Are we witnessing a war or tuning in to the broadcast of a high school football game? An admiral talks to his pilots aboard a carrier in the Mediterranean: "We're going to hammer them -- hammer them"; TV announces the game plan of "decapitating" Saddam Hussein's presumed bunkered-down leadership; and a headline reports that "U.S. Pummels Baghdad as Troops Push Toward City" (March 22). We are hammering them? Decapitating them? Pummeling them? Sounds barbaric to me. Or is it just boyish play?
Our country is caught up in the aesthetics of power and war. Watching the "7th Cavalry's" road trip to Baghdad and the "shock and awe" light show, we are transfixed. I'm strongly opposed to this unprovoked war and yet I'm attracted by the TV images and implication of power conveyed by them.
This isn't the first time that the aesthetics of war and power swept up an educated populace. For an illustration, please see Leni Reifenstahl's film "Triumph of the Will."
How times have changed since the days of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Old soldiers no longer just fade away. They become analysts on the major networks. Any day now I expect an announcement urging the audience to stay tuned for the "half-time report" with "Gen. Howlen Mad Strangelove," the Marine Corps band and the University of Texas cheerleaders.