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What a Cheesy 1980s Teen-Flick Can Teach Us About the Bush Doctrine

From rejecting diplomacy to abusing prisoners to disdaining Europe, "Red Dawn" offers a blueprint for the Bush years.

Although movement conservatives routinely accuse Hollywood filmmakers of treason and sedition, they also spend a lot of time combing through Hollywood films searching for scraps of patriotic themes and messages to exploit. From the bodily function comedy Knocked Up to the homoerotic Greek sweatfest 300 to the summer bubblegum action flick Transformers, the members of the Right's Konservetkult have found an almost endless supply of pro-conservative messages in the unlikeliest of places. However, there is one film from the 1980s that conservatives can legitimately claim promotes their political worldview and values.

Red Dawn, an M-grade action-thriller starring a young Patrick Swayze, has been justifiably touted by movement conservatives as the defining work of the right wing's artistic canon. In his infamously short-lived blog on the Washington Post Web site, founder Ben Domenech praised Red Dawn as "the greatest pro-gun movie ever" because "they actually show the jackbooted communist thugs prying the guns from cold dead hands."  Meanwhile, one of columnist Jonah Goldberg's readers was even more enthusiastic about the film, saying that thinking about it made him want to "grab a cold one and shout ‘Wolverines!' from my roof deck."

Just what is it about Red Dawn that sends a thrill up conservatives' legs? Well the plot of the film, such as it is, revolves around the Soviet and Cuban armies invading and occupying the Colorado town of Calumet (Population: fewer than 8,000) and senselessly slaughtering patriotic Yankees who prove unwilling to part with their private property.  

(Why the Soviets would need to use several tanks and helicopters to occupy such a small town in the middle of nowhere is never really explained. Presumably, the godless city-dwellers on the coasts failed to pose any resistance as they were too busy throwing surrender parades to honor their new overlords, thus leaving the burden of starting an anti-Commie resistance movement to the red-blooded Amur'kins living in the Heartland.)

The film's first scene, appropriately enough, revolves a black history teacher who foolishly tries to negotiate with the Commie troopers as they parachute into the high school parking lot at the start of the invasion. Indeed, the silly diplomatic teacher is barely able to speak a complete sentence to the communist invaders before they viciously open fire on him and blow him away. This opening sequence nicely illustrates one of the chief principles of Bush-era conservatism: That America is being made weak by effete intellectuals who put too much emphasis on their talkin' and their learnin' when they should be doin' more a-killin'.

Although there have been countless articles in the National Review and the Weekly Standard trashing the State Department -- and diplomacy in general -- it was National Review editor Rich Lowry who most succinctly laid the framework for this portion of the Bush doctrine when he lambasted then-Secretary of State Colin Powell for trying to "sabotage" America's post-9/11 foreign policy. And what had Powell done to deserve this public thrashing, you ask? Why, he had shown disrespect toward Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who wanted "a wider war, including an effort to oust Saddam, while Powell wants essentially to settle for an attempt at taking out bin Laden." That bastard! How much worse would this country had been if we'd merely killed the man responsible for 9/11, instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives invading a country that posed no threat to our national security?!    

In tandem with the film's dislike of diplomacy, Red Dawn also shares the contemporary Right's disdain for continental Europeans, whom they deem insufficiently dedicated to waging perpetual warfare against Third World nations. In the film's counterfactual universe, America has been abandoned to its Soviet invaders by its erstwhile "allies" in Old Europe, who decided that fighting two world wars was enough for one century. Of course, Bush-era foreign policy has taken hatred for Europe to new heights not even dreamed by the makers of Red Dawn, as several of Bush's neocon toadies have actually recommended treating Europeans as outright enemies. The most famous example of this came in David Frum's and Richard Perle's war-dork manifesto, An End to Evil, where Frum declared that "the United States has enemies within Europe, and they are trying to transform the E.U. into an adversarial power bloc against the United States." Picking up on this theme, fellow dork Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds ominously warned that someday soon "the United States will decide that 'you're for us or against us' applies to France, too" and that France had better watch out because "the French have more enemies, and fewer resources, than we do."

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