Alden Pyle

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

I haven’t read Graham Greene’s "The Quiet American" (nor seen the relatively recent Michael Caine movie), but from what I gather, the main character is named Alden Pyle.  He’s a government agent, living and working in Saigon, with a lot of idealistic patriotism, which manifests itself as naivete.  While not a villian, Alden Pyle (played by Brandon Fraser in the movie) represents the folly of American’s involvement in Vietnam.  He is delusional about thinking that American might and willpower can transform a region of the country.

One Newseek columnist in 2005 compared Bush’s Iraq strategy to Alden Pyle:

Once again, President Bush’s lethally misguided good intentions are reminiscent of Alden Pyle in Graham Greene’s novel “The Quiet American,” about the early days of U.S. involvement in Vietnam: “He was absorbed already in the dilemmas of Democracy and the responsibilities of the West; he was determined—I learnt that very soon—to do good, not to any individual person but to a country, a continent, a world. … When he saw a dead body he couldn’t even see the wounds. A Red menace, a soldier of democracy.”

So it IS rather strange that Bush would invoke "The Quiet American" and Alden Pyle by name in his recent speech about Iraq.  Seems like he would want to avoid the comparison, rather than reminding people of it.

One wonders if Bush or his speechwriters have actually read the book.