A British journalist’s tales of world-wide misery caused by America’s blundering response to 9/11.
According to Streatfeild (Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control, 2007, etc.), when the shock and confusion of 9/11 subsided, cynical American leaders seized an opportunity to rearrange the world more to their liking. Relying on erroneous assumptions and their own good intentions, abandoning democratic ideals and the rule of law, America and her allies crafted crude certainties and substituted them for the truth. The author features eight stories designed to show how they made the world decidedly less safe. He begins his parade of disasters with an account of the redneck loser in Texas, who, thinking himself an avenging patriot, shot and killed an immigrant Indian gas station attendant. More horrors followed. To help ensure its own reelection, the Australian government adopted an outrageous lie to demonize a boatload of refugees as terrorists. Believing they were striking Taliban forces, U.S. helicopter gunships strafed a wedding celebration in Afghanistan, killing 48 civilians. With too few soldiers to secure Iraq, the U.S. forces exposed the largest explosives plant in the Middle East to looting. Misidentifying an Egyptian traveler as a member of al-Qaeda, Macedonian border guards arrested the man and permitted the CIA to snatch him; he was subjected to months of incarceration and harsh interrogation before the agency acknowledged the mistake. America also overlooked Uzbekistan’s appalling human-rights record in return for access to a vital air base from which to launch strikes on Afghanistan. In Pakistan, the global polio-eradication campaign, tantalizingly close to solution, collapsed because of distrust for and rage against America. A tenacious reporter, Streatfeild packs the narrative with telling detail, instructive interviews and dramatic events, but he reaches conclusions too sweeping. Surely, for example, incidents of good-ol’-boy racism or Muslim paranoia cannot be wholly ascribed to the War on Terror, no matter how clumsily waged.
Colorfully reported, not so carefully reasoned.