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Even though I am not being particularly fond of Hollywood movies, this is clearly not the case with Ridley Scott’s 2008 film Body of Lies. The reason for this is simple – unlike what it appears to be the case with the rest of Hollywood movies, which tackle the subject of Islamic fundamentalism in an essentially formulaic manner, Scott’s film provides viewers with an in-depth insight into the Islamic fundamentalism’s true causes.
Given the fact that, as of today, more and more people in Western countries become increasingly worried about the fact that they continue to remain vulnerable to the prospect of being targeted by Islamic terrorists, there can be no doubts, as to the earlier mentioned film’s discursive value.
In my paper, I will aim to explore the validity of this thesis at length, while focusing on what I consider the film’s particularly noteworthy aspects, such as: a) the fact that it encourages viewers to assess the significance of Islamic fundamentalism from a discursively innovative perspective, b) the fact that it reveals the Islamic fundamentalism’s actual roots, b) the fact that it shows that the U.S. corrupted politicians do contribute to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
Nowadays, it became a commonplace practice among Western political observers to suggest that an ongoing confrontation between Muslims, on the one hand, and Judeo-Christians, on the other, may be well discussed in terms of a ‘clash of civilizations’. This suggestion, however, cannot be considered as such that represents an undeniable truth-value.
This is because, there are now many good reasons to believe that, while attacking Western ‘infidels’, Islamic terrorists aspire for nothing short of destroying the very idea of secularism (non-religiousness). This idea, however, serves as the actual basis of a continual cultural/technological progress.
In its turn, a cultural/technological progress establishes objective preconditions for people to be able to enjoy a civilized living, in the first place. What it means is that, by opposing the West; Islamic terrorists oppose the values of a civilized living, while acting on behalf of a primeval savagery.
The legitimacy of this statement can be illustrated in regards to the Ridley film’s initial scene, in which the Chief of CIA’s Near East Division Ed Hoffman (Russel Crowe) expounds on what he believed is the foremost challenge of dealing with Islamic terrorists, “Our enemy has realized that they are fighting guys from the future… 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… you turn your back on technology and just disappear into the crowd” (00.05.46).
What it means is that there is indeed very little sense in believing that, because they happened to be culturally and religiously different from highly secularized Westerners, Islamic fanatics act on behalf of a civilization of their own.
What also appears particularly noteworthy about Ridley’s film is the fact that it effectively exposes the erroneousness of the assumption that there are cultural overtones to the Muslim terrorists’ willingness to go as far, as sacrificing their lives, while participating in terrorist attacks against ‘infidels’. There is another memorable scene in the movie, in which the character of Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) asks one of the Al-Qaeda’s former members to explain the reason why he refused to consider the possibility of becoming a ‘martyr’.
The received answer was, “I don’t want to die… I want to go to America. I have a Ph.D., you know? Nobody should say ‘martyr’ to me. Nobody” (00.11.56). This implies that it is specifically their experiences of an extreme poverty, which cause many young Muslims to grow strongly religious, and consequently suicidal. This is because, having no prospects in life, naturally causes them to depreciate the value of their lives.
Yet, it is namely the fact that Muslim countries continue to become ever more overpopulated, which contributes to these countries’ impoverishment more than anything else does. This, of course, suggests that there is nothing ‘innate’ to the Islamic fundamentalists’ strongly defined adherence to the religious dogmas of Islam, and that it is utterly wrong to believe that, once provided with an unrestricted opportunity to celebrate their cultural/religious ‘uniqueness’, they would be less likely to indulge in violence.
While watching Ridley’s film, I also confirmed the validity of my suspicions that, contrary to what the majority of ordinary Americans continue to believe, many of the country’s governmental officials do in fact contribute to the threat of Islamic terrorism becoming increasingly acute. The reason for this is simple – according to the provisions of the U.S. currently deployed foreign policy, such countries as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE are considered the America’s closest allies.
Yet, in light of what has been revealed by WikiLeaks, these countries actively sponsor Islamic terrorist organizations, throughout the world. In fact, it would be thoroughly appropriate to suggest that it is specifically the revenues, generated by the earlier mentioned countries from selling oil, which account for at least 90% of Islamic terrorist organizations’ financing.
In other words, while formally proclaiming the sheer strength of its commitment towards rooting out such terrorist organizations as Al-Qaeda, the U.S. Government continues to support the Gulf states – hence, indirectly contributing to the threat of terrorist attacks taking place on the American soil to remain as high, as ever. The validity of this statement can be shown in relation to the film’s another memorable scene.
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In this scene, Ferris tells his arch enemy Al-Saleem (the head of the Islamic terrorist organization in Jordan) that his organization will be able to operate only for as long, as the deposits of Saudi oil last, “You’re slaves to the Saudi oil sheiks and the Wahabi oil money that funds you. And when that oil money runs out, my friends, you will all disappear into the ashes of history” (01.50.08).
Apparently, the U.S. protection does not only allow Saudi ‘kings’ to collect most expensive sport-cars and to build marble palaces in the middle of the desert, but it also makes it possible for these oil-parasites to indulge in another ‘productive’ pursuit – giving money to the America’s sworn enemies. Such situation, of course, cannot be considered tolerable.
As it was mentioned in the Introduction, one of the reasons why I consider the film Body of Lies a particularly enlightening movie is that it does expose the actual roots of Islamic terrorism. However, there is even more to it – after having watched this movie, viewers realize that it is only after the U.S. domestic and foreign policies end up adjusted to correspond to the notion of sanity that Islamic terrorism may be effectively dealt with. I believe that this conclusion is thoroughly consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.
Body of Lies. Ex. Prod. Ridley Scott. Burbank, CA.: Warner Brothers Pictures. 2008. DVD.