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Political correctness on the silver screen

When censorship becomes ridiculous.

Paul Kindlon

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More and more people are using the term ‘whitewashing’ to describe the practice of casting white
actors as non-white characters. Initially the criticism made sense. For example, Othello really
should be a black actor not some bloke in dark face especially nowadays when there is an
excess of highly-gifted black actors.

Despite his brilliance, I was aghast years ago watching Sir Lawrence Olivier portray the bard’s character on film. It was a travesty and just plain wrong on so many levels. But there are many cases when it simply doesn’t matter what the ethnicity of the actor is because it is not relevant. Case in point… If you follow news about the entertainment industry or are simply a film buff you probably ran
across the following story recently:

“British actor Ed Skrein has pulled out of a role in the upcoming Hellboy reboot after a backlash
because he was cast as a character of Asian heritage.” This is courtesy of BBC. Just think about that for a minute. An actor has decided not to portray a character because he is not of the same ethnic heritage as a comic-book character. This is a slippery PC slope. Very slippery.

For if we are consistent in our belief (and logic) then it only follows that the role of Hamlet should never again be portrayed by a British actor because Hamlet was Danish. All of the historical plays and movies about the Romans must have Italians and not Shakespearean actors from Britain. Caesar must be Italian. Romeo and Juliet also. Nothing against Italian actors, but shouldn’t directors choose actors based upon talent and not ethnicity if the ethnicity is not an obvious requirement for the story?
This is PC overreach and it borders on outright lunacy.

Let’s be absolutely clear…

We are not talking about real-life people being portrayed here. The film Hellboy is based on a
fictional superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The characters in the film are simply
comic- book figures! Are we to ban further Star Trek re-makes until someone who is actually
half human and half Vulcan can be found to play the part of Spock?

Likewise no further movies about Superman should be produced until and when contact is made
with an alien civilization for as everyone knows “Clark Kent” was not a human being, but a
visitor from far away in the cosmos. Hopefully aliens will have developed their own civilization to the point where acting is an integral and advanced part of their culture.

Shall we ride this PC train all the way? Then the next time a film is made about Jesus Christ – as
a cultured man with modern sensibilities – I demand the real thing – the son of God Himself.
And when miracles are performed the studios won’t need any special effects. Think of the
money they’ll save.

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Helga Fellay
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Helga Fellay

what a silly article. The author seems to want to continue racism in Hollywood which runs rampant. The roles to play Black characters should go to Black actors, and the roles of Asian characters should go to Asian actors, and so forth. This is not over the top political correctness, it simply is the right thing to do. There are more than plenty of examples of ridiculous political correctness the author could have chosen, but this is not one of them.

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

Why doesn’t this work the other way where you have white characters going to black actors, like in the many Marvel movies?

Why the double standard?

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Actually there are a few enlightened and creative thinkers in Hollywood who have given roles written for men to women (if I recall correctly, Demi Moore’s role in A Few Good Men was actually written for a man). If it hasn’t happened yet, I am sure that eventually it will happen that a white character, unless race is of the essence for the plot, will be played by men of another ethnicity. Keep in mind that Hollywood is not leading in the Zeitgeist, and is lagging way behind the prevailing culture when it comes to enlightenment and creativity. Hollywood is… Read more »

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

It has happened to predominately and long established Caucasian characters in the Marvel Comics, now in the Marvel Movies, such as Col. Nick Fury, The Kingpin, Ned Leeds, etc.

And now it is not proper for a Caucasian to play an Asian American?

I wonder how you do not see the hypocrisy (and therefore an alternate agenda) in these actions.

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

I have never read comics in my life and have no idea to what you are referring. Highly talented Asian actors are sitting around unemployed in Hollywood, and when the very rare opportunity of playing an Asian character comes along, that character should be played by one of the many underemployed or unemployed Asian actors. That’s the right thing to do. Your own personal sentimental fantasy attachments of white guys playing Asians in comics are your own personal issues – adjustments you have to make – grow up and deal with it!

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

I listed the names, that you can simply google, instead of having no idea to what I am referring to.

According to you, proving hypocrisy by pointing out specific double standards is an adjustment that I need to make, by growing up and dealing with it.

Hmm? I didn’t know that hypocrisy by employing double standards can be cured that way? Thank you for that:)

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

A movie isn’t a piece of socially responsible equal rights activity. It’s to make money in the first instance, and to mind manipulate via CIA and Pentagon operatives, in the second. There should be total freedom to cast whomever the director wants. If he wants to cast a blackened white man to play a leader of black uprising in Hawaii, he should be able to. The fact that everyone will laugh at the movie, give it a thumbs down, and he’ll lose money and status will be his just reward!!! And if he doesn’t, and it’s a success, well, it… Read more »

Seán Murphy
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Seán Murphy

I always laugh when I see obviously Caucasian actors playing “Indians” in Western movies. Most of these old Westerns, up until the sixties, featured white actors in such roles. One badly miscast was Burt Lancaster as an “Indian Chief”. And can anyone forget John Wayne as the Roman centurion, with his drawling American accent saying, “He was truly the son of gad”. Before any pedant attacks me, I know this latter was not a Western.

Manimal
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Manimal

And John Wayne in “The conqueror”? 🙂

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Why?
Marlon Brando playing a Japanese in “The Teahouse of the August Moon” was quite a performance. Couldn’t recognize him almost to the movie’s end.comment imagecomment image

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

We have to remember that much of Hollywood casting is done purely with an eye to the box office. Simply put, if you can get Tom Cruise – who will pull in a huge audience, thus increase your ratings and takings – why would you give his part to someone who is, yes, more “racially” appropriate, but perhaps lacking his high name and presence. Even perhaps a racially appropriate someone never heard of – knowing it will lose you audience appeal and thus money?? Hollywood is all about CIA and Pentagon propaganda, and money, and mind manipulation. Racism has nothing… Read more »

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

“Othello really should be a black actor” Why? William Shakespeare’s character Othello is described as “Moor”. The Moors or Berbers were the ancient population of the actual Morocco, who were not black. Peter Ackroyd, author of Shakespeare’ Biography, wrote, “It is a mistake to consider Othello to be of African or West Indian origin. He was of Moorish stock, olive-skinned, and Shakespeare portrays him as ‘black’ or “swarthy” for the purposes of theatrical emphasis and symbolism.” It is believed that the ambassador ben Messaoud of the Moroccan king at the court of Queen Elisabeth I of England, inspired the character… Read more »

Helga Fellay
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Helga Fellay

You are absolutely correct. Othello was a North African, Arab or Berber, of olive complexion, and probably very handsome. As the English of Shakespeare’s time favored fair skin over darker tones, they would have considered him less handsome. But in order for the plot to make sense, Othello had to be perceived as ugly, so they decided to make him coal black. Othello doubted Desdemona’s love for him because how could such a beautiful woman love him, the ugly Moor? The concept of racism did not as yet exist at that time. That’s why the play Othello is somewhat problematic… Read more »

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

I don’ recall from Shakespeare’s play that Othello was described as ugly. On the contrary, as a very manly, proud and victorious general, fighting for the glory of Venice. From my childhood favorite book, ‘Tales from Shakespeare’, by Charles and Mary Lamb: “the noble Moor wanted nothing which might recommend him to the affections of the greatest lady. He was a soldier, and a brave one; and by his conduct in bloody wars against the Turks, had risen to the rank of general in the Venetian service, and was esteemed and trusted by the state.” Her father loved me; oft… Read more »

Helga Fellay
Guest
Helga Fellay

Of course Othello was not described as “ugly.” I think he was described as dark and swarthy, which translates to the audience of the time as not attractive. The entire plot makes no sense if you can’t accept that basic premise. Othello would never had doubted his devoted and loving wife unless he had accepted that he, a dark and swarthy man, could never really be loved by that beautiful woman. Don’t you get that?

Odidi
Guest
Odidi

LOL this buffoonery continues I am in stitches! You all think you are so intellectual but this says intellectually challenged,

englishvinal
Guest
englishvinal

Go away! You are ill educated and arrogant…what a disgusting combination.
Take a hike, read a book, educate yourself.

Edmund burke326
Guest
Edmund burke326

The original inhabitants of northern Africa looked as the Tawergha and other native tribes today in Libya and throughout the north of Africa, they were not Arabs (who are invaders to Africa). Berbers and other tribes, after the invasions by the Arabs, either moved down to eastern Africa (though not entirely) or were wiped out or enslaved. The west has always supported the narrative that northern Africa is Arab territory. Theresa May can’t get enough Arab money. The West Indies is a colonial creation populated by people of various ethnicities including African, British, European and Asian on numerous islands, it’s… Read more »

Daisy Adler
Guest
Daisy Adler

Morocco Ambassador to Great Britain in the 17th century:comment image

Odidi
Guest
Odidi

No they were not. You are imaging your entire ignorant racist rant. Why people like you even dare to humiliate yourself by actually making it public is beyond me. The Duran is not a space for this kind of juvenile stupidity. Use the internet for more than propagating your hate and actually research and learn something besides affirming duplicitous inferiority complex. Clearly Africans are only the colour black to you. LOL what buffoonery, I’d be embarrassed

englishvinal
Guest
englishvinal

Good heavens Odidi… You wouldn’t have some kind of “dark skin” would you?…’
Read some history just for the fun of it…Daisy is correct, regarding Shakespeare writing about Othello…. You have just made a racist fool of yourself!

Punisher 1
Guest
Punisher 1

They did something like that in the Hollow Crown. Where they had black actors play a Queen of England. And a high noble warrior relative of a King.They did a great job in acting the parts.No complaints about that. But it was so historically inaccurate that it badly deflected from those parts in the movie. But there is another point involved. That is done for PC reasons involving European or European American people. It would never be turned around. Can anyone imagine the horror and fury unleashed if a studio was to announce a movie on the life of Mandela… Read more »

Aleksandar Tomić
Guest
Aleksandar Tomić

Alright then, i want for Idris Elba to stop playing Heimdall in MCU.

Christinamellis
Guest
Christinamellis

Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family!!!
On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
>>>http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash320TopValue/GetPay$97/Hour………

Manimal
Guest
Manimal

Why? Just a Norse guy who spent too much time in the sun… 😉

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

Don’t you dare joke about it:) Those indoctrinated the West take things literally and do not seem to understand the concept of irony.

Manimal
Guest
Manimal

Good :-).
I like them pissed off.

Le Ruse
Guest
Le Ruse

Political correctness, is virus, that’s killing the mankind &… Womankind as well, of course ??..comment image

Odidi
Guest
Odidi

This article/opinion is amateurish and juvenile. The Duran can and does do so much better than this waste of space. There are far too many Asian actors were overlooked for the role and smacks of laziness, ignorance just bigotry. Don’t claim authenticity and professional standards if every role is gonna be played by a Caucasian Anglo-Saxon including female roles! Yes its a whitewash and to Le Ruse. I’d like to see the day you conceive and give birth to life. Womankind is the only reason there is mankind. The Duran can do so much better than this please!

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

The Duran are doing better since inception, and continue to do so.

Odidi
Guest
Odidi

Thats is what I said in my first dentence
But this article is racist buffoonery, in my opinion, an error.Mistakes happen even to the. Best intentioned. Ye of blind faith “Question More”

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

Uhh, no.

englishvinal
Guest
englishvinal

Go away!

Odidi
Guest
Odidi

Not a chance!
The Duran is of a better pedigree than this and I am a loyal follower who does not take to juvenile petulance as expressed by you. You stand down!

Latest

President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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Empire Of Absurdity: Recycled Neocons, Recycled Enemies

Despite America’s military threats, bellicose speechifying, brutal sanctions, and Cold War-style conflict-framing, the incumbent Maduro seems firmly in control. 

Antiwar

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By

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen (ret.) via AntiWar.com:


There are times when I wish that the United States would just drop the charade and declare itself a global empire.

As a veteran of two imperial wars, a witness to the dark underside of America’s empire-denial, I’ve grown tired of the equivocation and denials from senior policymakers. The U.S. can’t be an empire, we’re told, because – unlike the Brits and Romans – America doesn’t annex territories outright, and our school children don’t color its colonies in red-white-and-blue on cute educational maps.

But this distinction, at root, is rather superficial. Conquest, colonization, and annexation are so 19th century – Washington has moved beyond the overt and engages in the (not-so) subtle modern form of imperialism. America’s empire over the last two decades – under Democrats and Republicans – has used a range of tools: economic, military, political, to topple regimes, instigate coups, and starve “enemy” civilians. Heck, it didn’t even start with 9/11 – bullying foreigners and overturning uncooperative regimes is as American as apple pie.

Still, observing post-9/11, post-Iraq/Afghanistan defeat, Washington play imperialism these days is tragicomically absurd. The emperor has no clothes, folks. Sure, America (for a few more fleeting years) boasts the world’s dominant economy, sure its dotted the globe with a few hundred military bases, and sure it’s military still outspends the next seven competitors combined. Nonetheless, what’s remarkable, what constitutes the real story of 2019, is this: the US empire can’t seem to accomplish anything anymore, can’t seem to bend anybody to its will. It’s almost sad to watch. America, the big-hulking has-been on the block, still struts its stuff, but most of the world simply ignores it.

Make no mistake, Washington isn’t done trying; it’s happy to keep throwing good money (and blood) at bad: to the tune of a cool $6 trillion, 7,000 troop deaths, and 500,000 foreign deaths – including maybe 240,000 civilians. But what’s it all been for? The world is no safer, global terror attacks have only increased, and Uncle Sam just can’t seem to achieve any of its preferred policy goals.

Think on it for a second: Russia and Iran “won” in Syria; the Taliban and Pakistan are about ready to “win” in Afghanistan; Iran is more influential than ever in Iraq; the Houthis won’t quit in Yemen; Moscow is keeping Crimea; Libya remains unstable; North Korea ain’t giving up its nukes; and China’s power continues to grow in its version of the Caribbean – the South China Sea. No amount of American cash, no volume of our soldiers’ blood, no escalation in drone strikes or the conventional bombing of brown folks, has favorably changed the calculus in any of these regional conflicts.

What does this tell us? Quite a lot, I’d argue – but not what the neoliberal/neoconservative alliance of pundits and policymakers are selling. See for these unrepentant militarists the problem is always the same: Washington didn’t use enough force, didn’t spend enough blood and treasure. So is the solution: more defense spending, more CIA operations, more saber-rattling, and more global military interventions.

No, the inconvenient truth is as simple as it is disturbing to red-blooded patriots. To wit, the United States – or any wannabe hegemon – simply doesn’t possess the capability to shape the world in its own image. See those pesky locals – Arabs, Asians, Muslims, Slavs – don’t know what’s good for them, don’t understand that (obviously) there is a secret American zipped inside each of their very bodies, ready to burst out if given a little push!

It turns out that low-tech, cheap insurgent tactics, when combined with impassioned nationalism, can bog down the “world’s best military” indefinitely. It seems, too, that other regional heavyweights – Russia, China, Iran, North Korea – stand ready to call America’s nuclear bluff. That they know the US all-volunteer military and consumerist economy can’t ultimately absorb the potential losses a conventional war would demand. Even scarier for the military-industrial-congressional-media establishment is the logical extension of all this accumulated failure: the questionable efficacy of military force in the 21st century.

Rather than recognize the limits of American military, economic, and political power, Bush II, Obama, and now Trump, have simply dusted off the old playbook. It’s reached the level of absurdity under the unhinged regime of Mr. Trump. Proverbially blasting Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” as its foreign policy soundtrack, the Donald and company have doubled down. Heck, if Washington can’t get its way in Africa, Europe, Asia, or the Mideast, well why not clamp down in our own hemisphere, our traditional sphere of influence – South and Central America.

Enter the lunacy of the current Venezuela controversy. Trump’s team saw a golden opportunity in this socialist, backwater petrostate. Surely here, in nearby Monroe Doctrine country, Uncle Sam could get his way, topple the Maduro regime, and coronate the insurgent (though questionably legitimate) Juan Guaido. It’s early 20th century Yankee imperialism reborn. Everything seemed perfect. Trump could recall the specter of America’s tried and true enemy – “evil” socialism – cynically (and absurdly) equating Venezuelan populism with some absurd Cold-War-era existential threat to the nation. The idea that Venezuela presents a challenge on the scale of Soviet Russia is actually farcical. What’s more, and this is my favorite bit of irrationality, we were all recently treated to a game of “I know you are but what am I?” from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who (with a straight face) claimed Cuba, tiny island Cuba, was the real “imperialist” in Venezuela.

Next, in a move reminiscent of some sort of macabre 1980’s theme party, Trump resuscitated Elliot Abrams – you know, the convicted felon of Iran-Contra infamy, to serve as Washington’s special envoy to embattled Venezuela. Who better to act as “fair arbiter” in that country than a war-criminal with the blood of a few hundred thousand Central Americans (remember the Contras?!?) on his hands back in the the good old (Reagan) days.

Despite all this: America’s military threats, bellicose speechifying, brutal sanctions, and Cold War-style conflict-framing, the incumbent Maduro seems firmly in control. This isn’t to say that Venezuelans don’t have genuine grievances with the Maduro government (they do), but for now at least, it appears the military is staying loyal to the president, Russia/China are filling in the humanitarian aid gaps, and Uncle Sam is about to chalk up another loss on the world scene. Ultimately, whatever the outcome, the crisis will only end with a Venezuelan solution.

America’s impotence would almost be sad to watch, if, and only if, it wasn’t all so tragic for the Venezuelan people.

So Trump and his recycled neocons will continue to rant and rave and threaten Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and so on and so forth. America will still flex its aging, sagging muscles – a reflexive habit at this point.

Only now it’ll seem sad. Because no one is paying attention anymore.

The opposite of love is isn’t hate – it’s indifference.

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.comHe served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

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