Reading Gourevitch and Sontag in conjunction serves as a mirror in which we see a darker truth about how “we” perceive war. Sontag says the “we” is everyone who was never a victim. When we look at images of war, we cannot comprehend what life is like for the subject. We gaze, sympathize, and ask “how could this happen?” However, we don’t think critically about how to prevent it and fail to remember those images when war is waged again. This makes “us” complacent (and thereby complicit) in war. Gourevitch argues the same for UNAMIR and France in the destruction of Hutu Power. At a time when we could have stopped the genocide, western forces in Rwanda took a backseat. This was largely due to American policy on the genocide. The Clinton Administration tip-toed around the word “genocide,” the Convention of 1948, employment of our resources, and involvement by the United Nations. Likewise, “we” tip-toe around images of war.
Additionally, as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, more disturbing images are shared and we become more desensitized to them. We are also influenced by what the governmental and media powers want us to see. Gourevitch shares that the top concern for France was to take photographs of their soldiers saving Tutsis. Similarly, Sontag notes American media during the Gulf War circulated images of our technologically advanced military rather than images of civilian death. The impact of power structure and the globalization of media create a culture where “we” are less thoughtful about the images we see and more directed in our perception by those in power. This is exemplified by Gourevitch’s grilled cheese-genocide analogy. No one really cares about it and those in power create red-tape to hide it like a “nice wrapping.”