Sunday, February 17, 2013

What Argo and Zero Dark Thirty have in common

What do Argo and Zero Dark Thirty have in common, other than that Kyle Chandler plays essentially the same character in both?

They both involve intelligence operations in the Middle East with Democrat Presidents in office.

They both involve operations that deal with dangerous Muslim radicals.

They both present fragile operations that are made more difficult by the federal administration's policies and almost fail due to bureaucratic politics.

They both present operations whose success is almost entirely due to the intelligence, determination, and courage of an individual in the field.

Whether or not the presentations as such are accurate is, of course, another matter.  The White House surely does not like the implications of Zero Dark Thirty in spite of being involved in the making of it.  Republicans and conservatives were mostly wrong about the significance of the Obama administration divulging sensitive information to the makers of ZD30.  After Hollywood released their big anti-Bush ad Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, the appearance of a movie presenting "Obama's big success" in 2012 seemed a little too coincidental. 

However, a predominantly liberal Hollywood crowd produced the film The Path to 9/11, and before Bill Clinton forced them to censor out the parts that showed his administration failed to pull the trigger on bin Laden in the '90s, they had made a fairly apolitical piece.  Before his interest in nailing the lid on Sarah Palin's political coffin, Tom Hanks tried to show the good side of American military and aerospace (the settings of which are also typically in Democrat administrations). Now, we have ZD30 which doesn't blanch at showing the ugliness of enhanced interrogation, making the case that vital clues were thus gleaned which led to bin Laden.  In fact, according to the film, the operatives' missions are hindered by the elimination of enhanced interrogation and the detention centers. 

No doubt, if Obama had thought that playing up the bin Laden kill wouldn't make his administration look good, he wouldn't have put national security at risk to help make a movie about it.   This was the same man that had his administration encourage aerospace companies in Virginia to ignore the law to influence election results, who announced details of the  bin Laden triumph immediately even though it decreased the chances of further gains.  This movie would not have helped Obama, even accidentally.  Who woulda thunk it?

At the end of Argo, there is a voiceover of Jimmy Carter telling how the details of the success of the Argo operation had to remain secret and his administration couldn't take credit for it.  Let's hope that he wouldn't have taken as much credit for it as Obama took for Operation ZD30.   If Carter avoided doing so to protect sensitive operations, he will have risen far above Barack Obama's stature.  But we see the Carter administration greenlighting at the last minute to avoid a huge embarassing fiasco, all the gutsiness on the part of people much lower down in the chain of command.  With regard to bin Laden, even if Obama had been ignorant of what was censored out of The Path to 9/11, Secretary Hillary Clinton surely wasn't, and she would know it would risk political suicide to repeat her husband's failure.  And Barack desperately needed a trophy to stick on his wall.

Another thing undercuts Carter's alleged magnanimity in keeping the nature of Operation Argo.  Only a handful of diplomats made it out due to Carter greenlighting some airplane tickets.  The unlucky others were taken hostage and weren't returned until shortly after Reagan took over, leading to all sorts of dark allegations about Reagan's secret pre-1980 power in the Middle East.  Could it be simply that they feared that Reagan would not tolerate such nonsense? 

To the right is a 2012 political ad for Obama's bold choice for (as bold as his use of drones?).  Let's get one thing straight: Unlike Carter, Obama has no problem having people killed and is much closer to Janet Reno in that regard.  If the ZD30 movie is to be believed though, the "let's get bin Laden" game was not one he played very well.

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