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"Restrepo" and "War": Sebastian Junger as a Propagandist for Aggressive Warfare (Video)

Through his two latest productions which exalt the experiences of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, Sebastian Junger - U.S. author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker - appears to be spearheading a media propaganda drive to win the hearts and minds of the U.S. public in support of Obama’s unrestrained military offensive in the region. Canadian professor Anthony Hall, an outspoken advocate for 9/11 truth, confronted Junger in public taking him to task for his shameful manipulations, disinformation tactics and intellectual dishonesty.

| Lethbridge (Canada)
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Has Sebastian Junger been cast as a front-line propagandist in the ongoing psychological operation of poisoning public consciousness so that citizens will support the Obama regime’s unconscionable extension and escalation of the 9/11 wars? It certainly seemed to me during my recent trip to California that the telegenic Junger is busily engaged in pumping out a potent mix of strategic disinformation on behalf of the world’s most lethal and unbridled war machine. These days one of the main imperatives of this war machine’s media manipulations must be to assuage the constituency that voted for Obama so that aroused public opinion in the so-called Homeland will not get in the way of the military superpower’s most recent rounds of Eurasian invasion.

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I think I witnessed Junger and his publicity team deploy all their war-promoting guile at an extremely well crafted presentation underneath the Hollywood Hills at the Central Public Library in downtown Los Angeles. Junger took center stage to promote his new book entitled, simply, War [1] War’s text is based on Junger’s five interludes as a so-called embedded journalist with a small combat unit of US special forces in 2007 and 2008 in the Korengal Valley region of eastern Afghanistan. The book is one part of a larger media push. The centerpiece of this propaganda effort is Restrepo, a documentary film by Junger and British photographer, Tim Hetherington. Restrepo captured the Grand Jury prize for best documentary at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah.

In the book and in the accompanying documentary film, Junger’s technique is to concentrate on human interest stories that put in the best possible light the personal attributes and experiences of US soldiers. He told the audience at the Los Angeles Public Library that he wanted to be “embedded emotionally” with his armed brethren on the most extended frontiers of US military power. As stated by one of Junger’s handlers at the Sundance Film Festival, the war reporter’s goal is to spin a narrative of “pure experience,” one that treats “political context” as being “beside the point. [2] While Junger’s primary focus is to lionize America’s fighting men, the author does not miss the opportunity to direct verbal assaults at those opposing the foreign military occupation of Afghanistan.

In propaganda aimed at justifying the Obama’s regime’s pattern of widening incursions in the so-called AfPak region, Junger depicted the so-called Taliban as dehumanized aliens sent in by a malevolent Pakistan. Junger’s characterizations of the real or imagined enemy were conducted with stealthy effectiveness. Large swaths of the Indigenous peoples situated on or around Eurasia’s contested pipeline routes were demonized with a few well-targeted phrases that belied the author’s claims that his narrative was meant to transcend politics.

Junger attempted to play on the heartstrings of the audience by emphasizing how the whole experience of reporting in a war zone put him in better touch with his own array of complex emotions. Apparently the war reporter now has a fuller understanding of why many women cry at weddings. Junger’s Schwartzenegger-like good looks combined with his displays of touchy-feely sensitivity clearly impressed the largest part of the library audience. Its members seemed to me to embody a pretty good cross-section of Obama’s core demographic.

While the presentation apparently appealed to many of the women in the audience, there was also a inescapable homo-erotic undercurrent to some aspects of the Los Angeles media event. The mano-a-mano element of Junger’s romanticized description of militarism’s macho-fascistic attributes is well illustrated by the picture on the back cover of War. All and all it looked to me that the goal of recruiting aggressive young men for the Armed Forces figured prominently in the calculations of the media team assembled to put a bright public spotlight on Junger’s accounts of American soldiers in action.

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I was steered to the event by Jeremy Rothe-Kushel. I had met Jeremy several days earlier at the Understanding Deep Politics conference [3] at Santa Cruz. I had recognized the intrepid You Tube investigator from his many admirable “We Are Change LA” videos [4]. My attendance at the Deep Politics event was part of my own preliminary work to explore California’s book-promotion circuits in preparation for the release this September of my own 1000-page peer-reviewed text, Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism [5] . In this broad-ranging text I cover many subjects including the genesis of the privatized terror economy and the 9/11 wars. As I outline in the forthcoming publication, NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan has been justified from the immediate aftermath of 9/11 until the present day by an unproven and implausible official account of the taking down of three World Trade Center Towers with two reportedly hijacked passenger planes.

During the book signing after the formal presentation Jeremy and I confronted Junger in "We Are Change"-style with information, theories and questions that the supposedly seasoned war correspondent ducked and deflected before calling in security to have us removed from the library. With Jeremy holding the camera, I zeroed in on the only direct connection Junger had made between 9/11 and his stint as an embedded journalist in the Korengal Valley. Junger had started his talk with a reference to his having interviewed Ahmed Shah Massoud, the widely-admired Northern Alliance leader who was assassinated two days before 9/11. Junger had indicated near the start of his talk that the murder of Massoud was connected through the all-purpose boogieman of al-Qaeda to the pulverization of the three WTC towers and the hit on the Pentagon.

As Junger signed his book for me I agreed with the author that there probably was a connection between the removal of Massoud and the events of 9/11. I asked Junger to reconsider, however, the identity of Massoud’s killers. As I see it, the largest weight of evidence points to the violent elimination of the Northern Alliance’s undisputed leader in order to put at the fighting force’s head the US-backed puppet, Hamid Karzai. The events of 9/11 provided the pretext for many pre-prepared actions, including the US invasion of Afghanistan to replace the Taliban government with a regime more amenable to massive opium production and sales as well as the pipeline-building agendas of Cheney’s and Bush’s Oil Patch cronies.

I tried to advance my analysis by calling attention to the speciousness of Junger’s characterization of al-Qaeda as a polity totally external to the so-called national security apparatus of Anglo-America. There is a very large body of literature detailing the character of al-Qaeda as a network emanating from within the bowels of the anti-communist war machinery that developed during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan [6]. Like CIA asset Osama bin Laden, Ahmed Shah Massoud, who is known widely in Afghanistan as the Lion of Panjsher, was a leader of one of the theocratic proxy forces armed, organized, trained and funded by the US government and its go-betweens in the Pakistani intelligence service [7].

What I saw in the Los Angeles Public Library initially seemed to me like the unpacking of a new vehicle of propaganda meant to advance President Obama’s own version of the fraudulent Global War on Terror. In retrospect, however, it is not altogether clear to me whether Sebastian Junger has already been cast in the role as one of Obama’s key war propagandists or whether the embedded journalist was merely auditioning for the role in the show biz capital of a country dominated since 1941 by its permanent war economy.


Tony Hall confronts Sebastian Junger

[1] War (New York: Twelve, 2010).

[2] Eric Hynes, [The New War Documentaries.

[3] Understanding Deep Politics Conference, May 14-15-16, 2010, Santa Cruz, California.

[4] We Are Change LA Rothe-Kushel

[5] Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization and Capitalism, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010.

[6] See for instance Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 (Berkeley: Universityof California Press, 2008).

[7] See Paul Wolf, The Assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud, Global Research, 14 September 2003.

Anthony J. Hall

Founding Coordinator and Professor of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge (Canada); his better known pieces include Origins of the War on Terror

 
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