CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 10, 2018: In 2008, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe teamed up to star in “Body of Lies” based on the 2007 novel of the same name by David Ignatius.
In “Body of Lies”directed by Ridley Scott, Ed Hoffman, a CIA agent, played by Crowe, delivers a somewhat lengthy monologue in the first five minutes of the film. It sums up virtually everything an American needs to know about the on-going war on terrorism.
Hoffman’s words in “Body of Lies” are so profound and yet so simple in context that that one scene ought to be required viewing for every member of Congress.
While briefing a couple of upper level intelligence operatives, Hoffman says, “What we’re dealing with here is potentially a global conflagration that requires constant diligence in order to suppress.”
For most Americans that statement is pretty much a given. But that’s when Hoffman gets to the nitty-gritty. “Our enemy has realized that they are fighting guys from the future. It is (as) brilliant as it is infuriating,” says Hoffman matter-of-factly.
“If you live like it’s the past, and you behave like it’s the past then guys from the future find it very hard to see you. If you throw away your cell phone, shut down your e-mail pass all your instructions face-to-face, hand-to-hand turn your back on technology and just disappear into the crowd.”
When you consider the magnitude of Hoffman’s words, his premise is ridiculously simple in scope, yet brilliant in concept.
Much like the Saudi terrorists who hi-jacked four planes on 9/11/01, their plan was, in its own way, pure genius because it did not involve the high technology of a world that has come to rely on computers to solve every crisis.
The United States and several other countries, possess nuclear weapons. But nations with access to such power also realize the devastation they can exert with the push of a button. Hence, for all the contemporary technology and skill the most powerful countries on Earth possess, they are also somewhat handicapped because of them.
In a sense, the farmers and citizens American Revolution who fought against the redcoated British were the terrorists of their day and time. Without using conventional tactics such as marching in formation wearing brightly colored uniforms, the revolutionaries were still successful. That’s because they hid behind rocks and trees and attacked when the enemy least expected it. Or as Ed Hoffman states, “No flags. No Uniforms.”
Hoffman continues, “your friends dress just like your enemies and your enemies dress like your friends. What I need you to fully understand is that these people, they do not wanna negotiate.”
Most Westerners may agree that talking is far better than shooting any day. But Russel Crowe’s CIA agent Hoffman hits the nail squarely on the head when he says that negotiating with terrorists is basically a one-way street. Talking is not a solution, but merely a means of delaying the inevitable. That’s a key concept embedded in “Body of Lies.”
And yet, in real life today, we continue to try to negotiate.
“They [the enemy] want a universal caliphate established across the face of the Earth,” warns Hoffman, “and they want every infidel converted or dead.”
After 1,400 years of radical Islamists espousing the same murderous philosophy, it would seem that someone in power in the West – or anywhere – would grasp the intention of these contemporary Islamists. In doing so, perhaps they might even do something to counter the enemy’s fanatical strength. In reality, the strength of Islamic extremists today lies in the weakness of the Western mindset. More ominously, that weakness is headlined by its inability to come to grips with the idea that terrorists know more about us than we know about ourselves.
In “Body of Lies,” Ed Hoffman concludes his thoughts with a frightening assessment. Says Hoffman,
“What’s changed is that our allegedly unsophisticated enemy has cottoned on to the factually unsophisticated truth we’re an easy target. (emphasis added) We are an easy target. Our world as we think we know it is a lot simpler to extinguish than we might think. We take our foot off the throat of this enemy for one minute and our world changes completely.”
All too often, Americans have a tendency to believe we are the best, brightest, smartest and most savvy country in the world. And in many cases we are. But all too often we are in denial of reality. Perhaps other nations are actually capable of doing things better than we do them. Think of Swiss rail systems, French styles, Italian cuisine, European linguistics, just to name a few. And there are many more.
But does that make us weaker? Hardly. It simply means that we do not have to make ourselves believe we are superior in every field of endeavor.
When it comes to dealing with terrorism, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) gets it exactly right in “Body of Lies.” The West in general and the United States in particular needs to wake up from their delusions. Everything certainly can not be resolved because we are intellectually superior.
We are in denial, and that much cannot be denied.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News.