Charlie Wilson’s War

December 22, 2007 at 10:56 pm (Afghanistan, History, Islamism, Israel, Pakistan, The United States, War)

I saw Charlie Wilson’s War today. Now, it has been bashed, and some of that is justified, but it’s a great movie if you look over these bash-worthy elements.

In its fight against the evil Communists–and the movie takes quite some time making the case that the Russians were evil, evil indeed–it makes America and its cause for freedom and against Communism quite strong and powerful. Why, if one looks it at that way, this movie is actually pro-American. And it perhaps shows that only America is able to work out such complicated and seemingly impossible schemes to get what’s needed, what with Israel and Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperating to defeat the Soviets. (There’s a funny scene of a spat between an Egyptian and an Israeli; what makes it interesting is that they agree to cooperate nevertheless. There’s also a scene about Zia-ul-Haq and his concerns about receiving aid from Israel.) It also shows that Americans of various types–an ultra-rightwing ueber-Christian woman and a slutty, drug-using Democrat politician–can unite behind a good cause.

After many scenes showing how the Afghanis are simply being slaughtered by the Soviets, the scenes begin showing how the Afghanis take down the Soviets. Along with it is a most unexpected chorus in the background: “And he shall purify the sons of Levi that they may offer unto the Lord an offering of righteousness” (No. 7, Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah, a quote from Malachi 3:3). Here’s a YouTube presentation of that chorus.

It also teaches us a lesson: consider the long run. It shows how we were reluctant to rebuild Afghanistan after the Soviets left. Part of it was understandable: we were quite busy rebuilding former Communist Europe as well, so Afghanistan was small fry. But that unwillingness cost us: it opened the door for the Islamist takeover of Afghanistan. And Wilson did make a good point: we could not claim victory for the Soviet defeat because our assistance was covert, and revealing our assistance would have negative repercussions for many players. Nevertheless, our strategy has changed dramatically, what with our major focus now in Afghanistan and Iraq being rebuilding along with killing the bad guys. So we learned our lesson, I would hope.

It’s rated R for good reasons, dealing mainly with sexuality. But it is a good movie, funny at times, and moving in what we can accomplish.


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