Three Kings

2006-10-15

in Bombs and rockets, Films and movies

Tonight, I watched Kai’s copy of the film Three Kings. I remember the advertisements portraying it as some sort of comedy; at best, it is a pretty dark satire. The point it makes indirectly and well is that the on-the-ground realities of warfare can be starkly different from the press conference versions generally presented to us.

The odd thing about the film is the way in which it plays with your sympathies: there is certainly some for the reservists (part time baggage handlers, those who never finished high school, etc). There is plenty for the general populace of Iraq. Saddam and the first President Bush are only ever in the background, each presenting as truth things that have nothing to do with the immediate reality of the film: Saddam has his smiling portraits everywhere, Bush provided the printed sheets or orders the American soldiers wave at Iraqi troops and civilians from time to time.

While the film is, in many ways, unrealistic it manages to convey a truthful message about human greed and brutality. It becomes harder to hold liberal values when the reality of how imperfectly that are applied in many circumstances is revealed.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous October 15, 2006 at 12:47 am

As I recall, the film is also something of a primer for those hoping to learn the differences between CS gas, CN gas (used in Mace), and Oleoresin Capsicum

Milan October 15, 2006 at 12:52 am

The film only involves CS gas, but we can continue along that vein.

Chemical weapons are certainly a depressing thing to read about. For instance:

The chemist Ranajit Ghosh discovered the V-series nerve agents at the Government research establishment at Porton Down, England in 1952; VX was passed over in favour of continuing with sarin as their chemical weapon of choice. The United Kingdom unilaterally renounced chemical and biological weapons in 1956. In 1958 the British government traded their research on VX technology with the United States of America in exchange for information on thermonuclear weapons. The US then went into production of large amounts of VX in 1961.

The problem of warfare is one that we really need to deal with. At least VX is no longer used by the United States:

The US later destroyed all of its stockpiles of the deadly nerve agent (by incineration at Johnston Island in the South Pacific), as mandated by the US accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Post-treaty disposal included the US Army’s CHASE (Cut Holes And Sink ‘Em) program, in which old ships were filled with chemical weapons stockpiles and then scuttled. CHASE 8 was conducted on June 15, 1967, in which the S.S. Cpl. Eric G. Gibson was filled with 7,380 VX rockets and scuttled in 7,200 feet of water, off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The long-term environmental ramifications of exposing large quantities of VX to seawater and marine life could pose a grave danger, but are ultimately unknown.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the (relatively benign) agents listed in the comment above, but it is something about which I have been reading.

R.K. October 15, 2006 at 1:28 am

It becomes harder to hold liberal values when the reality of how imperfectly that are applied in many circumstances is revealed.

I do not see how this matters. It is the basic dignity and equality of people that is the foundation of liberalism. That may be violated all the time, but it does not weaken the ideal.

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