War and Diplomacy

“There’s a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse... and everybody in the village says, ‘how wonderful. The boy got a horse’ And the Zen master says, ‘we’ll see.’ Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, ‘How terrible.’ And the Zen master says, ‘We’ll see.’ Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can’t cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, ‘How wonderful’.”

”Now the Zen master says, ‘We’ll see.’”
— Gust Avrakotos & Charlie Wilson

Set in the early 1980’s when the Cold War was at its peak and the Soviet Union was making incursions into Afghanistan, the opening scene introduces congressman Charlie Wilson living large at a party in Las Vegas. The film quickly picks up from there to show us the turn of events involving him that led to the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the eventual collapse of the USSR.

Charlie Wilson is not a role model by any means, but that does not mean that there is nothing to admire about the man. He certainly knew how to live life to the fullest and was quite content doing just that until he was approached by one of his major supporters to look into a daunting foreign issue with wide ranging consequences. His deliberations and actions have shaped modern history.

The foreign policy of any major nation is never perfect but always interesting. The many different considerations and unknowable long-term outcomes are a conundrum for even seasoned experts. Nonetheless, there are no permanent friends or enemies in diplomatic relations, only permanent interest and everything must be done to further those interests.