[Marxism] Dirty Wars

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 15 20:13:38 MDT 2013

(Written by a colleague who was at the press screening.)


Sundance Selects

Reviewed for CompuServe by Harvey Karten.   Data-based on RottenTomatoes.com

Grade:  A-

Director:  Rick Rowley

Screenwriter:  David Riker, Jeremy Scahill

Cast:  Jeremy Scahill, Nasser Al Aulaqi, Saleha Al Aulaqi, Muqbal Al 
Kazemi, Abdul Rahman Barman, Andrew Exum

Screened at:  Park Avenue, NYC, 5/15/13

Opens:  June 7, 2013

Dirty Wars

Documentarians are generally to the left of center politically.  Think 
of Michael Moore, who has attacked corporations like General Motors and 
the Congress for refusing to insure our medical health as do European 
nations.  Think of Morgan Spurlock, who attacked McDonald’s, using 
himself as a guinea pig to demonstrate the lack of nutrition in that 
food corporation’s fare.  Along comes Rick Rowley who in “Dirty Wars” 
focuses on Jeremy Scahill, author of  the best-selling “Blackwater: The 
Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”  As a reporter for 
Nation magazine, perhaps the most popular hard left periodical in the 
U.S., Scahill takes on the U.S. government for its support of JSOC, or 
Joint Special Operations Command, which has conducted 1700 raids on 
America’s so-called enemies. And that means not just our adversaries in 
Afghanistan but those in countries in which we have no declared wars, 
Somalia and Yemen being prime examples.

As a war correspondent Scahill is anything but kind of journalist who 
hangs out with others of his ilk in four-star hotels.  He’s out there in 
the field, risking his neck by accompanying Somali warloads in Mogadishu 
who are loyal to the U.S. and sitting in circles in Kabul and out in far 
more dangerous Afghan areas to hear the complaints of Afghans who have 
lost their families through JSOC raids.  JSOC, no longer a military 
secret, is an elite group of soldiers in an organization that reports 
directly to the White House and whose very existence was  heretofore denied.

In what may well be the most hard-hitting documentary critical of U.S. 
military actions around the world, “Dirty Wars” does not find 
interviewers sitting around a table in some hotel gassing about vague 
philosophies. Instead we see Scahill—who appears to live in a one of the 
less hip areas of Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn (when he is at home or working 
on his laptop in an unfashionable coffee house)—drinking mint tea with 
Afghan people who, were they less rational than they are, would feel 
justified in killing any American in their sights.  One particular band 
of locals speaks of the raid in which a pregnant woman and children in 
Gardez village were killed by JSOC.  No explanation is provided, no 
apology is given by the U.S.  This looks to us like a collateral damage, 
but who knows?  We may conclude that the U.S. is turning people into 
terrorists by targeting innocents.  One Afghan even calls these JSOC 
people The American Taliban.

In the most controversial execution at the hands of JSOC, U.S. citizen 
Anwar al-Awlaki is targeted as “the next Osama bin Laden,” though he had 
been a loyal American until he became radicalized, thereafter spending 
his energy denouncing the U.S. and encouraging jihad.  There is no 
evidence that he planned violence against our soldiers as did bin Laden, 
and what’s more, putting salt on the wound, his 16-year-old son was 
killed in a drone strike as if to say that we believed he was capable of 
filling his dad’s shoes.  Remember that Americans are supposed to be 
brought home for trial, whether military or civilian, and not simply 
taken out by a covert operation albeit one that gets its authority 
directly from the U.S. President.

There you have it: our country is committing crimes that could be 
compared to Mai Lai in Vietnam where innocent villagers were gunned down 
in cold blood.  Yet, have we put a dent in the potency of our enemies? 
On the contrary, the film implies: new antagonists will ensure that the 
wars in which we are involved and in which we are not supposed to be 
involved become endless.

Archival film taken from infrared instruments is solid and is the 
soundtrack provided by a string quartet.

Unrated.  87 minutes © 2013 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film 
Critics Online

More information about the Marxism mailing list