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This book is a bit irregular in pacing and focus. It zooms into particular (ugly) incidents and might dwell there a bit, then it is suddenly mapping US agencies' parts and projects crisply, then it is taking a (somewhat conjectural, IMO) look into the future of our USA "empire" vis a vis experiences of other nations. (France in Algeria on the slope of its decline (resorting to torture and making familiar legalistic excuses) was a pretty unsettling one, often lost in the shuffle behind its better known imperial retreat in Vietnam, and lateral to us.) Along the way the author turns over a lot of rocks and we see things that might make us squirm (depending on our views). War and national hegemony after all, are frequently (quote) the hurt business (unquote) (to borrow an old phrase about prizefighting). Do these drone strikes, on net, inflict more excess suffering than, say, German families in showers of fire and shattered glass in Dresden fire raids? The author has an aim, and the aim is seemingly to discredit the tactics now long used and evolved. Yes, maybe we can do better, we should question some of this stuff (as classic agency problems creep in beneath bad monitoring -- Abu Ghraib is Exhibit A here), and this may shake us from torpor and prod us in that direction. Zooming in on the hurt business will always find blood and some human devaluation, and some very graphic individual views of dire suffering. (And Iraq, I will agree, was so poorly designed that the whole ensuing endless loops of horrors are but replays of our leaders' horrific misapprehensions and bunglings in every dimension from Moment One.) Some level of this is absolutely nothing new since the first creatures climbed out of the ooze, or whatever, and started fighting. Some error rate is bound to happen iln any real world. I am not excusing everything on display here, but rather, helping to label the product. Behind everything here, to my ears, is some hidden moral baseline of high ideals and human kindness that, if the reader listens closely, seems never to have actually existed, or at least, in USA's doings in the span of this work, didn't exist, going back to the Spanish American War in the late 1800s. I might feel smug and superior except that I live in the belly of the Pax Americana pretty secure and safe and prosperous. Again, don't get me wrong -- the fact that war has always been an unfit subject for display in sensitive decent old Aunt Hattie's parlor, is not to say there isn't some serious misconduct sprinkled across our history. This author put his thumb on it quite awhile back in his work. The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.
In all, this has been a fine educational experience for me, and I don't expect balance (in the particular degrees and ways I might have imposed) here. Which is fine. I am a better-informed person after this listening.