I'm back from vacation and I thought I would remark on a few incidents I had while I was away. First, I saw the Iron Man movie with my brother and his kids. The movie is a celebration of the military-industrial complex, despite Stark's questioning of his purpose in life after his kidnapping. The Slate review sums it up fairly well, but does miss a few points that I would like to cover. One, the Raza character who leads the Ten Rings terrorist group, the one that captures Tony Stark and the only one even mentioned in the movie, states that he desires to conquer all of Central Asia and perhaps beyond. Though al-Qa'ida, who I assume the Ten Rings is supposed to be a more palatable surrogate for, does wish to eventually take over the whole of the Muslim world, this is not only unrealistic, it conflicts with al-Qa'ida's stated goals. The main reason for resistance in Afghanistan is the same as in Iraq, the people who live there don't wish to be occupied. So the idea that the main problem there is the "Ten Rings' evil doers" are hurting innocent people is ridiculous, not to say the many local warlords have not been doing so, it's that the occupation is causing the problem. That brings me to another point, the actual occupation of Afghanistan is not dealt with at all. American forces are in the movie, but they are not shown fighting the resistance, other than the Ten Rings people. Third, the whole plot point about Obadiah dealing "under the table" being the primary reason for the terrorists getting Stark weapons is profoundly misleading for the viewer. The U.S. government supplied weapons to Afghans throughout their war with the Soviets, through the ISI, to those who now considered terrorists by the U.S., like Gulbuddin Hikmatyar
Of course the quality of the special effects were great and the acting was quite good too, but the movie is still propaganda at its core. It trumpets the righteousness of the War on Terror by ignoring or manipulating the key facts about it, supporting the vision most Americans already have about it. That brings me to the other incident that I wanted to discuss. On Memorial Day I went to a service at a cemetery to mourn those soldiers who have died in the wars the U.S. has been involved it through its history. There were a few different speakers from the local VFW there and they gave the typical nationalistic and "fighting for freedom" talk. But I want to point out some of what the father there brought up when he spoke.
There were two main issues I had with his speech: he described the wars that U.S. has been involved in as flaring up of "evil" and that we should learn from the Romans and take up responsibility for defense of the empire ourselves. He said that "anyone who has seen war would rightly describe it as Satanic" (I think it was "Satanic" or evil, I'm only going on memory here) and while it is true that war is evil, his description of it as evil just flaring up is misleading in that it does not take into consideration the political, economic and social reasons for war and, usually, prior U.S. involvement in said country. This makes it seem as if these people are possessed by evil and need to be exorcised (his is a Catholic after all) with bombs and bullets or that they just "hate us for our freedom". And as for the call to arms to defend the empire, unlike the Romans who relied on local tribes for defense, that can be dismissed when you think about why those tribes were hired by the Roman empire. That reason is because: they were the people who lived there. It's only natural that the people who live somewhere should the same to defend it, the question should be why were the Romans there ruling it? Spreading "civilization" by the point of a sword. The father's analogy was apt in ways he did not intend.