English 122NW: Narratives of War

UC Santa Barbara, Winter 2012

Background reading

War trauma | Blogs | Criticism & theory | Television programs | Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan | Autonomous weapons | Policy statements | Serious games | Artistic interventions

War trauma in the present

One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression (RAND; April 2008)
– “The Troubled Homecoming Of The Marlboro Marine” (Rolling Stone; April 2008)
– “Post-War Suicides May Exceed Combat Deaths, U.S. Says” (Bloomberg; May 2008)
– Michael de Yoanna and Mark Benjamin, “I am under a lot of pressure to not diagnose PTSD” (Salon; April 2009)


Dictionary of War (Multitude e.V. and Unfriendly Takeover)
Inside Iraq (McClatchy)
Blogs of War
Healing Iraq
Winds of Change
The Agonist
Today in Iraq
War and Piece
Defense and the National Interest
Defense Tech
Warblogging (archives)
Iraq Body Count (database)
Juan Cole: Informed Comment
Global Guerrillas
Back to Iraq 3.0
Baghdad Burning
Iraq Coalition Casualties | Iraqi Police & Guardsmen Deaths
From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games
Danger Room (Wired)
Abu Muqawama

Criticism & theory

Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism (2005)
Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War did not take place (1991)
—, The Spirit of Terrorism (2003)
Tim Blackmore,Rotor Hearts: The Helicopter as Postmodern War’s Pacemaker,” Public Culture (2003) | War X: Human Extensions in Battlespace (2005)
Karl von Clausewitz, On War (1832)
Jordan Crandall, ed., Under Fire.1: The Organization and Representation of Violence (2004)
Manuel De Landa,Economics, Computers and the War Machine
James Der Derian, Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed, and War (1992)
—, Virtuous War (2001)
—, “Revolutionizing Virtual War: An Interview with James Der Derian,” Theory & Event 13:3 (2010)
Ernst Friedrich, War Against War (1924)
Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi, The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War (2005)
Hugh Gusterson, People of the bomb: portraits of America’s nuclear complex (2004)
Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)
Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (2000)
Jon Ronson, The Men Who Stare At Goats (2004)
Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain (1985)
Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977)
Paul Virilio, Desert Screen: War at the speed of light (1991)
—, Pure War (1984/1997)
—, Strategy of Deception (2000)
—, War and Cinema (1989)
Samuel Weber, Targets of Opportunity: On the Militarization of Thinking (2005)
Howard Zinn, Terrorism and War (2002)
Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2002)

Television programs

Cyberwar! (Frontline; April 2003)
The Torture Question
(Frontline; August 2005)
Vietnam: A Television History (PBS)
Return of the Taliban (Frontline; October 2006)
FutureWeapons (Discovery Channel; 2006-07)
The War Behind Closed Doors (Frontline; February 2003)
Battle Plan Under Fire (NOVA; May 2004)
Showdown with Iran (Frontline; October 2007)

Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan (partial list)

Larry Diamond, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq (2005)
Patrick Cockburn, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (2005)
Nathaniel Fick, One Bullet Away (2005)
Occupation: Dreamland, Dir. Ian Olds (2005)
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (2006)
Independent Media in a Time of War
(Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center; 2006)
Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006)
Rory Stewart, The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq (2006)
Michael R. Gordon, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (2006)
Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (2007)
No End in Sight
, Dir. Charles Ferguson (2006)
The War Tapes
, Dir. Deborah Scranton (2006)
Iraq in Fragments
, Dir. James Longley (2006)
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Dir. Rory Kennedy (2007)
Taxi to the Dark Side, Dir. Alex Gibney (2007)
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (2008)
Andrew Sullivan, “What I Got Wrong About Iraq” (The Atlantic ; March 2008)
William R. Polk, Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History from Genghis Khan’s Mongols to the Ottoman Turks to the British Mandate to the American Occupation (2005)
Michael R. Gordon, “Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning” (New York Times; February 2008)
Dexter Filkins, The Forever War: Dispatches from the War on Terror (2008)
Standard Operating Procedure, Dir. Errol Morris (2008)
Ricardo Sanchez, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story (2008)
Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (2008)
Tariq Ali, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (2008)
Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (2011)

Policy statements

George W. Bush, National Security Council Statement, September 2002: “Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the Federal Government. Today, that task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank. Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1998):
“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power” (55);
“It follows that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it” (148);
“That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy….The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role” (198).

War machines/autonomous weaponry

P.W. Singer interviews: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Democracy Now!; February 2009); Carnegie Council [1][2]; Prepare for the Robot Wars: Six Questions for P.W. Singer (Harper’s)
War Machines of Tomorrow” (NOVA)
Timeline of UAVs
Timeline for development of autonomous weapons
(Stanford course project)
The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons” (Andrew Baird)
Interview with Michael Behar for a story in WIRED on Tactical Mobile Robots
(Michael Behar)
Smart Weapons – links
(Global Security)
Robotics & Smart Machines
Terminator Now,” Computers Today (August 2001)
Ridge: Unmanned Drones May Patrol U.S. Borders” (May 22, 2003)
Iraq May Get Killer Drones
Police, Army Robots to Debut in 5 Years” (Korea Times)
Pentagon has sights on robot soldiers” (San Diego Union Tribune; February 2005)
High Hopes for Drone in LA Skies,” BBC (June 6, 2006)
Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14,” Wired (October 18, 2007)
Killer robots could replace soldiers,” CNN/Fortune (December 2007)
Pilots Yanked Out of Planes for Drone Duty,” Wired (March 2008)
Flying Car Could Become Israel’s Robotic Ambulance,” Wired (May 20, 2008)
Benefits Are Seen in Battlefield Robots, but Moral Questions Remain” (NY Times; November 25, 2008)
Military’s killer robots must learn warrior code,” Times (February 16, 2009)
High Levels Of ‘Burnout’ In U.S. Drone Pilots
(NPR; December 2011)
Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front
(LA Times; December 2011)

Consequential Games, Persuasive Games, Games with an Agenda, Serious Games

Activism Games archive
Against All Odds (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees)
agoraXchange (Natalie Bookchin and Jacqueline Stevens)
Airport Insecurity (Persuasive Games)
Bacteria Salad (Ian Bogost)
Blacklash (Mongrel)
Corridos (Anne-Marie Schleiner & Luis Hernandez)
Crosser™ and La Migra™ (Rafael Fajardo)
Darfur is Dying (mtvU)
Disaffected! (Persuasive Games)
Escape from Woomera (selectparks)
A Force More Powerful
McDonald’s Videogame (Molleindustria)
The Maria Sisters (Global Arcade)
Medieval Unreality (Nina Czegledy and Maia Engeli)
Molleindustria (TuboFlex and others)
NationStates (Max Barry)
Oil God (Persuasive Games)
P.o.N.G. [People of New Globalism] (Global Arcade)
Rethinking Wargames (furtherfield.org)
SeriousPolicy (PlayGen)
Space Invaders Act 1732 (Andy Deck)
Tropical America (OnRamp Arts)
Tuboflex (Mollieindustria)
Vagamundo: A Migrant’s Tale (Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga)
Wild West Bank (Back to Israel)
4-1-9: Balance (Mendi+Keith Obadike)

Art interventions
Autonomous Nonviolent Agents (ANA Project 2007): “The ANA or autonomous non-violent agent project satirizes the terrible consequences of dehumanizing armed conflict and mechanically systematizing the solution of political disputes. Given the amount of cynicism we seem able to assume, robots can replace people in some of their tasks, including killing. They might even become the actors in the new millennium’s protest movements.”
LowDrone (Angel Nevarez & Alex Rivera)

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