Everything we can learn about the Taliban thanks to “Rambo III”
It’s not exactly a realistic history lesson – but it hides details that help understand the country’s historical context.
It’s not really a history lesson
“This is Afghanistan. Alexander the Great tried to conquer this nation, then Genghis Khan and then the British. Now it’s the Russians. But the Afghans are fighters, they will never be defeated, ”explains a soldier John Rambo, before quoting a prayer from his enemies.
“May God protect us from snake venom, tiger teeth and Afghan vengeance. Do you understand what that means? ”He asks. “That you don’t take the shit,” replies the American mercenary dryly. “Something like that,” he confirms.
In the third chapter of the saga, the tough American mercenary finally fights on the side of the natives – and becomes a real wimp with a penchant for Afghans.
Against the background of the Soviet-Afghan conflict, the film from 1988 is not only a mirror of the war and US foreign policy, but also gives all the clues about the future of the country under the leadership of the Taliban. A topic that returns to the discussion after two decades with the return of the political, religious and military movement.
“Rambo III” was released in theaters in the final years of the Cold War and already in the final stages of the conflict, when the Soviet troops left Afghan territory. And it aimed to animate the audience not only with another good and brave session of the Stallone style, but also to make another blow against the rivals of the USSR.
Although the United States never fought on the ground, it moved behind the scenes to support Afghan fighters, the mujahideen, Islamic guerrillas who fight in the name of the faith, also known as jihadists.
In the film, the pretext for Rambo’s arrival is the rescue of his best friend, Colonel Trautman, who had traveled to Afghanistan with secret support from the CIA. American support was also declared at the public level. Ronald Reagan, Conservative Republican President, even met with some officials he called “freedom fighters.”
The guerrillas who fought the Soviet invasion – who did so on the pretext of supporting a pro-Soviet government that then ruled the country – are then viewed as defenders of peace. And these days, the last message left by the creators is the target of much controversy on social media.
A picture of the last frames of production was shared until exhaustion and it read: “This film is dedicated to the brave mujahideen soldiers of Afghanistan.” Many of the stocks underscore the irony of how we see Afghan guerrillas and how they were perceived in 1988. But there are two important questions that need to be addressed.
The first is that the content of Rambo’s closing message has been the subject of much discussion as its veracity is at stake. For example, although the message the mujahideen quotes is mentioned in the book “Fictions of War” by Tatiana Prorokova, the existing copies of the film all contain an additional sentence: “This film is the brave people of. dedicated to Afghanistan. “
Legend has it that the message was changed after the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers – the authorship of which points to in-country trained terrorists, although the Taliban have always denied any potential links with al-Qaeda. This theory is challenged by articles and reviews written at the time of the premiere of the film, which refer to the mention of “the brave people” rather than the mujahideen.
The second problem has to do with history itself: the mujahideen who fought and defeated the Soviet army did not simply become the Taliban. The mujahideen, as they were called in the Soviet-Arab conflict, were a collection of groups that came together to fight a common enemy.
When the war ended, they also split up into different groups. Just a few years later, in 1994, the Taliban were born to Mohammed Omar – a group with roots in Pakistan, consisting essentially of Afghans of the Pashtun ethnic group.
So it’s not worth being shocked by the alternate ending to “Rambo III”, which adds a few more seconds to the scene in which Rambo and Trautman leave the mujahideen behind in a jeep. Rambo hesitates in this.
“Can you stop the car?” He asks. “I’ll be back. He told me that at the end of my cycle I would know where I really belong. Right now I think this is where I belong,” he concludes before joining the Afghan fighters on horseback.