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Dark Endeavors

Somewhat Less Than As Presented

can't say I'd scarf down any insects either

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 14, 1995.

The US military, which with some regularity OD’s in an orgy of self-worship, has done it again in the case of the downed F-16 pilot. Despite the fact it took six days to find the man and that we quite nearly had another Iranian rescue fiasco again - complete with burnt hulks of helicopters - we are now swept up in hero fever. Yet a superficial glance reveals it to be a fiasco.

new there were SAM missiles in the area, yet did not notify the Air Force pilots on that day. Second, flying level in formation at twenty thousand feet, the F-16’s gear and all early warning devices either failed or the pilot did not react: he was split in two in level cruise.

Third, six days is a long time. Fourth, we sent in helicopters without taking out the missile, and only the incompetence of the Serbs failed to bag at least one packed helicopter. Three missiles were fired. Fifth, the downed pilot has turned out to be too truthful for good propaganda. It turns out he was nearly starved to death because he didn’t eat insects. He admits he could only catch about ten. Whatever the taste, ten ants in six days, supplemented by cow forage, is not food.

But the military succeeded in one thing: attention has been drawn away again from its errors, and the public is swept up in tearful emotion for a failure and, really, a fiasco. We even faint over the heroic marines who, it turns out, never left the helicopter. How many marines are worth the life of one Air Force pilot?