Munich, American Sniper & Homeland all offer insights into the Middle East and terrorism

The fictional character of Quinn on the Showtime Drama Homeland provides an analysis of Syria so accurate that it even had Rush Limbaugh commenting about it on his radio program.


CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 11, 2015 – Every now and then Hollywood and television manage to present an accurate representation of what is happening in the world. And when they do, it should make viewers sit up and take notice.

More often than not, the “Hollywoodized” version of a story gets in the way and distorts, whether intentionally or not, the message in order to make a statement.

american-sniper-f9fcfa2aa3555859Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” though controversial, was a critically acclaimed biographical war drama about the memoir of Chris Kyle. Kyle’s book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” was published in 2012.

It describes the Navy Seal’s four tours of duty in Iraq, where he recorded 160 enemy kills.

Among his honors, Kyle received two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and a multitude of other personal awards.

There can be no diminishing of Chris Kyle’s dedication, commitment and contributions to the cause against global terrorism. On the other hand, watching the film dramatically points out the weaknesses of American and Western strategies to combat Islamic jihad.

During his four tours, Kyle personally sent 160 terrorists to paradise to savor the pleasures of 72 awaiting virgins. Though the number is large in personal terms, it is also infinitesimally small when you consider the overall picture. And, in the end, despite Kyle’s bravery and efforts, they did not really amount to much in the way of eradicating terrorism from the global stage.

MUNICHIn a sense, the story Eastwood told was a great feel-good episode about the exploits of one man, but it also reinforced the futility of the challenges we face in dealing with Islamic extremism.

Another film, “Munich,” directed by Steven Spielberg in 2005, recounts the story of Jewish retaliation for the kidnapping and deaths of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics.

In the middle of the film, a scene takes place between the characters Avner and Ali, two members of the team that has been assembled to kill the assassins.

Scriptwriters Tony Kushner and Eric Roth make a powerful statement that accurately explains the complexity of the war on terror. In this instance, referring to the confrontation between Israel and Palestine:

Ali: “Eventually the Arab states will rise against Israel. They don’t like Palestinians but they hate Jews more. It won’t be like 1967. The rest of the world will by then see what the Israelis do to us. They won’t help when Egypt and Syria attack. Even Jordan. Israel will cease to exist.”

Avner: “This is a dream. You can’t take back a country you never had. I’m the voice inside your head telling you what you already know. You people have nothing to bargain with. You’ll never get your land back. You’ll die old men in refugee camps waiting for Palestine.”

Ali: “It will take a hundred years, but we’ll win. How long did it take the Jews to get their own country? How long did it take the Germans to make Germany?”

Avner: “And look how well that worked out.”

All of which sets the stage for a scene of riveting commentary in the first episode of the new season of “Homeland” last week.

What is amazing about the program is its eerie sense of timeliness. This season’s fictional dramatizations will reference the killings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris as well as several other recent events.

Perhaps more uncanny was dialogue in Episode #1, in which one character mentioned Syrian refugees who are infiltrating Western Europe. When you consider that the show is filmed many months prior to the actual broadcast dates, it is remarkable the producers could be so up-to-date.

The ultimate salvo, however, came very early in the program, when the character of Peter Quinn is brought in to give a briefing on what is taking place in Syria.

Quinn’s analysis is so accurate that it even had Rush Limbaugh commenting about it on his radio program.

From the script by Chip Johanneson and Ted Mann, here is the crux of the scene from “Separation Anxiety“:

Quinn: “I’ve been heading up a team of special ops (in Syria) more or less continuously for the past 28 months. We’ve been busy.”

Crocker: “What the hell is actually going on over there?”

Quinn: “A handful of enemy dead here. Another handful there. I honestly have no idea what it all adds up to.”

Crocker: “The program has been effective, sir. I believe it should be continued.”

Quinn: “You do? Assad is still in power. ISIL is still growing. Are we really getting anywhere in Syria?”

Crocker: “I’m asking, is our strategy working?”

Quinn: “What strategy? Tell me what the strategy is. I’ll tell you if it’s working. See, that right there is the problem. Because they, they have a strategy. They’re gathering right now in Raqqa by the tens of thousands. Hidden in the civilian population. Cleaning their weapons. And they know exactly why they’re there. Why is that? They call it the end times. What do you think the beheadings are about? The crucificxions in Deir Hafer? The revival of slavery? You think they make this up? It’s all in the book. The only book they ever read. They read it all the time. They never stop. They’re there for one reason and one reason only. To die for the caliphate and usher in a world without infidels. That’s their strategy. And it’s been that way since the seventh century. So, do you really think that a few special forces teams are gonna put a dent in that?”

Enough said. We are making a part-time effort to combat a full-time problem. Now if we could only get the Obama administration to watch and, more to the point, listen.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

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