50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2013
"Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands." Robert F Kennedy
Although it seems America may be pulling out of Afghanistan next year, Special Operations units have been steadily and secretly increasing their deployments around the rest of the world in places like Yemen and Somalia. These "pinpoint" operations merely obfuscate the military's footprint and are thus a PR coup for the DOD but a disaster for public accountability. Consequently, today's wars are being fought in our name in foreign lands completely under the public radar. In light of recent revelations regarding the government's massive domestic surveillance program and the DOJ's record amount of prosecutions against whistleblowers, one might reasonably argue that this is the least transparent administration in our nation's history. The Obama administration's attempts to sanitize war by shrouding it behind a cloak of government secrecy ultimately serve to keep American citizens in the dark about what is really going on. War is by nature dirty, however, and it is the very knowledge that war comes with huge costs and sacrifices that acts as a check on our aggressive impulses. By bringing the hidden truths about these military night raids and drone strikes into the light, "Dirty Wars" makes a compelling argument about why you should care that we have been a nation at perpetual war since 9/11.
Originally, the film was supposed to focus solely on the story of the buildup of JSOC itself, but the filmmakers made a good decision to expand the scope of the documentary to include more about the man who helped to expose the story. Jeremy Scahill, a sedulous investigative reporter for The Nation magazine, is an interesting figure who stands apart in today's age of feckless news media and the increasingly moribund state of investigative journalism.
The most powerful aspect of the film is the way it humanizes the victims of American violence by giving us faces, names, and stories to connect with the dead. The term "collateral damage" is a military euphemism for civilian casualties. In the newspapers that report on these Special Operations night raids and drone strikes, which have been happening with increasing frequency the last few years, we are only told the number of dead. Even worse, we are told that all military age males who are killed in drone strikes, whether they were intended targets or not, are automatically categorized as militants. In a particularly lame performance of spin doctoring, a DoD spokesperson rationalizes the deaths of pregnant women and children by reassuring us that they COULD have been militants.
To those who respond, "Well this is war. This is what happens in war," the film poses an important question: What is the ultimate end goal of all this bloodshed? What have we accomplished in our last 10+ years at war if it has only engendered more enemies around the globe. In the film, it would be comic if it weren't so tragic when a former intelligence officer states that what started out as a kill list of 50 names at the beginning of the war has now become several thousands.
The film succeeds in presenting complex issues without moralizing, and finds the right balance between veracity and entertainment. The movie does seem to stretch and play up material sometimes for unnecessary film noir-ish effect. The changing nature of warfare is a compelling story even without the stylistic frills. But the film's greatest achievement is how it raises important questions about who we are and where we are headed as a nation.
61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2013
This award winning book and film are thought provoking and should be a first choice for anyone interested in the truth about America's current foreign policy and drone wars. The book and film allows the viewer to see how America's questionable policies and use of drones may be having exactly the reverse effect that CIA and military secretive war makers intended. It points out how these policies continue to enraged millions around the world and strengthened the hand of America's enemies. It uncovers what many would consider war crimes. Jeremy Shahill is a fearless impartial national treasure and a dying bred of journalist who still seeks to get to the bottom of a story and reveal the truth no matter how culturally unpopular it may end up being. 'Dirty Wars' helps to shines a bright fact filled light on US war making that many Americans would be surprise to know goes on in their name.
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2013
Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield"Dirty Wars" should be mandatory viewing/reading for every American. It uncovers the kind of deeply hidden but extraordinarily important information and background that every voter Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefieldbe aware of; the information that was once the purview of investigative newspaper reporters. With the fourth estate no longer doing their job, its now left to enterprising and intelligent independent producers like the extraordinary Jeremy Scahill to bring the true machinations of our government to light. Having read his previous book on Blackwater, I was already a dedicated follower before this latest and equally important topic was thoroughly covered. I urge everyone to see this. Kudos to Scahill for another journalistic masterpiece.
37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2013
a must-see documentary for anyone who wants to know the brutal truth about the war on terror. investigative journalist jeremy scahill asks the tough questions and gets haunting answers that will stick with you long after the film's over. and it's all presented in an engaging, audience-friendly narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat. this better get a best documentary nod come oscar season!
and buy the book too! the film is an excellent introduction but there's way too much information than can be contained within a 2 hour film. if you're anything like me, you'll leave this movie outraged and hungry for more knowledge.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2013
Dirty Wars the book is an encyclopedic (though compellingly readable) history of America's abandonment of her own purported values in pursuit of an endless, borderless war against a tactic. Dirty Wars the movie is both an excellent summary of and supplement to that story. My only quibble is that the filmmakers decided to include the portion "Breaking Out of the Green Zone" as an extra rather than including it in the film itself. It's essential viewing for anyone concerned about independent journalism, and if you watch the DVD, take a few minutes to watch the extras -- it's well worth it.
My thoughts on the book: "Like Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, but much broader in its basis and scope, Dirty Wars is the most thorough and authoritative history I've read yet of the causes and consequences of America's post 9/11 conflation of war and national security. I know of no other journalist who could have written it: For over a decade, Scahill has visited the war zones, overt and covert; interviewed the soldiers, spooks, jihadists, and victims; and seen with his own eyes the fruits of America's bipartisan war fever. He risked his life many times over to write this book, and the result is a masterpiece of insight, journalism, and true patriotism. Read it."
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2013
This documentary is invaluable. It is a wake up call for those who think the American government is showing its true face to the people. It hasn't been for a long while now and still doesn't want you to know its secrets. They have us brainwashed thinking we have an enemy that they must protect us from. But the government itself is creating an enemy so vast that when push come to shove we will pay the consequences for their actions.
Jeremy Scahill's documentary sheds a light on the other face of foreign policy. Some say he's not revealing anything new, or it's about Scahill himself. It's not about Scahill. It's an investigative endeavor following Scahill along the way. Some accuse him of being a terrorist sympathizer and question what side he is on. My answer is, he is on the side of humanity where he should be.
If I have not heard of JSOC and you have not heard of JSOC, or raids on village people far and wide sent out by our government, then it is important to see a documentary such as this.
Where does the killing end?
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
I read the book months before I watched this film. So I had some idea what I would see. Still, it was deeply troubling to look into the eyes, and hear the voices, of old men, widows, and children whose sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers were killed for no good reason by we Americans in our demonic lust to 'kill the evildoers'.
We do not care how many civilians we slaughter in order to get one Anwar Al-walaki. If there is one message from this film, that is it.
Our rationale is that it is okay to kill innocents to get to those who have sworn to kill us. We do not care how many innocents whose deaths we cause. Nor do we care that those who have sworn to kill us are quite openly, and honestly, and certainly justifiably, telling us why they are committed to kill us --- it is because we spanned earth and sea to kill their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers.
It does not even matter to us [and surely even the least intellectually inclined among us must have figured this out] that we are creating multiple terrorists for every one we 'neutralize'.
It does not matter because we are demons and demons kill. That is our job and we do it well. Our bought and paid for warlord from Somalia articulated it well in the film. We Americans are war masters. We are great teachers.
We kill. And we span earth and sea to find, fund, and arm other killers like us.
The Christ spoke of us. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
So ... we will not stop. Films like this certainly will not stop us because, once you wade past all of our 'fighting for freedom and democracy' B.S., the inescapable truth is simply this:
We Like To Kill Innocent People For No Good Reason.
So ... we will kill, and kill, and kill again, and again, and again until God Itself finally puts an end to our wickedness.
It is then that the people of this world -- those who survive the coming holocaust --- will look upon the smoke rising from the burning of that great city, Babylon. And they will say, "What city was like unto this great city"?
Even so, Lord, come. Stop us before we kill again.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2013
The last time America won a war was when Japan surrendered in 1945, right? From Korea to the twin debacles of Afghanistan and Iraq, the good old U.S.A. has looked like Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson in the final couple of fights of his career, a once fearsome competitor now inept.
But, wait! Why not declare war on poor people? You know, the ones living in tents in the desert - they won't be hard to vanquish. Every time an American drone strikes one, even if it wasn't the guy for whom you were aiming you can declare victory. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Women and children blown to bits by Bush and now Obama? U.S.A.! U.S.A.! An American citizen and his 15-year old child, smithereens? U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
Whatever it takes, keep shoveling more than one out of every American two tax dollars into the military industrial complex, President Obama and Congress, while more and more citizens are jobless, homeless, and hopeless.
See DIRTY WARS.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2013
All this happened under President Obama. I am not really concerned with the US going after an American citizen; I am solely concerned with the murder of children and other innocents of these drone strikes.
Can Obama be so naive to not know that we create terrorists when we kill these children?
Our president is a liar and is as bad as Bush was, which is the exact opposite as he ran for president as.
This is all so shameful.
For the first time all the leftists are supporting a war and all the conservatives are against war. Everything is so political and no one cares about these innocent people.
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
...as opposed to Clean Wars?
This documentary submitted by the USA to the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival is directed by Richard Rowley and is based on investigative reporting by Jeremy Scahill, a reporter for The Nation. This exposé centers around an organization known as JSAC, which conducts top secret missions at the behest of the President of the United States. JSAC has existed for almost ten years but has enjoyed unprecedented fame with the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. Joint Special Operations Command answers to no military agency, not the CIA, not the United Nations, nor Congress.
Jeremy Scahill first came on the international journalistic radar as the author of Blackwater, an exposé of the hidden world of America's covert wars being conducted by contractors, not the American military. Scahill stumbled into bits and pieces of JSAC and quickly drew fire from the military and from the lap dogs who pretend to be television newscasters. That was how he knew he had hit a nerve.
Scahill says this organization claims to work harder and faster and the resulting collateral damage inflicted on civilians is uniformly denied by the powers that be. (1,700 night raids were conducted in Afghanistan in a single week.) The President has operatives in numerous countries now, many of which are considered allies of this country. An edict has been issued to assassinate an American citizen for being a terrorist, which is drawing fire from many groups, including the ACLU.
According to Scahill, we seem to be trying to kill our way to victory, although each time we kill ten terrorists, another hundred appear to take their place. This organization is hidden in plain sight and no end is in sight.
This documentary is thought provoking, capably photographed and is narrated by Scahill himself. Get it from Amazon (release date 10-15-13) and judge for yourself.