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This week, President Obama boldly called for sweeping change in the Middle East, proclaiming to the Muslim world that, "The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems." Obama's realignment of American foreign policy is a bold statement that's certain to overjoy certain factions, and raise the ire of others. How have big-screen presidents tackled the foreign-policy problems of their days? Read on!
1. Love Actually (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton's verrry shallow metaphor for George Bush is shown taking a trip to visit the British Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), and using the United States' muscle to bully England and fondle their secretaries. Which is not a metaphor. This particular approach leads to a degrading in Anglo-American relations, with Grant's PM memorably stating, "I fear this has become a bad relationship; a relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants." Guess whether that's a metaphor or not.
2. Thirteen Days (2000)
The real life drama of the Cuban Missile Crisis showed John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) squaring off against the Soviet Union over their placement of nuclear weapons in Cuba. In the movie, as in real life, Kennedy tried to deal with the potentially global crisis with diplomacy and reason, eventually winning the day.
3. Air Force One (1997)
When you elect Harrison Ford President of the United States, you better damn well know what you're getting into. After giving a speech in Moscow outlining his zero tolerance policy on terrorism, and shocking the world (and his staff) by going off script, Ford's Pres has to put his money where his mouth is when terrorists take over his plane. Though the movie ends with Ford kicking the lead terrorist out of his plane, and crash landing Air Force One in a foreign country, we like to think it really ended with him ham-fistedly alienating the rest of the world with his cowboy tactics. Sound familiar?
4. Independence Day (1996)
If you're President Bill Pullman, and presented with the sudden appearance of city sized flying saucers, you: A) try to communicate with the aliens, or B) blow 'em up. Turns out it's one, then the other, then get blown up yourself. The good news is, aliens make a great external force to help bring the world together, and under Pullman's direction, the entire world repels the alien invaders.
5. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
You would think in a movie about possible nuclear annihilation caused by American nuclear weapons triggering a Soviet Doomsday device, the two countries would be at logger heads. But in fact, President Merkin Muffley, nebbishly played by Peter Sellers, is actually good friends with the Russian Premier. And in fact, Sellers and the never seen Premier try desperately to avert the disaster together... Though, of course, they ultimately fail.
1. Watchmen (2009): In this alternate reality, Richard Nixon (Robert Wisden) has brought us to the brink of nuclear war with Russia... Before he's given another option.
2. Vantage Point (2008): On a trip to Spain, President William Hurt is assassinated... Or is he??? Clearly, not our most beloved movie Commander in Chief.
3. Idiocracy (2006): In the future world of Idiocracy, former wrestler turned President Camacho (Terry Crews) isn't smart enough to know what foreign means, let alone policy.
4. Wag The Dog (1997): In order to get re-elected, the President (Michael Belson) concocts a fake war with Albania. What's the best foreign policy again? Oh that's right: Dishonesty.
5. Mars Attacks! (1996): President James Dale's (Jack Nicholson) response to an alien threat? Save yourself first.