bankContrived breathlessness being the defining characteristic of television and radio journalism, how is it that the breathtaking premise of The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, is anathema to the 24-hour blatherers?

My guess is that if war is about money, specifically debt, the media avoid the idea because the media are about money, deriving advertising support from the same people who fatten on wars: the financial industry. They fatten on war the same way credit card companies pull the carpet out from under what`s left of the middle class, by charging unconscionable fees and interest rates.

I`m not making the anti-capitalist case that profit is bad. I`m making the case that in a democracy people should know this. They should know that the infotainment industry can`t be trusted to tell them what they need to know to understand how they`re being treated by a system they can`t entirely trust. They should know that their inherent patriotism and desire to be safe can be used "and often is used "by scoundrels to whip up wars for profit. They should know that their anger and frustration with their own leaders can be redirected towards foreign enemies, distracting them from urgent problems at home.

The International, made in 2009 and directed by Tom Tykwer, is more current than the headlines of your front page or the latest TV news theater. It argues that war creates debtor nations, like us, and these massive debts profit banks. War is good for banks, the same banks that have just fed at the public trough, no strings attached. The same banks, that having fleeced us, now refuse to make loans to businesses to restart the economy.

Even if The International`s powerful premise can be discredited, one would think the film would have given rise to a full-blown public discourse about war and debt. No such luck.

When nations don`t have the creativity, the patience and the humanity to solve their problems peacefully they go to war. Hence Hitler bailed Germany out of its depression by tooling up its war machine and hurling it unprepared at Germany`s neighbors. (That`s right, the mighty Nazi war machine was woefully unprepared to carry out the ambitions of His Craziness.)

George W. Bush and his Rasputin-like sidekick, Dick Cheney, were unprepared to tackle our domestic problems, to improve the quality of life in America, so they took us to war using lies and deceit in which the media were willing partners.

What is exciting about The International is its effort to explain why nations indulge in the periodic madness of war. It may be about security and patriotism, but it`s also about the fantastic profits to be made from the debts war creates. All the hoopla and foofaraw about health care reform is a hill of beans if our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan keep on draining our coffers, slaughtering our youth, and indebting us to faceless profiteers.

The International, aside from its life as art, is an attempt to start us talking about this squalid predicament. The silence of the so-called news media about such a provocative issue is surpassingly strange on the one hand and utterly understandable on the other. Nobody likes to talk about where they get their money, especially if it`s hush money.

 

Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.  

His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latté first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.  

He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.