Thursday, December 20, 2007

This Story is a Tricky One, Obviously

(Reagan with "Freedom Fighters")

"The humanitarian toll of twenty years of fighting-some 1.5 million deaths and the massive displacement of populations, famine, and the ruin of the country's economic base-has not figured prominently in international policy on Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch said." (Human Rights Watch Report, 7/15/2001)

Listening to Renee Montagne schmooze with Tom Hanks and Mike Nichols about the film, Charlie Wilson's War, you'd never know the horror that backgrounds the movie. As is so frequently the case, the full history of the story gets mangled on NPR and no attempt is made to rectify it. A healthy antidote to NPR's Hollywoodized glorification of Wilson and Gust Avrakotos (his CIA partner-in-crime, literally) is Chalmers Johnson's piece on the George Crile book Charlie Wilson's War. Johnson points out a few ugly truths: Wilson was no "liberal" as stated on NPR; he supported Nicaraguan dictator Somoza, and Avrakotos was the CIA's man in propping up the Greek facist generals in the late 1960s.

The interview on NPR also continues the line that the US only began supporting Muslim extremists ("Muslim freedom fighters" as Montagne still insists on calling them) after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Robert Gates (yes him!) mentioned in his memoirs that the US began funding the Mujahadeen six months before the USSR invaded and Brzezinski confirmed as much in interviews in 1998. It was a sordid affair indeed. Not only Gates is still with us, but Mike Vickers, a nasty CIA thug with a history in Honduras, was also involved with Charlie Wilson - and is now highly placed Pentagon official.

You'd never know any of this listening to NPR this morning. And it would never even dawn on you that over a million civilians have perished in Afghanistan's Soviet-American nightmare. No instead what you learn is:
  • Its a "rollicking good story." - Montagne
  • "Charlie loved the Davids of the world as opposed to the Goliaths..." - Hanks
  • "Charlie is one member of a colorful trio...there's Gust Avrakotos..." - Montagne
  • "Gust was the real deal..." - Hanks
  • "they both [Wilson and Avrakotos] happen to be guys who tell the truth casually and constantly." - Nichols
  • "this story is a tricky one, obviously..." - Montagne
Frankly it's kind of hard to stomach. But it's nothing new on NPR, consider this earlier post in which Charlie Wilson's War came up on NPR over a year ago.


Anonymous said...

Hey well at least we know "why they hate us"...

'Cause we're meddling, imperialistic, homicidal BOOBS!

Oh, and DO check out Joanne Herring's website, especially her "Faith" section:

Do you like to have fun? Would you like to dance on rainbows? You can, you know! Everyone loves a rainbow. People rush out of house to see them. Whenever they appear everyone stops what they are doing and says:"Look at the rainbow! Isn't it beautiful?" We all want to share its beauty with someone, preferably someone special. It is a moment of magic, though sadly fleeting. We would all like to catch them and keep them and in a way we do: in our hearts.

Anonymous said...

this was an excellent post.

between this NPR piece on "Charlie Wilson's War" and Time magazine's shallow, idiotic article on Putin (and the equally idiotic commentary in the mainstream press about Time's choice of Putin as "Man of the Year"), I've felt at a visceral level how fundamentally deluded the American public is about the world and about the actions of the American government abroad. The depth and breadth of the propaganda is amazing, esp. when you consider it comes from so many multiple sources and is only partially coordinated by the US government agencies. People are being taught they are living in a bizzaro world.

Porter Melmoth said...

This sort of propaganda, which NPR slavishly caters to, is of utmost importance to BushCorp and Associated Partners. Out of ugly, ugly situations heroes must be found. And people will be very impressed if it's a covert hero.

When I first heard about the movie, I thought it might be a comedy or something. But with Tom 'Gump' Hanks and Mike Nichols (whose career of late has been entirely worthless), I quickly assumed that at least a Reagan Era-friendly movie would result.

I wonder if the film deals with the failure that Afghanistan remains today? No doubt it will conveniently end on an upbeat note, with maybe a brief title card that says something about the Mayor of Kabul (a BushCorp friend) being democratically elected or something, thanks to Charlie Company's selfless efforts...

I'm starting to regard NPR in the same way I regard an entity like Ann Coulter: denial that it exists. Much less noise that way.

Anonymous said...

Great paragraph there, WarOn. It doesn't take much imagination to almost hear one like, say, Missy-poo reading it off.

Will pass on flick, thank you very much - impression's that I've experienced much more depth of emotion and conflict from the stylized cinema fictions by those great masters: F. Lang, Bergman, Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, etc. etc. etc.

Mytwords said...

Thanks for the Herring link - sort of... I had to look at it several times to convince myself that it wasn't pure satire. Wickedly revolting!

Porter Melmoth said...

I especially loved the photo of Joanne with Gen. Zia, the CHIEF MARTIAL LAW ADMINISTRATOR of Pakistan, who was eventually bumped off in an exploding plane.