Thanks for that link, Bill. I shall read that article and comment on it later. First I'm going to take a look at Bond and his relationship with the USA in the books (mainly Fleming, but a tiny bit of Gardner for good measure too)
In all of the novels, the reader never gets the impression that there are any shades of gray.
Really? And how about Blofeld working for the 'good guys' (Bond's own service as well as the French and the Americans) before operation Thunderball? Also I seem to remember an ongoing audit of the SIS at the start of SCORPIUS, under the supervision of one Lord Shrivenham. Whose daughter conveniently is involved with a dubious figure. As far as I recall M leaves little doubt he's intending to make the most out of this connection and sees the results of the audit much more relaxed since he discovered this. Just two off the top of my hat. I think there are plenty shades of grey in the books, we just conveniently like to overlook them.
Just look at the passage in You Only Live Twice when Bond responds to Tiger Tanaka's attempt to belitte Britain--I don't have the book with me here, but it is a wonderful defense of the British people.
Indeed Bond is fond of Felix. But not because Felix is an American. Bond admires American achievements and the luxury that came with their lifestyle. But he's not blindly and unfalteringly in love with the country or the people. He warms to individuals like Leiter or Cureo, and he also admires the remarkable results the CIA achieves with unrestricted funds and manpower. But he doesn't expect a lot of friendliness and isn't inclined to awe and respect towards their representatives.
Bond waits for an American CIA contact at the Nassau airport in TB:'The man from the CIA was due in by Pan American at 1.15. His name was F. Larkin. Bond hope dhe wouldn't be a muscle-bound ex-college man with a crew-cut and a desire to show up the incompetence of the British, the backwardness of their little Colony, and the clumsy ineptitude of Bond, in order to gain credit with his chief in Washington.'
Not really a love-affair, is it?
You bring up YOLT's defence of the British people, and interestingly that same passage also concerns itself with Americans:'... Our American residents are of a sympathetic type - on a low level of course. They enjoy the subservience, which I may say is only superficial, of our women. They enjoy the remaining strict patterns of our life - the symmetry, compared with the chaos that reigns in America. They enjoy our simplicity, with its underlying hint of deep meaning, as expressed for instance in the tea ceremony, flower arrangements, NO plays - none of which of course they understand. They also enjoy, because they have no ancestors and probably no family life worth speaking of, our veneratio of the old and our worship of the past. For, in their impermanent world, they recognise these as permanent things just as, in their ignorant and childish way, they admire the fictions of the Wild West and other American myths that have become known to them, not through their education, of which they have none, but through television.'
'This is though stuff, Tiger. I've got a lot of American friends who don't equate with what you're saying. Presumably you're talking of the lower level GIs - second generation Americans who are basically Irish or Germans or Czechs or Poles who probably ought to be working in the fields or coalmines of their countries of origin instead of swaggering around a conquered country under the blessed coverlet of the Stars and Stripes with too much money to spend. ...'
What at first glance here looks like another speech of defence, this time in favour of the Americans, at closer inspection turns out even more damning than Tiger's original Philippic. Because who actually passes Bond's examination of worthless Americans? Certainly not third, forth or fifth generation immigrants from Eire, Germany and Poland or wherever. I doubt Spaniards, Italians or Russians would fare better. So in the end it's down to Merry Old England and her bold colonisers once more. One might of course ask who did all the conquering, if not these GIs in question. But the fact remains that Fleming used to be quite aware of the state of affairs in the world and Britain's diminishing importance therein. And he was not afraid to address the not-quite-flattering aspects of it, even if these concerned American vanities.
Fleming - and thus Bond - nonetheless was not too critical on American society and way of life (politics hardly mattered in his books), but he also can't be said to have been entirely living in a fantasy world. His talent was to wrap his observations in such a way that made us nod knowingly and approvingly, even if we were meant to be the very target of his arrows.
With the films, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were taking a risk in that the films were made for an international market, so a decision was made to tone down the Cold War aspect and make SPECTRE the main villain.
Actually, the films were made from the start with a mind to enter and conquer the US market. Because that used to be the main place where everything of interest in the industry happened, and where the big money was made. 'International' wasn't a category prior to Bond. International nearly exclusively meant American films that were doing business abroad. Bond films were changing that game, where previously British films could not expect to have an international audience beyond that of the Commonwealth and some Western European countries.
However, there was never any representation that the British and Americans were anything but pure in their motivations. As the films progressed, we got General Gogol, as benevolent a KGB Director that you will find. With Octopussy, the scenario that General Orlov put forth was one that was very close to becoming reality. I suspect that Gogol's opposition and Brezhnev's statement that "world socıalısm would be achieved peacefully" were merely inserted to appeal to a broader audience. Just look at For Your Eyes Only and the Soviets in Afghanistan for proof of Bond's fight against the Soviet threat.
The films never sought to potray Bond's fight and the governments that he worked for in a negative light. M and his/her staff, along with the Ministers of Defense represented the United Kingdom, and Felix, Holly, Chuck Lee, Jack Wade and Jinx represented the US. All were good--pure, if you will--no murkiness. There was never any doubt that the West was decent and its values worth preserving.
But I don't see that QOS changed that. OK, there is a corrupt CIA official and probably a number of corrupt people behind that guy. But I don't regard them differently from Ed Killifer for example. They have their interests, they try to use their positions within the organisation they have penetrated, and Bond's actions interfere with their plans, so they try to get him out of the picture. Not really a surprising development. LTK had Bond in a similar position, only here CIA team wasn't trying to fill their own pockets.
That idea remained even with the rebooted Casino Royale--M is as strong a figure as ever and Felix is there to have Bond's back. With Quantum of Solace, that all changed. For the first time, we have a CIA whose motivations are questionable--and them actually putting a hit on Bond is a cardinal sin. M's explanation of all being good at the end does very little to take away how wrong that is. In the article cited above, Forster states “Bond isn’t a clear good guy—the villain and Bond overlap.” No, no, no--Bond IS a good guy--at least, he was in book and film for 55 years at that point.
Dustin, I do not think that Forster changed the entire series around--he cannot take away 21 films with one outing, and I do not think SkyFall will continue in the vein that QoS did--M's comment to Bond at the end would seem to support this. However, portraying the CIA as motivated by greed without care for the people of the country they appeared to be protecting is as left wing an agenda as you will find in a Bond film. The fact that the film itself is so murky, if you will, may be the reason for the lack of outcry over its politics, as the CIA are not a major element of the story.
I think you may misinterprete this whole CIA angle. The CIA's sole raison d'être is to see to the interests of the USA, nobody elses. And why should they? They are paid by American taxpayers, they must keep the best interests of these people at the top of their list of priorities. Seriously there can not really be any discussion about this. You seem to be at odds with this depiction, but the simple truth is, nobody really holds this against the USA.
I've had a discussion with The Shark about this same matter and I suppose most of the actual disappointment about this - minor - element of QOS probably stems from the timing. Hardly anybody would have reacted all that critical to this detail if the film had come out a few years earlier or later. As it was the whole thing hit the screen when the political turmoil in the real world reached a - temporary - climax with the actual regime change in the USA and everything was seen as somehow related to this, a commentary, a film à clef, an allegory.
All I can say to this is: it's just a Bond film.