own benefit. This is a threat which many of my fellow idealists and peace advocates fail to apprehend.

You would have to work hard to find someone more opposed to armed conflict than I am, or more in favor of curtailing what has become a self-perpetuating system; that which we call the military industrial complex. Yet after a lifetime spent trying to investigate - to the extent a layperson can at least - and quantify this runaway nightmare, I am forced to come to the conclusion that those who assert a monolithic, carefully designed, contiguous policy at work behind it are oversimplifying something which is, much to my terror, a far more complex and nuanced construct.

I have great respect and admiration for those indigenous people who, as shown quite poignantly in this work, peacefully resist day after the day the presence of foreign forces in their ancestral lands. I believe their cause is a just one, however it is their perception of and hope to undermine the forces and dynamics at work with which I disagree and would counsel caution with regard to.

There seems to be an intuitive perception, born of cognitive dissonance and not a little naiveté, that there exists a singular, unitary command and policy structure at work underlying the military industrial complex, and those organs and apparatuses which support its functioning and growth in the world. The reality, in my opinion, is far more terrifying and amorphous. If there were a single monolithic structure at work, one might hope to quantify and oppose it. That there is not should be cause for far greater concern, and makes for inherently less cut and dried ideological underpinnings for any such resistance.

The emergence of a permanent armaments industry in the U.S. was precisely that - emergent. As in, emergent behavior. The importance of emergent behavior in human affairs must always be foremost in people's minds when considering these matters, if we hope to understand the realities facing us. There are no mustache twirling villains here, but rather a broad spectrum of ideologies, agendas, and motives. This includes the motives and ideologies of those like us who oppose war and imperialism.

ALL of these agendas, mindsets, and purposes, are pliable and potentially exploitable by those with far more power and resources than any individual interest group. When seeking truth, always bear in mind that your own cognitive dissonance and desires are always potentially being exploited by those with greater resources than you. It is in the interests of those with greater power and resources than you, to preserve said power and resources by misdirecting and obfuscating the currency of ideological resistance: blame.

The documentary correctly mentions neoliberalism, but does not touch upon neoconservatism. Both are two sides of the same slippery, difficult to see coin. If there is any control mechanism behind imperialism and fascism, then it is not to be found concentrated and centralized in a single state or power structure (even if its largest and most obvious tools or organs might be located therein,) but rather concealed in back door channels, and private meetings in lodges in the woods, private homes or retreats, and briefing rooms where no paper trail and no archival evidence will be recorded.

True compartmentalization occurs not as mandated by military regulations, but by those not bound by any regulations, military or otherwise, or loyalty, national or otherwise. People who leave no fingerprints, no public record other than circumstantial coincidence which might arouse suspicion, and no clear ideological motive other than the preservation of their own wealth and the capacity to exercise said wealth for their benefit and the benefit of those they deem worthy or necessary.

What you end up with if you fail to recognize this, is a rigid ideological façade which can be exploited by other interest groups. For instance, I cannot count the number of times I've seen those who hold the views espoused by this documentary - which I share, incidentally, at least generically - say they support Putin's Russia because he opposes American imperialism. This is the sort of manipulation of cognitive dissonance of which I speak. The enemy of the ideology you oppose is NOT your friend. To believe so is to be exploited by another power structure which, if the roles were reversed, would happily embark upon empire as well (and has done historically.)

The human mind grasps for recognizable forms and opponents with which to contend. However the reality is far more shadowy and nigh-invisible than people wish to accept, because this would mean embracing a sort of ambivalent skepticism, which most view as apathy even though they are not synonymous. I advocate great caution and rigor when considering these matters. Not to the point of apathy, no. But merely to the extent that one employs great care and openness to nuance and granularity versus broad strokes and simplistic consideration.

If a monolithic control structure exists, it is to be found in what many cliché prone investigators refer to as "secret societies," however the reality is likely even more hazy than resorting to that trope. There are secret, powerful interests at work. Yet they may be just as fractious and disordered as those of us who peacefully resist them. It's possible no one's hand is on the steering wheel. And that is perhaps the most terrifying prospect of all.

We have created a monster. The question is: is there a controlling force behind it that can be opposed, or is it more a self-replicating virus emergently spreading as befits its nature, than a beast that can be pinned down?

Be open minded, but be cautious. And as those herein advocate - as I will now echo - resist and educate yourself peacefully and with an aim toward egalitarianism so as to avoid inadvertently supporting those who would exploit a more radical approach to your otherwise good intentions.

I support peace. I oppose radicalism and violence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Somewhat dry documentary nevertheless eye opening how the U.S. goes about securing it's survival as the dominant capitalist democracy. Made me think about how our insatiable consumer appetite feeds the beast.
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on April 1, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Build a big military and every problem begs for shock and awe! Ragtag armies in Afghanistan thwarted outright victory and Iraqi insurgents were only pacified by paying the so called sons of Iraq. Military objectives, as it turned out can even be achieved more efficiently without all the costly high tech weapons. America's obsession with the latest high tech weapons and the eagerness to use it, shows Dwight Eisenhower's advice to beware of the "military-Industrial complex" has not been heeded.
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on September 27, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Powerful and enlightening. I believe this concept is a bit more complex than it was portrayed, however, I learned more about the true meaning of a standing army and the threat it poses to the world. At the same time we see that you must "keep up with the Jones's" or be militarily inferior.
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on March 1, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I don't write long reviews, but this movie opened my eyes and mind! I'm an army brat, so that's why this interested me. I found it so informative, that I might watch it again. Did you know that we have 700+ military bases world-wide? I found that to be kinda shocking.
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on March 29, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Stopped watching after 10 minutes. Once they showed the Japanese upset over our military bases on Okonawa I clicked off. Last time I checked the Japanese attacked us...not the other way around. They spin the truth like Fox News.
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on April 4, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
It raises and at least partially answers concerns I have had for years. It presents some data of which I was unaware. I felt it concentrated a little too much on one particular aspect of the US military's foreign bases.
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on November 7, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Very insightful. I recommend this documentary to anyone interested in finding out why the US military budget increases every year and what that money is used for.
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