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Interesting, but were not those missiles called Stinger and american-made?
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Tue Jan 15th, 2008 at 06:00:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a contradiction in the film.  The plot revolves around buying captured Soviet weaponry off Israel and routing it via Pakistan to the Mujahedin - so the Soviets could not blame the US for interfering in their "sphere of Influence".  However later in the film the Mujahedin appear to be using stingers - or perhaps the Soviet weaponry looks very similar.  It's possible Stingers are even mentioned in the commentary later on - I can't remember.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 15th, 2008 at 07:29:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank:
There is a contradiction in the film.

Sheesh. The film IS a contradiction.

 I think what we're seeing is a convenient edit of history (for script purposes) to avoid stepping on sensitive toes. We supplied stingers, and the military and civilian aviation world immediately shit bricks. We did it again, several times.
We're still trying to track them all down, I've been told.
When Reagan and Ollie North, in their madness wanted to make the same mistake with the Contras, cooler heads prevailed---and British "Blowpipe" missiles were obtained instead. Basically very similar, except the blowpipe was more robust and less prone to field damage. Now, -- aint that a better idea?  Jesus.

FPS Doug:

---the miserable failure of tired old men like Chalmers Johnson---

Chalmers Johnson, that senile old fud, knows more about the American Empire than any man alive, is a hero of mine, and the bone you throw him at the end is pretty facile.
Some of us crumbling old men paid for our knowledge dodging lead and hate, and we're still here. Say that again (or something equally as useful) when YOU 're over 70. If you can still talk.

The point here, Frank, is the film is crap history, and a pander piece to boot. You need to know the history - the real history of the time and place- to know that, which needs some real digging.. That's why it's so dangerous.

Sorry, but there it is.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 07:32:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
geezer in Paris:
The point here, Frank, is the film is crap histor

The whole point of my Diary was to point that out.  I don't do film reviews.  Many thanks for your input.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 08:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From one of your comments:

Oh, and I forgot to say, I enjoyed the firm![sic]  ...  The film doesn't really take itself too seriously, and neither should you.

For once I agree with TBG :-)

I don't agree that this shouldn't be taken seriously - I think TV and cinema are key tools for building national narratives, and I'd be surprised if viewers don't assume the film is accurate history.



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 09:17:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with TBG as well and have argued his point on other threads here.  My point was that the film presents as  mass entertainment rather than as a sober documentary history - and therefor shouldn't be taken seriously as a record of the period - but should be seen in the context of the of current political/ideological battles in the US.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:03:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

My point was that the film presents as  mass entertainment rather than as a sober documentary history - and therefor shouldn't be taken seriously as a record of the period

Did you really think anyone here was likely to think of it as "sober documentary history" ?

but should be seen in the context of the of current political/ideological battles in the US.

Like the one you've been fighting here to defend the US's covert intervention in Afghanistan for example ? :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:27:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
Like the one you've been fighting here to defend the US's covert intervention in Afghanistan for example ? :-)

I would put it on a par with the Soviet Union's support for Cuba in seeking to avert US invasion and takeover there.  Neither Cuba nor Afghanistan should be seen exclusively through a cold war prism and it would have been preferable if the then superpowers had left Cuba and Afghanistan to sort out their political futures internally without superpower intervention.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 01:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"on a par with" ? Yet again this ignores the significant differences between what was being supported in THESE cases (I'm not suggesting, of course, that the Soviets never supported repressive regimes, they did - but they also tended to support a variety of liberation movements - whatever their motives - as Stockwell said). In the US support case, as you noted in your diary:

40% of the US covert military aid went to the bloodthirsty Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, who is "credited" with killing more Afganis than the Russians themselves.  He also, with Abdul Rasul Sayaf, set up the Terrorist training camps which attracted thousands of of Arab volunteers, including a wealthy young engineer named Osama bin Laden.  

The Soviets were supporting Castro who, while far from perfect, hardly compares to "bloodthirsty" thugs like Hekmatyar and has improved the general standards of education - for GIRLS and boys, health system, etc. to levels Afghans and especially women can only dream of. And all the time the US has done its best to destroy the Castro regime - not because of its imperfections, but, as Chomsky puts it, due to "fear of a good example". US governments were right to fear it, and now happily we can see more South American countries beginning to follow its example and fortunately the US is no longer able to crush so easily such liberation movements, as it did by supporting brutal dictators and their death squads - who would ensure that US corporations could go on milking those countries.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 07:30:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No argument that Castro has achieved a lot more than Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, and the USSR did tend to support more progressive movements.  But in strictly cold war terms the USSR support for Castro (in the US sphere of influence) was no different from the US support for Gulbaddin Hekmatyar - in the USSR sphere of influence.  He was meant to attack the Russians.  He actually killed more afghans.  Guess who had the more incompetent foreign policy at the time.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 07:41:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]

No argument that Castro has achieved a lot more than Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, and the USSR did tend to support more progressive movements.

Glad we got that straight :-)  Then you go and spoil it:

 But in strictly cold war terms the USSR support for Castro (in the US sphere of influence) was no different from the US support for Gulbaddin Hekmatyar - in the USSR sphere of influence.  He was meant to attack the Russians.  He actually killed more afghans.  Guess who had the more incompetent foreign policy at the time.

Whose definition of "strictly" - it was not a technical exercise. The Cold War was political, it involved different ideologies and values - hence the bit you admitted above reflects the basis of the conflict - in a sense, what it was "strictly" about. The US was not concerned with freedom and democracy, but protecting and expanding the capitalist system and the gross social inequalities inherent in it.

See the interview with Brzezinski - he didn't think their policy had been incompetent, he didn't care what happened to the Afghans, the US succeeded in luring the Soviets into their own Vietnam.  Also the latter was not the "tragic error", as it is usually presented even by "liberals" in the US. It was, as Chomsky says, part of deliberate, consistent policy and it was a success:

Noam Chomsky: Well, I don't think that Vietnam was a mistake; I think it was a success. This is somewhere where I disagree with just about everyone, including the left, right, friends and so on.
...
the business world turned against the war and decided this is just not worth it. They said we have already achieved the main objectives and Vietnam is not going to undergo successful independent development. It will be lucky if it survives. So it is pointless; why waste the money on it. The main goal had been achieved by the early seventies.

You start reading in the Far Eastern Economic Review that this was a pointless enterprise, you guys have basically won so just go home and quit. Why ruin your economy, spoil your situation in the world scene and so on. And they assumed that now that it is destroyed it will sooner or later be absorbed into our system, which is in fact what happened. Well that's a partial victory not a defeat. The defeat was that they didn't achieve their maximal goal which was to turn all of Indochina into something like Guatemala or the Philippines, and that they didn't achieve, but they did achieve their main goal.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7143

As he also points out, the majority of the US population are less indoctrinated than the intelligentsia:

... [in] 1982, polls indicate that about 70 percent of the American population regarded the Vietnam war not as a "mistake," but as "fundamentally wrong and immoral." Many fewer "opinion leaders" expressed that view, and virtually none of the really educated class or articulate intelligentsia ever took that position. That, incidentally, is quite typical. It's typical for educated classes to be more effectively controlled by the indoctrination system to which they are directly exposed, and in which they play a social role as purveyors, hence coming to internalize it. So this degree of servility to the party line is not unique to this example. But the point is there's a split, a very substantial split, between much of the population and those who regard themselves as its national leaders. That is even given a technical name -- it's called "Vietnam syndrome."

Notice the term, "syndrome," as applied to disease. The disease is that a lot of people are opposed to massacre, aggression, and torture, and feel solidarity with the victims. Therefore something has to be done about that. It was assumed in the early 1980s that the disease had been cured, and by reading the productions of the educated classes you could certainly have believed that. But in fact the disease was never very widespread among the educated classes. However, among the population, it remains widespread and it's a problem -- it impedes, it inhibits direct intervention and aggression.

http://www.chomsky.info/talks/19850319.htm

Thus, despite all the servile media coverage which did mislead most Americans, there was opposition to the attack on Iraq even before it happened, while with Vietnam it took years before there was significant opposition.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 08:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My post was basically an early draft of a diary on Daily Kos, which adds a little praise for Johnson ("a distinguished progressive historian").

That diary is significantly more polished but mainly worth a look-see because of the comments by vets74, who apparently has some first-hand knowledge of the mujahideen in Afghanistan, and even more remarkably, some first-hand understanding.

Some (hopefully) fair-use quotes:

Herring got one heeluva lot done.  

Bob Dole got more done, though.

Charlie's money was getting hijacked by the usual suspects in the criminal class that the Ivy League crew allowed to suck on to the CIA.

The proportions were astonishing. Steal $20. Pass through 50-cent.

So Dole got together a pot of $100-million and had the DC and Virginia wargamers put together a package of what the Afghans really wanted and needed.

Afghan input went to getting a shipload of little diesel Japanese pickup trucks. I'm sure they're still running... probably all of them that aren't blown up.

Anyway the Afghans approved the final package by a vote of 5 groups in favor, to 0 groups against, with 2 groups abstaining.

The smart thin Afghan doctor leading the talk side of the negotiations was pleased. That's as good as we'd have gotten for anything, ever.

None of this was EVER classified, because nobody in any official position ever got to look at it. Dole back-doored the money. Smart SOB.

BTW: the package included 120mm Spanish mortars. Rifled barrels. Knock the ** out of any helicopter repair facility from 10-clicks out.

That's what stopped the "Hind" helicopters, cuz they're in shop way more hours than they fly. The shop is a full-scale explosion waiting to happen. Nothing in there don't explode.

I put the last section in boldface for emphasis, because it was totally news to me... a simple insight into how a war against helicopters is fought, and once you hear it, it's almost self-evident.

Kudos for vets74!

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 06:32:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
vets74 has a whole series of interesting diaries about Amy Winehouse and other issues here.

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.
by FPS Doug on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 07:07:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks.  All of which reinforces the question as to why Sorkin went so much out of the way to falsify history and to give Charlie Wilson so much of the credit.  In purely cinematic terms, as you pointed out earlier, it would have been even more effective to cast Herring as the main character and heroine.

Will have a look at your blog now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 07:13:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Tom Hanks was a large part of the problem, and the synergy with Sorkin was negative: sentimental marries clever and their first-born child is kitsch.

I hate to sound like a sock puppet for vets74, but he also has a really strange and original insight about Obama here. Will Muslims treat Obama as an apostate because of his early training in an Islamic school?

vets74 would be a really excellent addition to EuroTrib! He even inspires a certain amount of respect in the savage beast FPS Doug!

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 09:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
now you've got me thinking it's another of your personalities ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 09:59:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
single personality people always think that having multiple personalities is a disorder.  It's not.  It's a prerequisite for being a good actor and a good analyst for the world as it really is.  I'm beginning to like Jacob Freexe - all of them....

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 08:22:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting point of view.
Somehow I would never have linked a talent as an actor with the ability to see the world "as it really is".

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 01:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well if you can't put yourself in the shoes of someone very different from yourself you're not much of an actor are you?  Those actors (like Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston and Tom Hanks) who always seemed to play the same type of character are clearly very limited actors.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 01:26:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think your linked vets74 diary deserves a Lazy Quote Diary here.  Although it is largely made up of a quote from a GOP sympathiser, it raises an issue which could become very important in World affairs should Obama be elected.  Europeans find some of these Islamic issues very difficult to deal with - how do you give freedom of religion to those who's religion would deny freedom of religion to others?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 07:35:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True for all rotary wing aircraft. The Hind actually does better than most, but the desert sand is rough on choppers particularly.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 01:00:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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