Saving Private Lynch

I have been hearing (I only have radio, no TV) over and over about the Heroic Rescue of Jessica Lynch. Bless her soul, I hope she gets well. But the reports raise doubts at a couple of levels.

1) They say her arms and legs were broken. Hard to think of an accident that would do all that. And there were 8 or 9 dead GIs where she was. If they had been killed in the battle, the Iraqis would not have dragged them to the hospital. Maybe they were wounded, and all died of their wounds, but that sounds unlikely.

What seems likely is that those deaths, and Jessica’s broken limbs, were the indirect result of the Heroic Rescue. It’s common sense that one of the dangers in a rescue attempt like that is that when the captors see that rescue is coming, they kill the prisoners rather than have them taken away. If it turns out that the 8 or 9 died just when the rescue was taking place, that would be pretty strong evidence that it was the rescue that killed them.

Which leads to 2) To what extent was this Heroic Rescue designed as a media event? Nothing new in that: it has been pretty well proven that the assault on Mount Suribachi at Iwojima (not just the flagraising, but the whole assault) was largely a USMC media event. If it turns ou to be true that the Heroic Rescue was also a media event, then the 8 or 9 dead and Ms Lynch’s broken arms and legs will be something that the US planners will be hard put to to explain (not that I absolve whoever did the killing and breaking).

Which leads to 3) One of my heros, Allen Nelson, a Vietnam vet who turned pacifist and comes to Okinawa a lot, once told me, “You know what surprised me the most the first time I went into combat? (long pause) There was no music.” For us movie goers and TV viewers, war is something that is accompanied by music. It’s the music that gives it its dignity. But on the battlefield, no music. But now on Fox and all the crap I get on the radio, the music has been restored. I get musical background to Bush’s speeches, music between battle descriptions, music backing up Central Command briefings. This is a movie.

The advocates of the New American Century talk about the Roman Empire as a model, but I had been thinking, at least we don’t do the Circus: battles to the death as entertainment. But now it has begun. Today I listened to(and I guess people with TVs watched) a live battle in which people were killed. You could see dead and dying bodies on real time. With music. After experiencing live (live-to-dead?) entertainment like this, can we hope that the viewers will be willing to go back to ordinary sitcoms?

Douglas Lummis is a political scientist living in Okinawa and the author of Radical Democracy. Lummis can be reached at: ideaspeddlers@mpd.biglobe.ne.jp


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