Foreign Wars

Collateral Damage

America's War Against Iraqi Civilians

In this devastating exposé of a military occupation gone awry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges and journalist Laila Al-Arian reveal the terrifying reality of daily civilian life in Iraq at the hands of U.S. troops. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with combat veterans,Collateral Damage represents the largest number of named eyewitnesses from within the U.S. military to have testified on the record. These veterans, many of whom have come to oppose the war, explain the tactics and operations that have turned many Iraqis against the U.S. military.

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Through the voices of the veterans in these pages we learn how the mechanics of war — home raids, convoys, patrols, detentions, military checkpoints — lead to the daily abuse and frequent killing of innocents. They describe convoys of dozens of vehicles roaring down Iraqi roads, jumping medians, smashing into civilian cars and hitting Iraqi civilians without stopping to survey the damage. They detail raids that leave homes ransacked and families humiliated, shaking with fear, or shot dead in the mayhem. And they describe a battlefield in which troops, untrained to distinguish between combatant and civilian, are authorized to shoot whenever they feel threatened. “Better to be tried by twelve men than carried by six,” many said. Better, in short, to kill than be killed.

The soldiers and Marines interviewed in Collateral Damage describe the venality of a war fought largely out of view of journalists and television cameras. A stark and unflinching narrative,Collateral Damage exposes the true consequences of the war that the American government has unleashed in Iraq.

Research support for this book was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

About the reporters

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, professor at Princeton University, and ordained Presbyterian minister.

Laila Al-Arian

Laila Al-Arian

Laila Al-Arian is a senior producer and investigative journalist for Al Jazeera English's documentary series Fault Lines.


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