Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Swirling sands

Being a year or so behind culturally, I finally watched Syriana last night. I can see how it might be confusing from a plot perspective, but if you think of the various levels of conflict it makes sense. At the top, the US and China are competing for dominance of the energy supply. I would have liked to see a bit more China involved, but that may have been too much. Within the US and the un-named Gulf State, factions are jockeying for position in reaction to the efforts to dominate.

In the US, the players use all the tools at their disposal, which seem to include government agencies acting on corporate behalf. The main action centers on an American businessman, an American lawyer and an American CIA field operative and how they are manipulate, or more often are manipulated by often unseen players farther up the food chain. Showing the nastiness of the trade, one American ends quite well, one is scarred but Ok and one ends poorly.

I suppose people will be tempted to blame Bush for all this, but what we see has been US policy since the time of Roosevelt. The book upon which the movie is based, See No Evil, gives a lot of detail. It's a great read and since the author, Bob Baer, is former CIA he had to submit it to the Agency for approval. So in certain spots you see that blocs of text were redacted. Oh just what did they say!

Unlike others perhaps, I tend to think the US support of its companies isn't a bad thing. The government is supposed to support the growth of the American economy, and one way it does that is by helping American companies compete with foreign companies. The methods chosen in this movie are not the ones I would choose, but I don't disagree with the policy goal. In his book, Baer addresses the blowback we continue to experience, which also calls into question whether the US should have an entirely different policy as well.

2 comments:

Dan said...

I enjoyed Syriana (especially, as you mentioned, how it briefly addressed China's growing role in the Middle East). I thought the movie would have been better if the suicide bombers were from the educated middle class, which is not an uncommon profile. Finally, the climax of the movie is ridiculous. It almost completely ruined it for me.

Tripp said...

Yes the climax is rather silly and improbable.

Here is another bit of dangling from the climax. At one point, a character makes a rather dramatic threat. The conditions for acting upon the threat are fulfilled, but we do not know if the sanction is applied.