Tuesday night, DePauw students gathered in the Prindle Courtyard for an outdoor screening of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, a recent documentary that zeroes in on the covert military operations happening in several Middle Eastern countries including Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. Journalist Jeremy Scahill serves as tour guide, traveling from city to city to uncover aspects of the war on terror about which the American public knows next to nothing. Dirty Wars, directed by Rick Rowley, is a captivating film, both from an ethical and cinematic standpoint. When I saw this film over the summer, I thought it would be ideal to screen at Prindle for the multitude of current issues it brings to light. I’ll provide a brief preview of the concerns at hand:
First and foremost, Scahill emphasizes the human rights violations that result from these military raids. They’re in countries where we haven’t legally waged war, and innocent civilians are often killed in the process. The film features actual cell-phone video footage from victims’ families detailing these events. A second issue involves the individuals that these missions are targeting. Scahill calls the kill-list “never-ending” and doubts the legitimacy of the method used to come up with names.
Further, there’s the fact that the American public doesn’t have a clear picture of what is happening with this war. According to the film, we certainly are not being told the whole truth about our involvement in certain countries. The American journalism from that side of the globe is weak, though updates from the war should be more pressing than ever-present mind-numbing pop-culture updates that we’re confronted with on a daily basis.
These are some of the major issues that Scahill and Rowley present in Dirty Wars, and they are issues that should be of considerable importance to American citizens. Dirty Wars is a bold film, and unsurprisingly has elicited a wide range of reactions from different audiences around the country. For the students at Tuesday night’s screening, I think it was nothing short of a thought-provoking experience for all. To learn more about the film and Scahill’s book of the same name, click here.