The film follows an Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil, as he interviews Fallujans in refugee camps and inside Falluja itself. It opens with a tragicomic episode:
Fallujah has been closed as a city for two months. Nahida is one of the first Fallujans to go back since the the Americans occupied the city.Once inside the city, Fadhil "could smell bodies beneath the rubble" (January 11, 2005). Rotting corpses have been "eaten by hungry dogs," the source of "a serious outbreak of rabies" (January 11, 2005). Falluja, once "the City of Mosques," is now "the City of Rubble," where "over 300,000 people have lost their homes" (January 11, 2005) and every Fallujan is required to obtain an ID card from the US military to enter his own city: "They took prints of all my fingers, two pictures of my face in profile, and then photographed my iris. I was now eligible to go into Falluja, just like any other Fallujan" (Ali Fadhil, "City of Ghosts," The Guardian, January 11, 2005).
She wanted to show me what had been left behind.
"Look at it ! Furniture, clothes thrown everywhere! They smashed up the cupboards, and they wrote something bad on the dressing-table mirror." -- Nahida Kham
She doesn’t speak English so I explained to her what the words mean: "FUCK IRAQ AND EVERY IRAQI IN IT!"
"I knew it. I knew these words were insulting." -- Nahida Kham (emphasis added, January 11, 2005)
We have heard that Double Features, a Universal-based production company, will produce a feature film about Falluja "from the perspective of US marines" ("Harrison Ford Signs for Iraq War Film," The Guardian, December 16, 2004), based on a "non-fiction" book No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah by Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration who believes that the Vietnam War was a just war that America could have and should have won: "[E]very nation has a breaking point. Three times we had the North Vietnamese on the ropes, and each time it was policy fickleness in Washington D.C. which persuaded them to continue" (Bing West, "Vietnam War Was Honorable," Providence Journal, July 14, 2004). While Bing West (as well as his son Owen West) is an intelligent ex-Marine from whom leftists can learn a thing or two about combat, it is predictable what a movie based on his view, starring Harrison Ford no less, will seek to have the audience believe: "Militarily, the battle of Fallujah was an unqualified success" (Bing West, "Fallujah, the Morning After," Slate, December 8, 2004). And politically? "Many of the residents were complicit in the reign of terror. Whether the city returns to its murderous ways depends on the resolve of the Iraqi security forces now moving into the city. Voter turnout in January will be an indictor of how the political winds are blowing" (West, December 8, 2004).
"Hollywood's first feature about the current Iraq war" ("Harrison Ford Signs for Iraq War Film," December 16, 2004) will not have room for what Fadhil Ali saw:
The US military destroyed Falluja, but simply spread the fighters out around the country. They also increased the chance of civil war in Iraq by using their new national guard of Shias to suppress Sunnis. Once, when a foreign journalist, an Irish guy, asked me whether I was Shia or Sunni -- the way the Irish do because they have that thing about the IRA -- I said I was Sushi. My father is Sunni and my mother is Shia. I never cared about these things. Now, after Falluja, it matters. (Fadhil, "City of Ghosts," January 11, 2005)