Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All-American Heroes Are a Dime a Dozen

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All-American Heroes Are a Dime a Dozen

Article excerpt


HERO inflation" is the name they are giving to the latest twitch of the American psyche. You can see an example of it in the new film Black Hawk Down, which features an episode that was viewed as a humiliation for the US military, a covert operation in Somalia to seize guerrilla clan leaders that resulted in the deaths of 18 American soldiers.

The mutilated bodies of two of these soldiers were dragged through the streets by Somalian mobs, which led President Clinton to order troops out of Somalia, and since then has haunted the thinking of policymakers, which explained the squeamishness of the Pentagon's refusal to accept the risk of a single casualty in a foreign war.

But Black Hawk Down presents a wildly different picture of the "fiasco" in Mogadishu that supposedly gave heroism a bad name. It shows the incident, in which more than 100 handpicked Rangers and Delta Force soldiers battled in the streets for 15 hours against thousands of Somalis armed to the teeth, as something of which Americans can be inordinately proud.

"The search for heroes stops here," is a message of the movie.

The producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, says he went out of his way to make the film "inspirational", and its release was moved up to take advantage of the mood of patriotism created by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

For "defeat" read "victory" and a stunning one at that. In the early stages of the battle, the Americans had captured the clan leaders they sought. Then two of the Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, and the US troops fought through an "urban hornet's nest" to rescue the crews.

The movie goes out of its way to depict the horror of war. Some scenes, critics say, are more disturbing than the nightmare of Omaha Beach shown in Saving Private Ryan. Rockets protrude from stomachs, torsos explode, hands and legs fly off under grenade impact. …

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