For nearly a decade Brett Velicovich was at the center of America’s new warfare: using unmanned aerial vehicles—drones—to take down the world’s deadliest terrorists across the globe. One of an elite handful in the entire military with the authority to select targets and issue death orders, his team successfully killed/captured 14 of America’s 20 most wanted terrorists across Iraq within only three months.
Assassination by drone is a subject of deep and enduring fascination. Yet few understand how and why this has become our principal way of waging war. This week we speak with Andrew Cockburn, author of the new book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, as he helps uncover the real and extraordinary story about drone warfare and the ways in which the technology works and, despite official claims, does not work. Additionally, we discuss what has really happened when the theories underpinning the strategy — and the multi-billion dollar contracts they spawn — have been put to the test. Drawing on sources deep in the military and intelligence establishments, Andrew Cockburn unveils the true effects, as demonstrated by bloody experience, of assassination warfare.
Andrew Cockburn is the Washington Editor of Harper’s magazine and the author of many articles and books on national security, including the New York Times Editor’s Choice Rumsfeld and The Threat. He is a regular opinion contributor to the Los Angeles Times and has written for, among others, the New York Times, National Geographic and the London Review of Books.
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Just as polio loomed over the 1950s, and AIDS stalked the 1980s and ’90s, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) haunts us in the early years of the twenty-first century. Over a decade into the United States’ “global war on terror,” PTSD afflicts as many as 30 percent of the conflict’s veterans. But the disorder’s reach extends far beyond the armed forces. In total, some twenty-seven million Americans are believed to be PTSD survivors. Yet to many of us, the disorder remains shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and shame. This week we speak with David Morris, former Marine turned war correspondent. While on assignment, David’s humvee was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) and his life was forever changed. In this episode we discuss America’s hunger for violence, the effect of war movies on our nation (specifically we discuss the newest blockbuster – American Sniper), the truth about PTSD, and much more.
David is the author of the brand new best-selling book, The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
David Morris is a former Marine infantry officer. He worked in Iraq from 2004 to 2007 as a reporter for Salon and the Virginia Quarterly Review. His story “The Big Suck: Notes from the Jarhead Underground” was originally published in VQR and was included in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. In 2008 Morris was awarded a creative nonfiction fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as residencies at The MacDowell Colony and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
“The only people who don’t think that America has an empire are Americans.”
– David Morris
Quotes from David:
“It’s important for people to recognize that we tend to think of PTSD as a soldiers problem, but the most common and most toxic form of trauma is rape.”
“My humvee backed up over an IED – an old mortar round that had been buried in some trash. It blew off the back hatch, the trunk of the humvee, the right rear wheel, and lit the humvee on fire.”
“I knew I had come very close to the end, afterwards the blood in my veins felt different, I felt nervous constantly, I felt like I was living in black and white and the rest of the world was in color.”
“No one watches a war movie like an American. These movies are the equivalent of porn, they appeal to us on a very basic level.”
What we learn in this episode:
- What is the mental and physical toll that war takes on a soldier?
- How are war movies distorting our feelings towards war and violence?
- What should the average person understand about post-traumatic stress disorder?
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