Throughout our history, Americans have grown accustomed to the idea that major international conflicts yield firm, unambiguous resolutions. But here, in the 21st century, it is high time this thinking gave way to a new reality, Ricky Jones, a counter-terrorism expert who served under President George H.W. Bush, told TAS in an interview. Jones served in advisory capacity during the filming of “Olympus Has Fallen.” He worked closely with director Antoine Fuqua and helped design the scene in which the White House is destroyed.
The film has been a crowd pleaser in part because there is a definitive ending with a favorable result. But the right lesson to draw from the film, Jones said, is for Americans to remain vigilant despite successful counter-terrorist efforts. He added that history shows there is a certain tendency for the country to become withdrawn and passive when conflicts seemingly recede.
“September 11 proved that America will always be at risk to terrorism in this modern word,” Jones told TAS. “September 11 also proved that the White House itself is a target and remains a target. It was only by the grace of God that the White House was not hit. But I hope this movie shakes up Washington D.C. a little, and also gives the public a necessary jolt.”
Although the assault on the White House, as it is depicted in the film, is clearly intended as fiction, it does convey a powerful truth, Jones said.
“We didn’t mean for the attack to be real in the sense that events could unfold in exactly this manner,” he said. “A plan would never get that close, but that fact that people want to strike at the heart of America and attack the White House, the most famous house representing freedom, that much is certainly true.”
The Boston Marathon terrorist attacks that left three dead and well over 200 injured drive home many of points raised in “Olympus Has Fallen.” Radical Islamists from within and without continue to eye to vulnerable population centers.
“I think it’s time for us to beef up our intelligence operations again,” Jones said. “I think people have responded favorably to ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ because it takes us back to a time when America was at strength, we had a military that was effective, not doing policing, and actually fighting a war.”
The fact that the North Koreans are the villains in the film should remind people that the U.S. has technically been in a state of war with the communist nation for almost 60 years, Jones observed. The Korean War Armistice was signed July 27, 1953.
Just one day after Memorial Day, it’s clear that lessons to be drawn from the “Forgotten War” continue to go overlooked in the news media and in the classroom. Just as the U.S. was left unprepared for the Korean War after dismantling its military capacities after World War II, Jones fears that the same thing may be happening now the memories and lessons of 9/11 are not front and center in the public mind.