Sunday, June 8, 2008

Movie Review: Charlie Wilson's War

Mitch and I watched Charlie Wilson's War on Friday night. I'm sure that everyone on earth who wants to has seen this already but we don't get out to movies much and typically wait until things are on DVD to watch them. (Before we had kids we thought we would be people who went out a lot after even after we had kids. The reality is that we didn't actually go out that much before we had kids and now that we have kids, it is hard to find babysitters and it is easier to watch movies at home where they are cheaper and where you can get up 50 times during the movie to make tea and eat chocolate...).

Anyway, the movie was really good. The acting was good (although Mitch thought Julia Roberts was distractingly bad - I didn't notice). The plot was really interesting. I have always wondered how the U.S. gets sucked into these covert operations where we support one group secretly against another group. I had always chalked up our support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan simply to anti-communist fervor. The movie did a good job of showing how there were legitimate human rights reasons to be opposed to the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. They also did a great job of showing how simplistic our view of Afghanistan really was and how that kind of intervention can go wrong.

The most startling thing was that Charlie Wilson knew that the U.S. needed to do more to support Afghanistan after the Russians left but the Congress didn't have the political will to actually do anything about it once the Ruskies were gone. It made me wonder, how many times can we make the same stupid mistake over and over again??? Once a military "operation" is over, if you don't invest in the country and the people, it will bite you in the ass. We sort of learned after World War I but now we seem to have forgotten this lesson again. Afghanistan, Iraq war I, Iraq war now, the list goes on and on. Somehow the intentions are always good when we go in, guns blazing, but we never understand the full complexity and we always screw it up in the end. As Charlie Wilson says (I'm paraphrasing here), "We f*ck up the end game."

Why is that?

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