Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blackhawk Down

© MMX V.1.0.5
by Morley Evans

The movie, Blackhawk Down, is about the Battle of Mogadishu (1993). The Wikipedia article ends with these words:

The film ends with text informing the viewer that "1000 Somalis died and 19 Americans lost their lives in the conflict. Mike Durant was released after 11 days of captivity. On August 2, 1996, warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid was killed in Mogadishu. General Garrison retired the following day."

All American war movies [1], including such work as Full Metal Jacket and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, focus upon the trials and tribulations of American soldiers as they battle faceless enemies. The enemies in Blackhawk Down, called "skinnies", are usually silhouettes shooting at us. We don't know who they are or why our solders are fighting them or what was gained or lost after our guys won. Wikipedia estimates between 500 and 1500 Somalis were killed versus 18 Americans and one Malaysian. This ridiculous kill ratio is consistent with current figures from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Vietnam and Korea. But in the essay on the Battle of Mogadishu (1993) these figures are quite different: The Somalis did much better when they counted their own dead.

American forces have always done well, in this sense. Americans have never paid a heavy price, despite what is generally believed by Americans. In WWI [2] and WW II [3], American losses were 2% of the total military slaughtered and even less when civilians are included. American civilians have never been touched. The appalling statistics are unknown by the general American public. Movies like Blackhawk Down, with images of blood drenched GIs, reinforce this misconception.

Did our guys win? Win? They killed lots of Somalis, but Somalia is still a lawless mess, an armed camp that is hostile to the U.S. The original reason for going to Somalia was humanitarian aid. So the mission to Somalia was actually a failure. It was a fiasco. The helicopter manufacturers did well, of course, as did other armament contractors.

The Battle of Mogadishu (1993) was undertaken during the administration of William Jefferson Clinton. The Somalia invasion was one of the first things done in the new post Cold War era when the threat of the Soviet Union was gone. The official White House Clinton biography gives no hint at all about Somalia. As far as the White House is concerned, "the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history." [4] How nice.

[1] Does anyone else make war movies, or war TV shows, or war games, or war toys, or feature soldiers, airmen, and sailors on daytime game shows like The Price Is Right? "War is Hell," Sherman observed but war can be fun too as we learned from Sergeant Bilko, The Dirty Dozen and Kelly's Heroes. I Dream of Genie featured servicemen in uniform. British war movies such as Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Mrs. Miniver were made by Hollywood.

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