A LITTLE LIGHT READING
Where we once conducted ritualized combat with crude weapons in designated areas, we can now make the entire world unfit for human habitation within hours. Why aren't we all dead yet?
A History of Warfare, by John Keegan. Starting with the limits of war, Keegan traces how we have pushed them with strongholds, metal, and fire -- from gunpowder to the atomic bomb.
On War, by Carl von Clausewitz. Clausewitz saw first hand that there is no standard of excellence in war. From defining strategy and tactics to examining the roles politics and rhetoric, On War remains crucial to understanding how the West makes war.
Killing Hope, by William Blum. Blum, a journalist who began his career in intelligence, looks at CIA operations around the world, explaining how we supported and trained some of the figures we now regard as enemies.
War After War, a City Lights review. Writers, journalists, artists, and of course Noam Chomsky examine militarism, media manipulation, and imperialism in this lively collection.
Criticized as anti-American by some, Three Kings (1999) offers a stylish and sophisticated vision of our approach in the Gulf, the actors and victims there, and the presence of media.
Three Kings is visually striking. Sharp cinematography and direction yields unsentimental portrayals of bored reservists, shell-shocked civilians, and once-US-supported fighting forces abandoned to the brutality of an enemy that has failed to hold our nation's interest.
The film is also a morality play. Our soldiers are safe in base camp, but that's not what soldiers are trained for. And rather than just do their CNN interviews and go home, some of our boys wonder if it might be easier to be all they can be if they steal a cache of gold a prisoner has told them about.
On a narrative level, Three Kings offers no surprises. With a setup like this, of course our boys have their eyes opened and do the right thing. But the movie remains notable for the way it mixes consumerism and militarism and the openness with which it looks at the motives of war.