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The Gulf War Did Not Take Place

by on October 17, 2012

I discovered a book written by Jean Baudrillard titled ‘The Gulf War Did Not Take Place’ which clearly sounds very bizarre. My original thoughts on this book were these: This is the philosopher who claimed that simulacra was the ‘murder of the real’ so I expected him to controversially claim that the war had never taken place, and instead was some form of simulation. After doing some research into it, I discovered Baudrillard isn’t being as controversial as one may originally think. He is claiming that the war did not take place because it was like a carefully scripted media event- a virtual war.

Baudrillard argues that the style of warfare used in the Gulf War was so far removed from previous standards of warfare that it existed more as images on RADAR and TV screens than as actual hand-to-hand combat, that most of the decisions in the war were based on perceived intelligence coming from maps, images, and news, than from actual seen-with-the-eye intelligence (Baudrillard 2001, 29-30).

He also describes how media is so openly accepted in our society. For example, during the Gulf War, people would openly believe the way in which the war was betrayed through the media. However, when Baudrillard questioned soldiers from the war, their accounts were very different. This, I imagine, is a form of simulacrum as the media created a simulation that the general public perceived as the reality when, in fact, it was not. 

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