Every war is a cruel attempt to deprive a human of life, though even this open aggression has some rules based on soldier’s honor and humanity. Nevertheless, the book Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations tells about the most terrible atrocities committed against the innocent people and describes the destructive effect of war. The work stresses that the armed conflict ruins not only all the material things, but also a personal spirit. Although, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is associated with the fight against terrorism, the book by Aaron Glantz reveals concealed and the most inhuman details of American participation.
Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations was published by the famous journalist Aaron Glantz in 2005. It was a sensational disclosure in response to the governmental statement about the anti-terroristic mission of American troops in the two mentioned countries. The author has gathered and organized the testimonies and memories of the soldiers. As a result, he has presented quite depressing and terrible details of the war unveiled during the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans meeting that was arranged by an organization Veterans Against the War. The Winter Soldier is a symbolical title which slightly hints at historical events in 1777 connected with notions of heroism and patriotism. Thus, the event was called in such a way as its participants showed some courage gathering together and revealing the terrific truth (Glantz 6).
The information of the book has significant intellectual context as it describes not only the important details of the Iraq and Afghanistan missions but also the meaning of war in general. For the most part, the presented work deals with the reversed side of the armed conflict and its rules. In addition to it, the book is a contribution to the global understanding of media and governmental truth. Moreover, it helps to change the views toward the external interference into internal politics of a certain country. Additionally, the information highlights the psychological aspect of the soldiers’ broken consciousness. Thus, it is possible to assume that the book has been written with the intention to stress the destructive nature of war and reveal the most terrible atrocities of the American soldiers. At the same time, this text has quite an important, hidden context which has an aim to convince the American society to avoid military conflicts. The book states that “the military occupation of a foreign country inevitably leads to an increase in racism, dehumanization, and sexism directed both outward at the enemy and inward into the soul of the service member” (Glantz 7). The author addresses these issues in each section of the book through the description of the historical events.
As it has been stated previously, the book has significant historical value since it depicts the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the opposite point of view breaking all the stereotypes about the anti-terroristic struggle. To start from, the author reveals the sense of Geneva Convention and its weaknesses. It is the first attempt in the history to displace its effectiveness in the real conditions of war since the soldiers have confirmed that they killed everyone on the streets, burnt down mosques, schools and, what is worse, got special congratulations for that from their authority (Grantz 26). However, the most terrific part of the work is the one about the Abu Graib’s violent acts. Actually, the information has changed all the history of the American peacemaking missions in Asia. Furthermore, Winter Soldier makes an original contribution to the field of veterans’ affairs because the book depicts their inner experiences and sufferings and makes an official apology for hate and destruction. It is also worth stating that the attentive reading of the text can shed light on the current wars issue. “Until people hear what is going on with this war it will continue to happen and people will continue to die” (Grantz 27). Thus, the contemporary armed conflicts have no limits and rules as they are completely devoid of mercy.
The major sections of the book identify particular themes and contain the most striking revelations. The first important theme tells about the violation of the Convention’s rules. The details of the breach are mentioned in the first section where the soldiers present the photos and memories of the illegal acts. The second part deals with the issue of racism and dehumanization of war. Racism did not mask the reality of the occupation, and it justified the violence (Grantz 100). In addition to it, the social problem of gender and sexuality is unveiled in the book as an essential problem of the armed conflicts. The work depicts many events of sexual assault and gender discrimination. One can conclude that the war is a place where women fight on the two fronts – with the enemy and with the men with whom they serve. Shockingly, 71% out of 90% of women were sexually harassed by their male colleges (Grantz 119). On the background of the war’s horror, the veterans’ problems seem to be not so acute. However, the fifth part of the book highlights all the post war troubles of former soldiers. The author considers not only their post war moral traumas but also the health care system and costs. Nevertheless, it is necessary to state the biggest revelation and the most important theme of the work that is the problem of the contemporary understanding of terrorism and struggle with it. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were primarily comprehended as the ones against terrorism but only veterans have got full understanding of the reality. The words of one of them seem to be the most striking disclosure of the book and are the following: “We were told we were fighting terrorists; the real terrorist was me, and the real terrorism is this occupation” (Grantz 100). This statement summarizes all the ideas of the work. The most shocking example of this point is the practice of the American soldiers to use children as the shield for protection (Grantz 71). The unjustified and unexplainable slaughter of women and kids confirms terroristic crimes of the American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This valuable information makes the piece of writing not only useful and interesting but also precious.
The book is worth to be cherished as an essential historical source of information about the fight against terrorism and war in general. The attitude toward the text can be quite different as every person has his/her own understanding of those events. Nevertheless, it is possible to assume that the work has broken all the stereotypes. However, it has both its weaknesses and strengths that concern the structure and the sense of the context. The strongest side of Winter Soldier is the shocking information which is vital to know. It is comprehensible to everyone because of the easy text structure. At the same time, the book contains many horrifying and shocking details with scandalous photos. It is necessary to characterize this aspect as a weakness since it limits the number of readers. In general, it should be recommended to those individuals who are interested in the field of political and historical issues.
To sum up, Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations is a shocking book with the sensational revelations about the occupation of Americans in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It changes the meaning of the American mission in Asia and displaces its anti-terroristic meaning through the striking discoveries. The author has gathered information on the meeting of veterans who organized the program of Winter Soldier and had some courage to object to the governmental stereotypes. The work shows the painful truth and all the atrocities of war and recognizes the American occupation in Asia as the biggest act of terrorism.