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‘Black Hawk Down' stirs vivid memories for Hunter

February 14, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

Ridley Scott said he directed "Black Hawk Down" without a political agenda.

His efforts were recently recognized by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, which nominated Scott for the best director Oscar on Tuesday.

"("Black Hawk Down") asks the audience: What do you think, what would you do?" Scott told Giles Foden of the British newspaper the Guardian.

The Imperial Valley's congressman, Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, answered those questions Oct. 4, 1993, the day after Somalis killed 18 U.S. soldiers.


Hunter, a member of the House Armed Forces Committee then and now, asked the U.N. to put a $1 million bounty on Somali Gen. Mohamed Aidid's head. Before the bloody events of Oct. 3 there was a $25,000 bounty for Aidid.

Aidid was targeted by the U.N. because Somalis under his command disrupted U.N.-sponsored humanitarian food drops.

After Oct. 3, many U.S. congressmen were crying for the U.S. to pull out of Somalia. Hunter believed then and believes now we should have taken down Aidid's organization.

Along those lines, the Black Hawk helicopters that were shot down were involved in an operation to capture two of Aidid's associates. A pilot of one the Black Hawks was captured by Somalis and held for ransom.

In the movie's representation of that pilot's interrogation, a Somali ridicules the paltry $25,000 bounty.

The Somali tells the pilot the U.S. had no business getting involved in a Somali civil war.

Should the U.S. have been involved? If so, did the U.S. pull out of Somali too soon?

Scott and the screenwriters purposely didn't answer those questions.

Scott told the Guardian, "Oliver (Stone) gets into a lot of trouble with that sort of thing, as in ‘JFK' and ‘Salvador.' I would make a film with a political point of view if I agreed with it, and even, perhaps, if I didn't. But with this one I don't think there were any answers, only questions."

Hunter recently answered the questions Scott doesn't have to.

Imperial Valley Press: What did you think of "Black Hawk Down"?

Duncan Hunter: The movie was very realistic and factual. There was a lot of blood for kids that should have been toned down. Nevertheless, the movie was a good reflection of the sacrifices of our servicemen and women.

IVP: Do you feel the U.S. response to the Oct. 3, 1993, incident in Somalia, i.e., removing our troops hastily, emboldened terrorist groups such as al-Qaida?

DH: Yes. Aidid's people should have been tracked down.

Aidid was killed in 1996 by a rival Somali warlord.

IVP: There are a few war psychology monologues in the script. An American soldier toward the end of the film wolfs down some food and gets ready to head back into action moments after getting back to base. He tells an awestruck fellow soldier that his friends back home just don't understand. The soldier said he needs to be out there and wants to be out there. It's almost like he is addicted to the rush of war …

DH: I don't think he was addicted to the rush of war but was drawn to be with his buddies. There exist many similar instances in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

IVP: … Nowhere in the film did anyone mention the importance of preventative war, characterized by involving ourselves in a conflict such as Vietnam or Somalia as a way to prevent those unstable regions from affecting the U.S.

Some characters talked about "making a difference" while helping the Somali people, but no one talked about the importance of the operation as it relates to helping maintain U.S. homeland peace.

Do you feel that preventative measures such as protecting food drops in Somalia or stopping Iraq's invasion of Kuwait can prevent attacks such as those the U.S. suffered on Sept. 11?

DH: Only strength matters to such enemies. The lesson for the United States is this: be strong.

IVP: Is our military policy too reactive instead of proactive or is our caution and reticence justified — for instance our policy of not shooting until shot at in Somalia or not entering World War II until after the attack on Pearl Harbor?

DH: Sometimes, politicians endanger our servicemen and women. No tanks for Somalia is similar to the policy of no bomb zones for Vietnam.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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