This past weekend we went to the movies in Paramus and saw ‘Argo’. The movie is based on the real-life events which took place when the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun by militant radicals back in 1979 capturing more than 50 Americans. Maureen and I recalled how captivated the country was during the 444 days of captivity with the daily nightly television news showing pictures of the blindfolded prisoners. Not a good time at all for the country.
Argo is the story how a brave CIA American specialist – Tony Martinez – developed and executed a plot to allow the escape of six Embassy workers who were able to escape during the initial moments of the assault on the embassy. They were able to hide out in the Canadian ambassador’s house but were unable to leave. The CIA operative risked his own life by entering Iran under a cover story that they were going to create a movie and was able to convince the security at the airport and others that they were the production crew.
The actual American involvement was classified until recently with the Canadian officials given all the credit at the time of their escape. Even knowing the outcome, the movie is quite riveting and I would recommend it. If this was a different kind of blog I would give it two thumbs up or four buckets of popcorn!
There are a few investment themes that I thought worth mentioning from the movie. The first being how the Middle East has been in turmoil resulting in uncertainty for decades. I often hear how people want to invest in stocks, but they are going to wait until there is a little more certainty with what’s going on in the Middle East. As this movie timeline shows, they likely would have been out of the stock market for the last 30+ years. The only certainty in this world is that there will always be uncertainty.
Another aspect of the movie highlights the incredible advances in technology over the years. There is a critical moment in the movie when the operation to free the captured employees starts to unravel. One of the senior officials at the CIA needs to track down the Secretary of Defense and the CIA employees at Langley state that they do not know how to get in touch with him. Can you imagine in 2012, where regular people can be in continuous contact with whomever they want, having a situation that someone in a critical covert operation is unreachable?
In addition, the only news on a daily or weekly basis at the time of this crisis was from the standard three major network channels as well as the major newspapers. Yet to have been developed were the Internet companies from Google to Yahoo and the hundreds of different online informational sites including Facebook and Twitter. Now as current events are happening, we get live on the scene reports from people on the ground including photos captured on their computerized phones. These phones now have as much computing power as the mainframes used by some corporations in the 1960s and 1970s.
As the Chinese proverb states, “May you live in interesting times”. Well we certainly do. Enjoy the movie.
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