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Home » Ignorant Armies: Sliding into War in Iraq – Gwynne Dyer

Ignorant Armies: Sliding into War in Iraq – Gwynne Dyer

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“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.

For a look from “our side of the fence” (so to speak), check out LT. Smash’s blog, Back to Iraq 2.0, and Warblogs.

A fair number of Gywnn Dyer’s various articles and columns are available online, just pop by Google and take a look.

Comments are always welcome. Drop by BookLinker for more reviews!

About Deano

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Note that Salam, the pseudonymous Baghdad Blogger of the Dear Raed website you link to above, now says that our invasion was necessary and appropriate- though he understandably doesn’t completely trust the Bush administration’s purity of motives.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Dyer doesn’t say the invasion wasn’t necessary or inappropriate – he generally notes that the benefits gained from such an event to the US and the West in general don’t outweigh the costs – economic, strategic and political – not the direct benefits to the Iraqi people which are almost certainly an improvement. What he pretty throughly rips apart are the excuses for the war that the Bush administration has been trotting out for the past year as a justificatin for the actions…Dyer noted that the destruction of Saddam would certainly be greeted by cheers from a significant majority of Iraqis – but is the destruction of this regime be worth the cost in the cold calculus of international politics? Is it likely to reduce or increase the political stablility in the region? Will it increase or decrease the terrorist threat? Does it do anything at all to impact the primary ongoing political problems of the region, namely the Israeli/Palestinian one? Do the unilateral actions of the US in this instance impact on the stability of the international system?

    That’s the price you have to weigh and Dyer argues that the Bush team hasn’t paid nearly enough attention to whether that price is outweighed by the benefits.

  • jadester

    especially considering the incredibly ineptly-handled planning and carrying-out of the “rebuilding” of iraq. Honestly, anyone would thing messrs Bush Jr. and Blair were more concerned with trying to get their names a big entry in the history books than with helping the iraqi people…

  • http://mcfrank.blogspot.com Chris Arabia

    typical. you bash fox news AND impugn the intelligence of the american people in your first paragraph.

  • Deano

    Actually I’m not impugning the intelligence of the American people, I’m impugning the intelligence of the American media and its desire to paint every picture in a simplistic manner…

    They aren’t all like that to be sure, there has been some terrific coverage…but not, I think, from CNN or Fox. The vast majority of US coverage on the mainsteam networks has been superficial, sanitized and shallow, concerned more with demonstrating cool tech (i.e check out our mobile “convoy cam” then with looking at the motivations behind the war.

    But maybe thats what some people want…

  • john ward

    Ref:U.S.hides complicity in atrocites.
    published The London Free Press Canada Oct19,2005.The article blew me away…Its very true that americans have their news sanitized ….but I wonder oh I wonder How long O lord must they sit in the darkness of ignorance.thank you once again for a great story.Don,t quit telling the truth as you see it…..