This is the American War of the Worlds. It takes our modern world dead seriously, so the military stands for mankind. The original book showed that science is only vulnerable to change, not to mankind or God, which is worthless or, at least, defenseless. The American novelty is foregrounding the art of war as a serious contender against science. Happily, in America the people respect the military more than any political institution, polls show…
We first see soldiers living peaceful lives before the attack: they really are citizens. This recalls 9/11. We were unprepared then. It is strange that foreign policy should become central, but it does. The aliens typify America’s enemies: it is necessary to fight them; & defeating one cannot prevent another from winning in the future. Necessity is eternal, therefore both predictable & unpredictable.
The people are always unprepared; necessity terrifies them. Hence the shaky camera & choppy editing. The audience of heroism is itself quite cowardly. Love of heroes is always self-flattery. Before this audience, the poet organizes a contest between the man who has an army but not the art of war & the man who has the art of war, but no army.
The young new lieutenant acts tough, loses his cool, & cannot lead. His sacrifice is the only good thing he does militarily. In contrast, there is the staff sergeant. He risks his life at every turn, he continuously looks out for his platoon, & the soldiers overcome their fears, becoming ready to die for him. Without orders, he leads them to victory; some even survive. At the end, his soldiers look at him & follow example; they start arming, they are going back into the fray. Startlingly, before he can conquer the enemy, he must instruct his troops. He imposes his will on both.
Extreme necessity favors the virtuous over the arrogant. Everyone’s bad luck is the opportunity of the great few. Whereas the few depend on the many, though they may deny it, in the ordinary course of events; the extraordinary reverses the relations of power. The example of the military teaches about all politics: in times of peace, laws must force people not to be comfortable & lazy. Such laws reproduce the necessity of times of war.
The teaching about necessity, therefore, is the political teaching. We learn the truth from our enemies. They attacked America for her resources, which they needed to survive or thrive. We are all supposed to be conquerors. Even what we have we must protect, so we must act as if we had nothing & had to conquer everything. We are as alien as the aliens & should have attacked them first.
For fans of infantry tactics computer games