[Marxism] The Sum of All Fears

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 15 13:49:58 MST 2006

When The Sum of all Fears showed up on TV I knew it was my cultural duty to 
watch it.

I was not disappointed. The dialogue included such nuggets of golden wisdom as:

"Communism was a fool’s error, the followers of Marx gone from this earth."

As an empirical analysis of the state of things I’d say that was just a wee 
bit premature in its conclusions.

Still, as blockbuster thrillers go it turned out to be pretty good, I 
thought. The plot is about evil renegade Russians seeking to provoke war 
between the USA and Russia by detonating a nuclear bomb in Baltimore, at a 
stadium where the President is watching a game.

The movie requires the suspension of various faculties, needless to say. 
Firstly, much of it is preposterous. The idea that the Israelis would lose 
a fighter carrying a nuclear bomb and not recover it seems somewhat 
implausible. Jack Ryan, the hero of the movie, is in a helicopter which 
tumbles out of the sky from a great height. He escapes with nothing more 
than a couple of smears of tomato ketchup on his handsome face. Secondly, 
the movie glorifies a terrorist organisation, the C.I.A. When the head of 
the C.I.A. snuffs it we are supposed to feel this is a moment of great 
sadness. Thirdly, the movie is packed with clichés. Example: our handsome 
hero and his gorgeous doctor girlfriend are always snuggling up for a spot 
of nooky when, heck, the phone rings! Dooty calls! This keeps on happening. 
The end of the movie, when, one by one, the bad guys get their just 
deserts, is blatantly ripped off from The Godfather. Etcetera etcetra.

But the bit where the bomb actually went off and blew up a chunk of 
Baltimore. Now that took me completely by surprise. Somehow I expected Jack 
Ryan to find the nuke and defuse it at the last moment, like James Bond 
would. And he didn’t. Also, the scenes in which the US President and the 
Russian President dither about whether or not to nuke each other’s 
countries were very tense and dramatic; I was persuaded that this is how 
such a scenario might well pan out in real life.

I was also intrigued by the revelation that the plutonium used in the bomb 
turned out to be American in origin. It had then been surreptitiously 
passed on to the Israelis. And it had then ended up in the hands of 
terrorists (the movie draws a conventional distinction between those two 
identical categories, needless to say).

The notion that if someone ever did manage to set off a small nuke in an 
American city it would turn out to be related to US military support for 
Israel – well, that does seem to be a thesis which contains a certain 
credibility. And it’s interesting to see it incorporated in a populist 



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