Monday, September 16, 2013

zero dark thirty

So what's the upshot now, re Syria, acknowledging as one must that the story mutates all the time.

The upshot for now is that Assad wins, hands down.

For now, he comes out ahead.

OK, no chemical weapons for Bashar al-Assad. But there is no one to unseat him. He will stay on top. Russia will compensate him for whatever he loses in the way of chemical weaponry, as will, of course, as once and ever, Iran.

The alternative? Arm those rebels big time, even if they do increasingly approximate al Qaeda?

Such an alternative.

Watched Zero Dark Thirty again.

John McCain thundered in objection to the scenes of torture: we do not use torture!

Of course, sad to say, we do use torture. After 9/11 we, the United States, definitely dialed up on the use of torture.

Did torture lead to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, as shown in Zero Dark Thirty?

Moral objections aside, and despite lack of briefing, I doubt it.

Was there anyone like the dynamic CIA operative, Maya, played by Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty? Not to say there weren't dynamic and committed female operatives but this seems to me most of all like a reference to Kathryn Bigelow herself, the director of the film —  a dynamic action movie director. In a Hollywood action movie environment defined by male film-makers, she has made her way, and I have never failed to seek out her films.

But back to Zero Dark Thirty.

Arresting as Jessica Chastain is, her character represents the Hollywood element, namely that it all has to be personal;  all Maya does night and day is think about getting bin Laden.

If it isn’t personal — a shootout, global or face-to -face — it isn’t 100 carat Hollywood.

But when it's all said and done, the film viewed and viewed again, what I felt was, yes, we got bin Laden.

This being the late summer of 2013, the question I could not avoid, given Syria etc. is: so what?

Bin Laden was watching porn when we took him out. (What sort of porn, I permit myself to wonder, or is that classified?) He wasn't the CEO of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was — I recall that the name means — a network. Al Qaeda has as much a CEO as does the World Wide Web.

Bin Laden's gone but al Qaeda proliferates in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Killing bin Laden was a good thing, or at any rate, not a bad thing, but let us not make the mistake of thinking that as a military counter measure to the spread of al Sunni Islamism it meant anything.

We invaded Iraq to find weapons that weren't there. Zero Dark Thirty is about the assassination of a super-villain who turns out to be passé, beside the point.

Zero Dark Thirty is a decent action film if you can ignore that what it celebrates — we got bin Laden! — is as misleading as the hunt for WMDs Iraq had ditched before we got there.


  1. "The upshot for now is that Assad wins, hands down"

    Today he wins, but the future? There is no possibility of the rebellion being crushed and Assad resuming his position as the undisputed ruler of Syria...... It is far more likely that he will be assassinated, put into exile, or reduced to an Alawhi conclave.

  2. I think Fred makes a good point. Assad and the rebels are stalemated and will remain so. Syria is a failed state whose fragments will "never" re-crystallize. The last time this "political archetype" manifested, Reagan and Saddam became bosom buddies. Dutch even donated the materials for Saddam to make chemical weapons. The upshot? Both Iraq and Iran were incapacitated by perpetual stalemate. It now surpasses irony that "Iran won the Iraq War." Why? Because Smirk was stupid enough to eliminate Saddam, who, despite his penchant for butchery, was the most modernizing force in Greater Arabee. Saddam was, for example, the best thing that ever happened to women in the Arab Middle East. Obama may seem a hapless fence-sitter now but in Syria fence-sitting is the best possible position because it insures prolongation of the Alawite-Rebel stalemate, each side having already removed one testicle from the other, and neither eager to lose their diminished manhood altogether. Gradually, Assad and the Alawites will consolidate power in "Greater Damascus" and the rebels will establish a number of de facto principalities. In any event, by biding time, the Syrian crisis stays within "reasonable" bounds, or at least what passes for "reason" in the Sunni-Shia Thirty Years War. Behind it all, Assad knows that any future deployment of poison gas will prompt Obama to jam a drone up his ass. Assad may be politically crazed but he is personally pragmatic, fully aware that Obama got Osama and will not hesitate to fry the opthalmologist if he uses WMD again. Ironically it would work to Obama's advantage if Assad tried to keep poison gas since the resulting muddle would prolong the diplomatic crisis. Should this congealed crisis last another seven years, Hillary will be elected not once but twice, and in this prolonged period of Democratic dominance, Obamacare will become a "success" (thus discrediting the GOP's supposedly "existential" opposition); the "Party of Angry Old White Guys" dies off; and the United States permanently opens its door to the same sort of socialized Capitalism prevalent in Europe. Thus, Obama accomplishes complete partisan success. The only question in all this is whether Hillary appoints Obama to the Supreme Court. Time will tell.