Wednesday, July 07, 2010


The roster of movies on TV over the July 4th weekend was so cheap and dire that, despite hundreds of bloody channels, some wee hour of – I think – Sunday night found me starring at Rambo III, and grimly noting between explosions how much the world has changed since 1988. Back then, cinema audiences applauded as the tortured but invincible John Rambo aided valiant Afghan rebels – presumably the mujahedeen, although not actually named – fighting the cruel and godless communists. In the modern world where the US and its allies have been blundering around Afghanistan in bad body armor for almost a decade, with grunts dying and generals being fired, the irony of time’s passage was all too evident, even in the cheesy dialogue.

Mousa: This is Afghanistan... Alexander the Great try to conquer this country... then Genghis Khan, then the British. Now Russia. But Afghan people fight hard, they never be defeated. Ancient enemy make prayer about these people... you wish to hear?
Rambo: Um-hum.
Mousa: Very good. It says, 'May God deliver us from the venom of the Cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghan.' Understand what this means?
Rambo: That you guys don't take any shit?
Mousa: Yes... something like this.

And yet his pop-illiterate summation of the situation at the top of the world, where the landscape and mindset resemble Mars and the 12th century respectively, is as close to the truth as anything that has come out of either the Bush or Obama White House. The US will doubtless join roster of the Macedonians, the Mongols and the Brits as strangers who misadventured in this strange but historically formidable land. And yet the poor bloody Afghans are sitting on a mineral bonanza (and also the capability for producing some of the best hashish and opium known to man) which if properly exploited might coax them at least a little way in the direction of the 21st century. Mousa, however, has an answer for that.

Mousa: God must love crazy people.
Rambo: Why?
Mousa: He make so many of them!

But shall we leave the last word to Stallone?

Colonel Trautman: I'm sorry I got you into this Johnny.
Rambo: No you're not.

Click here for The Who

The secret word is Hapless

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