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Iraq War 2: Electric Boogaloo

Sequels to Hollywood hits are rarely good. It's just too easy to succeed by being fundamentally lazy. Note the success of the original, sign the stars to new contracts, rehash the same basic story and jokes in a new setting, start advertising a year out, and finally: rake in the profits. It's great for the studios, but rarely good for the viewers. The Karate Kid was a masterpiece. The Karate Kid 2? Total bummer.
Just do the crane kick, Daniel!

Remember the Iraq invasion? Not the prequel, when America barely dipped it's toes into Iraq. I'm talking about the good one when the military got all up into that sovereign nation, wrecked it, tried to install a government and set up shop in a gigantic fortified compound right in the middle of Baghdad (those madcap Americans!). Then, in a plot twist right out of M. Night Shaymalan, the Iraqi people fought back, pressured their government to kick the Americans out, and...something, something Surge! It turned out the Iraqi people were actually the bad guys all along. I know you're gonna say you saw it coming, because they were brown and Muslim and terroristy. But I was all: What. Tha. Hell?! Totes surprised. More than a decade and a million Iraqi deaths later America rides off into the sunset leaving a failed state behind. 

That. Was. AWESOME! Oh, man. I still have the collectors' soda cup and the Mission Accomplished shirt. 

A key part of the movie that most people don't remember as well as the explosions and car chases was the high drama of the protagonists having to convince the American people that the invasion was not only the right thing to do, but absolutely imperative for their safety. So there was George Bush warning of mushroom clouds, Colin Powell holding up vials of white powder, and constant messaging linking Saddam and 9/11. Oh, and don't forget the rape rooms, torture chambers, and stories of Saddam doing other, assorted bad things to his citizens. America movies always have a bad guy doing bad stuff to their citizens! How else are we supposed to get behind American death and destruction except by being reminded that only America can stop the bad-guy death and destruction? One must always add a bigger wrong to a smaller wrong to get to the right answer! It's just good story telling.

"We'll tell you the facts. The same facts that were told to us by government officials."

Of course, the protagonists get what they want by teaming up with the mass media (Wolf Blitzer appearing somberly on screen following kick-ass graphics, music and all but a countdown timer for the start of the war), intelligence agencies, and a hastily assembled international coalition (Of The Willing). I mean, that's a given. The American government doesn't give hundreds of billions of tax dollars to the military-industrial complex to not fight wars. That'd be a total waste of military hardware*.

*I can't afford one myself, but a government official once told me that drone-launched Hellfire missiles go bad after like three months.  You gotta kill people with them when they're ripe or they stink up the house.

Well, in case you weren't paying attention: Here we go again! This time the bad guy is Bashar Assad, the president of Syria. Assad, just like Saddam, is a total madman. I mean, he's the perfect evil-scientist bad guy. He just can't stop dropping chemical weapons on his citizens. A few weeks ago the President of America said that the military would withdraw from Syria (wait, the US military was in Syria? As in, at some point it invaded Syria. When did that happ---shhh! The new Geico commercial is on!). Additionally, the anti-Assad rebels had been on the retreat for months, Syrian refugees were returning home, and Syria was about to enter into a period of relative peace. But crazy Assad gets together with his advisers and is all, "Y'all know what time it is? Citizen-gassin' time!" 

If you're like me, you probably don't think that this story sounds very realistic. No half-way rational person would ever do this, especially when America has been warning Assad that they'd kick his ass if he does anymore bad things to his people. But that's Assad for ya! And I don't mean to sound racist, but he is kinda Middle Eastern, and you know how those leaders are (it's a cultural thing). Right as he's about to win his civil war and have a nuclear-armed superpower finally leave him alone, he's just gotta gas some people one last time. He's like Hingle McCringleberry doing the third pump. It's so damn predictable that American experts know exactly what happened within hours of the first appearance of smoke over Douma. No investigation or credible evidence needed*. 

*The State Dept. said, “These reports, if confirmed, are horrifying and demand an immediate response by the international community.” But you know how it is: it depends on what the definition of "if" is. 

Uh oh, that was the third pump!

So now America has no choice but to invade (re-invade? post-invade?) yet another Middle Eastern country. Look, if there were another hero in shining Kevlar armor out there, America would be all, "We're staying home. It's your turn to right the wrongs in this world." But there is only one Neo in this here Matrix. Right when America was gonna retire, they keep pulling it right back in!

I think the sequel is going to be predictably bad when it's all said and done. But there's always a chance it'll be as good or better than the first one, right? Right? Well, I'll be there on opening night dressed up as an Abu Ghraib prisoner*. Because what am I gonna do, not watch the next American war?

* I was gonna dress up as National Security Advisor and O.G. neocon John Bolton, but decided that'd be in bad taste.

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