Friday, October 8, 2010

Project Mayhem

A surreal nugget in this NYT front page story on how many Afghans hired to protect American forces in Afghanistan are in fact Taliban operatives:

At one large American airbase in western Afghanistan, military personnel did not even know the names of the leaders of the Afghan groups providing base security, the investigators found. So they used the nicknames that the contractor was using — Mr. White and Mr. Pink from “Reservoir Dogs,” the 1992 gangster movie by Quentin Tarantino. Mr. Pink was later determined to be a “known Taliban” figure, they reported.

While I'm sure Mr. Tarantino will be delighted to learn how life is imitating art-imitating-art-imitating-life, I don't think Reservoir Dogs is the right frame of reference for the situation in Afghanistan:

The Fight Club analogy obviously isn't perfect. Tyler Durden didn't have a brother who was an opium dealer secretly working for the CIA. Nor was Durden himself a supposedly democratic leader but in fact an election cheat. Tyler Durden ended up being a disaffected man with a split personality. Karzai is two-faced, but he doesn't have Dissociative Identity Disorder.

But.... Nah. Except for the broad outlines of a situation in which a group of nihilistic men goes to war with western (consumerist) society that it has thoroughly infiltrated to the point that fighting them effectively becomes impossible, the Afghanistan War is not much like Fight Club at all. And that's a good thing. We won't have to wait for the crazy person leading the resistance to put a gun in his mouth and kill his renegade leader persona as everything is about to blow up. But things need to change, badly, and we can start by not pretending we're in violent, edgy 90s movies.

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