I watched Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers last night. Not the sort of light entertainment I normally watch on Saturday night but something everyone should see. Yes everyone should see it to get an unsanitized view of war, blood and guts on the ground, severed limbs and yes, even a head. Something those who glorify war don't want you to see. But the theme of the movie is really all about the marketing of war. The famous photo of the American flag being raised on Iwo Jimo was turned into just such a campaign. We saw a similar campaign early in the Iraq war with the faux rescue of Jessica Lynch. Jessica wanted no part of the of the charade and it backfired.
Some say that war is a natural state for human beings. I think that's wrong. It is a natural tool of those who lust for power. Wars must be constantly marketed and sanitized. One of the turning points of the Vietnam war may have been the photo of the Vietnamese officer blowing the brains of a Vietcong soldier all over a highway. Another factor in the war was television - we could see people getting wounded and killed on TV. The Pentagon and the Bush administration learned that lesson from Vietnam. From the very beginning we have not even been allowed to see flag covered caskets much less real footage of battle. And what about heroes? Once you are in a battle zone or the heat of battle you are no longer fighting for your country but fighting to stay alive and keep your buddies alive. So every American should see Flags of our Fathers and see that war is not about flags but about blood and severed limbs. That war is not so much about heroes as it is about staying alive and returning home. I am not a pacifist. There are times that war is necessary, World War Two is an example. But war really is about death and wars that are not necessary should not happen. Iraq and Vietnam fall into that category.
And of course there is the pre-war marketing an example of which is given in The New York Times, The Build-a-War Workshop.