Iraq: What’s Known, What’s Unknown, What We Don’t Want to Know

TheUnknownKnown

Guest List

Mark Danner, supreme chronicler of the wars and of America’s military misadventures for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books.

Stephen Kinzer, reporter, academic, and author, most recently of The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell and a first-rate thinker on war and foreign policy.

Errol Morris’s movie The Unknown Known is the provocation this week: cinema sequel to the Oscar winning documentary on Robert McNamara and Vietnam, “The Fog of War.”  The Rumsfeld questions implied by Morris but unanswered in the movie begin with who Rumsfeld was, and what he was up to; how has the experience of a trillion-dollar catastrophe sailed past any apparent reflection or rethinking on the part of the Iraq War’s architect. The journalist Mark Danner, who covered the war and is now covering the aftermath, says the inconvenient truth here is that the public doesn’t want to reconsider it either, because we’re all implicated in the shame. 

Rumsfeld spent 33 hours talking into Errol Morris’s camera — an exercise in cheerful deflection, denial and a good deal of distortion of the checkable record, including his own public memos and comments.  The architects won’t answer them, so the questions come back to us, whether we want them or not. What does it say about our system, our media, our country, and our age that we haven’t held anyone responsible for the catastrophe in Iraq apart from Chelsea Manning and a few enlisted men and women at Abu Ghraib? Isn’t there a lesson for us in the life and times of Donald Rumsfeld?

Reading List

• Mark Danner’s three-part series on Rumsfeld for the New York Review of Books, listed here;
• Errol Morris’s  massive four-part series chasing after the philosophy of Donald Rumsfeld for The New York Times — it begins here;
• Lawrence Wilkerson’s interview with us on the subject of Rumsfeld and the war in Iraq;
• The transcript from Bill Moyers’s troubling documentary on how America was sold that war;
• And our friend Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s latest comment on the war, in anticipation of his forthcoming book, The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War.

And check out our extra content this week: an interview with the veteran-writer Phil Klay, a reflection in memos on the making of The Unknown Known, and archive interviews with guests Lawrence Wilkerson and Steve Kinzer.

Guest List
Mark Danner

supreme chronicler of the wars and of America’s military misadventures for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.)
former chief of staff to Colin Powell and a first-rate thinker on war and foreign policy.
Reading List
The Unknown Known
Mark Danner
Mark Danner's three-part series on Rumsfeld for the New York Review of Books, listed here .
The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld
Errol Morris
Errol Morris's  massive four-part series chasing after the philosophy of Donald Rumsfeld for The New York Times — it begins here
Lawrence Wilkerson: Why Does Rumsfeld Always Win?
Lawrence Wilkerson
Lawrence Wilkerson's interview with us on the subject of Rumsfeld and the war in Iraq
Buying the War
Bill Moyer
The transcript from Bill Moyers's troubling documentary on how America was sold that war
A Parade of Characters and Causes led the US to War in Iraq
Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
Our friend Muhammad Idrees Ahmad's latest comment on the war, in anticipation of his forthcoming book, The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War

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