Post-9/11 Americana

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Taking a more realist tack, the grizzled spymaster offers a cold, calculating response. “Why cut fingernails,” he observes, “if they grow back?”

His point is that Israel’s war on terrorism will go on as long it has to go on.

As the scene and the film end, the camera pans away to reveal the World Trade Center in the background. The surprising piece of trick photography leaves the viewer pondering how best to fight and defeat this enemy.

In a similar way, “The Kingdom,” which is set in modern-day Saudi Arabia, at once seems to endorse and yet question the use of force to counter jihadist terrorism. After a terrorist attack on a U.S. facility in Saudi Arabia, a team of FBI agents is dispatched to investigate and avenge the attack.

The film reminds us that there can be common ground between people on opposite sides of cultural divides, that diplomacy can only go so far and that force has its place. But like “Munich,” it leaves the viewer with the helpless feeling that this war will go on for many years. The point is driven home by the film’s parallel opening and concluding scenes.

In the first scene, after the casualties are counted, the lead FBI agent whispers something to console his grieving colleague. We don’t know what he says, but whatever it is, it works. Then, at the end of the film, after a shootout claims a Saudi man, his grandson is similarly consoled by other whispered words, which, we learn are the same as what the FBI agent had said: “We’ll kill them all.”

Finally, “United 93” reminds us that America’s war on terror actually began on Flight 93, when its 40 passengers and crew mounted a heroic effort to wrest control of the doomed plane. “They were the first people to inhabit the post-9/11 world,” director Paul Greengrass observed after he released his documentary-style film.

“United 93” begins marching toward its crescendo by offering snapshots of modern American life. We hear fragments of conversations about vacations in Europe, business in New York, family in California. Laptop computers and cell phones serve to underscore how self-contained, detached, even myopic these unsuspecting heroes are.

By circumstance, their plane was doomed to play a part in history on September 11, 2001. But by choice, by their collective will, they would actually change history and spare their countrymen yet another bloody, psychological trauma. As the 9/11 Commission concluded, the objective of Flight 93’s hijackers was to attack “symbols of the American Republic: the Capitol or the White House.”

But before they rewrite the final chapter of that terrible Tuesday, the passengers wrestle all the emotions we came to know in the days that followed their sacrifice: confusion and disbelief, shock and anger, desperation and despair, fear and terror.

Like us, they argue about what to do and consider other options: Can we negotiate? Do they want a ransom? Can we just turn back home? They pray and cry and finally come to grips with the only option left. “We’re alone,” one of them grimly explains. “No one’s going to help us.”

As the passengers progress through their light-speed metamorphosis, Greengrass cuts back and forth to air-traffic controllers, FAA officials and military command centers, drawing us into a swirl of chaos and confusion. Veterans of combat know it as the fog of war, and it can overwhelm even the best soldiers, most powerful armies, most technologically sophisticated nations.

But the fog lifts quickly for United 93. In the span of a half-hour, they piece together the puzzle on their own—with no help from CNN—and take the fight to the enemy.

For those Americans who still stumble about in the post-9/11 fog, “United 93” points a way out.

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  • kafir4life

    Be sure to congratulate a muslim on his holiday on Sunday. Cross to the other side of the street when the superior muslim approaches, as is required by the koran and sharia.

    Also note that under the right conditions, muslims do eat pork. They've even claimed it tastes just like chicken.

    allahu snackbar!

    • Fred Dawes

      Thank you

  • Ronald W. Carnine

    Vengeance focused policy my butt. I don't see how responding to the worst terrorist attack in US history as "Vengeance" in any way. The response was controlled and thought out. Ya, it has lasted 10yr. but that is still a short time as the wars of this world go. Maybe it didn't accomplish all we wanted it to but itgot Osama and halted any major terrorist attacks withing the territory of this nation. The Islam threat has been recognized and responded to, even though it wasn't recognized by the liberal media. This is one war we can't walk away from, for it involves our very existence. We must always be vigilant and we must never give up. Let our voices be heard.

  • Brujo Blanco

    Our war of self defense cannot be measured in rime. Our war will take as long as it takes. If we relent we can lose and at some time and be taken over.

    One writer on this thread struck a nerve. Muslims see themselves superior to all other people. In fact they see certain ethnic groups as animals not even deserving of life/

  • mrbean

    Rgety had the same bul&sh*t anti American movies after Vietnam, like Casualities of War, Coming Home, and Platoon. Like Full Metal Jacket said, it is our killer instincts which must be harnessed if we expect to survive in a war with the Jihadists. Our weapons are only our tools. It is a hard heart that kills. If our killer instincts are not clean and strong we will hesitate at the moment of truth. We will not kill the Jihadists. We will then become dead or enslaved Americans. Because there are a billion Muslims and on a few of us who will fight! Do you understand? This is a deadly game that we must not lose? Enough of this whining and grieving almost 10 years later. Time to increase the Jihadist body count significantly! Muck the Fuzzlims! Kill 'em all and let Allah sort 'em out!

  • flyingtiger

    Flight 93 was the action that defined us. A group of mostly American strangers organized themselves and attacked.Despite it flaws the movie does bring it out. Flight 93 is an inspiration to us all.

    • Questions

      I think it was called "United 93." You mean Paul Greengrass' film from 2006?

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    Defined us as what? As large skeet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Xoxaf1Al0

  • tarleton

    I'm sorry , but I'm tired of hearing about 9/11 …ten years and counting and it seems to have morphed into some type of cult of the dead like you would get in the former soviet union
    This is exactly what comes from a society that is trapped in the prison of the present with little grasp of historical continuity …it's our shallow , superficial hollywood / american idol obsessed toxic culture …the ''whole of human history began with ME ''generation …It's as if the second world war never happened or at least occured on some distant planet ….over 200,000 died in the indonesion tsunami in 2004 and YET …30,000 londoners were killed during the blitz for christsake …us folk outside of the US are tired of hearing about the sept 11th massacre , it's time for americans to wise up , get over it and move on

    • ziontruth

      Comparing the numbers of the dead like data on a spreadsheet. It's a wonder how your big heart manages to fit inside your chest.

      "…it's time for americans to wise up , get over it and move on"

      America was able to get over Pearl Harbor and move on when it won the war, and not a moment before. As long as the threat of Islam exists, neither America nor Britain (victim of the 7/7 attack) nor India nor Israel can get over and move on from those terror attacks, local or otherwise.

      Ignorant British toady preaching from the comfort of his armchair, that's what you are.

      • tarleton

        I just wish you people would just grow up …i'm tired of this juvenile sentimentality

    • Ahmed Johnson

      OI! tarelton hears a "who" and lashes out at you people across the pond. Of course it's pork rinders like Tarelton, that sued the British Crown to remove the word "Great" from Briton – that's how flucked up tarelton's line of thinking is…it's all rooted in his fantasy "Matrix" world; see he thinks he's "Neo" resisting the system and what not. The system is of course the Western nations.

      See how stupid he is? He's more sympathetic to a Hollywod Movie than he is for you blokes across the pond.

  • tarleton

    furthermore …if Londoners had made such a cult of the dead 10 years after the war , they would have been told to shut up and get on with their lives instead of engaging in this mawkish maudling sentimentality

    • Amused

      Don't like it ? Don't listen , we STILL honor the dead at Pearl Harbor 60 years on , Wre STILL honor the fallen on the Normandy shores 60 years on …YOU are the One who should "move on " to where-ever the hell it is you are going ……your remarks STINK . And you wouldn't be around to spew it had not Americans came to your aid in WW2 . So the best thing for you to do today , this Sept. 11 ….ius SHUT YOUR FOUL MOUTH .

      • tarleton

        you people are like a group of hysterical teenage girls ..believe it or not but sept 11th is not the worst thing that has happened since the fall of Rome…us folks outside of america are tired of this death cult , like something from a hollywood movie

    • Ahmed Johnson

      half a mo, tarelton. What about the British maudlin over Princess Di? even comparin' the newist Princess to the old dead Dianna…you blokes are STILL crying in your skimmings over the Dianna thing…

      I can see 9/11 being remembered since it had such real effect on so many people, lives, investments and national policy. to remember that is normal…but YOU chums and you Princess Dianna cult…you're the wussies. A Gang a stumbling, bumbling Briton's and their ilk.

      • tarleton

        the cult around the death of a frivolous, good looking woman was an embarressment and typical of the decline of british society

  • aghasaheb,

    All problem of the World, is blong To Jewish Lobby Of The World.. They Want control the World, but they can’t do it. Its the 2000 years back worong story. They never want come from DATE Time To This Time. They were Stuked in Worong History of Evil & Devil. They Think date they are very Wise, Very Nice, Creture of The Holy World, They are blong TOO.But Acutually they going in a WORONG WAY OF HISTORY, They are Thinking Look LIKE a 12 years BOYS.IQ. ITS NOT THEIR FAULT, Its their fore Father worrong Idea of Living on this Earth. They are Sadist Nation of the World. They are Thinkig, & Working like Donkey Yester day night whats happend with their Embessy in Cairo. Its Enough for them for next century. They are LIE’s, Hapocarte, Dishonest with each other’s. The Americans, & Israei’s Nation are blong to Homosexuals.The Big mistake of U.S. & Israel’s history were allways a mistakes, Thats they are under esitimates The other Nation’s of the Worlds They make issue for other Countries They Think that they are very Wise, Nice, or Cleaver, ? BUT Thay are Mad, Sadist NATION, FOOLISHNEES IDEA, Bush, & Sharon Idea’s were Failed in the World. The Obama bin Ladin, & Nathayun are puazzled in these DAYS. Why ? They THINK AFTER WORK. They don’t know, what thay are doing. ? What they gaine from Afghanista, & Iraq Wars. Why 11/9, Projects was Failed, Why ISLAMIC REVOLUTION CAME IN Islamic Countries. ?. Its due to Obama bin Ladin.The Big mistake Brone of U.S. in history were allways a mistakes, Thats they are under esitimates The other Nation’s of the Worlds They make issue for other Countries They Think that they are very Wise, or Cleaver., nice person of the WORLD..Thanks.

    • Amused

      KNOW this well "mohammed " you wil eat each and everyone of those jagged mispronounced and mispelled words , one by one .The only thing we may under-estimate is the barbarism and bloodlust of the 'mohammadan cult ' . You will NEVER prevail .You have done your worst and WE STILL STAND , both USA AND ISRAEL .
      So watch your back aghasaheb …..THERE ARE DRONES IN THE AIR , each one with the names of our enemies on it .

    • Fred Dawes

      Muslms have a reek odor of dead things, must be the food and the murder of little kids.

  • alexander

    after killing 2,400 men in Pearl Harbor, we destroyed Hiroshima…….don't want to capitutale, Japan? We flattened Nagasaki….and had promised more… The WAR with Japan has ENDED.

    After killing 3000+ people in WTC, Mecca and Medina are still there………………………?

  • Amused

    ….And "furthermore Tarleton " . if at all possible , I think you should get yourelf to NYC today , where you can express that sentiment openly in public , where it can be fully appreciated , according to it's worth .

  • Amused

    Well I see there's atleast one more idiot …thank for the thumb down , I consider it complimentary .

  • Fred Dawes

    Do the right thing with H-BOMBS