Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Catharsis

I was initially loathe to report on the reaction that I'm about to describe, but it makes perfect sense to me now.

(Avatar Spoiler Alert #2!)

My favorite scene in Avatar was when the humans destroyed Hometree. I was actually giddy when the Marines coolly unleashed their arsenal at the roots, and I might have started cheering out loud when the tree started to fall, except that there were other people in the theater with the opposite sentiment who might not have appreciated my outburst. (It's a funny thing about recent James Cameron films - the highlight of Titanic was the sinking!)

Obviously I have nothing against a fictional race of tree-dwellers (Yes, I identified with the Indians with Dances with Wolves) so this response is coming from somewhere else. I think the tree-killing scene reminds me of something I wish we had done somewhere around the September 12, 2001 time-frame. Sure, it was satisfying to watch Saddam's statue topple in Baghdad a year and a half later, but it came nowhere close to Old school payback for this:



I think that one of the tragic truths of life is that people keep score, and they know who's winning and who's losing. Pacifists today may rant about the evils of Hiroshima and Dresden, but in the end there was absolutely no doubt about who won and who lost World War II. I don't think it's any coincidence that Japan and Germany - once the two deadliest nations on Earth - haven't harmed a fly in the last 65 years. By contrast, Al Qaeda and its sympathizers haven't suffered any dramatic back-breaking defeats. Sure, it hurts them to have free and democratic governments replacing anarchy and dictatorships, and it doesn't help them when a Predator drone takes out a carload of bad guys, but it doesn't cripple them.

(Before someone comments that Hometree rallied the planet to a victory, let me point out the historical truth that the side who uses the biggest weapons tends to win. A more realistic ending to Avatar - assuming we accept the ludicrous callousness of the humans in this story - would have the Earthlings returning to Pandora with a boatload of no-nonsense nukes and radiation-proof mining equipment.)

I think we're a long way from winning the war that we're currently fighting. We're so far in fact, that half of the people reading this post don't even know that we're in a real global war in the first place. I hope we can win with our relatively low-keyed strategy of planting and supporting democratic governments in Middle Eastern Muslim countries. I fear that it's going to take a great deal more than that, and that we're going to learn this the hard way.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Very Hanson-esque.

And. I'm afraid you're right.