Friday, May 12, 2006

Thoughts after United 93

Even with British director Greengrass’ effort to deliver an objective documentary-style movie, United 93, with its issuing date so close to 911 event, is destined to be a patriot movie.

Objectivity of movies lies on space and time when a history event will be narrated or reevaluated. When Titanic was on the big screen years ago, a love story had to be added to complicate the straight-line plot. In Spielberg's Saving Pirate Ryan, audience was shocked by the battle in Normandy, but the bloodiest scene can hardly bring any memory to anyone. However, with Ben Laden probably still hides somewhere in the mountains of Afghan and the big geographic scars from falls of WTC remained unhealed in lower Manhattan, 911’s replay, no matter how objective it is, only bring back the darkest moment to American. When the menacing music echoes the engine’s humming from airplane in the movie, the word came immediately to my mind was “TERRIBLE”.

After having talked with a few international students, especially a few Turkish, I was surprised to find that, from their point of view, the movie only tells the world that United States is still in its narcissistic stage. Even though I tried to defend the quality of the movie, I was finally persuaded that at least United 93 is a good movie in a bad time.

What Americans call “Freedom of Iraq” is, in words of other non-alliance countries, “invasion and occupation”, period.

Bush, with his rashness to please warlords and his eagerness to get out of mire from domestic issues, initiated the war without thinking the consequences. For him (and probably with Rumsfeld), to eradicate Saddam’s government can undoubtedly lead to democracy and peace in Iraq. Now with the second gulf war goes well into its fourth year accompanied with more than 2,400 death penalty of American solders, US still sees little light in shedding the possibility of getting out of the mud.

It turns out that there is not that much difference between Bush and Ben Laden in terms of their strategy against each other. When Ben Laden sent his villains to the airplane of United 93, what he cared was only to destroy the Capitol: their lives thus would “sacrifice” in a loft way. When Bush sent his troops to Iraq (let’s forget how ridiculous he related Iraq with 911), what he cared was to get rid of Saddam Hussein. How to make his troops safe home was less important. And both failed. Although WTC disappeared forever, Americans, undeterred and knowing who is the enemy they are facing with, stand stronger. Although Bush applauded the removal of Saddam’s Statue, the new order, the promised peace is far from being established.

Bush Administration once stated, at this stage, decisions of troop withdrawal should be made with speculation and discretion. Otherwise all achievement accomplished in Iraq could be futile. Bush’s statement is based on that only US can build up new orders for Iraq or there is no peace unless US troop IS in Iraq. However, the fact is the world would be better off without one-side international police. There is more than one ideology in the world, more than one religion in the world, more than one possible democracy in the world. What fits America best may fail in other countries.

Americans have somehow lost in their mind in defining whom the war is against. Year ago, Americans called the war as “war against terror”. As an article in New Yorker said, terror is just another word of war. War against terror is like war against war, leading to nowhere to end. Then word “terrorists” was changed to “Islamic extremists”. By this definition, Iraqi civilians are not extremists while it is they who are under control and monitor of US troops. Among them, some may praise the help from US, some may stand closer to some radical groups. But most stay in between. Between yes and no, to do and not to do, there is a gray area where peace and unison survives better under the tolerance of no-definite categorization. That’s what Bush should learn.

Among passengers in United 93 on 911, they are fathers, daughters, employees, as ordinary as you can find in any airplane. Those terrorists are human flesh too, not tall, not strong, not unafraid. It is the hatred which has oppressed Muslim so long from western countries that finally sent some extremists to take the one-way plane. It is also the hope of survival that launched the heroic fight-back from passengers. In United 93, there was no gray area.

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