Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bleo Injection: Day One

Okay, yesterday is still a little blurry. I mean, what is in those anesthetics that leaves you stunned for so long? Many thanks to Andy who took time from work to 'break me out' of the Day Surgery recovery unit. They wouldn't release me unless someone came to pick me up and Angela wasn't able to get away from Sheridan until 5-6pm (she was in crits most of the day). I'm pretty sure I could have lied and said I was going to the bathroom, left, taken a cab and gone home, but they seemed to be watching me pretty closely. I am particularly grateful to one matronly Jamaican nurse who relieved me of my I.V. and told me not to try anything (like leaving on my own) and who did not talk to me like I was five years old. I have the greatest respect for the nursing profession, but why do so many of them have to talk to you as if you are a hard of hearing, grade-schooler? I suppose they figure you're so doped up you probably have less mental acuity than the average grade-schooler.

Today, I'm feeling pretty good. Some soreness in my tongue but not bad. Though I feel like it is worsening, so I might take advantage of having this day off before I don't feel like doing anything. In expectation of not feeling like doing anything, I've rented a stack of films that I'll review once I've seen them.

First though, let me tell you about this one film I saw recently called, The Power of Nightmares Part 2, "The Phantom Victory".

On 25 December 1979, Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. Moscow was able to install a friendly government in a neighbouring country but at a price. After nearly 10 years of fighting, Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan.

Both the neo-conservatives and the Islamists believed that it is they who defeated the "evil empire" and now had the power to transform the world.

But both failed in their revolutions.

For some this programme may smack of conspiracy theories, yet it aims to prove that most axes of evil are really just myths created to lock the public in a state of fear. The really fearful thought is how successful these small cabals of political thinkers or radicals have been. The ideas of political philosopher Leo Strauss and his influence on the American Neo-conservative movement are coldly brought to light. While the parallels drawn between the American Religious Right and Islamic Extremists are both eerily revealing and astute. It also made me feel as though I wasn't crazy. There is something rotten in the state of Conservative politics that goes back to the Nixon Republicans when the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle et al were cutting their teeth in Washington and would later help author the infamous Project for the New American Century document.

The one criticism I would have of this film is that it is both a little too high-minded and low-brow. there's the slightly haughty, high-minded tone of a British narrator telling us of the treachery of American politicos and Islamist radicals which can seem more than just a bit trite. Certainly, there is no mention of the British role in these world happenings. Anyone who remembers Maggie Thatcher might recall what a frighteningly bombastic figure she could be (Falklands anyone?) Not to mention that Britain's failings in Palestine, and Iran both between and after the Wars are so similar to American ones. Failings fueled by the faded glory of Britannia and the influence of British business interests in those regions don't look too different from American failures in Vietnam and now Iraq. The simultaneous low-brow approach of the series, through editing and choice of music and sound effects can often seem inappropriate or cheap. The repeated clips of Russian generals waving in a comically sped up fashion or the use of an out-of-place "boing" sound effect when some interview has given way to an "ah-ha" moment, take away from the revelation and instead of providing the viewer some comic respite only give the episode a slightly "America's Funniest Home Videos" or MTV feeling.

Any shortcomings however, are more than made up by the many insightful interviews from the likes of Gorbechev, former NeoCon strategists, retired CIA agents, ex-Islamic fighters and Islamic academics which are just too informative to miss. If anything, this programme dispels the notions of Conservative or Islamist conspiracies. Conspiracies or secret agendas are carried out in the shadows and back rooms, where as these ideologues conduct their work under the harsh Afghanistan sun or on the steps of Washington institutions. The openness of it, the audacity of it, the realization that we buy into these myths and fears is the really chilling part.

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