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Deadly Mistakes?

Most students finish high school, and even college, without critically analyzing recent US history. With public discussion of past misadventures also lacking, how can citizens form educated opinions about today's crises?

In a series of short films, DEADLY MISTAKES? looks at US interventions 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.

It also looks at our present situation: nuclear weapons on a hair trigger, preventive war 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'?

The final three films look at where we go from here. They are entitled: 'Mistakes or Crimes?', 'Why do states pursue homicidal policies?', and 'It's Your Future.'

Amongst those contributing to these films are Father Daniel Berrigan, peace activist; Dr. Bruce Blair, former U.S. Air Force Launch Officer; General Lee Butler, USAF (ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command; Noam Chomsky, philsopher and linguist; Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State; Dr. Jane Goodall D.B.E., primatologist; Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque, USN (Ret.); James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me; Ray McGovern, retired senior CIA analyst; Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense; General Merrill McPeak, USAF (Ret.), former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff; Joshua Muravchik, author and foreign policy specialist; Ralph Nader; Grace Paley, author and peace activist; Marcus Raskin, co-founder, Institute of Policy Studies; Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret.), former director, CIA; Peter Weiss, President, Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy; Robert White, former Ambassador to El Salvador; and General Charles Wilhelm USMC (Ret.).

'The Viewer Guide is an excellent resource, which should be of great value to those who hope to explore beyond the surface and to find out more about critical issues in the real world, as they are perceived and interpreted from varied perspectives. A very impressive contribution.' Noam Chomsky

'A brilliant and extraordinary work on public policy, which should be supported in every way. Deadly Mistakes? tells about current history which most people have forgeotten, or never knew. This is an essential work for young people.' Marcus Raskin, co-founder, Institute for Policy Studies

'The words and portraits of American senior policy makers and generals are alternately shocking, outrageous, heartbreaking, and enlightening. This unique video invites and challenges viewers to step into the action, to have their say, and to take part in determining America's future. If enough Americans see it and take part in these Democracy Dialogues, it will move the country toward sanity and peace.' Mark Achbar, director of The Corporation and Manufacturing Consent

'Deadly MIstakes? is a valuable treasury of facts and commentary, lucid and powerful, drawing on an extraordinary variety of sources. It is certainly one of the most concise and lively treatments of American foreign policy I have seen. It deals with matters of life and death, for Americans, for the world, and should prove a sobering and provocative educational tool for people of any age.' Howard Zinn, Author, A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present, Terrorism and War

'Walter Miale's Deadly Mistakes? is not only instructive but educational in the best sense of leading viewers to thought and feeling on their own. The U.S. foreign policy mistakes, crimes, and disasters of the past half century are detailed with such insight that we cannot fail to detect the line that led from the quagmire in Vietnam to the quicksand in Iraq. The DVD's and the Viewer Guide should be in every school in the country.' Peter Davis, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Hearts and Minds, and author

'A very important, very valuable work. The films and book tell Americans things we all need to know, but few do. These dialogues with people who shaped policy or made history help lay the groundwork for the education of the next generation of Americans. They will be extremely useful for teachers in both high school and college who want to offer material to their students that is relevant to today's world. Deadly Mistakes will be eye-opening for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of current events.' Grace Paley, Author

'A very impressive piece of work... I found the DVD engaging and powerful. The viewer guide is particularly impressive and it [will] clearly be a valuable education resource.' Julie Enszer, Executive Director, Nuclear Policy Research Institute

'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?...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.' LaRoi Lawton, Library and Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York, Educational Media Reviews Online


Main credits

Miale, Walter (film director)
Miale, Walter (film producer)

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Conflict Resolution
Foreign Policy, US
Human Rights
International Studies
International Studies
Islamic Studies
National Security
Political Science
Social Justice
War and Peace


foreign policy, interventions, overthrow of the government of Iran, genocide, Guatemala, Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam War, Somoza, Contras, Nicaragua, Cold War, nuclear weapons, preventive war, invasion of Iraq, war in Colombia, 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, General Charles Wilhelm, Lies My Teacher Told Me, Walter Miale, democracy dialogues; "Deadly Mistakes?"; Bullfrog Films