I am watching CSPAN2’s book TV where a panel is discussing the myth of warfare.
On the panel we have Athony Swofford, author of Jarhead, and Chris Hedges, combat correspondent and author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.
Hedges pointed out that most of the coverage of the accounts of the battles in Iraq describe the effectiveness of the weapons: they are precise, they are accurate, they are effective and thus by extension, so is the empire that produces them. Thus the coverage builds the success of the nation, it is an autocatalytic cycle that expands Nationalist Sentiment.
I am reminded of the myth that Hitler and the Nazi party shared towards the end of WWII that the wunderwaffen (wonder weapons) would save Deutschland. More deeply, it would save Deutschland and legitimate Deutsche Nationalism.
So when the coverage praises the weapon, fear the country. I mean seriously, what the fuck are we praising, the efficiency of which we can obliterate human life? When we buy into the myth of the Other we enable ourselves to voyeuristically achieve climax in the orgy of death. Belief in the other is centreal to pretty much every horrible action of human history.
I always thought it was particularly obscene the way Cold War Russia would parade missiles on truckbeds through Moscow (Kim Jong Il does the same bit in North Korea). Is it not more obscene that our nation of Hollywood does it more sickeningly, glossing over the creation of the other, glossing over the obscenity with which we achieve death. Yay!
Other sayings from Hedges:
War is the most intoxicating drug ever invented by man.
The essence of war is death. Not nationalism. It is a poison. It is commercilized, refit, and spun. In the same way that tobacco companies or liquor companies sell you death glamourized, so has the White House sold us death.
It’s not the titilation and excitement that the embedded journalists sold us.
It is impossible to create an anti-war movie. All war movies are war porn. It’s like making a movie denouncing pornography that features graphic love scenes.
The Bush Administration has tried to hide the essential fact of warfare.
When will we wake up and say enough? When will the Toby Keith lines stop having their magic narcotic effect?
Wearied, I am reminded of Jarrell:
Randall Jarrell The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
Is this picture and this poem worth it? What is it we are in Iraq for?
WMDs? an al-Qaeda link?
I see now we’re stuck there, but what did we go there for, really? And what will it take to get our soldiers back home?