Who are America’s real enemies?
To find out, just go and see the new Tom Clancy blockbuster movie
John Sutherland Monday July 8, 2002 The Guardian
The Guardian is furious about it. The Dutch Guardian (De Volkskrant) that is. About what? The American Service-members’ Protection Act, otherwise known as “The Hague Invasion Act”. You can read the legalled-up version, as passed a fortnight ago, at www.nrc.nl/Doc/ASPA.pdf. The long and short of it is that America will use military force against the Netherlands to free any of its nationals held by the international criminal court (ICC) at the Hague.
The ICC got up and running on July 1. Running might be in order. How would Tom Clancy pitch it? Opening shot: Jack Ryan Botox-faced at CIA/HQ Langley. Clear and Present Danger. Operation ScrewDyke is authorised. Soften the target with Stealth bombers from RAF Wittering (Dubya’s got Tony’s pecker in his pocket). Insert a Seal extraction team. Bang, bang, bigger bang. Bring our guys home and kick some cloggie butt in the process.
Our Netherland neighbours are not amused (are they ever?). As one MP indignantly put it, “We’re not Panama”. I asked a Dutch colleague what he thought about the HIA. “Bush is a dickhead,” he replied dourly.
President Dickhead approves, but the idea was hatched by the geriatric senatorial bigot Jesse Helms (come back Caligula’s horse, all is forgiven). It was Helms who put in an amendment to the Defence Department Appropriations Act of 2002, sanctioning the bombing of Holland.
Helms was not primarily worried about American soldiers – he and his colleagues have, after all, blithely let 5,000 of them rot with gulf war syndrome. It was the international big-game hunters that alarmed him. Belgium’s moves, for example, to indict Ariel Sharon for genocide (until the ICC, Belgium was the only country to sanction prosecution for war crimes committed by non-nationals outside its borders).
America is nervous. Not just about where the next attack might come from but who its real enemies are (apart from al-Qaida and the LRB). All of which is reflected in the strange and fearful career of the latest Tom Clancy movie, The Sum of All Fears.
Current industry wisdom is that you can’t lose money with a Clancy scenario. The novel was published in 1991 and features an anachronistically young Jack Ryan (played, anaemically, by Ben Affleck; come back, Harrison Ford, all is forgiven). The film was in the can well before September 2001.
The McGuffin is that some Israeli plutonium gets into the hands of Palestinian extremists who use it to detonate a dirty bomb at a super-bowl game in Baltimore. Their dastardly aim is to fool the US and Russia into launching the third world war.
The studio tried the film out in sneak previews in October 2001 and got reassuring feedback. They prudently tweaked out from the explosion scene skyscrapers resembling the World Trade Centre. And they added a health warning to the trailers about horrific “disaster images”. Backsides were covered.
Or were they? While making the movie, Paramount had been under fierce pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations not to demonise Arabs. Clancy’s Muslim villains were dropped.
The film’s Osama was recast as an Austrian neo-Nazi (played by Alan Bates in a false beard – at his own insistence, one imagines). But this got the film-makers into another bind. If they let their European evil-doer rant about the Jewish world conspiracy they would be slammed by the Anti-Defamation League and possibly sued by Jorg Haider. The J-word never passes the villain’s lips. Decaff fascism.
There was worse to come. The film’s release in America at the end of May coincided with Jose Padilla (aka Abdullah al Muhajir) being arrested on charges of plotting a dirty bomb explosion on American soil. They should have stuck with Clancy’s version. Hollywood is now under ferocious attack (led by the Jewish World Review) for “downplaying the obvious connection between international terrorism and fanatical Islam”.
Weak knees never won wars against terror. And, to cap it all, because of the anti-European theme (and all that fuss about the ICC) they can’t foresee a time when it will be safe to release the movie over here.
Even a super-power can’t win, it seems. Unless, that is, you pick on a seven-stone Dutch weakling.