Indiana Cameron and the Temple of Doom
- August 18, 2014
Of all the Indian Jones films, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is for me the most obnoxious, with its racist stereotyping and casual recycling of nineteenth century imperialist cliches about white men saving childlike dark-skinned folk from the clutches of a demonic native death cult.
In his great essay ‘Shooting an Elephant’ George Orwell once observed ironically that the whole purpose of the white man in Asia was not to be laughed at by the natives, but as Indiana Jones demonstrates, the white man also likes to be revered and celebrated as a liberator not only by the natives, but by his own people and the world.
Today that is still the case. Anyone listening to media coverage of the IS/Kurd/Yazidi crisis would be entirely forgiven for believing that foreign policy is entirely directed by people like Liam Fox, Lindsey Graham, John McCain or Hilary Clinton, that is to say well-intentioned men and women who do nothing but weep for the world’s pain and think only of the best way to prevent the next genocide and rid the world of evil through another military intervention.
Even more than a decade of failure, the altruistic glow that surrounds these ‘humanitarian’ interventions has yet to fade. And now fresh from his Portuguese holiday, chilled out and sporting a tan, David Cameron has come out with his hat and whip and ready to save lives, and tell us that it’s different once again.
Once again he is preparing to bomb the country that Britain has bombed so often, in order to eliminate the savage and barbaric jihadist group Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
What has motivated Lord Snooty to launch this crusade?
“Stability. Security. The peace of mind that comes from being able to get a decent job and provide for your family, in a country that you feel has a good future ahead of it and that treats people fairly. In a nutshell, that is what people in Britain want and what the Government I lead is dedicated to building.”
But it’s not enough to do this at home, His Lordship insists. ” True security” requires the nation to use “aid, diplomacy, our military prowess to help bring about a more stable world” because ‘” today, when every nation is so immediately interconnected, we cannot turn a blind eye and assume that there will not be a cost for us if we don’t.”
In fact there are numerous crises to which Britain does turn a blind eye, in Gaza, Bahrain, in the burning alive of pro-Russian protesters in Ukraine, in the massacre of 700 Uzbeks by the Uzbekistan dictatorship in 2005, in the killing of 800 Egyptians by the Egyptian military on a single day in Cairo last year, to name but a few.
It’s worth noting that the countries where Britain hasn’t turned a blind eye are often the ones that are the furthest from “true security”, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. That isn’t a contradiction that interests Cameron, however, because “The creation of an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and extending into Syria is not a problem miles away from home. Nor is it a problem that should be defined by a war 10 years ago. It is our concern here and now.”
Yes, the eternal imperative of NOW is with us once again, and only a fool would suggest that IS is fundamentally an Iraqi problem that cannot be solved by the countries that propelled Iraq into a vortex of violence and sectarian strife in the first place. IS is an indirect consequence of an previous intervention that was just as pressing and just as urgent at the time, and until recently Daesh was until recently fighting to overthrow Assad along with the same countries that are now proposing to fight it.
Say that kind of thing and you sound like a spoilsport or Neville Chamberlain, because, as Cameron points out ” if we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.”
Does this sound like something you’ve heard before? It should. Because if the wars of the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we’re always fighting them over there to stop them fighting us over here, even when those who are fighting us over here say that they’re doing it because we’re fighting over there.
Don’t let that sense of deja vu fool you however, because Daesh really is different, says Cameron, and “cannot simply be removed by airstrikes alone” but by a “tough, intelligent and patient long-term approach that can defeat the terrorist threat at source.”
This “approach” includes withdrawing passports from naturalised British citizens accused of terror offences, and also “an intelligent political response” because
“terrorist organisations thrive where there is political instability and weak or dysfunctional political institutions. So we must support the building blocks of democracy the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the rights of minorities, free media and association and a proper place in society for the army.”
We saw that during the occupation and afterwards, when the US and Britain backed the sectarian Maliki government. And we’re seeing it in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey, which Cameron lists as potential allies against the “extremist forces” of IS, even though many of them were instrumental in funding the jihadist fighters in Syria from which these forces eventually sprang.
But let the bombs fall where they may, along with our ‘humanitarian response’ to the Yazidi crisis. Because if they don’t “we would be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a Nato member. This is a clear danger to Europe and to our security.”
And so we must continue the “generational struggle” against IS and its “poisonous ideology” – and we must also, it seems continue the same military interventionism that helped give rise to this poison.
All this, as Cameron points out, ” is a daunting challenge. But it is not an invincible one, as long as we are now ready and able to summon up the political will to defend our own values and way of life with the same determination, courage and tenacity as we have faced danger before in our history.”
Indiana Jones couldn’t have put it better.
And no sooner has His Lordship committed the country to the next battleground in the forever war than he’s off on another holiday again, showing all the determination, courage and tenacity which has enabled us to achieve so many great things in these last fourteen years.