The political satire has been underground for a time, maybe as a result of fear or maybe as a result of contempt and apathy for the current state of government on any continent. But the silence of this film genre has finally been broken by Armando Iannucci's In The Loop.
The non-specifics of the film are part of what makes it so accessible. No particular president and no particular prime minister is targeted because, at this point, it's fairly safe to say that, no matter who is in office, every administration seems to have an inevitable brush with incompetency, a fact embodied by one of the leading characters in the film, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), the Secretary of State for International Development (what a bull shit title) in Britain.
When Simon Foster makes the comment on a radio program that he feels war is "unforeseeable," everyone starts to fucking panic. Malcolm Tucker, the chief of communications, immediately hunts Foster down to verbally lynch him for his stupidity. Obviously, saying that war is unforeseeable is a direct threat to both Britain and America's bread and butter of an industry. Threatening peace, in a way, is almost the same as threatening poverty (for arms traders and world leaders with a stake in companies like Unocal).
Damage control is sought by banning Foster from any upcoming public appearances, a punishment quickly cast aside when his new assistant, Toby Wright (Chris Addison) gets him a seat at the powwow with U.S. senator Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy). Not realizing that he is only there as "meat in the room," a political body to fill the space, Foster begins blabbering incoherently when personally asked by Karen Clarke whether or not he is against war in the Middle East. Foster tries, ineffectively, to give a dual answer, but only ends up looking more foolish and indecisive than ever.
Feeling vulnerable and confused after the political gathering, Simon is approached by a slew of reporters outside the building, where he further backs himself into a corner by saying, "In order to obtain peace, you have to climb the mountain of conflict." This statement is instantly interpreted to mean Foster is now in favor of a war and sends Malcolm into a berserk state of fury. Instead of sacking Foster, however, Malcolm sends him, per the request of the PM, to D.C. where he will be insignificant enough as a political figure to stay out of trouble. This, of course, is not how the plan works out as there is another senator, Karen Clarke's rival, you might say, named Linton Barwick who wants to use Foster for his own ends to encourage a war in much the same way that Karen Clarke and Lieutenant General George Miller (James Gandolfini) wish to use him as a buttress to support their argument against going to war.
With interminable conflict and frenzied confusion on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems that, for all of the intricate deception, nothing is actually getting accomplished and no one is really getting what they want. This reality, presented so acutely on film by Iannucci, is a reality that occurs daily on the international political front. In The Loop serves as a farcical mirror to be held up to the world powers at the forefront of decision making.