Dexter Filkins, the New York Times war correspondent is one of my heroes. I have a fondness for the profession, having made a film about them in the 80’s called Under Fire. Filkins has a new book called, The Forever War, which depicts his experiences in Iraq these last six years. Robert Stone, himself a chronicler of dirty wars (Dog Soldiers) and a bit player in my movie writes a beautiful review of Filkins work.
It is not facetious to speak of work like that of Dexter Filkins as defining the “culture” of a war. The contrast of his eloquence and humanity with the shameless snake-oil salesmanship employed by the American government to get the thing started serves us well. You might call the work of enlightening and guiding a deliberately misguided public during its time of need a cultural necessity. The work Filkins accomplishes in “The Forever War” is one of the most effective antitoxins that the writing profession has produced to counter the administration’s fascinating contemporary public relations tactic. The political leadership’s method has been the dissemination of facts reversed 180 degrees toward the quadrant of lies, hitherto a magic bullet in their never-ending crusade to accomplish everything from stealing elections to starting ideological wars. Filkins uses the truth as observed firsthand to detail an arid, hopeless policy in an unpromising part of the world. His writing is one of the scant good things to come out of the war.