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In the last issue of Red Pepper Michelle Zellers interviewed Medea Benjamin, founder of the US-based anti-war group Codepink and author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Medea’s book is one of a small handful that have broached the taboo subject of U.S. drone use in anywhere near the detail necessary to understand and expose this often indiscriminate and always destructive military practice, one that has become a central pillar of U.S. military operations across the globe. Jeremy Scahill, National Security Correspondent for the Nation, is another whose work has attempted to shine light on and scrutinise the previously unknown, or at least unreported, use of drones, their illegality and destructiveness.
Jeremy’s first film, the revealing Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, released in the UK on November 29 and based on his book of the same name, moves beyond the topic of drones and provides a revealing and at times terrifying insight into the wider evolution of U.S. global military strategy over the last ten years in the wake of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. Central to this evolution is a shift to an ever greater use of covert operations, answerable solely to the President and directed by the shadowy Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose targeted assassination program operates daily and on a previously unheard of scale. In military speak, JSOC teams “find, fix, and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret, unaccountable process. No target is off limits for Obama’s “kill list,” including, it emerges towards the end of the film, US citizens.
The rise to prominence of JSOC in the midst of changing U.S. military strategy is perhaps the most unsettling revelation the film offers yet it is far from the most emotional. Interviews with the families of those mistakenly killed by U.S. covert operations—and there are many, how many exactly remains unknown—are unsurprisingly moving, their inclusion a necessity for a story with only tragic ends. And this, perhaps, is the overriding conclusion that one is forced to arrive at when the film draws to a close: unless considerable political change is made the seemingly irreversible chain of indiscriminate destruction that the proliferation of drone use and covert operations has set in motion will continue to spread its misery and produce consequences far beyond the so called ‘theatre of war’ and its traditional actors. Or, in Jeremy’s own chilling words and as Dirty Wars makes undeniably clear, “terror begets terror.”
Win two tickets to the premiere of Dirty Wars plus a signed copy of the book
To mark the release of Dirty Wars Red Pepper is giving away two free tickets to the premiere at the Ritzy in Brixton on Friday 29 November plus a copy of the book. To enter into the prize draw simply retweet any @Redpeppermag tweet that contains the hashtag #DirtyWars.
Red Pepper will also be interviewing Jeremy about the film and more in the upcoming weeks.