“If historical ingratitude were a crime, the chattering classes of the West would be facing life sentences at hard labour. The luckiest generation in history, the people who got their future back because the Third World War was cancelled, think that the world has changed forever just because a few terrorists have chosen them as targets.”
Watching the post 9-11 events play out over the last two years have left me with an astonishing contempt for a significant portion of the news media, particularly CNN and some of the other cable news channels (notably Fox, which, frankly, isn’t news, just sensationalism repackaged with pretty graphics, attitude and a seriously skewed agenda). It is significant that you won’t find Gwynne Dyer on any U.S. network. It may be because he is intelligent, incisive, plain-spoken, thoughtful, not given to simplistic soundbites and – uncharacteristically for a journalist – well-grounded on his subject of expertise.
His area of expertise is war. Dyer is a Canadian journalist and filmmaker. He has a PhD in Miilitary and Middle Eastern History from the University of London, has served in the Canadian, British and American navies, taught military history at the Canadian Forces College and the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst before beginning a career as a freelance journalist and filmmaker. Co-producer of a seven-part documentary television series War (nominated for an Oscar for one episode), his print column on international affairs now appears in more than 200 newspapers and more than 40 countries around the world.
The reason I delve so deep into his bio is that Ignorant Armies, written and published just prior to the start of the Iraq War, offers up, with astonishing clarity and insight, the single best examination of the motives, circumstances and driving forces behind the war with Iraq that I have yet found. This is no Noam Chomsky, anti-war peacenik or partisan conspiracy nut. Dyer is articulate, intelligent and thought-provoking, cutting through much of the agenda-laden drivel that the majority of the news media has been substituting for analysis recently. As Dyer himself memorably put it in one interview “”If you like being treated like an idiot child by your leaders and your media, you are living at the right time”.
Ignorant Armies offers up a solid strategic analysis of the international political situation, examining the motivations of al Quada, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, George W. Bush and the current administration, looking sharply at the reasoning behind the scene. It is a refreshingly candid and non-partisan tome, well-written and accessible even for people with no prior background on the subject area. Of particular note is Dyer’s scathing analysis of the administration’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction” excuse for the war, an excuse he readily demolishes.
If 9-11 and Iraq have you baffled, or even if you are sure you know all the answers, Ignorant Armies is a must-read.
Interested in finding out more about what’s going on in Iraq? Check out Dear Raed, an anonomous Iraqi blogger whose been posting since before the war.
A fair number of Gywnn Dyer’s various articles and columns are available online, just pop by Google and take a look.
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