At 6:00 a.m., football fans will unpack their SUVs along Regent Street. By 6:30 a.m., their grills are lit with brats sizzling happily away, lacing the crisp morning air with their sweet smoke. At 7:00 a.m. most fans have a beer in hand, and are raising the stars and stripes to the top of the portable flag poles they often bring to games.
The sites of important football games have become rallying grounds upon which Americans are whipped into ambiguously nationalist and sporting frenzies, and foreigners are cleverly warned about America's supposedly unquestionable military superiority.
From coast to coast, portable poles adorned with both American flags and sports team flags can be seen silently announcing the unification of football and nationalism as the drunken fans who erect them each weekend turn their eyes skyward and formations of F-16s scream indicate the start the of the games.
Somehow the ritual of flying a group of F-16 fighter jets over a stadium to 'celebrate' the beginning of a football game has become an unquestioned and even popular procedure, despite its frightening implications.
Football game flyovers are, in essence, a convenient communication device the American government uses to send a thinly veiled message to other nations: Do not mess with us'we have so many of these things that we fly them over our sports stadiums just to make sure the pilots have something to do on weekends.
To a soldier in a different nation who might be watching such a football game, it must seem as though there is a military base packed full of F-16s in every American city. The effect that this image would have on his or her willingness to participate in an attack on American territory is unquestionably strong.
F-16 flyovers are a cost-effective procedure for a government interested in scaring the hell out of anyone who might entertain the idea of attacking the U.S. NFL games are broadcast in over 235 different nations and territories and commentary is delivered in 30 languages. In 2003, a Chinese station signed on to broadcast NFL games to 300 million new households.
All the U.S. government has to do to send their intimidating message to billions of people worldwide is spend $20 million each on a bunch of F-16s and the $3,000 to $5,000 it takes to operate each one for an hour. TV broadcast companies take care of the rest free of charge.
Any claim that one might be able to conjure up about flyovers being harmless displays of American engineering and ingenuity are easily dispensed. Harmless displays of ingenuity do not have nine ordnance mounting points from which a pilot can launch AIM 9X Sidewinder missiles.
Even if a few people actually stop to think about why F-16s parade around football stadiums on international television, there are few among them that understand that this practice may indicate a break in the fa??ade of military might that America has built for itself over the last 60 years.
Lavish displays of military equipment are a timeless indicator of troublesome foreign policy decisions and ineffective international relations, and often precede national decline. It appears the United States' new penchant for military showboating indicates precisely these things.
When a nation must rely on juvenile psychological games like intimidation through overtly over-blowing its image of strength, they have not been responsible in maintaining an honest, constructive or cooperation-fostering dialogue with its peers.
Even though it is hard to believe a nation that owns 2,000 vicious-looking F-16s is losing its grip on power, the indicators of this fact are still smoldering across the globe. Perhaps no one has noticed, but the United States' last several wars have not gone too well.
Clear victories with unconditional surrenders are no longer as attainable as they once were. F-16s are only useful for fighting other supersonic military jets, and are ineffective against guerilla fighters except as a propaganda piece. This is precisely the reason that F-16s are displayed so prominently every weekend at football games.
The United States' military death grip on the rest of the world is slipping in tactical terms. The easiest way to try to reverse this trend is to engage in a propaganda battle that uses military equipment not to beat the enemy physically, but to prevent them from considering inflicting harm upon the United States.