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Best form of foreign engagement:
Armed conquest (Ghengis Kahn, et al) 33%
Friendly alliance (NATO) 0%
Trading partners (NAFTA) 16%
Political unification (EU) 16%
Isolationism (Japan ca. 1800) 0%
Atomic holocaust (nuke 'em 'til they glow and shoot 'em in the dark!) 33%

Votes: 12

 The Lesson of Black Hawk Down

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Jan 21, 2002
The exciting new film Black Hawk Down, based on the bestselling book about an ill-fated Army mission in Somalia, calls attention to an important trend in political thought, one which has been largely forgotten recently, but in light of the events of Spetember 11, seems more and more relevant. I am speaking of course of isolationsm.

More diaries by Chocolate Milkshake
Which is more important?
Myron Schell, inventor of "first post!", dead at 47
Christmas is child abuse
Fellowship Of The Rings Comparative Movie Review
The Consolation of Melancholy
9/11 and Class Conflict
I'm very disappointed with Noam Chomsky
Thoughts on Lee Harvey Oswald's widow's affair with his Brother
Blade II And The Twilight Of Science
The Time To Act Is Now
Human Nature (the movie) and a question about hair
Four Spider-Man movies reviewed
Can't Sleep? Blame God.
Don't Do What Scooby-Doo Does
Summer Blockbuster Showdown!!!
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
BHD depicts the fruitlessness of the (U.S. initiated) attempts by the United Nations to get food and medical aid to the starving, impoverished victims of Somalia's savage civil war. Hobbled by stifling regulations like the "rules of engagement", U.S. military personnel are forced to watch impotently as thugs commanded by the Warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed machine-gun civilians and steal aid supplies for themselves. The plot of the movie concerns U.S. Army troops dispatched to kidnap some of Aideed's henchmen, and who end up embroiled in a deadly battle with what seems like most of the city of Mogadishu.

Damn Braces, Bless C-47 gunships
The doomed Delta Force and Army Ranger troops in BHD are sent on their way with surprisingly feeble equipment, hand weapons and jumvee jeeps, into something reminiscent of the battle of Stalingrad. The film makes clear that these brave men have been betrayed by the cheap political games of the suits who call the shots: their requests for armored vehicles and C-47 gunship aircraft are denied by the higher-ups in an effort to keep their mission "low-key". In the wrenching battle scenes that follow, the veiwer longs for the sight of a squat Bradley APC or the graceful lines of a C-47 soaring overhead, pulverizing the evil minions of Aideed with precision autocannon fire. How much American blood was spilled for the political parlor games of government bureaucrats?

If At First You Don't Succeed, Give Up
The stark lesson of Black Hawk Down, is this: geopolitical involvement is a thankless effort, one which yields nothing but blood and tears. The rubble in downtown New York provides real-life substance to this movie-derived conclusion. The United States tries to make peace in the Middle East, tries to get food and shelter to the people of Somalia, tries to share free-market prosperity with the developing countires of the world, and we are repaid with terrorism, gunfire, and screaming protesters. It is time to throw in the towel.

Sucks To Be Them
The advantages of isolationism are many: vast amounts of money will be saved by by our not having to keep thousands of troops stationed overseas. American businesses and workers will benefit as captial once spent on overseas trade is now kept here at home (additionally, trade could be maintained with certain civilized trading partners like Japan and Canada). Most importantly, Americans, safe under a new ABM and sattelite-laser umbrella, will never again have to mourn as their children are brought home in caskets, victims of some disastrous "peacekeeping" quagmire in some fly-ridden third-world hellhole, will never again have to live with a sour lump of fear in their guts, fear of the mayhem and murder that foreigners secreted among them may unleash. As for the citizens of other, less advanced nations, the only answer is to let them shoot, burn, starve, and nuke one another until they are all dead or learn to behave civilly. It is no concern of ours.


Further lesson: 'how to sell out' (none / 0) (#1)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 03:47:27 AM PST
The trailer for the the film Black Hawk Down features music from the popular artist Richard Melville Hall.

Regarding this music placement, three question spring to mind:
  1. Is Moby well known as a pacifist and a vegan?
  2. Is Black Hawk Down a movie that glorifies violence?
  3. How much money was Moby paid for use of his music on this particular war-movie trailer? -- because it isn't

you are astonishingly arrogant... (none / 0) (#2)
by redalert on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 05:33:35 AM PST
and also rather ill-informed. If America decides not to get involved with the rest of the world, where the hell is it supposed to get its oil from?

You talk a good policy, but I doubt you'll get much support from the American public once they realise it means getting rid of their MountainHumper VII SUVs and taking the fucking bus.

- redalert

ill-informed? (none / 0) (#3)
by nathan on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 07:50:41 AM PST
At least he didn't assume that the US gets its oil from the middle east. For the record, about 25% of American oil comes from the middle east, and that amount is replaceable if middle eastern oil were to become unavailable. America guarantees the stability of middle eastern oil extraction for international, not internal, economic stability.

This is not kurowank. Kindly be informed before opening yap.

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Gas prices could go sky high with no problems. (none / 0) (#4)
by dmg on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 08:39:47 AM PST
about 25% of American oil comes from the middle east, and that amount is replaceable if middle eastern oil were to become unavailable.

Combine that with the fact that there is inelastic demand for gas, you can see that there is plenty of scope for US gas prices to rise to European levels (about $10/gallon in some states)

time to give a Newtonian demonstration - of a bullet, its mass and its acceleration.
-- MC Hawking

Confusion... (none / 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 09:17:21 AM PST
Mr DMG, when you say "gas", do you mean "gas", or "petroleum products"?

Or did he mean (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by sdem on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 09:27:16 AM PST

oil from middle east is replacable???? (none / 0) (#8)
by PotatoError on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 10:36:02 AM PST
The US needs about 15 million barrels a day of crude oil delivered to refineries.

On average, the US produces 6 million barrels of crude oil a day
On average, the US imports 9 million barrels of crude oil a day.

That pretty much proves that the US needs the oil supply from the middle east - why do you think the gulf war was fought?


does not follow. (none / 0) (#10)
by nathan on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 11:05:16 AM PST
On average, the US imports 9 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Good for you. Where from?

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Give it a rest, nathan. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by RobotSlave on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 02:40:04 PM PST
First off, it's possible that PotatoHead doesn't have the reading comprehension skills necessary to understand what you've just asked him.

Second, everything he "knows" of the world has been gleaned from a few web sites that purport to deliver "news." In this "news," oil can be obtained only from the Middle East, or from wildlife refuges in Alaska.

In PotatoHead's world, there is no oil in Texas, there was never any oil in Pennsylvania, there is no oil in the North Sea, and Venezuela does not even exist.

In PotatoHead's world, an "offshore platform" is magic structure that will make it possible for him to steal the entire catalog of recorded music without fear of punishment, and "Occam's Razor" is an Indestructabe +6 Long Sword of Argument Winning.

His response, if any, will not be worth reading.

© 2002, RobotSlave. You may not reproduce this material, in whole or in part, without written permission of the owner.

the figures showing US oil dependancy. (none / 0) (#13)
by PotatoError on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 08:30:30 PM PST
"In 2000, the Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) produced nearly 28% of the world's oil, while holding 65% of the world's oil reserves"


No, it doesn't. (none / 0) (#14)
by RobotSlave on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 08:46:33 PM PST
That figure shows world oil dependency, you idiot.

Reading comprehension is so very difficult for some. It's sad, really.

Now, run along and see if you can figure out where the US gets its oil.

© 2002, RobotSlave. You may not reproduce this material, in whole or in part, without written permission of the owner.

irrelevant (none / 0) (#19)
by redalert on Tue Jan 22nd, 2002 at 04:26:52 AM PST
I didn't even mention the Middle East, you idiot. Kindly read the comment you are replying to before opening your yap.

Looking at these figures from the American Petroleum Institute, and assuming that we count Norway, Canada, and the UK as 'safe' countries, that leaves 48.3% of US oil coming from potentially unstable countries. If America cut off almost half of its supply of oil, fuel prices would rise - there isn't that much capacity in Alaska - and I don't think that the American public's famous distaste for military action would extend to any situation where they had to endure any slight hardship.

So Mr. Milkshake's policy would fail in the face of simple self-interest.

- redalert

I deserve that (none / 0) (#20)
by nathan on Tue Jan 22nd, 2002 at 09:01:23 AM PST
That being said, I don't see Venezuala as a troublesome ally requiring periodic pacification.

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

A bubblin' crude: oil, that is, black gold (none / 0) (#15)
by Chocolate Milkshake on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 09:07:02 PM PST
An isolationist foreign policy does not automatically preclude limited trading with certain foreign powers for the purpose of obtaining essential resources like oil (the U.S. gets most of its foreign oil from Western Hemisphere countries like Canada and Mexico, btw). Second, even if some cutbacks in oil imports are needed, such measures could be taken as an opportunity to develop alternative sources of energy (a good place to invest the money saved by not having to fund overseas military bases).

There will be certain sacrifices to be made if an isolationst foreign policy is adopted by the U.S., but such costs will be greatly outweighed by the resulting benefits in terms of national security and solidarity. The American public could easily be convinced to adopt such a policy with the right sort of leadership in place.

The other lesson we learn from Black Hawk down... (none / 0) (#9)
by PotatoError on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 10:38:45 AM PST
is that rubbish films dont get good ratings.

I won't see that movie in theatres (none / 0) (#12)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 02:55:34 PM PST
The adds portray it as "Americans vs Somalians." If that is the case then I find myself cheering for the Somalians.

Sure the Americans were out numberred but that doesn't really matter. Sept 11 showed that even a small number of dedicated people can kill thousands and thousands of people at once. A few hundred people dying is small fry.

Buchanan's vindication (none / 0) (#16)
by SpaceGhoti on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 09:54:47 PM PST
At the end of World War I, the European nations created the League of Nations and invited the United States to join. While the Executive branch of the US government thought this was a keen idea, the Legislative branch voted against it and the US returned to its previous policy of isolationism. Other than protecting private trading endeavours around the world, the US kept to itself. The League of Nations never became anything more than a figurehead symbol of international relations, unable to follow through on its intended purpose of diplomatic unity and peacekeeping.

At the end of World War II, the European nations formed the United Nations and this time the US joined in. Many political analysts cite the failure of the US to join its predecessor as the ultimate cause for the LoN's helplessness, and cite the US's membership in the UN as the reason for its effectiveness (subject to debate). Since then, the US has largely spearheaded most of the police action undertaken by the UN, dragging them along with varying degrees of enthusiasm and cooperation.

The fall of the Cold War has changed the role of the US in world eyes. Instead of the peacekeeper/bully, the US has become the new standard for competition. Many nations see the US as more of a bully than a peacekeeper, but whenever a new initiative to intervene in a problem comes up, those nations generally expect the US to stand forward and fill in the lion's share.

What would happen were the US to turn back to its isolationist policy? How would those former allies act, and react? Like it or not, much of the world economy flows through and around the US. Should the world nations decide to retaliate against the US (trade embargoes come to mind), the US would suffer for it.

The problem with grabbing the tiger by the tail is what to do when you want to let go. It's easy to forget that the other end has teeth.

A troll's true colors.

Shouldnt've grabbed it in the first place (none / 0) (#17)
by Chocolate Milkshake on Mon Jan 21st, 2002 at 11:52:10 PM PST
Extricating the U.S. from its present international entanglements will be a drawn-out difficult process, but it remains the most beneficial path for our great nation to take.

After all, when you've got a tiger by the tail, letting go may be tricky, but hanging on to the thing will eventually get you eaten.

Should'ves (none / 0) (#18)
by SpaceGhoti on Tue Jan 22nd, 2002 at 03:58:19 AM PST
Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of playing the "should have" game. You're right, the US probably should have stayed isolationist, but they didn't. So now we're left with the task of figuring out what to do next. Personally, I don't favor the isolationist approach. The US already has a reputation for being remarkably narrow-minded and self-centered, and I'd much rather not justify it any further than necessary. Furthermore, I don't trust any politician of any stripe or political affiliation to enforce total US isolationism without encurring the wrath of former allies.

Nor do I fully condone US involvement in every petty squabble and police action around the globe. I'm in favor of some sort of compromise. Reduced involvement without a total withdrawal. Place US allies on notice that as a deadline approaches, the US will gradually withdraw military involvement in world affairs. On that deadline, the US will cease any and all military action not directly involved with national security. However, I believe the US should attempt to encourage mediation and stay involved in terms of peace-keeping.

The only time I believe the US should get involved with tangible assets (like troops or military hardware) is if the US is directly threatened (such as a terrorist cell that has been identified and located) or if another country is proven to the satisfaction of the World Court to be violating international law, such as developing biological weapons. Some things you just can't sit back on. I'd hate to think what might happen if terrorists or their supporters get their hands on a truly efficient biological weapon, something much more virulent than anthrax.

A troll's true colors.


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