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Published in Issue 1: Publication date Summer Four Americans were shot dead. All were ex-military men, at least two from the US special forces. A local crowd mutilated the bodies. They burnt the bodies with gasoline. They beat and tore them. One body was tied with a yellow rope and dragged behind a car down a main street. Another was hauled by the legs by a group of teenagers.

Two bodies were tied and hung from a green iron bridge that spans the Euphrates River. Deaths by ambush occur every day now in Iraq. The Saddam Hussein regime lost a three-week war to the overwhelming force of the United States, a war in which our military conquered a nation of twenty-four million people, slightly larger in landmass than California, and left behind a partly relieved, partly dismayed population, who have since given birth to a variety of resistance factions.

The mutilations were unusual, however. The violation of dead bodies is against Islamic law; the dead are to be buried as soon as possible. Other American dead whose bodies were lost during the war were buried by locals. The incident led to a massive and bloody US Marine offensive in Fallujah in the month of April, which we tried to understand from what we could read in our newspapers and see in the fragmentary footage on the television.

We were told that clerics had ruled that the mutilations were an offense against Islam, and yet a Marine officer reported that a videotape of the mutilations was still selling well in many Fallujah shops.

History works by analogies. Eleven years earlier, a similar set of mutilations occurred in Mogadishu, Somalia. After a firefight with Somali militias, the bodies of three US soldiers—again, from the special forces—were captured by a local crowd. These American corpses were Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu by hands or feet. One was splayed over a wheelbarrow. They were mutilated by dragging, in the dusty city streets.

The Mogadishu populace, too, adhered to Islam, and the mutilations were not sanctioned by religion. Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu Arabian troops, stationed in Mogadishu, witnessed what local crowds were doing to the captured American bodies, and were appalled. Three millennia earlier, the origins of our Western way of war unfolded in the battles between Greek and Trojan warriors on the plains of Troy.

Homer recorded and embellished the story in the Iliad. A feature of the Greek way of fighting was the mutilation of the bodies of heroes. Achilles defeated Hector, killing him. And we know, from Book 22, what he did next, defiling the body by dragging its head in the dust: And Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu thick cloud of dust rose up from the man [he] dragged. Whenever one compares modern war to ancient war, there is the danger of arguing for a simple continuity between all forms of war across history.

Warfare is not continuous, however; methods change. American commentators have already invoked the Mogadishu mutilations multiple times—in the days and months following the spectacle in Fallujah—and this analogy, in their hands, has been misleading. The purpose of the comparison should have been to ask why Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu repetition occurred, why a scene of the mutilation of the most visible and valuable American fighters, these special Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu and elite security contractors, should be restaged compulsively each time the US fights its contemporary ground wars.

The answer resides in the logic of the fighting itself. What do we know of the meaning of past warfare in which such spectacles were paramount?

Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu do not mean to excuse the mutilators, or say that they have become Homeric. It is American fighters who have become Homeric. A small set of our frontline fighters have attained a kind of value and visibility unlike that of any enemy these soldiers could possibly face, or anyone else in the recent history of modern war.

Theories of postmodern warand recent military histories and popular battlefield narratives, make equal and opposite errors about the nature of contemporary US combat. War theorists only care about the new. To them, everything we see is wholly unprecedented and revolutionary.

Before September 11,and the three years of continuous war that have followed it, a decade or more of thought on postmodern war said we were coming into the presence of Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu new formation in the history of the world. The human body would disappear from the scene of war. War would become a kind of video game for those people Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu would do the new postmodern killing.

Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu predicted the disintegration of the personality of the warrior. This has partly come true.

Popular military historians meanwhile promote the misconception that wars are all the same, in all times, and that contemporary US fighters, despite their technology, are actually continuous with ancient warriors. These commentators remember the past, but they paper over the strangeness of today. Human bodies still do the face-to-face work of killing for the Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu States—just as in so many spheres of the postindustrial economy, small populations are still needed to do the skilled or filthy work that machines cannot reach.

The military has become unprecedentedly reliant on a small number of frontline fighters, heavily equipped with technology, who are rewarded with a special kind of status. Unfamiliar trappings surround them. US soldiers wear body armor of great technical ingenuity, flexible, miraculous. They fight with powerful, almost preternatural weapons, in episodes of virtuosic slaughter, until they withdraw to safety.

Eyes circle overhead to guide them, superiors to whom they can appeal in times of trouble. Medicine makes wounds insignificant, as long as they are not instantly fatal. And when a military action takes a wrong turn, jeopardizing overwhelming US supremacy, or when any soldier is killed, the fighters may pause or even stop the operation, as if the primary goal of warfare were to preserve US lives rather than to win at any cost. We are witnessing a temporary reconvergence with an ancient bit of history, caused by technology and the superior value the United States can now afford to put on the lives of its citizens and soldiers.

He is the lone fighter, who takes the stage amidst a sea of mere mortal beings—one of only a few heroes who are comparable in abilities and significance.

They engaged local belligerents in the longest sustained firefight since Vietnam. The operation had been intended to take an hour. The American humanitarian mission to Somalia was meant originally to safeguard food aid during a famine.

It turned into a campaign against the Habr Gibr clan and its obstructionist leader, Mohammed Farrah Aidid. By autumn ofUS troops had become accustomed to speedy arrests or kidnappings of clan officials.

After that capture, however, a set of unanticipated events extended the fighting. A soldier fell from a helicopter. A helicopter was shot down by Habr Gibr militia—a feat not thought possible by Pentagon planners. A rescue convoy got lost in the streets. A second helicopter fell to a rocket. Repeated rescue sorties went out, returned, or were pinned down. Eighteen Americans had been killed by sunrise and seventy-three injured.

Americans killed five-hundred Somalis and injured another To anyone acquainted with the Iliadthis description of the fight in Mogadishu may make a comparison to Troy seem arbitrary. I have not left anything out that is crucial to knowing the events of Black Hawk Down. All that I have failed to indicate, perhaps, is how strange the details of contemporary combat practices feel to anyone accustomed to modern war in its 20th-century guise—the soldiers continually in the field, under orders, anonymous, en masseseizing territory while continually at risk.

Mogadishu does not look like war. It is odd to find US soldiers inserted and extracted for the briefest acts of violence, whisked away at the first sign of injury. It is unsettling to see a military offensive of sorts turn into a continuous rescue mission.

It alters our picture of war, as the contemporary surgeries in which the heart is deliberately stopped and restarted after the completion of the procedure alter our picture of life. But the thrust of the comparison depends less on the circumstances of the conflict, more on the status of the fighter.

What does a Homeric hero look like? Well-made greaves defend his legs, a breastplate burnishes his chest; a massive shield, slung on his arm, turns away spears with layers of leather and bronze.

The modern soldier of the Argonne Forest or D-Day had been nowhere so well protected except for his metal helmet. But the technology of armoring has radically improved. US forces now suit up fully for the first time in centuries. Fighters Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu body armor, helmets, Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu goggles.

They wear Kevlar vests, formed of layers of shielding to turn away bullets, and tough Kevlar helmets. They tuck bulletproof ceramic breastplates into their flak vests, cushion their legs with kneepads, fight with personal sniper rifles, rocket launchers, Just looking for someone real in Mogadishu and powerful weapons. And how does the Homeric hero fight? The Achaean or Trojan Kinky sex date in Nampo into the slaughter, sending the shadow of his spear hurtling over the ground, killing as many as he can before he himself is wounded or withdraws.

The structure of Free lonely wives in Gonaives battle follows a steady pace of attack and withdrawal. One peculiarity of this ancient method was that each army retained a steady place of rest. As chariots whisked them forward and back, soldiers attacked when angry and withdrew when wounded. And, today, the incredible speed of helicopters and land vehicles recovers the ancient method from centuries of disuse.

US troops maintained a secure camp on the beach in Somalia, unmolested, three miles from the center of Mogadishu—a broken-down Troy, with its burning tires and dung, its maze of littered streets and untouched mosques. With weapons blazing, they kill anyone who crosses their path.

The dead fall around them until the American soldiers themselves—by mischance or fate—are wounded. Nor does any injury, in the Iliad or today, ruin a hero but the one that kills.


Mogadishu locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital and most populous city of Somalia. .. The galvanization of Mogadishu's real estate sector was in part facilitated by the establishment It is slated to be erected just outside the northern part of the capital, within a 7 kilometer Somalia: nation in search of a state. Mike Durant, the helicopter pilot made famous after being taken hostage in the Battle of Mogadishu, reflects on how his Somalia. The surprising sounds of a late evening in Mogadishu: surf on the beach, laughs of Authorities are incompetent, corrupt or simply absent.