Saturday, 28 November 2015

Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill

I nearly read this book in 2014, only my reading schedule was tight and I put it aside for another time. After watching the documentary a few weeks back, I decided the time to read it was now, as I could not believe that the book would be anywhere near as sensationalist in style as that truly awful documentary.

I was disappointed to find that it was. Maybe I shouldn't have watched the Doco first with all it's blatant heart string pulling slow shots of children's little faces and weeping wives and grandmothers. Maybe my cynicism came to the book as a result of that tarnish. But there was no doubt what this author was about. Sensationalism in it's finest post Vietnam War petticoats.
Something happened to War Journalism during and after the Vietnam War. With the other large conflicts that preceded it, WW1 and WW2, civilians had blind faith in their soldiers. They were heroes and assets to their greater community, gracing print media and advertising material with their arms around the girl, or Coca Cola pouring down their throats.

They could do no wrong and did no wrong. They did not rape nor torture, and collateral damage was a myth.
Of course, none of that was true. But while soldiers in WWI & II were portrayed with positive bias, the Vietnam War brought about a new world order of negative bias. These modern armies became armies of 'baby killers'. Degraded and shamed by the media, they were murderers of women and children. Burning villages, slaughterers of the innocent.

There was murder. There is no doubt of that. Women and children killed and villages destroyed, but it has always been this way in war. It was this way in WWI and WWII. It was this way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it will be this way forever more. This is the bloody reality of War. And while this journalist went about trying to expose covert US led thuggery, tried to prove that the American military and the JSOC arm were all bloodthirsty baby killers, to me all he really managed to expose was his own ignorance of War.

Isn't it time that journalists got passed the exhaustive finger pointing. This need to sensationalise and dramatise for the benefit of making a name for themselves amoung the bleeding hearts?
I did not think this book revealed any new moot points about American led covert global operations. The author worked the usual angles of America the thug. America the war monger. Killing with expedience and without remorse. Baby killers.
Vietnam's Search and Destroy becomes the Middle East's Capture or Kill.
So easy to put down an easy target like the US, when one does not realise they are only one piece of a broader puzzle.
America do not go these things alone. Why do journalists like these ignore that fact? What conflict or offensive has America ever gone into that was not supported by another country in some way or boosted by Coalition SOF?

This book did it's job. It exposed some catastrophic failures by professional soldiers. To err is human. And in many cases, those errors have disappointing outcomes. That will always be revealed when you put War under the microscope.

The world is full of readers who will not sense the exaggerated stylings of its author, but since I am not a bleeding heart, I believe less than half of what he is saying.  I know when a journalist who was not there and does not know, and clearly did not heed any opportunity to expunge JSOC of any sin (imagined or not), is trying to lead me around by the nose.


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