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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Europe wants a Batman...Obama Ain't Him...

In a much earlier post, I did an analysis ("The Nature of the Threat") of the film “The Dark Knight” as an allegory to the war on terror, and a particularly good one:

"To see The Dark Knight as anything OTHER than a pro-war on terror film takes some pretty fancy mental gymnastics. The funny thing is that it is not pro-war or war-on-terror out of some ideological partisanship, but an understanding of common sense, history, and human nature. The characters of Batman and the Joker were written long before the War on Terror, or Bush, or Bin Ladin, and the struggle they represent is as old as history, but they fit so well already to our modern issues.

Batman is born in a society which has become rotten to the core, where criminals run amok due to both their ruthlessness and avarice, and the corruption of the state, which refuses to reign in them out of fear or in complicity.

In short, they support one another in preying on the citizenry, with no one able to stop them.Batman is necessary because there is no one else; no one who is in “official” authority can or will do anything either of fear or self-interest or both.”

I loved the film although the very ending, with Batman agreeing to take the rap for the murder of those killed by Two Face, did not sit well with me. I did not get the ending at first, but upon subsequent viewing and reflection, I began to understand the point.

As I alluded to in that post, the problem Batman runs into when trying to defeat the Joker is that the fear he generated among criminals has been eclipsed by the white faced psychopath:

"Salvatore Maroni: No one's gonna tell you anything. They're wise to your act. You got rules. The Joker, he's got no rules. No one's gonna cross him for you. You want this guy, you got one way. And you already know what that is. Just take off that mask and let him come find you. Or do you want to let a couple more people get killed while you make up your mind?"

As I wrote:

"In order to truly combat such a demon, Batman cannot operate by all the rules of society, even one that was less corrupt and more capable than his. The Joker operates so far out of norms of civilization that Batman has two choices; let him do his evil work and accept the losses, or follow him out just far enough out into the darkness to grab his scrawny little neck and drag him in."

This post came right back to mind when I came across an interview of Victor Davis Hanson conducted by Michael Totten, the very end of which COMPLETELY validates the metaphor of the film:

"I had an interesting conversation two years ago just before Obama's election with some military people in Versailles. They were at a garden party, and everybody was for Obama. But an admiral said to me, "We are Obama. You can't be Obama."

Everybody looked at him. And I said, "What do you mean?"

He said, "There's only room for one Obama."

I said, "So we're supposed to do what? Take out Iran while you trash us?"

And he said, "Right out of my mouth. I couldn't have said it better. Bush understood our relationship. We have to make accommodations with our public, which is lunatic. You don't really believe there's going to be an EU strike force, do you? Nobody here believes that. If you become neutral, what are we supposed to do?"

At the end of The Dark Knight, Batman takes the rap for killing people he did not because he realizes that by doing so, not only does he preserve a sense of hope for Gotham who won't see their Golden Boy Harvey Dent corrupted, but because he regains the sense of fear and dread among the criminals who had come to view Batman as the lesser of possible evils.

Europe wants us to be the bad guy, to be the Batman, because we have the means to fight the bad guys, the aggressive attitude they seem to have lost, and because they don't want to get their hands dirty, to be the bad guy. They want the security that comes from a Dark Knight prowling the streets and back-alleys, roughing up the criminals and psychos, but they don't want to assume the risk to either body or reputation that entails.

I guess that would make this Admiral a Commissioner Gordon of sorts, who knows the threat and what is needed to deal with it, but needs to deal with the public and politicians who want their city safe and quiet, but don't want any of the ugliness and politically incorrect trouble that results when fighting monsters.

The Joker understood this even better than genius Bruce Wayne:

"The Joker: Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.

Batman: Where's Dent?
The Joker: You have all these rules, and you think they'll save you."

Europe wants the ability to treat Americans as rogue cowboy yahoo neanderthals they are superior to, even as we keep the psychos off their throats. We foot the bill, in blood and cash, take the wrath of the collective world over our "brutality", even as we keep the really brutal from storming the gates to rape and murder at will.

Hat's off to that Admiral for having the guts to say what he did, but the problem remains that the farce we are part of will end in disaster. As Hanson states at the very end:

"I was surprised at his candor. And it's worrisome. On the one hand I like it because they're getting just what they asked for, but on the other hand, it's tragic. And it's dangerous. We shouldn't be doing this."

No, we should not, because it is not sustainable, and at some point the European populace* will need to man and pony up or we will all pay a heavy price. That means bolstering their military expenditures, authorizing their armed forces for more serious and sustained missions, and taking some of the heat, or learning to ignore it, when things get rough.

David S. Goyer and Christopher Are credited with the story, and Chris and brother Jonathan Nolan wrote the screenplay for Dark Knight. The more you peel back the layers on this script, the more astounding it is.

Freakin' brilliant.

*There are European men and women with their asses in the field, fighting or at least helping with the war against terror. This statement does not dimish their efforts and sacrifices, but calls upon their governments and population to treat with more seriousness and honor the job they do with money, respect and support.

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