by Fidel, May 25, 2005 2:32 PM
One of the first things I learned living abroad is that much of the world places far less value on the idea of "innocence" than Americans do. The cult of innocence is an American ideal. One of the finest, most insightful portrayals of an American innocent abroad is embodied in Arden Pyle, a naïve young CIA operative sent to Vietnam in the fifties. Behind the scenes, Pyle engages in secret machinations to try to establish a puppet regime favorable to US policy. Pyle is a zealous, earnest ideologue and truly naïve, unable to see all the misery caused by his seemingly innocent actions. Ultimately, his ambition undoes him, with the help of a cynical English expatriate named Fowler (good name). Maybe there was a time when the world worked that way.