Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Cheered for the Wrong Guys in Syriana

I finally got around to seeing a DVD of the movie, Syriana, starring George Clooney. Most of you know that it is about a greedy American oil company doing dirty deeds to regain access to certain Mideast oil concessions, and the film is definitely a hit job on American covert agencies and on American companies. It’s only a movie, a fantasy, but I'm getting very tired of the anti-war, anti-American antics of actors like Clooney and directors like Syriana's director, Stephen Gaghan, who said he saw Syriana as "a great word that could stand for man's perpetual hope of remaking any geographic region to suit his own needs." Syriana is usually associated with the brief period of peace in Syria-Lebanon from 1990 to early 2005.

I also definitely at this point want to go on record on two matters: first, I’m well aware that the geopolitics of gaining and keeping oil concessions is as dirty and as cutthroat as they come; and second, I want American oil companies to win these concessions, and if they have to be dirtier than the dirtiest to do so, so be it. When then President Carter pushed through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977 (much modified in 1988), I gagged at the naiveté and gullibility of the man. This act made it illegal for American citizens to bribe anyone in a foreign country – thus bringing to a halt any business dealings in countries where bribery is the main source of income to government employees and the lack of a gift (bribe) is often taken as an insult. Actually I gag at about everything this man, Carter, says and does - from wrecking any chance to stop North Korea's march to nuclear weapons to labeling Israel's treatment of Arabs as aparteid.

The plot of Syriana:

“Oil drives greed in Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan's labyrinthine sophomore directorial effort that traces the corruption of the global oil industry from the backrooms of Washington, D.C., to the petroleum-rich fields of the Middle East. Based in part on the writings of former CIA case officer Robert Baer, Syriana combines multiple storylines to explore the complexities that befall a proposed merger between two U.S. oil giants. Reform-minded Gulf country prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) is in favor of making his nation more self-sufficient rather than U.S.-reliant, and his money-minded Western connections couldn't be less pleased. Before settling into a cushy desk job for the remainder of his career, CIA agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is sent on one last assignment -- to assassinate Prince Nasir and reinstate U.S. ties in the oil-rich region. Though his loyalty dictates that Barnes carry out his current mission despite lingering doubts of a previous blunder, his mission goes horribly awry when his field contact goes turncoat and Barnes becomes a CIA scapegoat. Meanwhile, up-and-coming Washington attorney Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) attempts to walk a fine line in overseeing a tenuous merger between two oil giants that's plagued with shady business dealings. Hotshot energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) is in talks to form a lucrative partnership with Prince Nasir, though the death of his son during a party at the prince's estate makes him question his loyalty to business over family. Back in Washington, D.C., Bennet's boss Dean Whiting attempts to undermine Prince Nasir's attempts to make his country less reliant on the U.S. dollar by planting the seeds of dissonance between the progressive prince and his money-minded younger brother Prince Meshal (Akbar Kurtha).” ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide


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At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I cover International Business in my High School Classroom the textbook covers "Business to Business" transactions in other countries and not just Infrastructure issues.

It clearly states that in some countries what Russ has explained is an Expected way of doing business.

The Textbook also explains the various cultural ways to be aware of and it ranges from how to receive a Business Card from a foreign business leader and where NOT TO PUT it (Back Pocket where you SIT ON IT).
Also not to touch it with your Left Hand because most cultures consider the left hand as used for certain hygene purposes (Translation - most folks wipe you know what with that hand).

The text talks about the danger of hand gestures such as the OK symbol in American means radically different things in other countries.

Students are taught these things including "GIFTS" so that they are fully aware of traditions of business in other nations. This is particularl helpful if they continue on in College and move into the business world.


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