A story of truth and hope in an age of extremism
This book by the journalist Ron Suskind goes into the aftermath of 9/11 and the reasons for going to war in Iraq. Mr. Suskind investigates many of the claims of the Bush administration and the result does not inspire confidence in the former administration’s ability to tell the truth, not only to the American people, but even to themselves. Time and again, the evidence is shown to be faulty or down right wrong and those who speak up are silenced, not permanently, but merely brushed aside or told that ‘that is not what we need to hear’. We all know how it goes these days. Those not towing the line are ‘not team players’, are not cooperative, or ‘difficult to work with’. Suskind tries to bring some hopefulness to the situation by weaving in profiles of two young Muslim men who are living in the United States, and shows how the Americans who come to know them embrace them not as radicals but as human beings, friends and co-workers. One is a teenager who is in the US as an exchange student and the other is working in DC, right across from the White House. Their stories are quite interesting. The younger man, much more representative of his nation, has almost insurmountable issues with the roles of men and women in the US, he is fascinated with pornography. The older one is well educated with a good job and has assimilated to the American way of life but is profiled by White House security, interrogated and later released. Add to all of this the story of one detainee at Gitmo and the lawyer who tries to work on his behalf for his release.
Still, the book sheds a light on how governments twist the truth into a narrative that fits their world view. Which is pretty much what we all do to some extent. In this case though, men and women died, on both sides of the issue, as a result. Looking at where things stand today in the region is a lesson in humility. I would recommend reading when in a fairly positive state of mind because by the end you may find yourself a bit downcast, I know I did.