Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book review: The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Seymour M. Hersh is a careful investigative journalist that, among others, created the debate about Abu Ghraib prisons. His investigations are based on high-level sources and very often he brings out to life truths the establishment want it hidden. This is part of the check-and-balances game, that should be fully functional in order to have a healthy democracy. Even if the journalists may make mistakes and can be biased in their evaluations, or even manipulated by their sources, the democratic institutions should do their work and give an answer to the issues raised by the media. 
A collection of articles covering the killing of Osama bin Laden and some aspects of the US involvement in Syria, this book echoes Hersh disappointment with Obama's incapacity to really offer a different perspective on US politics after Bush administration. Disappointment is a feeling, but sometimes it does not offer the right tool of evaluation of politics. While wathing the promises made by Obama during the first presidential campaign I wondered often how someone can really think - belief is a different side of the story - that one can, just overnight, stop many of the politics started by the Bush administration, the result of planning and involving budgets and various layers of the administration. But it seems that enthusiasm is over too. 
Hersh is particularly unhappy with the maintenance of the politics of relying on special operations, especially in the case of Osama's killing, as well as on the persistence of the Cold War rhetorics regarding Russia and China, especially in the case of the war in Syria. If in the first case, there may be some omissions and confusions  and inaccuracies regarding the public stories delivered - such as the impossible to believe that in fact Pakistan did not have any involvement in the success of the operation - in the second case, the reality may be a bit complex. In the last 8 years, America is lacking a coherent foreign policy - in terms of politics not symbolic gestures - offering willingly the floor to global stakeholders who were waiting for a long time to outline their presence. Woke up from his mediatic beauty sleep, Obama is using the old Cold War language because he does not have any other perpective on his own to use.
If you ignore the very frequent name dropping, Hersh offers a lot of snipets of information about the behind the curtain connections during the Syrian war, to be taken as such or compared with other official and even media reports - an approach strongly recommended in the case of the sarin gas debate, with more than one report contradicting Hersh assumptions. After all, journalists can be also the victims of their own informants, not only presidents. 
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via in exchange of an honest review.

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