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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Review: Scott Horton's 'Enough Already'

Scott Horton's new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism serves as an excellent guide to America's misadventures and war crimes since the 9/11 attack in 2001, including the endless war in Afghanistan, the wars with Iraq, our constant bullying of Iran, the destruction of Libya and the destructive civil war in Syria, which the U.S. helped create.  The book was published in January and has in my opinion not received the attention it deserves.

Many of the places Horton writes about remain in terrible shape. Libya, attacked during the Obama administration, is still embroiled in a civil war. Yemen remains under a famine that kills children. 

Much of what Horton writes about will be known to any American who bothers to pay attention to American to foreign policy, but I suspect that's a minority of Americans. In any event, the details in Horton's book are startling. Did you know, for example, that the Obama administration sided with radical Islamists in the Syrian civil war, supplying them with arms? (We supposedly were arming "moderates," but that's not what took place in practice.) Or that Russia intervened on the side of the Assad regime largely to save Syria's Christian community, which could have been wiped out by the Islamists for all that most Americans care? 

Horton's 2017 book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan was heavily footnoted, but Enough Already does not have footnotes. When I asked Scott about this, he explained, "I skipped the footnotes because I decided to err on the side of brevity and timeliness. If I had given it the full Fool's Errand treatment, each chapter would have been its own book and it wouldn't be done for another long while. I really wanted it to be the everyman's guide to it all, rather than another liberal professor book that nobody reads. And the end of an era was fast approaching with the end of the 20-teens and the Trump government."

Still, Horton gives enough information about the source of his assertions that it's easy to find documentation. When I went look for the claim that Putin intervened in Syria partly because of pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church to save Christians, I found articles such as this one. ("One does not have to grant a single noble motive to Russian President Vladimir Putin to grasp that secular and religious leaders in Russia do not want to risk the massacre of ancient Orthodox Christian communities in Syria.")

In his chapter on Pakistan, Horton writes about how President Obama's policies resulted in many civilians being killed in drone strikes and that the civilian population was terrorized by the drone attacks. He cited a 2012 report by Stanford Law School, "Living Under Drones." That report is available on the internet; you can download your own copy. 

The details in the report are appalling. Here is a paragraph about a drone strike that killed 42 people, mostly civilians:

At approximately 10:45 am, as the two groups were engaged in discussion, a missile  fired from a US drone hovering above struck one of the circles of seated men. Ahmed  Jan, who was sitting in one of two circles of roughly 20 men each, told our researchers  that he remembered hearing the hissing sound the missiles made just seconds before  they slammed into the center of his group. The force of the impact threw Jan’s body a  significant distance, knocking him unconscious, and killing everyone else sitting in his  circle. Several additional missiles were fired, at least one of which hit the second  circle. In all, the missiles killed a total of at least 42 people. One of the survivors  from the other circle, Mohammad Nazir Khan, told us that many of the dead appeared  to have been killed by flying pieces of shattered rocks. Another witness, Idris Farid,  recalled that “everything was devastated. There were pieces—body pieces—lying around.  There was lots of flesh and blood.”

The report has pages and pages of similar accounts. Your tax dollars at work!

I am not a big fan of war crimes in general, but at least with some of the things the Allies did in World War II such as the bombing of Dresden, you can argue that there was some military justification, the war wasn't started by the U.S., etc. What is the justification for killing civilians in Pakistan, or destroying Libya, or menacing Christians in Syria? Did any of these countries attack the U.S.?

Scott Horton is the editorial director of  More information here. 

If you've read Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger 2 and you wonder what America has done in the area since Wilson's book was written, this will bring you up to speed. 


Hugh said...

Nice review, Tom. A related watch for those of you who think the war-making politicians have good intentions:

Knowing how they play with people's lives like chess pieces, why would we trust them to do anything else for us? They are all scoundrels, and not the good kind.

Rasa said...

Sadly, none of this surprises me. As soon as Bush created the logically-incorrect "war on terror" I knew we were in for a long haul of unthinking support for the military-industrial-complex. I think of RAW's configuration for describing the equally logic-starved War on Drugs as the "War on Some Drugs," and I think it applies to this situation as well. We ignore so much carnage from so many places, most especially our own, as we fight the unending War on Some Terrorism.

I am often reminded of this classic lecture from Eqbal Ahmad, long one of my favorite thinkers about political issues: