Just Above Sunset Archives
January 4, 2004 - This is a GOOD war and we all should feel exhilarated!
Back on Wednesday, 17 December
2003 I posted Baghdad now, Algiers way back when The kind of folks we Americans are sort of French, actually - a continuing discussion of an event of Wednesday, the 27th of August, when the Command of Special Operations in the
Pentagon held a screening of The Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo's 1965 film about a rather famous urban
terrorist insurgency, the conflict between Algerian nationalist insurgents and French colonial forces in the late nineteen-fifties.
In mid-December Philip Gourevitch in The New Yorker had discussed it again, as it is now coming into general
release at small theaters around the country.
Watching the towers fall in New York, with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn't analyze at first and didnt fully grasp (partly because I was far from my family in Washington, who had a very grueling day) until the day itself was nearly over. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration. Here we are then, I was thinking, in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate. Fine. We will win and they will lose. A pity that we let them pick the time and place of the challenge, but we can and we will make up for that.
Yep, he hates those towel-heads.
Bring 'em on!
First we get his credentials:
Unless I am wrong, this event will lead to a torrent of pseudo-knowing piffle from the armchair
guerrillas (well, there ought to be a word for this group). I myself cherished the dream of being something more than
an armchair revolutionary when I first saw this electrifying movie. It was at a volunteer work-camp for internationalists,
in Cuba in the summer of 1968. Che Guevara had only been dead for a few months, the Tet rising in Vietnam was still
a fresh and vivid memory, and in Portuguese Africa the revolution was on the upswing. I went to the screening not knowing
what to expect and was so mesmerized that when it was over I sat there until they showed it again. I was astounded to
discover, sometime later on, that Gillo Pontecorvo had employed no documentary footage in the shooting of the film: It looked
and felt like revolutionary reality projected straight onto the screen.
Well, I saw the film in
Ohio. Not with Che's friends in Cuba. Not with the lefties in the Village. Actually, I think I was sitting
next to a farmer named Dwayne. Obviously I have no standing here. No one has Hitchens' experience.
Those making a facile comparison between the Algerian revolution depicted in the film and today's
Iraq draw an equally flawed analogy. Let me mention just the most salient differences.
I guess we should all give up. Hitchens wins. Everyone else is wrong.
So maybe he's right about the war too. We should have all been "exhilarated" watching our friends and countrymen die. The good war had finally started that day.