On cinematic ambiguity

When I read that the Pentagon had arranged for screenings of The Battle of Algiers, I assumed that the intention was to warn our commanders about the moral and operational dangers of fighting a counter-insurgency campaign.

Mickey Kaus suggests that the film can be read another way: as endorsing the view that torture is a necessity in counterinsurgency operations.

No doubt that wasn’t the intention of the filmmaker. Perhaps it wasn’t the intention of whoever arranged the screenings. But it might have been the lesson taken home by some of the viewers.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “On cinematic ambiguity”

  1. Battle of Algiers and Abu Ghraib

    Via Brett Marston, I see a post in which Mark A.R. Kleiman writes: When I read that the Pentagon had arranged for screenings of The Battle of…

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