Thursday, June 27, 2002

These have been pretty long posts so I will probably try to space them out and shorten them some.
Black Hawk Down the movie is a fairly good reproduction of the book, although it does not have the scope of chaos and violence the book does. You don't get the sense that many hundreds (possibly around 600)died in this battle and the position and distances of the troops from each other was a bit too vague. Other than that it did do a good job of showing what the battle was like based on what I know from the book. It is fairly intese, but partly because it is a movie with hollywood stars and partly because I had read the book already and knew what would happen it was not as intense. I would recomend it for those too lazy to read the book, for those who have read the book, and for those who like war and action movies. It is of the Saving Private Ryan genre instead of the a standard action film since it does not glamourize the violence, you get the sense that these are real people so it is more, the violence is realistic and intese, and everything that occurs pretty much did really occur, unlike a Die Hard or Collateral damange where one man seeks revenge by himself and kills dozens of terrorist while uttering catch phrases. The movie also shows the importance of technology in war, where the Rangers have tools like helecopters with mini guns and rockets, personal body armor, and sophisticated communications. All of this helps to give a great advantage over their enemies who only have grenades, guns and piles of rubble for the most part. Both book and movie make sure that you know the rangers think we won the battle, though we gave up on the greater cause. The U.S. military killed a whole lot more Somalies than the Somalies killed U.S. Soldiers and the U.S. captured the people they were there for in first place. We all know the story now of how Americans got really angry after loosing soldiers and pulled out of Somalia. This of made us look weak in the eyes of our enemies and emboldened them to attack us. Most readers/viewers end up feeling angry that our government was willing to put these soldiers at risk, but when the risk failed gave up on the objective. Thus we are left to wonder if the government valued their lives in the first place if the objective was that unimportant. Soldiers die in war and if the cause is important enough in the first place to put the soldiers live at risk we should not give up on the cause when that risk does not pay off and the soldiers die. When the British lost thousands in the Battle of Britain that only showed how urgent the cause was, which led them to be even more dedicated to winning the war. Hopefully, America and the rest of the free world will learn from that lesson.
One other quick observation about Black Hawk Down the book. It was a very intense read because the suthor personalizes so many people in the battle and you are well aware that several of them are not going to make it through the battle and these are all real people that you may bump into on the steet some day if they survive. As the book went on I noticed a pattern that if you learned the thoughts of the people in the battle they must of have survived for the author to record them and that if you did not get insights into a person's thoughts, there was a good chance they were not going to make it. I would defenitely recomend this book to any person who is interested in the current war on terror/radical Islam, history, or who just wants a good original read.
One of the best books on modern warfare is Black Hawk Down which I finished reading about a month ago. The details of the battle were exhaustively researched and presented to the reader in a well orgained way and are fairly easily understood, which is impressive considering how chaotic the battle was. It shows how important western army discipline and cohesion are in an environment like Somalia. Most of the mistakes made by the Rangers in the book were because they lacked quick communication lines or did not follow standard procedure. One of the most frustrating parts of the book to read was the story of the helicopters observing the battles that could not directly talk with the humvees they were ordering around. This miscommunication caused the death of several soldiers and helped stretch out the battle possibly for several hours. Much of the success of the mission was the result of having an organized command structure where soldiers followed orders and stayed in formation. Compare that to many of the Somalies who would just rush headlong into battle and had little command structure to organize their fighters. The fatality ratio of the battle was by some estimates around 1 dead american for every 30 dead somalies. Ever since the Greeks figured out the importance of formations and discipline 2500 years ago western militaries have usually been able to dominate their enemies even when greatly outnumbered. This more than anything else is why western armies almost always win wars against non western powers even when greatly outnumbered (The conquestedors in Central America, 18th Century England vs China in the opium wars, Present day Israel vs the entire middle east.) Usually when the west has lost or has come close to loosing has been when it faced enemies who learned these lessons (in the russo-Japanese war the military of Japan was more westernized than the Russians, this is also why the Japanese came close to beating the U.S. in WWII). In Somalia and the rest of that part of the world the lessons still have not been learned.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Coming soon! Posts on books like Black Hawk Down, Fareignheight 451 and both Norse and Greek Mythology. Also my thoughts on Movies like Black Hawk Down, We Were Soldiers Once, and Tora! Tora! Tora! I have been on a war kick recently in my movie watching and book reading. The first book I read when this kick started was The Pity of War, a great history of many aspects of World War One (more detailed on the war literature of the decade before the war and the effects the war had on global finance for instance then on battle dates and tactics). I returned it to the library on September 10th.
this is a superb article I found on saddam hussein.I am still trying to figure out how to get hyperlinks to work just right. So be patient. I have always wondered on the lack of depth of reporting on Saddam Hussein and his rise to power. You would think the person considered by many to be one of the most dangerous men alive and who the United States and the rest of the world once went to war against would rate more detailed coverage. Its a lot more common to see good in depth reporting on much less dangerous or important people. I would bet that even most Americans who follow politics and world affairs closely have no idea on how Iraq got to be where it is today and how Saddam came to power. The detailed history of Iraq I think would make him even more hated. The adress to the site is www.aldaily.com. The Salon article from my previous post is at http://biz.yahoo.com/e/020626/salnc.html.
unfortunately, it looks like one of my favorite websites is probably going to go under. Salon.com was one of the first sites I frequented for news and commentary on a regular basis. I disagreed with a lot of what Salon said, (they are a bunch of hippy left coast commie wackos for the most part) but during the first few year or two I thought it was very interesting and there was usually at least one or two articles worth reading a day. Then the dotcom bubble burst and management realized it had to cut cost and raise revenue if they were going to remain viable. In recent months I have become steadily disappointed as the quality of the writers deteriorated along with the variety of subjects it covered. Some days I would look at the list of articles and none would look good enough to even skim and the ones that did were often in its premium section and I am a cheap bastard. So are a lot of other people which is why Salon is going to go under or might be bought out. I do not think the buy out is likely since it does not seem to have anything of tangible worth to be worth buying. The pesky rules of supply and demand and the need for a business to make a profit will claim another victim.
I plan to post a list of the sights I frequent in the next few days, including the blogs of friends. I hope to post at least on a daily basis but will try to do multiple daily posts. I plan to include commentary on books I am reading, films I have scene etc. as well as current events, religion, history, philosophy, and politics.
This is the first ever post to my blog. Remember this day with wonder and Joy!