Over the past weeks I have watched the HBO show ‘Generation Kill’ and read the book Sniper One. They are a depressing depiction of the state of Iraq.
Generation Kill has a fascinating history and I was surprised to find that much of the story is fact based (surprised because of several of the events, certain characters and the way in which the initial invasion was carried out). It is based on the book Generation Kill, which is based on a 3 part article written by a Rolling Stone reporter during the invasion:
Generation Kill (2004) is a book written by Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright chronicling his experience as an embedded reporter with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His account of life with the Marines was originally published as a three-part series in Rolling Stone in the fall of 2003. “The Killer Elite”, the first of these articles, went on to win a National Magazine Award for Excellence in Reporting in 2004.
If you read the write up, it is interesting to note that there were ramifications for many in the article as Evan Wright spared no one, making many of the officers looks like asses:
The book also details rising tensions between the men and a couple of their commanders, including Capt. David McGraw, whom the men referred to as Captain America. Mr. Wright describes the captain as firing randomly on several occasions, endangering his men and generally spreading panic.
Mr. Wright writes: ”One of the enlisted men in his vehicle challenges him. ‘What are you shooting at?’ he asks him.” The marine then says, ” ‘The guy is not right in the head.’ ” Both comments are breaches of authority.
Later Mr. Wright writes of Captain McGraw poking a prisoner in the neck with a bayonet.
Of course, not everyone agrees with the depiction, a full rebuttal can be read here. There appears to be a few inconsistencies. You can also see footage from one of the Marines here. Interesting.
The problem is that Sniper One and movies like Stop Loss pass on the same overall message as Generation Kill, the place is a mess, that the soldiers are frustrated and the people who are paying for it are the civilians. In both accounts, there are mindless killings. There is the F-18 strike on a village with no one but women and children in it, there is the Sniper One story of the guy riding his bike down a street and getting his leg blown off.
I was left with a real feeling that it is all very sad.