Elliot Friedland writing at the Clarion Project utilizes the R-rated 2004 satire puppet-animation movie “Team America: World Police” to illustrate how the ironic humor of the past might be the scary truth of today’s current events.
Here’s a Team America from Rotten Tomatoes:
Team America, an international police force dedicated to maintaining global stability, learns that a power hungry dictator is brokering weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. The heroes embark upon a harrowing mission to save the world. To infiltrate the terrorist network, Team America recruits Gary Johnston, a rising star on Broadway to go undercover. Although initially reluctant to sacrifice his promising career, Gary realizes that his acting gift is needed for a higher cause. With the help of Team America leader Spotswoode and fellow members Chris, Sarah, Lisa and Joe, Gary slips into an arms dealer’s hideout where he discovers that the terrorists’ plot has already begun to unfold. From the pyramids of Cairo to the Panama Canal and finally to the palace of power-mad dictator Kim Jong-Il, Team America criss-crosses the globe on a desperate mission to preserve the very fabric of civilization.
Now that you have the gist of the satire’s plot, read how Friedland weave the past into the present.
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Trump at the UN and Team America
By ELLIOT FRIEDLAND
September 24, 2017
The late North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il (in puppet form). (Photo: Screenshot from Team America: World Police)
WARNING: This article discusses an R-Rated satire movie with crude sexual themes, violence, racism etc. If you are easily offended, please do not read this article.
This week’s news is almost identical to the plot of the 2004 smash hit movie Team America: World Police, made by the creators of South Park.
Don’t believe me?
North Korea’s program of weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to the lives of millions of people, not to mention the stability of the fragile international order. There is strong evidence they are cooperating with Islamist extremists in Iran to secure nuclear weapons capabilities for both countries. Left-wing activist movements with a strong media presence urge restraint and negotiations and blame American aggression for the crisis. An effete and ineffectual United Nations meddles and hand-wrings, but ultimately does nothing. Meanwhile erstwhile allies look on askance at what they see as America’s crass, boorish, cowboy approach, lamenting that force alone cannot solve geopolitical problems. Many are asking if America’s time is over.
And America’s leader stands before the world to make a gung-ho speech putting “America First.”
VIDEO: “Team America: World Police” – Official Trailer
Posted by PictureBox
Published on Oct 25, 2011
That movie saw a superhero team of elite American soldiers called Team America infiltrate a terror cell to discover a North Korean-Islamist plot to destroy the world and bring equality through reducing everything to radioactive rubble. Like the best satire, it skirts the line between irony and earnestness in a larger than life take-down of America’s war on terror.
So what can this 13-year-old R-rated movie tell us about the contemporary crisis intersecting Islamic extremism, North Korean belligerence and changing power structures?
Absolutely Everything. Let’s dive in:
America’s Enemies Collaborate
“Saying death to America is easy. We need to express death to America with action.” — Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani.
In 2004 when the movie was made, the idea that the North Koreans would sell nuclear weapons to terrorists in order to fight America was pretty far out. However, as Clarion Project National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro has repeatedly warned, North Korea and Iran are now working closely together.
North Korea opened an embassy in Tehran in August. Shortly after, the head of the North Korean Parliament, Kim Yong Nam traveled to Iran for a 10-day trip. Iranian nuclear scientists reportedly attended North Korean nuclear tests, according to CNBC.
“There’s been fairly extensive cooperation on missiles,” said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear proliferation expert and professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “And in fact, early generations of Iranian missiles were thought to be basically modestly adapted North Korean missiles.”
This nightmare scenario is alarmingly similar to the plot of Team America, in which the leader of North Korea supplies weapons of mass destruction to “terrorists” from “Durka-Durkastan” in order to bring down the existing international order.
What exactly about this prevailing international order do they object to so badly that they wish to overturn it…?
America Sees Itself as Number One
“Americans are asking “Why do they hate us?’ They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” — President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001.
Everyone sees themselves as the star of their own story. It is no accident that Team America: World Police was made with puppets. The aesthetic of the film is based on Thunderbirds, the British 1960s TV-series chronicling the exploits of “International Rescue.” What Team America lampoons so viscerally is the peculiarly American brand of self confidence which views America as not only “the greatest country in the world,” but also the greatest country that has ever existed.
The founding myth sees a country forged in revolution, the only country in world history to have been consciously created, not as an ethnic or religious homeland, but founded on enlightenment principles of rationality, justice and freedom. There’s a reason that religious freedom and free speech are the First Amendment, not the 5th or 17th — it’s because they are the same thing and the bedrock of all other rights (held up by the Second Amendment, which ensures that the state cannot take the First Amendment away without a fight).
This patriotic attitude is best parodied/encapsulated in the Team America theme song “America: F**k Yeah, coming again to save the mother f*****g day yeah.”
America’s commitment is these values is in direct opposition not only to the goals of dictators like Kim Jong-Un, but also of Islamists like leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both of those countries see the ideology and the state as of prime importance. American style freedom as being anathema to that ideology. They see the freedom Americans hold dear as being an assault on their way of life and their religion.
Why do they see it this way? America’s very faith in the rightness of its founding principles can make it blindly confident in some of its shortcomings…
America’s History of Racism and Recklessness Causes Resentment
“This country was born on violence. Violence is as American as cherry pie.” — Black American Activist H. Rap Brown, 1967.
When former President Ronald Reagan funded jihadi fighters in 1980s Afghanistan, the long-term impact was not considered. When George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, the occupation of the country that followed was mismanaged to the point that by 2014 a terrorist group was able to take over a third of the country (ISIS).
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was held in American military prison Camp Bucca for five years and was able to use the detention facility as a networking opportunity to build his terror support base —not to mention that at the same time, America lost track of $1 billion worth of military equipment given to Iraq and Kuwait, much of which may have ended up in Islamic State hands.
U.S. drone strikes wiped out at least eight wedding parties from 2001 to 2011 in Afghanistan alone, according to The Nation. America has also abandoned the Kurds, who have been perhaps the only effective force on the ground against ISIS in Syria and is even putting pressure on Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani to cancel Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum scheduled for September 25.
To hostile observers, recklessness can be tied with a seeming lack of caring.
Team America brings this home in typically blunt style. In the movie, America paints their spy (who is really a crack actor) with blackface, puts a towel on his head and airdrop him into Cairo with all the subtlety a loud military-grade helicopter can muster (none). The only things the terrorists say in the movie are “durka durka,” “Muhammed,” “Jihad” and DurkAllah.”
This sort of crude stereotyping is routinely attacked in American media. Actors from Middle Eastern and South Asian ethnic backgrounds routinely complaining about being typecast in roles as terrorists, with little opportunity for them to play more complex roles. A 2015 poll saw 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats supported bombing Agrabah, the fictional country from the Disney movie, Aladdin.
In the film, this callousness incurs the wrath of the left-wing Film Actors Guild (FAG) who preach a path of nonviolence but end up accidentally supporting terrorists. Their name parodies notions of “toxic-masculinity” which slurs homosexuality and femininity as a form of submissive weakness (note the alt-right preferred slur is “cuck,” which refers to a man who willingly allows his wife to sleep with other men).
However, negotiating alone will never work because…
Force, Not Diplomacy, Underpins the International Order
“Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.” — George Orwell
One of the best scenes in Team America comes when UN Inspector Hans Blix demands access to North Korea’s facilities. “Or else what,” Kim Jong Il asks.
“Or we will be very angry with you. And we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are,” Blix replies. Pretending to be convinced, Kim asks Blix to move a little to the left, presses a button and drops him into the shark tank.
The scene is a brutal reminder that, ultimately, power is the only thing that matters.
In some ways, left-wing critiques of Western foreign policy are valid. One of the greatest strengths of America is its robust free press and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens to criticize the government. It is vital that state excesses are called out as part of the democratic process, in order to improve the country and its governance. In many cases, diplomacy and negotiations are a far better alternative to the use of force.
But this doesn’t mean we should undermine the underlying values of America itself and throw out the baby with the bathwater. Sadly, the reality is that it is only by force of arms that the free press and their rights to criticize the state are safeguarded.
In July this year, to take just two examples, a group of left-wing activists protested against gay-rights activists from the Middle East on the grounds that fighting for the rights of Iranian gays somehow empowers anti-Muslim bigots. British Labour politician Christine Shawcroft’s proposed that British soldiers have cups of tea with ISIS rather than bomb them.
These examples underscore everything Team America mocked over 10 years ago about the left.
Some argue that there are better systems out there than democracy. Maybe there are, but do they exist today?
The West is the Best Civilizational Option We Have Right Now
“…it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” — Winston Churchill
If you could live and work in any country in the world, which country would it be? Which countries offer the best opportunities for economic advancement, for personal freedoms, for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
Iran is a country that hangs gay people from cranes. Kim Jong Un reportedly executed his own uncle by stripping him naked and feeding him to 120 dogs alive while officials watched. There is no free press, free elections or ability of people living in such countries to petition their government for the redress of grievances.
Anyone who thinks that the world would be safer, more prosperous and more just with these countries having more influence and America having less is frankly delusional. Iranian militiamen in Iraq have no compunction about murdering civilians. Broadly speaking, America does its best to support international human rights standards.
No one should deny that America’s past and present have been replete with examples of jingoism, racism, violence, callousness and more. Yet it is possible to name another country or another system of government that we have right now that is better?
Although there are those in Europe who would prefer it not to be so, since 1945. America has been the leader of the West. Through the force of American arms and the coffers of the American treasury, Western civilization is protected.
The history of the world has been one of savage rulers murdering each other and their hapless subjects. It is only in the last couple of hundred years that humanity has begun to inch out of that brutal mode of operation.
If you want to keep struggling — inch by bloody inch — out of the abyss, then when the chips are down, stand with America.
Mauro: North Korea Activity Is Iranian Activity
Iran’s Fingers on North Korea’s Nukes
Haley: Iran Has Uninspected & Undeclared Nuclear Sites
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.
The Clarion Project (formerly Clarion Fund) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to educating both policy makers and the public about the growing phenomenon of Islamic extremism. The Clarion Project is committed to working towards safeguarding human rights for all peoples.
About Clarion Project
Clarion Project is a non-profit organization that educates the public about the dangers of radical Islam.
Clarion’s award-winning films, seen by more than 85-million people, expose how radical Islamists use terrorism, murder, subjugation of women, indoctrination of children, religious persecution, genocide of minorities, widespread human rights abuses, nuclear proliferation and cultural jihad — to threaten the West.
The ClarionProject.org web site delivers news, expert analysis, videos, and unique perspectives about radical Islam, while giving a platform to moderate Muslims and human rights activists to speak out against extremism.
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Ryan Mauro is Clarion Project’s Shillman Fellow and National Security Analyst. A professor of homeland security, counter-terrorism and political science, he consults to government agencies, and policy-makers.
Mauro has made over 1,000 appearances on international radio and TV programs from both the left of the right, including … READ THE REST