One of the iconic films about how crazy our world can get, especially when thinking about nuclear weapons, is Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove. It was startling when it came out, and is just as scary every time I watch it again.
Part of what makes the movie as much horror as comedy can be glimpsed in this exchange between President Muffley Murkin and Soviet Ambassador Alexei de Sadeski:
“But this is absolute madness, ambassador. Why should you build such a thing?”
“There are those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we’d been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.”
“This is preposterous. I’ve never approved of anything like that.”
“Our source was the New York Times.”
“Dr. Strangelove, do we have anything like that in the works?”
Strange as that scene still seems, it is no less strange than a statement made last week by our real Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton:
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged Iran to back up its declaration that Islam bars weapons of mass destruction by agreeing to a plan that would prove it does not intend to develop nuclear arms.
As MyFiredoglake diarist TheCallUp observed:
To demonstrate just how ludicrous this line of thinking is, imagine if a police officer knocked on your door, and informed you that all their evidence suggested you were an honest and law-abiding citizen, but that he would arrest you anyways, unless you could provide proof to him that you had no “intentions” of committing a crime.
The similarities between arguments for going to war against Iran and the justification given in Dr. Strangelove by USAF Gen. Jack D. Ripper are more than skin deep:
I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion and the international communist conspiracy, to sap and im-purify all our precious bodily fluids.
Substitute “Iranian” for “communist” and you’re entering into the zone being created here. In Dr. Strangelove, Gen. Ripper’s fantasies are clearly shown to be delusional. But last week, National Public Radio came up with an equally delusional report on current Iranian intentions and capabilities. Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s take on it:
This morning, [NPR national security reporter Dina] Temple-Raston began her report by noting — without a molecule of skepticism or challenge — that Iran is accused (by the U.S. government, of course) of trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil (a plot traced to “the top ranks of the Iranian government”); there was no mention of the fact that this alleged plot was so ludicrous that it triggered intense mockery in most circles. She then informed us that Iran is also likely responsible for three recent, separate attacks on Israeli officials. These incidents, she and her extremely homogeneous group of experts from official Washington explained, are “red flags” about Iran’s intent to commit Terrorism — red flags consistent, she says, with Iran’s history of state-sponsored Terrorism involving assassinations of opposition leaders in Europe during the 1980s and the 1996 truck bombing of an American military dormitory in Saudi Arabia (note how attacks on purely military targets are “Terrorism” when Iran does it, as are the assassinations of its own citizens on foreign soil who are working for the overthrow of its government; but if you hold your breath waiting for NPR to label as Terrorism the U.S. assassination of its own citizens on foreign soil, or American and Israeli attacks on military targets, you are likely to expire quite quickly). All of this, Temple-Raston announces, shows that Iran is “back on the offensive.”
Iran is on “the offensive.” There is no mention in this NPR story — literally none whatsoever — of the string of serious attacks on Iran, from multiple explosions on their soil to the training and arming of a designated Terror group devoted to its government’s overthrow to the bombardment of its nuclear facilities with sophisticated cyber attacks to the multiple murders of its civilian nuclear scientists. These attacks on Iran — widely reported to be the work of some combination of the U.S. and Israel — literally do not exist in the world that NPR presented. Iran is simply sponsoring and launching “Terror attacks” out of the blue against the U.S. and Israel: presumably because they’re Evil Terrorists. Meanwhile, we learn from Temple-Raston that “what worked so well dismantling Al Qaeda” — like drone attacks [it 'worked so well' doing things like this] – won’t work on this kind of Terrorism.” Fortunately, though, the U.S. has vast powers of eavesdropping and banking surveillance that it can and must use against this “old adversary”: Iran. Imagine Bill Kristol delivering this “report” on Iran and try to identify how it would have been any different.
Strangely absent from top-line films these days are movies that shred apart our false and highly dangerous pretensions that have been laid bare to the rest of the world since the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. The fictions feeding our drive to an insane war against Iran are worthy of a film as scathingly scary yet outrageously funny as Kubrick’s.
Maybe it is impossible to get a film about this made, as the role of Israel and their extremely strangelovian Prime Minister would be integral to the plot line.
What are your ideas on a basic screenplay and characters for this long-past-due dark comedy into the underbelly of our out-of-control war machine?
And – who would play Hillary Clinton? At TheCallUp‘s diary on Clinton’s strangelovian statement, when I asked that question, AlternateID suggested “Danny DeVito.”