Where to Invade Next: Michael Moore’s Latest Examination of American “Exceptionalism”

The creator of the top two Documentaries of all time – Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 – is back. Michael Moore and his merry band of co-conspirators have a new documentary out in an expanding number of theaters after a six-year hiatus. It’s an Election Year gift.

Where to Invade Next is not an expose of the Perma-War nature of 21st Century American Imperialism, as the title would seem to imply. It is rather a sly travelogue take on how other countries have used American ideals to gain many cultural improvements US citizens are told are unattainable by both wings of the Wall Street Perma-War Party.

Reprising his bemused everyman role, Moore visits Germany, France, Slovenia, Tunisia, Portugal and a raft of Scandinavian countries. Carrying a huge Old Glory over his shoulder, he checks in on how these countries have attained – Universal Health Care, required months of paid vacation, workers say in management and sense of ownership of their work, a humane penal system, civilized drug policies, free college, far more women in positions of power in both business and government, more cultural and racial diversity…down to four-star school lunches.

Moore introduces us to many wonderful Public Servants…the unarmed (“our brains and talk are our weapons”) Scandinavian police and prison guards, in particular, seem like an impossible species by American standards. Yet, they cite Michigan’s abandonment of Capital Punishment in 1845 as one of the models for their rehabilitation-based, instead of punishment-based, Justice system. Even parents of murdered children seek rehabilitation, instead of vengeance (the scene with one bereaved father will make you cry).

An Icelandic prosecutor cites the legal precedents used by the Reagan Administration going after eh Savings and Loans crooks as the model for Iceland’s charging and convicting the banksters who crashed their economy. Said economy has recovered far faster than any of the countries who let the banksters off the hook in their recent round of plunder. What the single mom former president of Iceland and three women business leaders from that country have to say is a highlight of the film.

Tiny, poor Slovenia provides free college (even to foreigners); again, something that once was done in some US states. Portugal has seen a big drop in addiction and crime since the country decriminalized all drugs.

Workers are required to take those paid breaks as stress is recognized as anti-productive. CEOs eat lunch with the employees and make a far less higher differential in pay than the employees. No one has to worry about losing it all due to a health crisis.

Yes, other countries are pulling it off and often using concepts born in the US to do it. When Ted Cruz mocked Bernie Sanders as a someone who would make a “great president of Norway,” it is clear that the audience who clapped and laughed have some serious research to do. Moore does it for them.

As usual, even though he tones the sarcasm down and is funnier and more impish than usual in his latest effort to cut to the chase as to what is misguided with American culture/politics, Moore came in for immediate abuse from the usual suspects – right-wingers who are always outraged at his exposing their lies and leftists who always feel Moore does not go far enough.

I laughed. I cried. And, I was angry when I left the theater…angry about how badly my generation has blown it the past 50 years with this Imperial crap. 900+ bases in over 150 countries is not “Defending Freedom” (unless you count freedom to exploit). It is an Empire. And that Empire has cost us dearly in so many ways. While we were busily garrisoning the planet, other countries were busy making life more equitable for their citizens…even welcoming immigrants and giving them the same rights.

See this Oscar-nominated Documentary. If enough people do, we may just join the rest of the civilized world and leave the Neo-Con/Neo-Lib “no, we can’t” corporate/Imperial blather and the “exceptional” fear and me-firstism behind it to the dust bin of history where it belongs.

PS Michael Moore is out of the hospital and confined to home. He was in the ICU with pneumonia for a week recently; brought on by his burning it at both ends getting this doc out and taking on the pricks behind the poisoning of the citizens of our hometown Flint. He’s on the mend and will be back being a thorn in the side of the Establishment soon.

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MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com