Hicks and Baudrillard on the Gulf War

An idea for a class assignment*: Compare and contrast the following two accounts of the Gulf War.

Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place:

From the beginning, we knew that this war would never happen. After the hot war (the violence of conflict), after the cold war (the balance of terror)—which leaves us to grapple with the corpse of war and the necessity of dealing with this decomposing corpse which nobody from the Gulf has managed to revive. America, Saddam Hussein and the Gulf powers are fighting over the corpse war.

We should have been suspicious about the disappearance of the declaration of war, the disappearance of the symbolic passage to the act, which already presaged the disappearance of the end of the hostilities, then of the distinction between winners and losers (the winner readily becomes the hostage of the loser: the Stockholm syndrome), then of operations themselves. Since it never began, this war is therefore interminable.

This is not a war, any more than 10,000 tonnes of bombs per day is sufficient to make it a war. Any more than the direct transmission by CNN of real time information is sufficient to authenticate a war.

Bill Hicks, The War, from Relentless and/or Rant in E-Minor:

So, it’s good to be here, wherever I am. Gosh, since I was here, we had a war, that’s pretty f’ing weird, huh? A war? Wasn’t really a war, you know, a war is when two armies are fighting, so, I don’t know if you could call it a war, exactly, you know. The Persian Gulf Distraction, is more like it, I think.

See, everyone got boners over the technology, and it was pretty incredible. Watching missiles fly down air vents, pretty unbelievable. But couldn’t we feasibly use that same technology to shoot food at hungry people? Know what I mean? Fly over Ethiopia, “There’s a guy that needs a banana!” BOOM! The Stealth Banana. Smart fruit! I don’t know. Once again, I was watching the f’ing news, and it really threw me off. It depressed everyone, it’s so scary watching the news, how they built it all out of proportion, like Iraq was ever, or could ever possibly, under any stretch of the imagination be a threat to us-wwwwhatsoever. But-watching the news, you never would have got that idea. Remember how it started, they kept talking about ‘the Elite Republican Guard’ in these hushed tones like these guys were the bogeymen or something. Yeah, we’re doing well now, but we have yet to face-THE ELITE REPUBLICAN GUARD. Like these guys were twelve feet tall, desert warriors. KRRASH. NEVER LOST A BATTLE! KRRASH. WE SHIT BULLETS! Yeah, well, after two months of continuous carpet bombings and not one reaction at all from them, they became simply, ‘the Republican Guard.’ Not nearly as elite as we may have led you to believe. And after another month of bombing, they went from ‘the Elite Republican Guard’ to ‘the Republican Guard’ to ‘the Republicans made this shit up about there being guards out there’. We hope you enjoyed your fireworks show. It was so pretty, and it took our mind off of domestic issues! The Persian Gulf Distraction. [Note – text and video may not line up, as they are from different iterations of the routine.]

* For what class I do not know.

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