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If you are like me, Scahill "had me at Blackwater."  This is Blackwater on steroids.  Even more disturbing, especially the information on Obama's acceptance of "the world is a battlefield" doctrine.

Below is my extended review and commentary on DIRTY WARS.

This is an excellent book that contains an incredible amount of good information on our “war on terror.”  The book leaves me deeply disturbed, however, for three reasons.

First, Scahill makes it clear that part of the war on terror is the cold war redux.  The cold war put us in bed with bin Laden, Somoza, Thieu, Noriega, etc;  it was a modern example of the ancient doctrine that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  The last decades should have disabused us of our belief in that notion.  Noriega takes over almost a third of a million dollar from the US, while he is on the payroll of the cartels.  We gave about three billion dollars to Islamic groups who wanted to oust the Soviet forces, and now many of these same groups oppose us today.  The weapons sent to our allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan too often find their way into our enemies’ hands.   In this day and age, friends and enemies are tremendously illusive terms, which can with a change in circumstances or the processing of more information, be reversed. Scahill’s discussion on Somalia is a case in point.

Second, President Obama has, like a hungry fish, swallowed the Cheney-esque  “the world is a battlefield” doctrine—hook, line, and sinker.  When that means we must go into Pakistan in secret to take bin Laden, we all think it reasonable. Almost everything is called a “slippery slope;” this truly is one.  When our drone kills an entire family at a family gathering in order to hit a single individual, we call their blood collateral damage. This is nothing new;  the Allies may have killed as many as a million citizens with their strategic bombing.  Some sources indicate that our invasion of Iraq resulted in over half a million civilian deaths. So, what’s the big deal?  

The big deal is that we are not at war with the countries in which these deaths occurred and are occurring.  In the war on terror,  the US truly sees the world as a battlefield, and we have the right, nay the duty, to kill whomever we decide is dangerous—however we can and wherever they might be. We kill an American citizen on foreign soil for what he said, not what he did. What Scahill makes clear with well-chosen examples is that our hubris is astounding, and this strategy may make more enemies than it exterminates.

Finally, this was not part of Scahill’s  argument, but it is a related conclusion.  Over 3,000 Americans were kill on 9-11-01.  Those deaths have twisted the face of American democracy into a deadly grimace.  Because those deaths shattered the myth of our safety from the consequences of foreign conflicts, we have become a country that tortures and abuses prisoners; we have spent something close to one and one-half billion dollars;  we have killed tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of civilians who simply got in the way of our vengeance or our paranoia.  Roughly 7,000 US soldiers have lost their lives.  We have also become a society teetering on the edge of an “Orwellian 1984.”  No habeas corpus for some; no privacy for almost everyone. All because of those deaths and our own national psychosis, helped along by political entrepreneurs who clang the bell loudly and corporate whores who feast off conflict.  

How does all this happen?  Auto accidents kill roughly 6,000 Americans a month; firearms kill roughly 3,000 US citizens a month. But, those 3,000 deaths over a decade ago on 9/11, horrible as they were, have been made into the fuel that has helped drive this nation to accept and defend policies that are fundamentally insane.  Scahill documents some of that insanity for us, and he does it very well.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle is inborn in us." Paul Valery, French poet, essayist, philosopher, and curmudgeon, 1895

    by ATexican on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:35:58 AM PDT

  •  What will it take for a serious discussion (10+ / 0-)

    Thank You for this diary - tipped and rec'd

    Scahill does a great job of analyzing the security state we find ourselves in and I appreciate Your efforts in moving the discussion on POLICY forward

    "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

    by josephk on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:42:46 AM PDT

  •  How does all this happen? (9+ / 0-)

    How does it? How do we stop this insanity?

    Nothing about this America that we live in today, bears resemblance to what we were taught to believe, sadly.

    When congress never comes up short for votes on war funding, when the pentagon has never been required by congress to pass an audit on the billions upon billions spent, when we have poverty at the highest levels in decades, as well as the greatest income inequality, a massive surveillance state, secret laws, secret courts, the president and congress negotiating to cut safety nets, we have so lost our way.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 11:07:55 AM PDT

  •  Dirty Wars (6+ / 0-)

    Our Sundance theater here in Madison, WI is showing the film
    "Dirty Wars" on August 9-10. I believe that other Sundance theaters nation-wide are also running the film.

    My friends & I are going to see the film Friday night. Hopefully the film is as good as the book.

    Thanks for your review, ATexican.

    We must be the change we wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

    by left of center on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 11:08:39 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps the most dangerous lie of all: (4+ / 0-)
    They hate us for our freedoms.
    No, it's in response to military-economic imperial actions and policies.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 11:43:10 AM PDT

    •  Hating us for our freedoms (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      That has never made any sense to me at all. What skin is it off their nose if we are free to speak out against our government, or are free to travel at will, and even go topless at some beaches, etc. Should we attack Canada because we hate them for their health care system? Shall we march en masse on Ajijic to prove our hatred of them for having one of the best climates in the world?

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 01:27:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be sure, there is a bit of something to it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, truong son traveler

        Salman Rushdie can speak to that. But it's nothing like the stuff of which global revolutions are made.

        That's part of what makes the lie so pernicious, that little seed of reasonableness leveraged beyond reason and multiplied into absurdity.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 02:03:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dirty Wars (6+ / 0-)

    is a book and a film that digs deep and once you have read and/or seen it, you can't forget it.  

    I'm still haunted by the families killed at al Majala, and that young, baby girl really, at the end of the film.  

    If you were moved by Dirty Wars, you'll probably be interested in this stunning series of photos, Afghan children. There are a few graphic photos in there, mild really, considering what they've been through, but most of the photos are stunningly beautiful and informative.

    Afghanistan's Children of War


    "Justice is a commodity"

    by joanneleon on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 12:25:04 PM PDT

  •  Scahill's book is particularly good on Awlaki (2+ / 0-)

    and his teenaged son.  The book strongly suggests that what made U.S. authorities so eager to kill the elder Awlaki was his effectiveness as a propagandist against the U.S.  (something that should have been protected by the First Amendment).  As for the killing of his teenaged son, the book makes clear that there was no good reason for killing him, and that his killing probably had some illegitimate and possibly scandalous motive (like hiding the fact that they had been tracking the son).

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 02:22:17 PM PDT

  •  I have just finished this book-Dirty Wars ! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    Literally within minutes of seeing this topic. Am still processing much much of what Scahill says so not too much to add yet. I will say that the killing of Abdulrahman Awlaki(Anwar's first son), struck me as really senseless and illegal. I also wonder how much "poetic license" the author took when he says that Obama no longer turned down drone strike permission if there was evidence of women and children(colateral damage)that were likely to be hit by drone strikes.

    Should we put ourselves in "their shoes" ? How do you think we would feel if rockets from the sky started falling here,
    blowing innocent people(colateral damage) to unrecognizable
    pieces of flesh and hair ? This is about how the author describes what was left of the 16 yr old Awlaki and his cousins as they settled in for a meal.

    The announcement today of evacuations in Yemen makes me wonder if AQAP no longer needs to shoot and set off IED devices, but that just saying they will attack can cause the US to leave a country.

    Lots to think about....

  •  Jeremy Scahill "How Do You Surrender To A Drone?" (0+ / 0-)

    Journalist Jeremy Scahill spoke at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy NY on May 22, 2013 on the eve of President Obama's address on drone policy, just after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote a letter to members of Congress acknowledging the deaths of four Americans, including Anwar al-Awlaki, in counterterrorism strikes "outside of areas of active hostilities." Though these strikes had long been the subject of press reports about the administration's use of drones, the letter marks the first time the classified operations have been publicly acknowledged.

    What do we live for, if not to make the world a less difficult place for each other.--George Elliot

    by Independent Musings on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:48:28 PM PDT

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