Postcard from - Dirty Wars

This is a book I picked up almost by accident from the local library. It is 640 pages detailing how the US changed changed it's attitude to war after 9/11. Taking a very high level view, there's not a lot new here, but it's the detail that's horrifying, and Scahill provides plenty of detail.

There's a schoolboy phrase I recall - do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first and do it better . This seems to be close to the approach that the US took under Bush. It was organised by Rumsfeld and Cheney, and expanded on by Obama.

Scahill describes the deliberate setup of miltary units outside of any control by congress or international law. The Geneva Convention was ridiculed by Bush and torture of suspects was either expected behaviour or ignored when it occurred. The quoted justification was al'Qaeda did it to us, so we'll do it to them. Regardless of your view of statements like that, way too many of the victims were innocent.

The flawed reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq has been written about before, but the abuse of intelligence resources to come up with an acceptable answer rather than the truth was new to me, although not a surprise. The aftermath to the destruction of Sadam's army and the US lead imposition of a Western style government is explained, as is the fallout from that decision.

The astonishing lack of awareness shown by US leadership continues throughout the book. After Iraq comes Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The willingness to sacrifice bystanders in the hope of removing a target becomes depressing.

Scahill makes it clear that a lot of the problems in the world today stem from three men with a desire to impose an American Empire backed by the unregulated use of Special Operations forces against all comers, friend or foe.

History has lessons showing how badly this has worked out in the past.

It's fairly clear that the US and it's allies have created way more terrorists than they have killed. That's no surprise when you consider how the US public felt about the attacks on the twin towers. Scahill's book isn't a pleasant read, but it's certainly an important one.

Further reading:

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