Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Battle of Algiers (1966) Disc 3

Remembering History
Aside from the film this bonus disc had some very interesting dialogue.
The first part was a string of short interviews that started with an in interview with Saadi Yacef (military commander of the FLN in Casbah) that in my opinion was pretty callous and cold when talking about the bomb making and distribution as well as the interviews with one of the women that planted the bombs. And it continued with some pointed views by a variety of Historians.
It is brought up that there was plenty of infighting in the FLN including "purgings" of members all the way up to and including members of the CCE. Many opposed the FLN because they did not want a one party system including the rival leader Messali Hadj. In Melousi 374 villagers suspected of supporting Messali were massacred by their throats being slit by the FLN.

When I watched the film, I could not help but see the strong Islam authoritarian dominance in the FLN and that they wanted to "purifying Algeria as a Muslim land...and purifying the community (the Umah)"-purification.

It does clearly show that torture works, at least on a tactical level.

Etates D'armes
Interesting discussion about the imminent threat of a bomb going off. They find a bomb maker with a bomb set to go off at 6:30 and it is 3 now. If you do nothing you can expect 3-4 bombs to go off with at least 40 dead or interrogate him and try to save those lives.

A Case Study
A very nice study of the tactics used in the terrorism and the reactions to these actions.
Basic Formula:
1. General Population content with current situation.
2. Terrorist attack the power structure.
3. The power structure strikes back.
4. This falls not only on the guilty but also the innocent.
5. And lastly the General Population is no longer impartial but actively supporting the insurgents.

Other solutions that the French could have used:
Step back and assess how to gain a legitimate solution in the eyes of the general population as well as the many Ex-pats. A political solution to the problems. Of course making Algiers another state of France with all rights and responsibilities could have been a viable option. It is also important to show to the general population that the terrorists are not in it for their interest. De-Legitimized the terrorist and legitimize the actions of the government or controlling power. Win "The Hearts and Minds".

I guess that is one reason that I say we should stay in Iraq exactly until the time the Iraqis tell us to leave, either through their government or through polling with a plebiscite being the best way.

When interrogated:
Provide truth to low value items that can be collaborated,
then provide higher value untruths that can not be collaborated.

Return to Algiers
"Twenty-seven years after the release of "The Battle of Algiers" Gillo Pontecorvo returns to Algiers...(FIS vs. FLN)
This most important piece of the DVD starts with a collage of an insurgent that "mows down the President Mohamed Boudiaf with a burst of machine-gun fire".

Gillo narrates portions that describe the rise of Fundamentalist Islam and that these fundamental parties are funded by Iran. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Even he mentions about the ease of getting a nuclear weapon and shows one exploding.
You know, Ali, it's hard enough to start a revolution, even harder to sustain it, and hardest of all to win it. (Ben M'Hidi, historical leader of the fight for national liberation) But it's only afterwards, once we've won, that the real difficulties begin.

And Gillo adds this in hindsight:
Above all, if we aren't able to find a way to democracy and freedom.

So the irony here is deep. As from my other posts you can see that I saw it as a war for Islamic Fundamentalism where Gillo saw it as a war for independence. In hindsight he sees the major problems that developed for a one party rule by the FLN.

While all people want freedoms and independence from foreign control, we have to wonder if what they got in return was much better. As Freedom House shows Algiers did not get the freedoms they so richly deserved. Was it a changing of while cruel dictatorship to even a greater evil in Sharia law? While the French were cruel and continued to become even more inhumane as the war dragged on they had a free press, legal system and legislative branch of government to try and work out difference.

Even though they had revolutions since 1988 and the FLN made concessions, the freedoms have still not risen.
The FIS, or Islamic Salvation Front, finds itself in a good position. I'ts the party of religious fundamentalism. They have the backing of 10,000 mosques, which functions as their centers for propaganda and organization. Capable of every kind of demagogy, they channel the malcontents and deceive the disadvantaged.

The scene of a soldier randomly spraying machine gun fire down a street with people just around the corners is pretty striking.

I do agree that stopping the elections was a bad idea. Of course they feared the worse case scenario. Many Islamic Fundamentalist do not mind using elections to get to power or revolution but then to create a system that supports only Fundamentalism, much as we saw in Iran. So I think since the film was first made Gillo has a better understanding of what democracy is and the value of it.

The prison where the guillotine was used in the opening scene was still in use for political prisoners. The section of town that was the racist French (as Gillo described) now is a stronghold of the FIS. And this is where the FIS refused Gillo to film because the representative said there was a Mosque nearby.
All foreign journalists are accomplices of the government and our enemies.
-All foreign journalists!
-But we're Italian.
-Italian, American, French- they're still foreigners.
-Wait. Italians are friends of Algerians.
-The Mosque is nearby.
-You think we're gonna eat it or what?

And the next scene at a college was interesting that one student (apparently supporter of the FIS) starts talking about not laundering their problems in public and the TV is distorting the truth. He of course lost me with bringing up the Palestinians.

In the interview process he does revert back to some of his colonization theories.
But anyway a great collection of documentaries and interviews.
Rating: 4.5 (/5)

The three posts:
RDRutherford Movie Reviews: The Battle of Algiers (3 disc set)

RDRutherford Movie Reviews: The Dictatorship of Truth|Battle of Algiers Disk Two

RDRutherford Movie Reviews: The Battle of Algiers (1966) Disc 3

Alistair Horne A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962

Algerian War of Independence 1954-1962

A Country Study: Algeria

Algeria: The Psychos Will Inherit the Earth

Excellent PDF report piece about how some insurgencies were eliminated.

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