Saturday, November 20


Welcome to the new Iraq, where the police are untrained, the rebels run free, and we can't do a thing about it. Apocalypse now (pay later):

All of the jihadis in Najaf talk about faith -- it's a shorthand way of saying they're fighting for Islam. But this fighter also puts his beliefs in more sectarian terms, voicing an opinion that many believe is now shared by as much as eighty-five percent of the Iraqi population: "We fight with our friends and brothers, and every day we lose, but we continue to fight because this is our country," he says. "We cannot accept that foreigners will occupy our land -- that is our belief." And, he adds, "We believe that we are right."

This is a very bleak story about a very bleak place at a very bleak time. The world media have focused on the ever-present violence, but it is the quiet outrages that define life here today.

This is one of the better inside-Iraq pieces I've read. It also reminds me of watching the old movie Red Dawn on TV last night with Silmarill. This is the Patrick Swayze-Charlie Sheen-Powers Boothe vehicle where a coalition of Soviets, Cubans and Red Chinese invade and occupy the United States. The action all takes place in a smallish Montana town which has been taken over by the Reds (as has all of the US), and is replete with scenes of collective punishment, KGB intimidation, "re-education" camps for innocent citizens who happen to own guns or talk back, corruption of some the town's citizens and their leaders, constant military marching through previously commercial and residential streets, and an ex-revolutionary Cuban commander who wrestles with his unaccustomed position of aggressor rather than insurgent (yes, he actually uses that word). Swayze leads a pack of teenagers who hide out in the mountains and wreak guerilla havoc on the Red invaders. They are aided by an Air Force pilot (Boothe) who crash-lands in their mountains until he is killed by a Soviet tank. At some point their hiding place is invaded by an armed unit, but the kids are prepared and kill or repel all but a single survivor, who possesses a gadget that seems to be a location detector. They discover that one of their gang, the former H.S. Student Council President whose father is the Red-appeasing mayor of Calumet (their hometown), has snuck home and been turned in by his dad to the Reds, who force the boy to swallow a homing device and return to his friends. Now the Reds will be able to locate them, so the teens face the question: kill the boy or not? He has betrayed them, risked all their lives. They also have to dispose of the surviving Red soldier in some way. Swayze is in torment, but he cocks his gun. Sheen, younger brother of leader Swayze, screams at him: "What's the difference between us and them if we do this?" Swayze returns, "The difference is WE LIVE HERE." He shoots the Red, but he cannot bring himself to kill his friend. Another of the gang (a cold C. Thomas Howell) doesn't hesitate.

Silmarill, who had not seen the picture, (this might be my 10th or more viewing) was obviously struck by the resemblance to the situation in Iraq. I think Riverbend would agree.


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