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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/25/13

The Shortsighted History of "Argo"

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That rejection of Gorbachev's initiative opened Afghanistan to the complete chaos that followed and finally the rise of the Pakistani-backed Taliban in the mid-1990s. The Taliban then hosted fellow Islamist extremist Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorists.

Though Charlie Wilson's War starring Tom Hanks was "just a movie," it cemented in the American mind a false narrative which has been repeatedly cited by policymakers, including Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, as justification for continuing a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Similarly, Argo confirms to many average Americans the unreasonableness of Iranians, who are portrayed as both evil and inept. If negotiations over Iran's nuclear program collapse, this propaganda image of the Iranians could help tilt the balance of U.S. public opinion toward war.

By contrast, movies on the CIA's 1953 coup or the Republican interference in Carter's hostage negotiations in 1980 would demonstrate that there are two or more sides to every story. Granted, such movies would encounter powerful forces of resistance. The movie-makers might be accused of "blaming America first" and the Academy might shy away from handing out Oscars in the face of controversy.

But either of the bookend stories around Argo would get to more important truths than did this year's Best Picture. The two stories would show how America has manipulated politics abroad and how that practice has come home to roost.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at

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