• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

dinsdag 3 mei 2016

Tom Engelhardt 164

May 3, 2016
Tomgram: Nick Turse, It Can't Happen Here, Can It?


[Note for TomDispatch Readers: The newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s riveting reportorial trip into a war-crimes zone, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan, is now officially out.  I can’t tell you how proud I am that we’re publishing such a personal and unsettling work.  It’s powerful and -- believe me -- unforgettable.  Noam Chomsky writes of it: “A vivid, gripping account of inhuman cruelty, laced with rays of hope and courage and dignity amidst the horrors.” Adam Hochschild calls it “searing reporting.”  I simply call it moving and horrifying.  As always, with Nick’s books, for a contribution of $100 or more ($125 if you live outside the U.S.), you can get a signed, personalized copy and in the process help ensure that more Dispatch Books appear in the world.  Check our donation page for the details. Above all, I urge every TomDispatch reader to buy a copy, if not for yourself, then for someone else (maybe that college student you know who might someday be the next great investigative reporter). Help make the latest Dispatch Book a genuine success.

With that in mind, I’ve asked Haymarket Books, the fantastic publisher of our imprint, to offer TD readers a discount on it.  Here’s all you have to do: click on this link, which will take you to the Haymarket website.  Then click "add to cart," select the number of books you want, and click on "checkout."  After you've filled out your shipping and billing information, you will be asked to enter a “coupon code.” To purchase one book, enter TURSE25 and you’ll get 25% off the cover price; for five or more books, enter TURSE40 and you’ll get 40% off. Tom]

Every now and then, I teach a class to young would-be journalists and one of the first things I talk about is why I consider writing an act of generosity.  As they are usually just beginning to stretch their writerly wings, their task, as I see it, is to enter the world we’re already in (it’s generally the only place they can afford to go) and somehow decode it for us, make us see it in a new way.  And who can deny that doing so is indeed an act of generosity?  But for the foreign correspondent, especially in war zones, the generosity lies in the very act of entering a world filled with dangers, a world that the rest of us might not be capable of entering, or for that matter brave enough to enter, and somehow bringing us along with them.

I thought about this recently when I had in my hands the first copy of Nick Turse’s new Dispatch Book, Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan, and flipped it open to its memorable initial paragraph, one I already new well, and began to read it all over again:

“Their voices, sharp and angry, shook me from my slumber. I didn’t know the language but I instantly knew the translation. So I groped for the opening in the mosquito net, shuffled from my downy white bed to the window, threw back the stained tan curtain, and squinted into the light of a new day breaking in South Sudan.  Below, in front of my guest house, one man was getting his ass kicked by another. A flurry of blows connected with his face and suddenly he was on the ground. Three or four men were watching.”

Nick, TomDispatch’s managing editor and a superb historian as well as reporter, spent years in a war-crimes zone of the past to produce his award-winning book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. It was a harrowing historical journey for which he traveled to small villages on the back roads of Vietnam to talk to those who had experienced horrific crimes decades earlier.  In 2015, however, on his second trip to South Sudan, a country the U.S. helped bring into existence, he found himself in an almost unimaginable place where the same kinds of war crimes were being committed right then and there in a commonplace way, where violence was the coin of the realm, and horrors of various sorts were almost guaranteed to be around the next corner.  In his new book, he brings us with him into such a world in a way that is deeply memorable.  Ann Jones, author of They Were Soldiers, calls him “the wandering scribe of war crimes.”  And she adds, “Reading Turse will turn your view of war upside down... There’s no glory here in Turse’s pages, but the clear voices of people caught up in this fruitless cruelty, speaking for themselves.”

Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead is, I think, the definition of an act of generosity. Nick has just returned from his latest trip to South Sudan and today’s post gives you a sense of the ongoing brutalities and incongruities of life there (and here as well). Tom 
Donald Trump in South Sudan 
What Trumps the Horrors of a Hellscape? The Donald! 
By Nick Turse
LEER, South Sudan -- I’m sitting in the dark, sweating. The blinding white sun has long since set, but it’s still in the high 90s, which is a relief since it was above 110 earlier. Slumped in a blue plastic chair, I’m thinking back on the day, trying to process everything I saw, the people I spoke with: the woman whose home was burned down, the woman whose teenage daughter was shot and killed, the woman with 10 mouths to feed and no money, the glassy-eyed soldier with the AK-47. 
Then there were the scorched ruins: the wrecked houses, the traditional wattle-and-daub tukuls without roofs, the spectral footprints of homes set aflame by armed raiders who swept through in successive waves, the remnants of a town that has ceased to exist.

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