Argo brings up issues of foreign policy

By Andrew Lovgren

Plenty has been said about Argo as a quality, Oscar-worthy film.

Ben Affleck continues his rebirth in Hollywood, directing and starring in his first film since 2010’s surprising success, The Town.

Based on the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis, Argo focuses on CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) as he works to rescue six American embassy workers who escaped during a revolt.

Mendez works together with Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and Producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to construct fake movie credentials to sneak the six out of the country to safety.

Argo was shot in a retro-style, matching the big glasses and ridiculous hairstyles to complete the feeling of a period piece. A strong script and the solid, scene-stealing performances from Arkin, Goodman and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston place this film square in the middle of the Oscar talk.

Perhaps the most crucial part of the movie is being ignored. As President Obama and Mitt Romney square off in the final debate, foreign policy moves into the spotlight, something Argo brings up in the first scenes.

The revolution in Iran that sparked the revolts against the U.S. stemmed from a coup that was put in place by the U.S government to return oil fields to British and American companies. The movie also references the unrest in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion at the end of 1979, which the U.S. supplied the Afghan people (including one Osama Bin Laden) to suppress.

Argo directly and indirectly brings into question many of the United States’ foreign policy decisions. The ‘number one’ mentality that Americans have held dear is no longer an illusion that can be kept up.

It’s not just about past or present wars. The current sanctions against Iran continue to cripple the Iranian economy and any hope of progression in their society or relationship with the West.

Right or wrong, many of the U.S. policies have caused damages to the many, punishing the many for the crimes of the few. The debate with a focus on foreign policy has a chance to bring more of these issues to light, including the struggles in the Middle East, the EU crisis and a continued embargo on Cuba.

Viewers are more likely to find positioning and rhetoric, but it should bring up questions, leading to an investigation of our positions in foreign politics. Whatever the resulting thoughts, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

Moviegoers may have just seen a quality film from one of the best up-and-coming directors in Hollywood, but Argo is far more. It’s a representation of the effects of foreign policy and a cautionary tale for the future.

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  1. “Punishing the many for the crimes of the few” – wow what an understatement. Drone strikes kill 47 civilians for every 1 *MIGHT* have been armed guy. Our policies are definitely far from civil. Great post, short and sweet.

    1. Ian,

      47 to 1? I know that is not an official stat. But, can you show me where you got that statistic?


  2. Andrew Lovgren · · Reply

    Read more movie reviews at, with more to come on One Zero Nine.

  3. Argo is a movie and can not affect foreign policy in any way. Just a movie, right?

    1. I think that’s more to the point of what this film is about. The effects of media on societal and international affairs. Romney and Obama’s rhetoric is broadcast live across the nation while being rapidly tweeted about (not to mention, over-analyzed) every second. This mirrors the idea in Argo of using a form of media to directly affect foreign affairs.

  4. Barbara Backer-Gray · · Reply

    It was indeed a very good movie, and the political issues it brings up remind me of Charlie’s War, with Tom Hanks, another awesome piece of acting.

  5. william wallace · · Reply

    USA govt’s aim being the worlds master is based on madness any
    whom have tried such folly throughout history learnt a hard lesson
    that rather than rule the world it brought their destruction // thus is
    the folly of the USA whom rather learn from history they tried make
    history as being expected it has brought their own ongoing decline.

    Muslim nations (many) having taken religious beliefs ideas to the
    extreme as (many) western nations having taken material aspect
    of creaton to the extreme / both parties totally stupid in their acts .

    The purpose of USA wars as its invasion of all nations be for one
    purpose / that it alone secures the mass of the planets resources
    such is the reality of the situation. A claim they are the defenders
    of freedom justice is but as always western media 24 /7 spin it be
    many western nations so adept at media spin / they having gone
    past the double spin and having almost mastered the tripple spin.

    THE UNITED KINGDOM … etc HAVING ALL themselves become
    very aware of the USA INTENTIONS and they now also stealing
    what they can get before USA lays a claim to all Land Sea & Air
    presently the UN struggles in keeping control / holding back the
    worlds most powerful militaries stopping their invasions of other
    nations which done under the cover of a defence of democracy
    freedom /where reality such but political spin a cover to plunder.

    The situation is nations are going to arm themselves ever more
    building their defence waiting on the day where they be invaded
    gets the biggest piece of pie they followed by UK / FRANCE / etc.

    The net tightens around RUSSIA / NATO is getting ready for a
    future invasion / present aim in placing a missle defence shield
    thus RUSSIA will then never be able to launch a nuclear attack
    thus t’will be a ground fight betwixt NATO forces and RUSSIANS
    of which NATO WILL WIN they having the far greater fire power.

    The path humanity now upon leads only unto death destruction.

    1. Well said. I had typed a lot more in response to your comment here but, unfortunately, I encountered browser problem. So, I don’t think i’d retype the whole thing but simply well said :)

  6. As someone with an international relations degree, I’m always on the lookout for films like this, – Hollywood tends to vastly oversimplify complex conflicts, but one can always hope for diamonds in the rough. I look forward to seeing Argo. Here’s to smarter films!

  7. Well written, thoughtful.

    Thank you :-)

  8. You made me really want to see this! Thanks for pointing out its current relevance. I was born in the 80’s and my history classes ignored everything that happened after WWII, so I’m learning about America’s foreign policy in the 80s and 90s bit by bit. Sometimes when I read something about the 1980s it freaks me out because the same stuff is happening today, and we seem to be the ones with our fingers in every pie. I just can’t believe being are looking at Reagan as a hero now. Who is writing the history books? I hope this movie sheds some light on the reality of that time.

  9. Great post! Argo looks like an amazing film, can’t wait to see it. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, keep it comin’!

  10. I would find your plug for this movie far more credible if you spoke to the issue of the horrid sins of Islamic leaders as well. The Ayatollah is a madman who believes it to be moral and just to kill, maim, and destroy in the name of his God Allah. And what about their treatment of women? I never hear those of you seem hell bent on talking up the sins of America speak of these issues. Is it that you don`t see them, you don`t care, or you just choose to ignore them because they don`t fit the narrative? In any case, I find your assessment of American foreign policy,bias and lacking.

    1. The theocratic government of Iran is terrible, yeah. Just like any theocratic government would be, probably. But that’s just the point: it was the United States’ move against the democratically elected Mossadegh and support for the Shah’s coup d’etat that laid the groundwork for the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the awful government of modern Iran that restricts people’s freedoms.

  11. [...] Argo brings up issues of foreign policy. [...]

  12. Some food for thought!

  13. Thanks for bringing up this important issue. A shame it wasn’t brought up during the debate (as if there was any chance of that!) I’d like to see this movie.

  14. Interesting post! It has definitely put the film on my radar. Coming out in a couple of weeks in the UK, so I’ll have to wait a bit.

  15. I hope and pray we can affect positive change to our foreign policy.

    But, do you really think American politics can become change we CAN believe in?


  16. Reblogged this on thewordpressghost and commented:

    Can American politics be changed in a positive manner?

    Or, will we always live with the elite blowing up those people they do not like; giving the rebels the like visas to come to America; and threaten the regular civilian if we do the same?

    This blog made me want to see Argo.


  17. Well written piece! We picked it as one of our Oscar contenders in our Oscar season preview.

  18. Always been an Affleck fan, and I am sure this movie will deliver a fantastic experience, and message that hits so close to home, especially with the elections so close.
    Great insight (although have not seen the movie as yet, will sure to go this weekend)
    Cheers and congrats on the FP!

  19. well said and written. forth bringing for this time of the year…coincident? hahaha

  20. Excellent review. Fleck amazes me again with his talent and dedication and I wish he is recognized by them. Thanks!

  21. powerful will always want to extend they reach, U.S. is huge threat cuz of they hunger for oil, but every powerful man with resources is danger to us all. I share your critics for U.S. but ppl living there are same as in my country or any other. man with power made this decisions and they are growing cancer of our world.

  22. What a great post. Very thoughtful. It’s been on my must-see list, but now I can’t wait to see–going this weekend. Thanks!

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