Black Hawk Down And Its Impact on US Intervention Policies


Directed by Ridley Scott, the movie Black Hawk down tells the story of how a raid by the United States military that was aimed at destabilizing the Somali government went wrong when the optimistic plans that had been made by the United States military ran into unexpected resistance from the Somalis. In directing the movie, Ridley Scott is guided by the single-minded focus of attempting to get the audience to experience as much as possible how it felt to have been one of the Delta force and Army Rangers soldiers tasked with undertaking the ill-fated mission. The original plan that had been devised by the US military was for it to stage a surprise raid that would be conducted by helicopter-borne troops that would be quickly joined by the military’s ground forces that were operating in the area as they attacked a meeting that was being held by the top lieutenants of a local warlord, Gen Muhammad Farah Aidid, and kidnap members of this inner circle (Ridley, 2002).

What was to be a quick mission however failed to proceed as planned as enemy rockets were able to bring down two of the helicopters and the troops that were commanded by the warlord moved to quickly surrounded the positions held by the U.S. military. Attempts by the military to send in reinforcements were hampered by poor communications and road blocks as a grim firefight between the trapped American soldiers and the warlord’s troops quickly became a war of attrition that degenerated into bloody chaos. in directing the movie, Ridley Scott makes ample use of the presence of aerial spotter planes with infra-red sensors that had been deployed to the area and could detect the movements of the military personnel and the warlord troops below. In the movie, Maj. Gen, William Garrison, played by Sam Shepherd, and his fellow officers use these images to follow the fighting although they are powerless to use the information in the aid of cornered troops (Ridley, 2002).

In a departure from the style of most war movies, Black Hawk Down takes the interesting approach of not having heroic foreground figures. Instead, the leading roles are played by actors who despite their being familiar to movie lovers, are nevertheless hard to tell apart from others and include Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Sizemore. The cinematography in Blackhawk down avoids the bright colors that are common in most combat movies as it allows for its dusty and drab tones to gradually drain of light as night falls (Ridley, 2002).

Application to US Foreign Policy

The incident depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down and the battle of Mogadishu had a considerable impact on the US intervention policies as they marked a weakening in the resolve of the American Public to risk the lives of American soldiers in what it considers to be distant and obscure struggles. The battle of Mogadishu in October 1993 resulted in the loss of 18 American lives and the wounding of 70 more troops. Within days of the conflict, American interventionist policies were quickly revised and President Bill Clinton pulled out the American troops in Somalia that were in the country on a humanitarian mission (Ridley, 2002).

The United States had been morally obligated to intervene in the crisis that had been developing in Somalia as by the time that it chose to intervene, some 300,000 Somalis had already starved to death and the main objective of the U.S. at this time was to aid in the delivery of food shipments from the United Nations (Hicks, 2016). The numerous warring Somali warlords had been unable to help their people and had shown that they were more interested in the protection of their turfs as opposed to working on how they could be able to feed the people.

The application of U.S. foreign policy is determined by a set of six logics. The foreign policy logic that has been applied in the movie by Ridley Scott is liberalism. This logic dictates that the United States should strive to promote liberty across the globe via the use of a number of strategies that include the promotion of human rights, the expansion of democracy, free-market and self-determination. In this regard, the attack on the meeting of the top lieutenants can be interpreted as an attempt by the United States to promote the human rights and democracy of the oppressed Somali people. The United States had hoped to be able to promote liberalism by destabilizing General Aidid’s government and allowing for a more liberal government to come to power.

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