Just finished watching Ridley Scott’s Body Of Lies. A week or two ago I watched Green Zone and In The Valley Of Elah. All three, in slightly different ways deal with the ‘war on terror’, the second Iraq War and related jihadi attacks.
None of the three is particularly complimentary about the U.S. actions in the Middle East and all three have been criticised by folk leaving their own reviews on IMDB for being something along the lines of ‘liberal propaganda’. Oh, and all three are Hollywood feature films produced by those who stomped up the money for their production to turn a few million cool bucks or so. Then there’s the slight matter that recently I and the rest of the world have been informed that the CIA - the ‘we never use torture CIA’, yes that bunch - has been torturing its prisoners.
The torture - let’s not get into any mealy-mouthed euphemisms such as ‘enhanced interrogation’, let’s stick to calling it by its real name, torture - was sanctioned by George ‘Dubya’ Bush and his deputy Dick Cheney, and it is very, very likely that Tony Blair and his various foreign secretaries knew it was going on.
In what I can only assume to be damage limitation, much noise is being made here in the West that the U.S. is the kind of democratic country where the government can force one of its intelligence agencies to come clean about what it is up to and publish a report on the matter. The smug, though unstated, subtext is: try doing that in Kazakhstan, pal. Well, yippee! That’s fine then, democracy wins again. In that case tell that to those who were tortured.
Actually, that’s not fine, at all, but
I am not about to go off on some knuckleheaded anti-American rant, because there are more than enough American citizens who are equally sickened by what the CIA - the ‘we never use torture CIA, yes that bunch - got up to.
Wiser heads have long pointed out that information apparently obtained by torture is rarely of any use because in the end those being tortured will tell you whatever they think will persuade you to stop torturing them.
Then there’s Guantanamo Bay and the poor fucking saps still incarcerated there for no better reason than the U.S administration would like to keep them incarcerated there.
Several British citizens, including Shayer Aamer, have been locked up Guantanamo Bay for many years, despite all the hoo-haa Britain indulges in about the principle of habeas corpus incorporated in our Magna Carta (in six months time exactly 900 years ago). The British government keeps telling us it is insisting that the U.S. should release those British citizens incarcerated there or charge them and bring them to trial, but they are getting nowhere.
Perhaps they would get a little further if they insisted a little more strongly. I don’t know.
What strikes me as blindingly obvious is that no one should be in the least bit surprised at the outright hatred felt for the U.S. and Britain by many in the Middle East and, it seems increasingly here in Britain by many hotheads. Here we are preaching ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ one minute and then torture and kill those to whom we are preaching those values the next.
Yes, I know the situation is not simple, yet in a sense it is very simple: Western behaviour has been obscenely hypocritical for decades and that behaviour shows no sign of abating.
Of the three films - the fact that at the end of the day it was made as entertainment to make money for the producers notwithstanding - Body Of Lies was decent enough to portray the deceit, double standards, hypocrisy and the consequent outright stupidity of some in the U.S. in the character played by Russell Crowe, and even the nominal ‘hero’, played by Leonardo Di Caprio is no one to write home about, although by the end of the film he quits because he is too disillusioned. And yet it’s still only a fucking film.
There was no director to shout ‘cut’ to end the torture a great may went through at the hands of the CIA, no one to tell whoever was in charge that the chap they were keeping awake for nights and days on end - I think in the case cited it was 172 hours - should be allowed to get a decent night’s sleep. This wasn’t Hollywood make believe, this was real, real torture.
But what’s going to happen? Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing.
The West will go on preaching its stupid message that it wants to bring democracy and human rights to the Middle East, they will still not be believed, hotheads will still travel to Syria where they are likley to get themselves killed, and Hollywood will still go on making ‘entertainment’ out of real evil. Oh, and people like me will carry on writing, almost inarticulately because they feel so much anger at their impotence to do anything about what is nominally being done in their name, about the disgusting practice their governments get up to. And others will carry on reading what we are writing and dismissing it all as liberal codswallop. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
I have an 18-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son. I like to hope that when they get to my age these things will not be happening any more. But I know they will. That’s the worst part of it.