As Karen Malpede points out in her introduction to Acts of War, tragedy "arose as a complement to, perhaps also as an antidote to, war." The greatest of the early playwrights wrote from experience—Aeschylus and Sophocles were generals in the Athenian army, and Euripides was a combat veteran. Electronic media reports war instantly, but the stage provides an unrivaled venue for facing the horror of armed conflict on a human scale.This timely anthology of plays by American and British writers bears witness to the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for combatants and civilians alike and asks what it means to be a citizen in a democracy at war. From violence on the battlefield and in the cells of Guantanamo to the toll exacted on the homefront, the seven plays collected by Malpede, Messina, and Shuman explore in depth the costs of war. Sometimes with humor or erotic charge, always with compassion and surprising insight, these contemporary plays return to the theater a necessary social edge.Karen Malpede’s introduction sets the plays in the broader contexts of theater’s roots and recent history, while award-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges provides a foreword.
The United States and its allies have been fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for a decade in a war that either side could still win. While a gradual drawdown has begun, significant numbers of US combat troops will remain in Afghanistan until at least 2014, perhaps longer, depending on the situation on the ground and the outcome of the US presidential election in 2012. Given the realities of the Taliban’s persistence and the desire of US policymakers—and the public—to find a way out, what can and should be the goals of the US and its allies in Afghanistan?
Afghan Endgames brings together some of the finest minds in the fields of history, strategy, anthropology, ethics, and mass communications to provide a clear, balanced, and comprehensive assessment of the alternatives for restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan. Presenting a range of options—from immediate withdrawal of all coalition forces to the maintenance of an open-ended, but greatly reduced military presence—the contributors weigh the many costs, risks, and benefits of each alternative.
This important book boldly pursues several strands of thought suggesting that a strong, legitimate central government is far from likely to emerge in Kabul; that fewer coalition forces, used in creative ways, may have better effects on the ground than a larger, more conventional presence; and that, even though Pakistan should not be pushed too hard, so as to avoid sparking social chaos there, Afghanistan’s other neighbors can and should be encouraged to become more actively involved. The volume’s editors conclude that while there may never be complete peace in Afghanistan, a self-sustaining security system able to restore order swiftly in the wake of violence is attainable.
A balanced, comprehensive, and clear-eyed survey of the alternative strategies that can be pursued with the hope of restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
Bedrooms of the Fallen
Ashley Gilbertson University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress DS79.767.C37G553 2013 | Dewey Decimal 956.704436
For more than a decade, the United States has been fighting wars so far from the public eye as to risk being forgotten, the struggles and sacrifices of its volunteer soldiers almost ignored. Photographer and writer Ashley Gilbertson has been working to prevent that. His dramatic photographs of the Iraq war for the New York Times and his book Whiskey Tango Foxtrot took readers into the mayhem of Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, and Fallujah. But with Bedrooms of the Fallen, Gilbertson reminds us that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have also reached deep into homes far from the noise of battle, down quiet streets and country roads—the homes of family and friends who bear their grief out of view.
The book’s wide-format black-and-white images depict the bedrooms of forty fallen soldiers—the equivalent of a single platoon—from the United States, Canada, and several European nations. Left intact by families of the deceased, the bedrooms are a heartbreaking reminder of lives cut short: we see high school diplomas and pictures from prom, sports medals and souvenirs, and markers of the idealism that carried them to war, like images of the Twin Towers and Osama Bin Laden. A moving essay by Gilbertson describes his encounters with the families who preserve these private memorials to their loved ones, and shares what he has learned from them about war and loss.
Bedrooms of the Fallen is a masterpiece of documentary photography, and an unforgettable reckoning with the human cost of war.
David Ryan examines the broad contexts of US foreign policy and the lingering aftermath of the Vietnam War that shaped the opportunistic framing of 9/11 and paved the way for the long-held neo-conservative desire for regime change and war in Iraq.
He explores the construction of the cultural framework for war following 9/11, the legitimacy of military force in Afghanistan, the rise of anti-Americanism, within the broader contexts of the struggle over legitimacy, identity and leadership.
Turning the "clash of civilizations" thesis on its head, Ryan presents a careful analysis of the evolution of US foreign policy and its engagement with Iraq through the 1980s. While 9/11 provided the opportunity, the post-Vietnam context provides a more pertinent framework for this reflection on the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the strategic implications for US foreign policy.
Institutions of higher education are experiencing the largest influx of enrolled veterans since World War II, and these student veterans are transforming post-secondary classroom dynamics. While many campus divisions like admissions and student services are actively moving to accommodate the rise in this demographic, little research about this population and their educational needs is available, and academic departments have been slower to adjust. In Generation Vet, fifteen chapters offer well-researched, pedagogically savvy recommendations for curricular and programmatic responses to student veterans for English and writing studies departments.
In work with veterans in writing-intensive courses and community contexts, questions of citizenship, disability, activism, community-campus relationships, and retention come to the fore. Moreover, writing-intensive courses can be sites of significant cultural exchanges—even clashes—as veterans bring military values, rhetorical traditions, and communication styles that may challenge the values, beliefs, and assumptions of traditional college students and faculty.
This classroom-oriented text addresses a wide range of issues concerning veterans, pedagogy, rhetoric, and writing program administration. Written by diverse scholar-teachers and written in diverse genres, the essays in this collection promise to enhance our understanding of student veterans, composition pedagogy and administration, and the post-9/11 university.
Globalizing Afghanistan offers a kaleidoscopic view of Afghanistan and the global networks of power, influence, and representation in which it is immersed. The military and nation-building interventions initiated by the United States in reaction to the events of September 11, 2001, are the background and motivation for this collection, but they are not the immediate subject of the essays. Seeking to understand the events of the past decade in a broad frame, the contributors draw on cultural and postcolonial approaches to provide new insights into this ongoing conflict. They focus on matters such as the implications of Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade, the links between the contemporary Taliban movement and major events in the Islamic world and Central Asia since the early twentieth century, and interactions between transnational feminist organizations and the Afghan women’s movement. Several contributors address questions of representation. One looks at portrayals of Afghan women by the U.S. government and Western media and feminists. Another explores the surprisingly prominent role of Iranian filmmaking in the production of a global cinematic discourse about Afghanistan. A Pakistani journalist describes how coverage of Afghanistan by reporters working from Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (formerly the North West Frontier Province) has changed over the past decade. This rich panoply of perspectives on Afghanistan concludes with a reflection on how academics might produce meaningful alternative viewpoints on the exercise of American power abroad.
Contributors. Gwen Bergner, Maliha Chishti, Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims, Nigel C. Gibson, Zubeda Jalalzai, David Jefferess, Altaf Ullah Khan, Kamran Rastegar, Rodney J. Steward, Imre Szeman
Intervention Narratives examines the contradictory cultural representations of the US intervention in Afghanistan that help to justify an imperial foreign policy. These narratives involve projecting Afghans as brave anti-communist warriors who suffered the consequences of American disengagement with the region following the end of the Cold War, as victimized women who can be empowered through enterprise, as innocent dogs who need to be saved by US soldiers, and as terrorists who deserve punishment for 9/11. Given that much of public political life now involves affect rather than knowledge, feelings rather than facts, familiar recurring tropes of heroism, terrorism, entrepreneurship, and canine love make the war easier to comprehend and elicit sympathy for US military forces. An indictment of US policy, Bose demonstrates that contemporary imperialism operates on an ideologically diverse cultural terrain to enlist support for the war across the political spectrum.
This study explores Iranian influence in Afghanistan and the implications for the United States after most U.S. forces depart Afghanistan in 2016. Iran has substantial economic, political, cultural, and religious leverage in Afghanistan. Although Iran will attempt to shape a post-2014 Afghanistan, Iran and the United States share core interests: to prevent the country from again becoming dominated by the Taliban and a safe haven for al Qaeda.
The Language of Birds
Norbert Scheuer Haus Publishing, 2018 Library of Congress PT2680.E84S6713 2018 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
It is 2003, and Paul Arimond is serving as a paramedic in Afghanistan. The twenty-four-year-old has no illusions of becoming a hero. Rather, he has chosen the army to escape the tragedies of his past and his own feelings of guilt. As a result, he finds himself in the same land, now war-torn, where an ancestor of his, Ambrosius Arimond, a late eighteenth-century traveler and ornithologist, once explored and developed the theory of a universal language of birds.
As visceral horrors and everyday banalities of the war threaten to engulf Paul, he, like his great-great-grandfather, finds his very own refuge in Afghanistan’s natural world. In a diary filled with exquisite drawings of birds and ruminations on the life he left behind, Paul describes his experiences living with two comrades who are fighting their own demons and his befriending of an Afghan man, Nassim, as well as his dreams of escaping the restrictive base camp and visiting the shores of a lake visible from the lookout tower. But when he finally reaches the lake one night, he finds himself in the midst of a chain of events that, with his increasingly fragile state of mind, has dramatic—and ultimately heartbreaking—consequences.
A meditative novel that shows a new side to the conflict in Afghanistan, The Language of Birds takes a moving look at the all-too-human costs of war and questions what it truly means to fight for freedom.
In Latinamericanism after 9/11, John Beverley explores Latinamericanist cultural theory in relation to new modes of political mobilization in Latin America. He contends that after 9/11, the hegemony of the United States and the neoliberal assumptions of the so-called Washington Consensus began to fade in Latin America. At the same time, the emergence in Latin America of new leftist governments—the marea rosada or “pink tide”—gathered momentum. Whatever its outcome, the marea rosada has shifted the grounds of Latinamericanist thinking in a significant way. Beverley proposes new paradigms better suited to Latin America’s reconfigured political landscape. In the process, he takes up matters such as Latin American postcolonial and cultural studies, the relation of deconstruction and Latinamericanism, the persistence of the national question and cultural nationalism in Latin America, the neoconservative turn in recent Latin American literary and cultural criticism, and the relation between subalternity and the state. Beverley’s perspective flows out of his involvement with the project of Latin American subaltern studies, but it also defines a position that is in some ways postsubalternist. He takes particular issue with recent calls for a “posthegemonic” politics.
Mission Uruzgan provides on-site testimony of the Dutch military mission in Uruzgan, Afghanistan from 2001 to the present day. Proffering fresh data and probing analyses, this extensive examination of a controversial deployment addresses a variety of crucial issues related to Dutch involvement in Afghanistan, from the politicking that led up to the utilization of military tactics to the rules of engagement on the ground. This collection brings together an assortment of learned scholars to deliver a wide range of insights into the problems faced by Dutch soldiers.
Operation Homecoming is the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring distinguished writers to military bases to inspire U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and their families to record their wartime experiences. Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Tobias Wolff, and Marilyn Nelson, American military personnel and their loved ones wrote candidly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front. These unflinching eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, and letters offer an intensely revealing look into extraordinary lives and are an unforgettable contribution to wartime literature.
“One of the chanted mantras of our time is, ‘But I support the troops.’ Terrific. Now read Operation Homecoming to find out who they are, what they think, feel, want, have learned, won and lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.”—Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal
“This anthology is the honest voice of war. . . . In the end, they are all one voice, a voice we must hear, and must not forget.”—Jeff Shaara
“These voices are stirring, chilling, and unforgettable.”—Bobbie Ann Mason
“[Captures] what journalists cannot, no matter how close they get—firsthand accounts from the warriors and the families they leave behind.”—ChicagoTribune
The first rule of warfare is to know one’s enemy. The second is to know thyself. More than fifteen years and three quarters of a trillion dollars after the US invasion of Afghanistan, it’s clear that the United States followed neither rule well.
America’s goals in Afghanistan were lofty to begin with: dismantle al Qaeda, remove the Taliban from power, remake the country into a democracy. But not only did the mission come completely unmoored from reality, the United States wasted billions of dollars, and thousands of lives were lost. Our Latest Longest War is a chronicle of how, why, and in what ways the war in Afghanistan failed. Edited by historian and Marine lieutenant colonel Aaron B. O’Connell, the essays collected here represent nine different perspectives on the war—all from veterans of the conflict, both American and Afghan. Together, they paint a picture of a war in which problems of culture and an unbridgeable rural-urban divide derailed nearly every field of endeavor. The authors also draw troubling parallels to the Vietnam War, arguing that deep-running ideological currents in American life explain why the US government has repeatedly used armed nation-building to try to transform failing states into modern, liberal democracies. In Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, this created a dramatic mismatch of means and ends that neither money, technology, nor the force of arms could overcome.
The war in Afghanistan has been the longest in US history, and in many ways, the most confounding. Few who fought in it think it has been worthwhile. These are difficult topics for any American or Afghan to consider, especially those who lost friends or family in it. This sobering history—written by the very people who have been fighting the war—is impossible to ignore.
For two decades Bruce Robbins has been a theorist of and participant in the movement for a "new cosmopolitanism," an appreciation of the varieties of multiple belonging that emerge as peoples and cultures interact. In Perpetual War he takes stock of this movement, rethinking his own commitment and reflecting on the responsibilities of American intellectuals today. In this era of seemingly endless U.S. warfare, Robbins contends that the declining economic and political hegemony of the United States will tempt it into blaming other nations for its problems and lashing out against them.
Under these conditions, cosmopolitanism in the traditional sense—primary loyalty to the good of humanity as a whole, even if it conflicts with loyalty to the interests of one's own nation—becomes a necessary resource in the struggle against military aggression. To what extent does the "new" cosmopolitanism also include or support this "old" cosmopolitanism? In an attempt to answer this question, Robbins engages with such thinkers as Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Anthony Appiah, Immanuel Wallerstein, Louis Menand, W. G. Sebald, and Slavoj Zizek. The paradoxes of detachment and belonging they embody, he argues, can help define the tasks of American intellectuals in an era when the first duty of the cosmopolitan is to resist the military aggression perpetrated by his or her own country.
As part of an evaluation of the Marine Corps Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) program, this report describes the methods and findings of a large survey of marines who were preparing for a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2010 or 2011. The results are among the first to shed light on the pre-deployment mental health status of marines, as well as the social resources they draw on when coping with stress and their attitudes about seeking help for stress-related problems.
On September 11, 2001, the United States was without a plan for military operations in Afghanistan. One was quickly created by the Defense Department and operations began October 7. The Taliban was toppled in less than two months. This report describes preparations at CENTCOM and elsewhere, Army operations and support activities, building a coalition, and civil-military operations in Afghanistan from October 2001 through June 2002.
In this original and provocative book, Nahed Artoul Zehr explores the theological underpinnings of al-Qaeda and related Islamic movements such as ISIS. She demonstrates how this marginal narrative transformed al-Qaeda from a relatively hierarchical and regional organization to a globalized, decentralized, and diffuse system of networks. She draws connections between religious ideas and strategy in her translation and analysis of leading theoretical and tactical jihad text, The Global Islamic Resistance Call, by Mustafa abu Mus’ ab al-Suri.
Just as importantly, she questions al-Qaeda’s understanding of the Islamic tradition on the use of force, arguing that it reflects a weak understanding of this tradition. More specifically, it is al-Qaeda’s (and related groups’) break with this tradition that is key to an al-Qaeda defeat.
Simultaneously, Zehr critiques the US military and policy establishment as it attempts to offer counter-narratives to the al-Qaeda phenomenon that emphasizes “good Muslims” versus “bad Muslims” in order to embrace a “moderate” form of Islam. According to Zehr, this approach is misguided: it is beyond the US government’s purview and expertise to make such theological claims about Islam. Better, she argues, to note the counter-narratives that are coming from within the Muslim community and other nongovernment institutions interested in moving this work forward.
By refocusing our attention on al-Qaeda’s narrative and the various ways thatit is being contested, the book provides an alternate lens from which to viewal-Qaeda and the al-Qaeda phenomenon for Islamic and US foreign policy scholars and students.
In his first collection of poems, many of which were written during his years as a US Army Special Forces medic, Graham Barnhart explores themes of memory, trauma, and isolation. Ranging from conventional lyrics and narrative verse to prose poems and expressionist forms, the poems here display a strange, quiet power as Barnhart engages in the pursuit and recognition of wonder, even while concerned with whether it is right to do so in the fraught space of the war zone. We follow the speaker as he treads the line between duty and the horrors of war, honor and compassion for the victims of violence, and the struggle to return to the daily life of family and society after years of trauma.
Evoking the landscapes and surroundings of war, as well as its effects on both US military service members and civilians in war-stricken countries, The War Makes Everyone Lonely is a challenging, nuanced look at the ways American violence is exported, enacted, and obscured by a writer poised to take his place in the long tradition of warrior-poets.