Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently, at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!
– Rudyard Kipling “The Ballad of East and West
All my working life I have been a salesman, albeit selling livestock, real estate, aircraft, mining and farming equipment and advertising in my livestock magazines and so it was, with this background, that I came to be so disturbed about what I was seeing whilst watching George Clooneys latest movie Syriana.
Whilst the credits at the end say much was fictional, it was nonetheless based on real life experiences of a former CIA operative, Robert Baer, who’s experiences covered a whole range of shenanigans across the Middle East and are included in his book “See No Evil”.
As the plot unfolds, and myriad characters come and go in establishing the story, if I put myself back a couple of paces, and use experiences and observations made over 43 years of both selling and mixing with high flyers in big business, I became more and more depressed.
The character played by Christopher Plummer of an aging, rose garden loving wheeler dealer was particularly chilling and I wonder how many of his ilk exist in the shady backrooms of politics, many no doubt connected through oil and drug industry to the front line of politics.
What the movie did was yet again expose the duplicity of both the United States business and government people and their sycophants across the Middle East and their underlying creation of mayhem for commercial advantage.
The movie also shows the other side where poor, imported labour, in this case from Pakistan, is ripe for the plucking by Islamic ideological zealots who have no compulsion about converting them from down trodden people to the stage where they willingly give their lives “for the cause”.
I believe George Cooney, and his directors, need a great clap of applause for having had the guts to make two movies such as Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck and having made (hopefully) people think again about just what makes this world tick.
At the funeral of Mrs Coretta Scott King, US Senator, and no doubt Presidential hopeful in 2008, Mrs Hilary Clinton said “ FDR said that there was nothing to fear except fear itself. Our Government (and you can include Australia’s and Britain in that too) runs on spreading fear in the community”.
How true that is and through movies such as these I am hopeful that the ordinary people who make up a nation can see what is happening and start to ask awkward questions of their politicians and not be satisfied until full answers are forthcoming.
Here in Australia and overseas in the USA, Britain etc., we pride ourselves on so called “free press” and yet all these mentioned Governments have implemented, in the name of fighting terrorism (when in fact more people are killed on the roads each year), measures that erode away the tenets of individual freedom and expression that we have had as the yardstick of our societies.
I listened with great interest to a Radio Australia broadcast yesterday as I was travelling Sydney auctioneering and it had to do with the BBC series The Power of Nightmares that is currently being shown here on SBS television.
The discussion centred on the enormous growth of the internet in China where there are currently some 110 million people on line (tipped to be 130 million by 2010) as against America’s 115 million.
Given the philosophical direction that the Chinese Government has come from, I can well imagine the number of overdone Dim Sums there as the bureaucrats come to grips with this conundrum.
One of those being interview was a member of the Independent Chinese Pen, a group of writers who use the internet as the means to express their opinions and who fairly regularly gain the wrath of “Big Brother”, a move no doubt aided by the rolling over of such corporations as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems and their supplying of internet user information to the Government (back to my salesman par again eh??).
Edmund Burke, the 18th century British libertarian wrote “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” and to me, nowhere is this more important than with the current crop of governments in the western world.
The spirit of Syriana is well and truly alive and sadly, and shamefully, Australia has joined that band through the AWB bribes scandal – once again salesman gone off the rails!