Diving into the Clancyverse reminded me of the one and only Clancy game I’ve played, 2013’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, and how unprepared I was for its politics. The overarching theme is that Sam Fisher and his team operate outside of normal military regulations and answer only to the president, but even having nearly unlimited authority to do whatever they want is still framed as an unbearable restriction. The president, who is just Hillary Clinton, is framed as just as much of an enemy as literal terrorists by being too much of a coward to let your squad off the leash to get stuff done and keep America safe.
As an example, partway through the game you find out that a terrorist has been captured and is being held at Guantanamo Bay. He has information you need but those babies running the offshore blacksite wont get their hands dirty to force it out of him so naturally you take the only reasonable option: break into Guantanamo, torture this guy (who gives totally reliable information), and then break out. You know things have gone off the rails when Guantanamo fucking Bay is portrayed as being too weak, too soft on those evil terrorists.
Then at the end of the game after the climactic showdown where you defeat the terrorist mastermind Fisher aims his gun at him and there’s a hard cut to black with the sound of a gunshot. Fade up to the crew watching Clinton give a speech on tv about how the terrorist has been killed and how America has made the world a safer place. Then you walk over to the jail that your team has to find out that he’s still alive! And since nobody else, including the president, knows he’s alive you have free reign to torture him to your heart’s content for information about other terror cells.
I know that being shocked that “oh my god they lied to the president!” comes across a lot differently now than it did in 2013, but still for the stinger just before the credits to be that the president can’t be trusted so the off-the-books special forces unit just…goes rogue and is now unbeholden to anyone was really surprising to me. The narrative frames this as a real fuck yeah, badass, heroic moment while I’m just sitting there like, “Maybe the military should be run by and held accountable to a civilian commander in chief because we live in a democracy. No? Zero oversight or restrictions is the cool aspiration? Nah, I’m good Clancy.”