Chris Hedges is a war correspondent. He has spent most of his adult life covering conflicts – in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria, the Punjab, Romania, Kuwait, Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. During these years he has had some hair-raising experiences. “I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of southern Iraq, imprisoned in Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held prisoner for a week by the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by MIG-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers and shelled for days in Sarajevo…” he writes.

Through all this Hedges has gained an insight into war few of us ever will, and it disgust him. This is what he had to say in a 2003 article for The Nation. “War itself is venal, dirty, confusing and perhaps the most potent narcotic invented by humankind. Modern industrial warfare means that most of those who are killed never see their attackers. There is nothing glorious or gallant about it. If we saw what wounds did to bodies, how killing is far more like butchering an animal than the clean and neat Hollywood deaths on the screen, it would turn our stomachs. If we saw how war turns young people into intoxicated killers, how it gives soldiers a license to destroy not only things but other human beings, and if we saw the perverse thrill such destruction brings, we would be horrified and frightened. If we understood that combat is often a constant battle with a consuming fear we have perhaps never known, a battle that we often lose, we would find the abstract words of war–glory, honor and patriotism–not only hollow but obscene. If we saw the deep psychological scars of slaughter, the way it maims and stunts those who participate in war for the rest of their lives, we would keep our children away. Indeed, it would be hard to wage war. For war, when we confront it truthfully, exposes the darkness within all of us.”

Source: “The Press and the Myths of War”, The Nation April 3, 2003

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