Thursday, February 27, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Dirty Wars (2013) ****

NR, 87 min.
Director: Rick Rowley
Writers: Jeremy Scahill, David Riker
Narrator: Jeremy Scahill
Featuring: Jeremy Scahill, Nasser Al Aulaqi, Saleha Al Aulaqi, Muqbal Al Kazemi, Abdul Rahman Barman, Sheikh Saleh Bin Fareed, Andrew Exum, Abdul Gahfoor, Philip Giraldi, Matthew Hoh, Patrick Lang

Rarely a week goes by that I don’t see a post on Facebook proclaiming support for the troops. Everybody with a heart posts these. It doesn’t matter if they support our ongoing wars or not. The American public universally supports their troops. The problem is how long we’ve been supporting them in our current conflicts. At almost twelve and a half years our “War Against Terror” has now outlasted our involvement in the Vietnam Conflict by two and a quarter years. It’s nearly double the time we’ve spent in any other war, and more than doubled the length of time we were involved in both World Wars combined.

I remember thinking when we declared this supposed war on terror that it would be a futile endeavor because terror has no affiliations. It can exist anywhere and will come from anyplace that has opposing views. How can a country conduct a war on terror? It’s possibly the most futile war since the war on drugs.

Jeremy Scahill is a journalist who has reported on this war since its inception. Some may recognize his name as the reporter who uncovered the questionable use of mercenaries by the U.S. Government in his book “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army”. He also reported on the once secret U.S. Military unit known Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose actions became more public after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. In his book, “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield” and in this documentary he furthers his claims that JSOC has secretly turned the entire world into a war zone by conducting mass killings in countries where no war is declared all for the sake of national security.

As conspiracy theorists go, Scahill sounds very much like a journalist. That could be because the cover-ups involved here seem based mostly on the premise that the U.S. Military figured nobody would bother to look for them. He details how JSOC has free range to do whatever they feel necessary in the interest of national security, and concludes that this type of paramilitary policy leads to a self fulfilling prophecy. If we treat everybody like a terrorist, they will eventually become terrorists. What frightens me the most about this prospect is that the inevitable outcome will eventually be one or several coordinated attacks on U.S. soil. Scahill never states that in his film, but how can the players involved be blind to this possibility?

Often times documentaries are praised for their subject matter alone, with little thought about the filmmaking that goes into them. “Dirty Wars” does have frightening revelations about the military policies of our government, but it is also very well crafted to convey its information clearly and build to its natural conclusions. It doesn’t need to spell out the implications of how these policies will lead to more terrorists and their need to strike back at the United States. It is a dirty war indeed, and our continued pursuit of it can only lead to more bloodshed, not less.

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