Sunday, September 11, 2016

powerful antiwar book by a civilian warrior

Another book to recommend: Kael Weston's The Mirror Test, a memoir and reflection on his seven solid years in Iraq and Afghanistan, mostly in deadly Fallujah and in Taliban-infested provinces of Afghanistan. Weston served as a State Department official, a civilian in the war zone fighting for U.S. goals and interests with a diplomat's weapons -- meetings and memos. He views the Iraq war as unnecessary and Afghanistan as a badly managed one. His greatest anger, however, is at the stupidities he saw in war: missions conducted to satisfy Washington's symbolic goals; the Americans who disrespect their local partners;  the arrogant Special Forces troops indifferent to civilian casualties; the members of Congress who care more about pictures with constituents than understanding the war. Weston risked his life almost daily as he went, unarmed, to meet with local people and try to win their support for American activities. He records and honors the names and stories of many he worked with -- American, Iraqi, and Afghan -- who died in the combat. He puts human faces on the casualty lists and asks us to recalculate the costs and benefits of these wars.

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