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Deadly Mistakes 2005

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by Walter Miale, Democracy Dialogues
Directed by Walter Miale
DVD, color, 405 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Social Studies, History, American Studies, Political Science

Date Entered: 09/22/2005

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

Over the past several years critics of American education have stated time and time again that many of our students and people alike do not know how to critically analyze our own social, economic and political history. With many public debates on past successes and blunders, critics wonder how people can form educated opinions about any today’s crises: the war in Iraq, the breakdown of local, state and federal agencies during the Katrina disaster, just to name two. Deadly Mistakes is series of short films produced on two DVDs. It looks at how the United States has intervened abroad during the second half of the 20th century: the overthrow of the government of Iran, intervention and genocide in Guatemala, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, Somoza and the Contra War in Nicaragua, and the Cold War. The viewer also gets a peek at our present situation: nuclear weapons stockpiles; so-called preventive wars and the invasion of Iraq, and the war in Colombia.

These films ask whether any or all of these events and policies are mistakes. Are they justifiable or are they crimes? What should we learn from the mistakes of the past, and how can we apply these lessons to help shape America's future? What can we do to prevent future "deadly mistakes"? And more importantly, are they mistakes?

The final three films look at where we as a country go from here. They are entitled: Mistakes or Crimes?, Why do States Pursue Homicidal Policies?, and It's Your Future.

Some of the people viewed here in these films are Father Daniel Berrigan, Dr. Bruce Blair, General Lee Butler, Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Eagleburger, Dr. Jane Goodall, Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque, James Loewen, Ray McGovern, Robert McNamara, General Merrill McPeak, Joshua Muravchik, Ralph Nader, Grace Paley, Marcus Raskin, Admiral Stansfield Turner, Peter Weiss, Robert White, and General Charles Wilhelm.

The second DVD contains six extended interviews. They are:

  • James Loewen – Lies My Teacher Told Me
  • Lawrence Eagleburger - Foreign Policy and Sausage
  • Gene LaRocque – Creating Terrorists
  • Ray McGovern – We called them “The Crazies”
  • Robert White –It’s Not Much More Complicated Than That
  • Marcus Raskin – Institutional Insanity is Approximately What We Have

These films are part of an ongoing series of Democracy Dialogues in which the viewer can videotape their thoughts, questions, and comments and mail them to the filmmaker, Walter Miale, for inclusion in future video dialogues. This would make for an excellent social studies and or political science discourse for both high school and college students that could be produced and made available through an online discussion forum for a course. The online guide gives suggestions for videotaping and the address to which the tapes should be sent. Highly Recommended.