View Full Version : Mark Bowden: American Military 10 years after Black Hawk Down

03-16-2009, 04:29 AM

Some may be interested in Mark Bowden's thoughts on the American military in the 21st century, 10 years after publication of Black Hawk Down.

Full text here:


Clip for discussion:

"I have also been struck increasingly by how much warfare plays out publicly and in real time, so that appearances matter as much or more than battlefield outcomes. Because we own the world’s most powerful military, we need to be especially careful to use it sparingly, justly, legally (insofar as international law exists), and with careful attention to world opinion, mindful always that the best intentions of a nation can be undone by a single bystander with a digital camera."

Thought the last sentence was a particularly eloquent way of putting it.



03-16-2009, 05:12 PM
I think that goes more to my tagline than to the bystander. If you're not doing anything wrong, then it is tough to point to it and say that you are. If you are not doing anything wrong, then the guy with the camera needs to fabricate something. In that case, he's engaging in disinformation/deception and is not a bystander. There is a broad line between misconduct being captured on tape and proper conduct being falsely portrayed as misconduct. The former is a failure on our part. The latter is the adversary's success. It is an important distinction that too often gets glossed over.

03-16-2009, 06:08 PM
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Mark Bowden (with 59 of my closest friends) to discuss Blackhawk Down not long after its publication.

My impressions of Mr Bowden remain unchanged... He was/is an unassuming (then) newspaper reporter who not only wanted to get it right, but also wanted to do so in a manner that properly honored the memory of the servicemembers involved. What he wasn't willing to do is to succumb to pressures to change the facts as he understood (and triple referenced). To my knowledge, he still has an offer on the table to ammend any part of the book that someone could prove was wrong (holding them to the same three reference standard).

I don't think he's changed a word...

For my $, one of the best that the 4th pillar has produced in the last half century.

Live well and row