Hollywood to DOD: war Is more than weaponry
Critics like to give Hollywood a hard time for debasing American culture. While some flotsam does make it into theaters, I think moviemakers can pack an astonishing amount of wisdom into their products when they put their minds to it. Look no farther than the current sensation over The Incredibles, an animated film that manages not only to entertain, but to celebrate family solidarity and attack the leveling instinct towrad mediocrity that pervades our society.
In this case, though, I have in mind an older film. Last weekend American Movie Classics presented a marathon of war movies in honor of Veteran's Day. I happened to catch The Enemy Below, a classic submarine flick starring Robert Mitchum. The Enemy Below makes a simple point that often gets lost today, amid fanciful talk of military "transformation," a "revolution in military affairs," "network—centric warfare," and other concepts currently in vogue.
That point: men, not machines, fight wars. Carl von Clausewitz famously proclaimed that war was the province of strong passions, not to mention chance and uncertainty. While technological innovation was important, victory inexorably came down to prevailing in a contest of human wills and intellect. While technological superiority is valuable, no amount of technical wizardry can eliminate the human element of warfare——as the recent struggle for Fallujah shows.
The Enemy Below recounts a chance World War II encounter between an American destroyer skippered by Mitchum's character, Commander Murrell, and a German submarine commanded by von Stolberg, wonderfully played by Curt J