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“The True Enemy is War Itself” – Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide – Comparison to John McCain Concession Speech and Barack Obama – Crimson Tide Soundtrack

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Summary. The instrumental selection Roll Tide accompanied the scene in the anti-war movie Crimson Tide where the older seasoned graying hawkish military sub captain (Capt. Frank Ramsey played by Gene Hackman) admits defeat and error as he hands the reigns of power to the young executive officer – an underdog idealist diplomatic well educated anti-war African American Harvard graduate (Lt. Commander Ron Hunter played by Denzel Washington). In the end of the film, just before the end credits roll, the senior captain walks off, realizing he is at the end of his own career. It’s an excellent film and highly recommended.

Roll Tide, from the Crimson Tide soundtrack, is the song that was played at the conclusion of John McCain’s speech, “We Must Work Together,” when McCain conceded defeat to Barack Obama, and, along with Sarah Palin, and their respective spouses, waved to their supporters and began walking off stage. The song was presumably selected by someone in the RNC/GOP for it’s symbolic meaning (described in more detail below). Update: Almost all video clips of John McCain’s concession speech have now been edited throughout the Internet to exclude the ending where the music from this anti-war movie was playing. It can only be heard now by watching the extended version on the BBC website and moving the playhead to 9:51.

The timing of the music at the end of McCain’s concession speech is identical to the soundtrack that accompanied the movie at the end of the movie when the older sub captain concedes to the younger commander, and then walks away (as if into the sunset), ending his career and beginning his retirement.

Side-by-Side Video Comparison. There were apparently many other people who made this same observation. Below was an excellent side-by-side comparison. It’s been removed, presumably due to a copyright claim.

Anti-War Message. The conflicting ideologies of the captain and the executive officer in the movie Crimson Tide are revealed early on in the film (from 20:40 to 24:13). During a gathering of the officers of the sub, there is a discussion about whether it was right or wrong to use nuclear weapons. One of the officers calls another a communist because he suggested it was wrong to drop an atomic bomb on Japan.

The sub captain, Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman), smiles and quotes Carl von Clausewitz, “War is a continuation of politics by other means.”

The executive officer, Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington), responds, “Yes, the purpose of war is to serve a political end, but the true nature of war is to serve itself.”

CAPTAIN RAMSEY: “I’m very impressed. In other words, the sailor most likely to win the war is the one most willing to part company with the politicians and ignore everything except the destruction of the enemy. You’d agree with that.”

COMMANDER HUNTER: “I’d agree that that’s what Clausewitz was trying to say.”

CAPTAIN RAMSEY: “But you wouldn’t agree with it?”

COMMANDER HUNTER: “No, sir. I just think that in the nuclear world, the true enemy can’t be destroyed.”

CAPTAIN RAMSEY: [tapping a glass to mockingly get attention] “Attention on deck. Von Clausewitz will now tell us who the real enemy is.” [laughter] “… Von” [the captain nods]

COMMANDER HUNTER: “In my humble opinion, in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.”

This dialog sets the stage for the entire drama that unfolds which is largely a struggle of ideologies. Ultimately, restraint, diplomacy, and those with Commander Hunter win, and a third world war is avoided — saving billions of innocent lives. In the end, the captain, along with the entire crew of the sub realize that a fearful worldview and militant posturing would have led to many innocent people dying – including Americans.

In the context of the Iraq war, the recent elections in the United States were largely about differing ideologies and world views. Do we become more militant and isolationist, or do we become more diplomatic and cooperative with the world community? This is the question that faced America in our most recent election. Ultimately America voted and chose the path of diplomacy and cooperation. It’s a path that leads to a more peaceful future.


* The song Roll Tide, scored by Hanz Zimmer, is also played at a point in the film Crimson Tide where the entire crew shouts, “Go ‘Bama, Go Pride.” The sub in the movie is the Alabama, or ‘Bama for short. The words, “Crimson Tide” and “Roll Tide” are from the song “Yea Alabama” of the University of Alabama.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com