LJWorld.com weblogs Angell at My Table

"Charlie Wilson's War" - To Intervene or Not Intervene: That is the Question


The film "Charlie Wilson's War" has all the wit of the West Wing but instead of some vague international crisis, the subject here is America's involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War. And the answers are much more complex than an hour of prime time would allow. Granted, it was the first movie I'd seen in an actual theatre in months (when you have a 3 and a 1 year old, babysitting can be hard to come by), but I loved this movie. You get to see Tom Hanks actually having fun with his performance rather than just vying for an Oscar, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is at his smarmy cynical best and Julia Roberts uses a safety pin to brush her eyelashes. What can be better than that?Well, actually, it's the questions that the film raises that really stayed with me. Namely, what exactly is the responsibility of the United States in world affairs? Should we get involved in the conflicts between other countries for either humanitarian reasons or to stop a perceived threat? Or should we keep to our own turf and use our money to assist in domestic issues like homelessness and poverty?When I hear Ron Paul debate about foreign policy, it makes a lot of sense. He talks about the ridiculousness of borrowing from Peter to give weapons to Paul. And oftentimes, as happened in Afghanistan, people rise up against the superpower that trained them and this leads to terrorism on our soil. I compare this to my own life and wonder if it's realistic to live in a bubble. Like the country, I too am facing a deficit (sure in my case, it's due to student loans and film production, but you get the idea). And yes, it's hard sometimes to justify giving money to others when my own family is in need. But still, I do it. Even if I don't have money to spare, it is hard to not think of those who are worse off than myself. But, to keep things in perspective, I donate just a modest amount, while we gave Afghanistan one billion dollars: and now there's Al-Qaida to deal with.Like I said, difficult questions. See the movie. Think about it. Maybe you will have some answers.


Ronda Miller 9 years, 9 months ago

Good post! I look forward to seeing this movie also - it does raise some intriguing questions and it not the "norm" for the movies in theaters.

It sounds like the type of movie that will leave the viewer thinking for quite some time - always a good thing. Thanks Marlo!

kansascrone 9 years, 9 months ago


I too loved Charlie Wilson's War and like you I have been grappling with this ethical dilema. Just when is the right time to intervene?

I am morally opposed to war but have always believed it is our moral duty to intervene in the event of a humanitarian crisis.

The political situations in the Middle East and even in Darfur are very complicated and have gotten me thinking. While I in no way support violence as a way to settle differences, there seems to be a grain of truth in the saying, "One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist."

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 9 months ago


Your story makes me want to see the movie. I struggle with the similar moral dilemma about opposing war but finding it hard to stand by when genocide and oppression are occurring in places like Darfur and Afghanistan. Though some of the countries we've supported in our wars are oppressors themselves, i.e. Saudia Arabia and Kuwait, where women are severely oppressed.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.