Sunday, February 7, 2010

DU: Will we ever be able to say "We're done here" ?

"The Hurt Locker" was one of the most exciting films of the year -- compelling to watch -- and it is no surprise that it is an Oscar contender.

The hero of the film is a demolitions expert in Baghdad whose heavy suit and helmet makes him look like a spaceman. Audiences love to watch the soldier dismantle the bomb -- i.e. to see him risk being blown to bits any second.

But the hero's real character is that of a cowboy. He is independent, fearless, a "wild man." He is not afraid of anyone. He does what he wants.

In other words, the perfect American hero.

The recurring theme of the movie is "We're done here." The tension of each encounter with a bomb is followed by the moment when the hero successfully defuses the bomb, and then announces "We're done here."

The deeper theme of the movie is psychological: the solder is addicted to the excitement. He is unable to go on with a normal life. He keeps going back, again and again, to Iraq, to defuse more bombs. (HE is NEVER "done".)

For a while people argued over whether the film is good or bad . . . realistic or a fantasy . . . pro-American or anti-American . . . . Eventually people got over it and just recognized "The Hurt Locker" for what it is: good, clean American fun and Oscar material.

It is interesting to contrast the "hurt" in "The Hurt Locker" -- immediate destruction by explosive -- with another kind of hurt that remains in Iraq and other areas where the US has gone to war. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of "depleted uranium" (DU) have been aerosolized and dispersed by being used in armor piercing munitions. DU emits alpha radiation and does not decay for hundreds of thousands of years, and in its aerosolized form is subject to uptake by many parts of the human body. It will be years, decades, or more, before the health consequences can be fully understood.

DU: the Agent Orange of America's desert wars. The gift that keeps on giving . . . .

It's a peculiarly American condition: we find it hard to focus on anything beyond "right now" and the very immediate future. The excitement of the moment comes with a surge of adrenaline, and it is addictive. Does it occur to us to worry about the long term? Do we think about invisible radiation, taking effect over years and decades, when spectacular explosions seem so much more worthy of our attention and imagination? After all, there will always be someone ELSE to worry about the mess we leave behind . . . .

More on health consequences of DU . . . .

Related posts

After that summer, Kazashi and I stayed in touch as much as we could. But I was in the U.S., and he was in Japan, and before I knew it many years had gone by without either of us hearing from the other. It wasn't until about 2005 or so, when I was fooling around with Google one day, that I said, "Gee, I bet you could even track down someone like Kazashi with this thing!"

(See Obama in Japan: How About a Pivot Toward Peacemaking? )

In preparation for the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima, I've compiled links to many of my posts about nuclear issues.

(See Nov 21-23, 2015 in Hiroshima: World Nuclear Victims Forum -- I'll Be There )