The Common Good

Sojo Stories: Dirty Wars

Image still from 'Dirty Wars' documentary
Image still from 'Dirty Wars' documentary

Days before President Barack Obama's high-profile speech on drones and U.S. counterterrorism efforts, Sojourners sat down with investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to take an inside look at U.S.-led covert wars and the drones that have become an integral part of our global “war on terror.”

His thesis?

"After years of traveling in these countries, I really believe that we’re creating more enemies than we’re killing.”

In some respects, drones are simply a new tool of old empire. Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and producer of the documentary of the same name, now in theaters, calls this an "unending war ... being legitimized under a popular Democratic president, who is a constitutional lawyer by trade.”

Indeed, within five years, the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq for terrorist attacks the country did not commit has transformed under the Obama administration into preemptive assassinations halfway around the world, for crimes citizens have not yet committed. The result, Scahill suggested, is our collective complicity to “unending war.”

In short, drones accelerate our appetite for easy violence while anesthetizing our capacity for guilt. And this has deeply troubling implications for freedom and democracy.

"How does a war like this ever end?" Scahill asked, in his book and in our interview. Few if any of us have the answer. But Scahill wasn't content to stop there.

“My belief is that a society is defined on how it treats the least of its people, the poorest of its people, and the most reprehensible of its citizens,” Scahill said, “not how it treats the powerful.”

“I wouldn’t be doing any of this if I didn’t have hope,” he continued. “There’s no way you can do these things, that you can work in a world that has so many dark corners, unless you believe that change is possible.”

WATCH the video below.

Dirty Wars is in theaters nationwide.

Read "Peering In the Dark Corners" by Catherine Woodiwiss in the Sojourners July 2013 issue for more from Jeremy Scahill and Dirty Wars. 

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor and Brandon Hook is Online Assistant at Sojourners.

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