Friday, April 18, 2008

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

I saw the first showing today of Morgan Spurlock's "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?" at the Uptown Theatre in Minneapolis. The film makes good use of video game style avatars of Osama dancing and battling an avatar of the documentarian in the intro - Osama bin Laden has become a pop culture icon in the Western and Islamic worlds alike. The question of 'Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?' is a troubling one that all of the resources of the U.S. military and Western intelligence agencies have been unable or unwilling to answer for more than a decade.

Spurlock's film is not a serious attempt to uncover the location of bin Laden. He turns back, at the end, from the crossing into the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, as he is an expectant father and he says the risk is not worth it. Nevertheless, the journey is worthwhile if you need a reminder of the common humanity of Arabs and Americans, and a reminder that Afghanistan, despite the well publicized pledges of foreign aid, is desperately poor, an environmentally degraded landscape with little water.

Morgan Spurlock travels with good preparation, yet great trepidation, to Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and starts up a thousand silly conversations, as well as a few substantive ones, with Arabs, Israelis and the Pashtu tribesmen of Afghanistan/Pakistan.

There is no questioning whatsoever from Spurlock of the frame of the Neocon engineers of the Global War on Terror that al-Qaida cells exist in the vast majority of countries worldwide.

The film ends with the water-birth of a child that Spurlock had neglected in utero while he traipsed across foreign desert in his sometimes self-glorifying, somewhat self-deprecating film. The film was a great way to kill some time, but I would steer seekers of a real solution to the East vs. West conflict to other materials, like Omar Nasiri's book 'Inside the Jihad' or John Perkins' book 'The Secret History of American Empire'.

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