Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield NXNE13 Review

Posted 9 years ago by myetvmedia

Jeremy Scahill, the journalist who exposed Blackwater and its mercenary actions in military hotspots, returns to shine the spotlight on a mysterious group witnesses describe as “the American Taliban.” His investigation ultimately leads to a military organisation called Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). You may have heard of them, they killed Osama Bin Laden. Over the course of the investigation, his phone is bugged, his computer hacked, and he receives several phone calls that are very polite and pointedly unthreatening.

Based on Scahill’s book of the same title, the movie examines how the Obama campaign has changed the constitution, upped drone usage, and enacted Bush’s plan for future Iraq campaigns, including no embedded journalists. It’s called a “clean war.” There is no such thing. America has killed in excess of 20 leaders of Al-Qaeda. And more and more are rising up. It’s a world of night raids, drone strikes, disappearances, and attacks on US citizens and allies.

The documentary begins with an investigation into a strange attack, apparently by US soldiers, in a small, out of the way town in Afghanistan. The attack results in several deaths, including two pregnant women and a police commissioner trained by the US. When the bodies are examined by the attackers, the rounds are extracted to remove the evidence. The only evidence left are the dead bodies, a chilling video of soldiers coming up with a cover-story and a photograph taken by a mourning father. No one claims responsibility. Even NATO claim to know nothing of the on-going raids. All Scahill has to go on is this picture and accounts of similar attacks, all carried out by the “American Taliban.” The investigation leads him all the way to the top.

These men will never stand before congress. They will never be held accountable for their actions, unlike many others. Their actions will never be questioned, because so little is known about them. They find, fix and finish their targets, and the lists are only getting longer. A key part of the documentary deals with Anwar Al-Awlaki, and his descent into Islamic fundamentalism. He was not indicted, charged, or arrested, nor was any evidence presented regarding his actions. He was targeted and killed in a drone strike. He was a US citizen. Living in Yemen. You might remember that Yemen is not at war with America. A week later, his 16 year old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a similar attack, also in Yemen, which still wasn’t at war with America. When questioned, Robert Gibbs (former White House Press secretary) said the boy “should have had a more responsible father.” The attitude and actions of JSOC and the White house are not eliminating enemies, but creating them. At the very beginning of the documentary, one civilian says “If the Americans do this again, we are ready to shed our blood fighting them. We would rather die than sit by and do nothing.” Crack open a history book and you’ll find the similar words said in many different places and times.

But this is not an article about US foreign policy, or due process. This is a review of Dirty Wars, directed by Richard Rowley and produced and narrated by Scahill himself, which won the Cinematography Award (U.S. documentary) at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It’s not a movie you watch lightly. It raises some very worrying topics, from the morality of drone strikes to censorship. This is a film everyone should watch, especially in light of the recent discovery of PRISM. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Donal O’Connor



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