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on February 27, 2012
Something very much in evidence in this book is Mr. Englehardt's ability as a writer. The essays in this book are well written.

Some of the topics covered by the author include terrorism vs. food poisoning in terms of the threat presented to Americans; Raymond Davis; and the author's education about the world through viewing foreign films while growing up in Manhattan in the 1950's. A recurrent subject in the book is the misleading or facial nature of the "deadlines" civilian and military officials give for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The exorbitant costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan military ventures are another prominent theme. For example, he focuses heavily on the mega-embassies/regional command centers/cities within cities that we have built or are building in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Englehardt quotes a National Priorities Project study which found that the $790 million price tag for the new embassy and consular facilities in Afghanistan could have provided jobs for 22,000 teachers, 15,000 healthcare workers and 13,000 clean energy workers in the US. Other exorbitant costs noted by the author include several tens of billions of dollars in unsuccessful programs to train Afghan military and police and $773,000 to remodel a cinder block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell for our soldiers in Guantanamo Bay. The Gitmo torture camp, of course, is still open though Obama promised to close it.

The American method of fighting the "War on Terror" receives coverage in this book. He discusses examples of civilian casualties from the American war in Afghanistan (along with a few in Iraq). He notes that Wikileaks released a video of a US Apache helicopter attack on a Baghdad street in July 2007 that killed 12 non-combatants, including two Reuters employees and a father of two children who had stopped his vehicle to help the wounded of the attack. The Pentagon covered up this massacre until Wikileaks released the video of it. Englehardt notes that Wikileaks also released Pentagon logs showing that hundreds of civilians had been killed in unreported US military actions in Afghanistan. Englehardt reports an incident in February 2010 in Paktia province in Afghanistan. In that incident US snipers killed a local police intelligence chief, his brother and three women. The snipers dug the bullets out of the dead women, bound and gagged them and claimed that the dead men had killed the women in an "honor killing." The American media, as is their wont, accepted the military's version at face value until the version started to crumble and the military paid the victim's relatives $30,000 and sacrificed a goat. Other atrocities include a US raid that killed prosperous Afghan businessman with ties to the Afghan government and 76 members of his extended family in August 2008; the killing of 27 civilians in an attack on a minibus in February 2010; the indiscriminate shooting by marine special forces retaliating for a suicide bomb along an Afghan road in April 2007, killing--among others-- a 75 year old man and a 16 year old girl gathering grass for her family's farm; and a March 2011 massacre of 9 Afghan boys collecting wood. David Petraeus and Robert Gates apologized for this last atrocity to President Karzai though in the case of another air attack that killed 65 civilians--including children--Petraeus suggested that it was a fabricated atrocity. According to Englehardt, the US has also massacred at least half a dozen Afghan wedding parties in air attacks since 2001. He quotes Stanley McChrystal as saying that US troops have killed a lot of people who were no threat to them at checkpoints in Afghanistan. He notes that US troops have been in the habit of bulldozing homes and destroying agricultural walls in southern Afghanistan in order to build roads and other conveniences for their war against the Taliban.

Englehardt implies that civilian deaths caused by the US military in Afghanistan are, for the most part, not deliberate. However American pilots are often unable to tell the difference between insurgents and non-combatants. Often, information about suspected terrorists is very unreliable.
Englehardt notes that Mike Mullen and Robert Gates declared that Jullian Assange had a lot of blood on his hands as a result of the Wikileaks file leaks. He notes that it is rather rich that Mullen and Gates make this charge, when it is they who have real blood on their hands.

Englehardt's overall picture is that US foreign policy is dominated by a military industrial complex--most particularly Pentagon officials and arms manufacturers who have a vested interest in continued astronomical military spending. State, local and federal budgets are being slashed for essential services but the military budget is only slowed in its growth. The United States accounts for 47 percent of the world's military spending. In spite of the military-industrial complex, Englehardt writes that American power is declining and it won't be long before the US is not the superpower it once was. He suggests that the Arab Spring--with the overthrow of US supported dictators in Egypt and Tunisia-demonstrates this erosion of American power. He notes recent efforts to revitalize the bugaboo of Chinese military power as one of the justifications for increasing American military spending.

It is certainly depressing that Bradley Manning, Jullian Assange and other whistleblowers are prosecuted by President Obama--who also refuses to prosecute Bush administration torture enablers and war criminals. Of course, Obama himself along with Gates, Mullen, George HW Bush, John Negroponte, Bill Clinton etc. are not prosecuted in spite of being guilty of crimes against humanity.

Englehardt discusses the use of drones in US combat operations but I wish he would have cited the studies about the many hundreds of civilians that Obama's drone attacks have killed in Pakistan.

The author provides no footnotes but explains in a note at the very end of the book that URL sources are available on the pages where these essays were originally published at TomDispatch.com
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on December 13, 2014
Well written; good read. Very enlightening, but also pretty heavily biased toward the left. However, if you are comfortable sifting through the bias, there is some really great information, and he makes some pretty interesting points (coming from a centered voter). I definitely appreciated the new perspective. If you are interested in economics (war/peace perspective), history, or just trying to follow the many military conquests of the U.S. You will enjoy this.
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on December 11, 2013
Have not completed the book,but so far is a very informative read. Have to read it in small doses as get so pissed off and despondent.
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on March 25, 2016
Good read.
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on December 19, 2012
This is a book that is quite biased per the author's political beliefs, but that doesn't change the validity of what he is saying. My biggest complaint is that he says it over and over. The book could likely be half as long. I give it 4 stars mainly because it is well written and addresses issues that should be addressed. Falls on the far left of the political spectrum. I'm not big on preaching politically in books, right or left, so for me that lessens the impact.
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