On Nancy Sherman's Afterwar and Michael Putzel's The Price They Paid...
Whatever one might say about the corrupt boondoggle of Afghanistan, the war in Iraq was an aggressive power grab executed with astonishing idiocy, enriching companies such as Halliburton, DynCorp, Bechtel, and ExxonMobil at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and ongoing, almost incomprehensible human suffering. Anyone doing the moral philosophy of war needs to make sense of what it means to know you have committed evil, not as a victim of “moral injury” but as a perpetrator, and anyone talking about morality and the Iraq War needs to account for the gross irresponsibility, outright lies, and pointless waste of human life that characterized that conflict. What kind of “moral healing” is appropriate for Specialist Lynndie England, who tortured prisoners in Abu Ghraib, or Sergeant Frank Wuterich, whose Marines killed twenty-four civilians in Haditha? What about for Colonel Michael D. Steele, whose soldiers testified that he ordered them to “kill all military-age males” in their area, or General George Casey, who, as senior commander in Iraq from 2004 to 2007, oversaw the country’s descent into civil war? What kind of community expresses gratitude for such behavior? Who is the “we” that ought to “integrate” such vile acts?
(Read more at Dissent)
Roy Scranton is the author of the novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016) and the philosophical essay Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (City Lights, 2015). His journalism, essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews have been published in The Nation, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, LIT, Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, Los Angeles Review of Books, Contemporary Literature, The Appendix, and elsewhere. He is also one of the editors of Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (Da Capo, 2013). He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton and an M.A. from the New School for Social Research, and teaches creative writing in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame.