Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why George Bush should have watched more Patrick Swayze films

So I was watching Marcel Orphuls' magnificent 1969 documentary
The Sorrow and The Pity. A film about the German occupation of France during the Second World War.

There were lots of interviews with noble German soldiers who were in the Wehrmacht and just doing their job. There were interviews with British undercover operatives. There were interviews with Frenchies who had collaborated & and with French resistance fighters - who by 1969 were more likely to be rambunctious pensioners drinking beer and smoking Gitanes by the dozen. Come to think of it, they were probably doing that in 1943 as well. Albeit they were a bit younger. Their lives were probably pretty similar. Spend the morning looking after their cows, eat some cheese on a baguette, have a glass of wine, then nip out to blow up a German train.

The resistance fighters seemed very heroic in the circumstances. Fighting for your country & fighting for freedom are noble causes.

But if you're 15 years old it's probably hard to judge what the right circumstances are: are these invaders hideous Nazis or pro-democracy nation builders - and do you really care?

In fact, aren't you probably just doing what your elders have told you to do? Like some kid that gets taken to church - you're taught to believe. In this case taught that you should blow up a bunch of soldiers by any means necessary.

After all what would we have done if the Soviets had ever managed to have the gumption and necessary military hardware to bother invading Britain at some point during the Cold War?
(Well, I guess the answer to that is that we would have fired nuclear bombs at them. Like that would have helped anyone.)

But I think there'd be a lot of people (me included I would hope) that would be working to get rid of our foreign overlords - like in an episode of V - the sci-fi tv series of the 1980s that was basically about a brave bunch of humans fighting a heroic fight against a load of evil Alien lizards. It was all very *anti-communist*. The aliens ate humans. Standard propaganda used in many wars in the past. They probably say similar things now about the Americans in Iraq.

Same applied to the magnificently absurd 1984 film Red Dawn, where a bunch of teens led by a young Patrick Swayze fight off the invading Soviet forces. Soviets who were at the time busy invading Afghanistan (they gave up eventually - that's what you do in Afghanistan - you invade - everyone hides in the hills - then they come back in the spring and fight you some more - then you give up & go home).

So while the French seem heroic and the fictional American heroes of Red Dawn seem ridiculous, the insurgents in Iraq and, more often these days, Afghanistan, seem almost unstoppable.

You can kill the fathers, you can kill their brothers, but they'll keep breeding boys and bringing them up to hate the foreign oppressors. They're not that bothered that British soldiers are keeping them free and bringing a shade of equality to the women of their country - and after all - if there was anyone who deserved a good kicking in the face it was the Islamo-fascists of the Taliban.

All the young kids can see are foreign faces & guns.

You need a good idea of why you're invading a country and ideally you need to get the heck out as soon as you can. But I mean, what do I know about military theory, but there's lessons from history and bad drama.

As a footnote:

Possibly the most urbane and sensible thing George Bush has ever said was after that Iraqi journo chucked a pair of shoes at him: this is what happens in a democratic country, people have the right to make their feelings known. Except, you throw shoes at someone - someone I would instinctively abhor, like George W. Bush - and I start feeling sorry for him. Throwing shoes isn't nice. Blowing people up even less so.

1 comment:

  1. And he dodged the first one really well. I have a new-found respect for him.

    Isn't it always the way: just as you start to like them, they leave you.