Saturday, January 05, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Madame Cura and I saw it last week.  It is riveting.  It is, in the first -- and last -- 30 minutes, deeply uncomfortable.  But, as Mark Bowden writes in The Atlantic, it was not "pro-torture."

In this broader sense, Zero Dark Thirty is remarkably true. The hunt for bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders began with efforts that were clumsy, costly, and cruel. We wrongly invaded Iraq, for instance. We stupidly embraced a regime of torture in our military prisons. Some of the steps we took were tragic and are likely to endure as national embarrassments. But tactics, priorities, personnel, and even administrations changed over those years. The nation learned how to fight this new enemy intelligently. Through it all, the search for bin Laden proceeded with bureaucracy's unique talent for obduracy. This isn't as sexy or dramatic as watching Jessica Chastain paling before the stink and blood of rough interrogation, a red-tressed Ahab pursuing her white whale through bullets, bombs, and boneheaded bosses ... but it stays within the lines. 

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