The War On Terror is not working and is creating more terror. This is the gist of Hollywood's most recent talked-about movie, Body of Lies, currently playing in theatres all over the US. The director of this movie is Ridley Scott who had previously directed Gladiator (2000 Oscar Winner for the best picture), Kingdom of Heaven, and Blackhawk Down. It is a more nuanced portrait of the Middle East and the role of the US therein. Both adversaries are painted with shades of gray, rather than black-and-white caricatures. The making of the movie on this and related themes shows the extent to which the Bush-Cheney War On Terror has seeped into the American popular imagination, with its seeds of deep disquiet. Among other things, it shows how Western powers use and deceive their allies in the Middle East and callously discard them once the need has expired. This movie features some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Leonardo DiCaprio - who in the film occasionally speaks Arabic - and New Zealand-born Russell Crowe, who is a cousin of former Kiwi batting star, Martin Crowe. Significantly, the movie shows its American protagonists are equally devious, brutal, and untrustworthy as the other side. In fact, the Russell Crowe character says at the end that "there are no innocents" in this struggle. The Leonardo DiCaprio character is infatuated with an Iranian nurse who escorts him to a Palestinian refugee camp where he gets a first-hand view of the squalor, misery, and despair which have fuelled flame and fury in the Middle East for 60 years. This, and other movies, are reflecting an unease running through America about its current direction or its lack thereof. According to an ABC-Washington Post national poll, released on October 13, 90 percent of Americans believe that the US is on the wrong track, and 73 percent of Americans disapprove of President Bush. The policies of the exiting Bush have helped create the climate and conditions that have inflamed the vicious escalation in word-wide tensions. The global financial crisis has added to the woes, although many in the US are reluctant to explicitly connect it with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for fears of being tarnished as 'unpatriotic'. But its cumulative impact is to improve favourably the presidential prospects of Obama, who is seen as better equipped to tackle the challenges, despite discomfort of some with the possibility of the first black president. According to the CBS News/New York Times poll of October 14, Obama now has a 14-point lead over McCain. Also, Pakistan's salience has been enhanced, as manifested through the second presidential debate on October 7, where it was viewed as pivotal to America's international security issues. This interplay between hopes and fears is leading to a tremendous upsurge of interest in the Muslim world, whose stability is seen as relevant to the future and wellbeing of the United States. It gives space for Muslims to press forward legitimate claims and make the case for a comprehensive review of Western policies on issues dealing with Islam and the West, and Islam in the West. Already, both John McCain and Barack Obama have pledged that the detention centre at Guantanamo will be closed. Many of its inmates were caught in the post 9/11 crossfire in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their detention compromised American values and the due process protections embedded in the US constitution. To top it all, former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denied to the detainees the protections of the applicable Geneva Conventions. The biggest casualty of this Bush administration policy was the global reputation of America. Decent folks in America have spoken out in dissent. Most recently, Lt Col Darrel J Vandeveld, one of the key prosecutors in the Office of Military Commissions which has been prosecuting the Gitmo detainees at military tribunals, has quit because his conscience could not absorb the lack of fairness in the process. Literary works of fiction are prominently tackling themes drawn from the War On Terror. The celebrated novelist, John le CarrT - the pseudonym of David Cornwall, a former British secret agent who wrote a number of well-known books, including The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Looking Glass War, and The Constant Gardener - has the most notable addition to this genre. His new novel, A Most Wanted Man, taking a critical view on the War On Terror, centres on a Chechen fugitive, who shows up in the German port city of Hamburg where the 9/11 attack is alleged to have been organised. Zardari and Cheney may be unique in maintaining that Bush has made the world safer. The hero of the movie Body of Lies, Leonardo DiCaprio, who, when told at the movie's end that it is not safe to remain in the Middle East, replies "You are not safe anywhere." The writer is an advocate-at-law and political analyst