Watching War Movies in Baghdad: Popular Culture and the Construction of Military Policy in the Iraq War

Gerard Huiskamp*, Nick Dorzweiler, Eli Lovely

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article investigates the use of popular culture films by the United States military during the Iraq War. We first examine why the 2003 mission to capture Saddam Hussein was named after Red Dawn, the 1984 film about the Soviet invasion and occupation of the American heartland, and how it helped define U.S. soldiers' understanding of their mission in Iraq. We then consider how and why in 2006 military planning groups screened films, including Meeting Resistance, whose narrative centers of gravity tilt toward Muslim Arab populations resisting the occupations of Western militaries. We argue that the circulation of these movies encouraged military audiences to critically reconsider their aims and mission in the midst of the unanticipated emergence of an Iraqi insurgency. The broader purpose of these investigations is to demonstrate the ways in which popular culture can shape individuals' understanding of their political problems and possibilities, even in times of war.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-523
Number of pages28
JournalPolity
Volume48
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Keywords

  • Film
  • Iraq War
  • Military
  • Popular culture
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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