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The Book of the Week is “Whistles From the Graveyard, My Time Behind the Camera on War, Rage, and Restless Youth in Afghanistan” by Miles Lagoze, published in 2023.
In 2009, the author joined the Combat Camera division of the U.S. Marines in the war in Afghanistan. Very few people will recall now, that in 2003 the George W. Bush administration aired an ABC-TV reality show (that was soon cancelled due to poor ratings) of his version of that war.
It seems U.S. presidents after Nixon have accepted the fact that they are in a fish bowl, so they have made legacy-oriented practices a point of pride, maximizing propaganda on projects for which they have wanted to be remembered, mostly through their privately-funded presidential libraries.
The most unethical presidents have kept materials to themselves, to be discovered after their deaths as a way to prove they were not just leaders of the free world– but king of the world (Nixon, George W. Bush, Trump).
After the Nixon tapes, the following wanted to be best known for:
- Ford: the celebration of the United States’ bicentennial;
- Carter: Camp David Accords– a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt;
- Reagan: his bringing about the fall of the former Soviet Union (all by himself (!); never mind the heavy dose of his wilful ignorance and plausible denial of the CIA’s international adventures);
- George H.W. Bush: America’s glory in winning the First Gulf War;
- Bill Clinton: resuming the dialogue on national healthcare in a big way, and (the lies of) his administration’s giving rise to almost a decade of peace (except for a few terrorist attacks) and prosperity (including balancing the national budget);
- George W. Bush: (the complete and utter nonsense of) his administration’s bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq (good luck with accessing those classified documents);
- Obama: pushing through national healthcare and getting rid of Osama Bin Laden (even he hired a videographer in order to make his entire administration a reality show, but king of the world? His political enemies accused him of going on an “around the world apology tour”);
- Trump: building a wall (?) protecting the nation from a pandemic (?) However, he kept classified documents, and grabbed as much money and power as possible during his time in office, just in case a court rules that executive privilege would protect his every move only during his time in office.
Anyway, according to the book (which appeared to be credible although it lacked Notes, Sources, References, and a Bibliography), the author wrote that medical discharge from the U.S. military confers enormous monthly payments (compliments of American taxpayers) for the rest of one’s life. Some of the young men who volunteered to go to war, changed their minds about fighting, and wished injuries upon themselves in order to get medically discharged. Not the author.
Even so, the author was reluctant to use his gun during the few times when he was told to. Most of the time, he was a camera operator of footage containing frat-boy shenanigans; some of it cold-hearted, sadistic, disgusting, and always insane (mutilated bodies, cruelty to animals, etc.).
After he came home upon completing his four-year military contract, he and a friend decided to make a video of the war, which he posted on YouTube. He described his role as “The souvenir aspect of war tourism for the young and depraved of American society.”
Read the book to learn more about the author’s experiences, and how he and his military buddies fared after they came home.