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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’


Spring 2001 from the Staten Island Ferry

Spring 2001 from the Staten Island Ferry

I was engaged to be married when it all happened.  CavWife to be was teaching in NW NJ, and could see the smoke from the parking lot. One of her students were among the few that lost parents in the building. Thankfully my parents decided to extend their stay in NH because they were booked on the flight out of Boston to LA that day.

Many of us have stories. There are faces we see, video clips that can never be erased from our minds. But I want to consider who we are, or have become in the last 12 years.

In October 2001, we had an engagement party at my future in-laws’ home. That was the day we began the invasion of Afghanistan. We have yet to leave. We have been fighting there my entire married life, forgetting one of the great blunders: don’t get involved in a land war in Asia.

America is increasingly weary of war. We have watched too many of our young people come home in body bags or missing limbs. We seem to have an entire generation suffering from PTSD.

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This movie won’t be everybody’s cup of tea.  Charlie Wilson was not a very upright guy.  He was conservative in his politics, and liberal in his personal ethics.  Okay, he was a womanizer, and some of those scenes display breasts and Tom Hanks aging buttocks (I don’t think they used a body double on that one).  He has a long term affair with a rich “Christian” lady, and was accused of using drugs during an investigation by Rudy Guliani.  There are enough F-bombs dropped to make a young Eddie Murphy uncomfortable.

Yet … it has a quirky sense of humor that I found hilarious (CavWife, not so much).  I really appreciated the interplay between Hanks and Hoffman.  Philip Seymour Hoffman was just plain over the top in his role as Gus, an old school CIA guy who is on the outs with the new (Carter era) regime).

Useless Rabbit Trails: At one point I wondered aloud about one character- She really reminds me of Amy Adams.  Good reason, it was Amy Adams.  CavWife was astounded at Julia Roberts’ daring bikini scene- daring because she was like 4 months pregnant at the time.  But she didn’t look 4 months pregnant, or even pregnant.

Back to the Real Deal: And it had a message need to heed, regardless of whether or not you think we should have gone into Iraq in the first place.  Charlie Wilson was able to sell the Afghan War as a great opportunity to “kill Russians” and further the cause of the Cold War.  He was the right guy in the right place at the right time to increase the funding necessary to help Afghanistan defend themselves from the USSR.  You also see that some of interest was generated from the humanitarian angle.  Wilson was won over after a trip to a refugee camp.  And so were other key people.

After the war, and subsequent fall of the USSR, Charlie Wilson tried to do the right thing: rebuild Afghanistan.  But he could get no money for schools, much less roads.  So, we helped destroy Afghanistan but left them to rebuild.  As he noted, there would be no NY Times to remind them that we had helped them defeat the USSR (actually, would the NY Times tell us that?).  With a population in which 50% of the people were under 14, they sorely needed education and attention from us.  But they didn’t, and the Taliban turned their hearts against us.  As the movie ends, there is an earthy quote from Charlie Wilson to the effect that we screwed up the end game.

And this is what some want us to do in Iraq- screw up the end game.  I’m not excited about dumping lots of money into Iraq.  But history teaches us that if we don’t try to help them, the next generation will be turned against us- not for removing Sadaam, but for not finishing the job.

I thought this an odd message from Hollywood.  I agree with the message, I was just surprised to hear it coming from  that source.

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