There was a combined number of 20,000 deaths in the Persian Gulf War, including both the Iraqi and the American soldiers. When people think of war, they think of destruction. Chaos. Death. It’s something that most people consider terrible. It takes the lives of millions of our soldiers, and in many cases, also the lives of the innocent. But is there something that makes war worth all of these deaths? Well, Jarhead is something that delves deeply into that issue. Jarhead is a 2005 war film based on Anthony Swofford’s life in the US Marines, during the Persian Gulf war. Swofford was born on August 12, 1970, and is currently an American writer. The film was based off of the book, Jarhead, that he wrote. The title itself was a nickname to marines, due to their haircuts appearing “jar-like”. Even 25 years later, Jarhead is still just as important to us, because it teaches us about what war really was like, and whether it could ever be worth all the deaths.
The Persian Gulf War was an international conflict began in 1990, elicited by the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Iraq’s leader at the time, Saddam Hussein, had ordered the invasion. Hussein was Iraq’s dictator who had no qualms about torturing those who opposed him. His goal was to conquer the nation’s oil reserve, as well as gaining more power for Iraq and canceling out the debt that Iraq owed Kuwait. The United Nations called for Iraq to back off, but it did little to help. With the threat Iraq posed to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, the United States and its allies decided to send troops into Saudi Arabia to fend off a possible attack from Iraq. And then January 16 arrived. The US had sent a message to Iraq, telling them to withdraw from Iraq, but when no response came, the US took matters into their own hands, and President George Bush launched operation Desert Storm, a military operation specifically to expel opposing Iraqi forces from the country of Kuwait, intensely bombing Iraq for the next few weeks. Around 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in this conflict, while the United States suffered from close to 400 fatalities in the region. Finally, Iraq would be defeated and retreat from Kuwait on February 28, 1991.
In Jarhead, Swofford goes through the Persian Gulf War. Operation Desert Storm is portrayed in an apocalyptic manner with napalm shells and dead bodies littered around. And maybe that’s how most people portray war, but how many innocents had died in this attack? Operation Desert Storm may have helped the Iraq to back off, but at a high cost. During the war, Swofford was assigned many mundane tasks, including the burning of feces.
There were many incidents in US history where we never accomplished anything in our wars, just like the Vietnam War, which we finally had backed out of after the citizens displayed their high disapproval because the death toll was so high and unnecessary. Jarhead paves a way through establishing when war is good, as Swofford questions his own experiences on whether it was ever worth it to even join the military and fight in the Persian Gulf war. It opens many questions on the effects of war, which is why it’s so important today. The US is still fighting in wars, like the Afghanistan war, where we practically accomplished nothing even after having troops stationed there so long. Jarhead lets current society decide whether our wars are worth fighting, and worth all the lives lost. So take a look at Jarhead, and weigh the costs, and then decide whether America should truly still be fighting the current War on Terror.
Article by Tifany Wong & Video by Karly Talbot
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