The following scene from Lawrence of Arabia (1962) — depicting a conversation between General Allenby (Jack Hawkins), Mister Dryden (Claude Rains) and Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle) — came to mind while watching Charlie Wilson’s War last week:
DRYDEN: Are you really going to give them artillery, sir?
BRIGHTON: I was wondering that, sir. Might be deuced difficult to get it back again.
DRYDEN: Give them artillery and you’ve made them independent.
ALLENBY: Then I can’t give them artillery, can I?
DRYDEN: For you to say, sir.
ALLENBY: No it’s not. I’ve got orders to obey, thank God. Not like that poor devil. He’s riding the whirlwind.
DRYDEN: Let’s hope we’re not.
What’s interesting is how the earlier film allows you to think that this attitude (that there are limits to how much aid a military superpower should give to the natives who help it, lest the natives turn that aid back against the superpower that gave it to them) is somewhat condescending or paternalistic, whereas the new film is arguably somewhat sympathetic to this attitude.