The Rule of the Fool
April 13, 2015

The Ruins of Iraq

A powerful argument for the humanities is to be made in the ruins of Iraq.  A citizenry that supports a propaganda of faulty intelligence and outright lies (the alleged connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda) is a country that cannot read. When such illiteracy leads to the death of a million Iraqis, we demonstrate that we are not only a country that cannot read, but also a people without will and imagination, what some might call a heart.  The ability to empathize, to understand and share the feelings of an other, has not been entirely lost, but as we continue to restructure our universities and our society against the values of the humanities and towards the goals of corporations, we risk raising yet another generation of amnesiacs, young people whose ties to history have been severed by the cult of the image and are, therefore, susceptible to another campaign of propaganda and senseless slaughter.

The goal of this site is simple and wildly ambitious.  We used to talk about changing “the hearts and minds” of Iraqis.  I want to talk about changing the hearts and minds of Americans so we might care just a bit more the next time we’re asked to go to war.  I traveled to Iraq in March of 2008 to see the Global War on Terror for myself.  What I saw was an image of the American mind:  walls:  lanes:  division:  cement barriers everywhere:  nobody talking:  SEALS on one side of the Euphrates, contractors on the other, Marines mannning the dam.  Compartmentalization.  A collective eye like that of an insect.  I want this site to be a place where the different sides talk to each other, where the experience of the Iraqi and the Afghani and the American, the contractor and the soldier and the pacifist, are equally considered.

Global War on Terror Studies is an interdisciplinary conversation, a field where the discrete disciplines that organize academic departments do not structure the terms of the debate.  GWOT Studies is the humanities and anyone who is willing to join us in a call for a return to critical thinking, empathy, and vigorous free speech.  The stakes are high.  The Global War on Terror persists with no end in sight.  Let the end be our end.

M. C. Armstrong
M. C. Armstrong

M. C. Armstrong recently embedded with JSOF in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He published extensively on the Iraq war through The Winchester Star. He is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Esquire, The Mantle, The Missouri Review, The Gettysburg Review, Mayday, Monkey Bicycle, Epiphany, The Literary Review, and other journals and anthologies. He is the guitarist and lead singer for Viva la Muerte.

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