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al-Ahram, Egypt

Hollywood and American
Foreign Policy

By Ameel Ameen

Translated By Chris Marrs

2 January 2013

Edited by Rachel Smith

Egypt - al-Ahram - Original Article (Arabic)

To what extent does Hollywood participate in crafting American military and policy decisions? How correct would it be to say that Hollywood represents the third dimension of American hegemony, alongside the White House and the American State Department?

Now, the discourse on the relationship between Hollywood and American politics is by no means new, but the question has presented itself recently following the release of the bin Laden film Zero Dark Thirty by the American director Kathryn Bigelow, which addressed the assassination of the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan.

Perhaps the real question is: Does the Pentagon directly interfere in the production of American war movies that appear on screens all over the world depicting the undefeated American soldier with unmatched weaponry and America’s utter military superiority?

It is clear to me that in film production in America, everyone from the directors, producers and screenwriters to the final editing crew often change the plot, alter history and rewrite screenplays at the request of the State Department in order to present a film depicting American cultural and military superiority.

Was the Pentagon behind the most recent bin Laden film? Was the release of the film at that particular time intended to influence public opinion in favor of Obama and to weaken the Republicans going into the election?

In the beginning, most of the talk that filled American airwaves centered around the extent of the assistance that the production team of Zero Dark Thirty received from the Obama administration and whether the administration overstepped the accepted relationship between the Pentagon and Hollywood. People also wondered whether there was a series of information leaks that undermined American national security, especially the scenes that hint at exactly how a special forces team was able to kill the man Washington considered the mastermind behind the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

The allegations leveled by the Republicans against the State Department indicate the latter, that state secrets were revealed. However, the Defense Department’s Hollywood liaison, Phil Straub, assured that the film had no cooperation from the State Department with the exception of a 45-minute meeting between the director, screenwriter and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers to discuss general issues. Straub also added that many other films and shows receive much more support from the Pentagon. Is this really the whole story or are there aspects of it being hidden from us?

Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Peter King expressed his fears that director and screenwriter Mark Boal had met with high-level officials in the State Department and obtained highly classified secrets regarding this mission. King also sent the media an internal memo including a statement from the State Department’s Inspector General from Dec. 10 announcing an immediate investigation into these accusations. In a letter to the Congressman, the Pentagon indicated that this project would address the actions of employees within the Department of State and their role in transferring information to the filmmakers. Was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency really uninvolved in all of this?

Absolutely not. On Nov. 8, the CIA announced that it was prepared to put into place a policy to oversee the relationship between employees and filmmakers. Was the CIA trying to cover itself from any scandal regarding information leaks and the bin Laden film?

Hollywood is no longer the peak of the cinematic world. However, Hollywood has recently taken on more of a political slant than ever before, leaving the entire world facing the second phase of an American brainwashing attempt after the end of the first phase, which focused on “containing the Communist threat.” It is interesting that we, the Arab-Islamic world, are still dealing with the fallout of that first phase and yet most of us do not see, hear or understand the danger posed by the revival of this old Hollywood weapon.



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