Russian troop deployments in the south

On the move.

There are differing opinions about the exact nature of the reported deployment of Russian troops to Syria.  Some of the reporting appears to be circular, and Business Insider has picked apart the original language of a RIA Novosti report in Russian to conclude that the “Russian troops” amount to no more than an anti-terrorism security detachment for the Russian fleet tanker RFS Iman (a Black Sea-based ship deployed for support to Russia’s Horn of Africa antipiracy task force).

It’s hard to say: Iman by herself couldn’t transport very many troops into Syria (a detachment of infantry, maybe, if they were really miserable, sleeping on deck and in passageways, during the few days’ transit), but Iman is an unlikely platform for transporting Russian troops anyway.  If Russia puts a substantial number of troops in Syria, Continue reading “Russian troop deployments in the south”

Act of Valor; or, A War Without a Narrative…

Narratives, tropes, and videotape.

… but with a Chechen-Jewish Drug Smuggler Named Christo

Let me state up front that I don’t think the filmmakers meant anything by the “Christo” character.  I do think they stumbled haplessly on a hornet’s nest of anti-Semitic tropes – and thereby hangs a tale that matters.

Act of Valor is a moving, gripping film, all the more so for being enacted by real Navy SEALs.  (Full disclosure: this reviewer is a 20-year Navy veteran, and while definitely not a SEAL was privileged to work with some.)  The one major flaw I found with the production, per se, was the rather annoying sound track, which could have dispensed with the hackneyed crescendos at suspenseful moments.  What the SEALs do needs no audience-cues or embellishment.

And they do incredible things.  The movie conveys well Continue reading “Act of Valor; or, A War Without a Narrative…”