Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Quiet American

I finished Greene's "The Quiet American."

It's pretty amazing. I also saw the movie, which is very forgettable, but in which Frasier does an excellent job of playing the role to which he is easily cast: innocent American buffoon with ideas of liberation by bombs.

For those who do not know, the book takes place in Vietnam in the 50's, when the communists fought the French. Fowler is a British journalist who lives with and loves a native Vietnamese girl. Along comes the American Pyle, who competes with Fowler for the girl while bringing freedom to the Vietnamese. Pyle's character and deeds take more than a few sentences to capture. He is idealistic, bookish, and moral. He works for an American agency (CIA is never spelled out exactly), and imports bombs to be used to overthrow the communists. As Pyle and Fowler struggle over the girl, new and old colonists struggle over Vietnam.

It is as fitting today as it was in 1954.

I've never really appreciated something that, when seen, is patently obvious. Bush is a proselytizer. Freedom and democracy is his religion. Like Pyle, he is short on ideas and intellect, takes his cue from others, but knows what is RIGHT. Freedom is right. Furthermore, he knows how to make things RIGHT, and has the power to do so. Even worse, he has no doubt. A few dead Iraqis are worth a free country. If that is so, then a few more are worth a free country. And if that is so, then...

And that is what makes him dangerous.

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