This week, Long Reads grapples with the effects of PTSD, the moral compunction of US drone strikes and the return of Tricky Dick Nixon.
Richard Nixon casts a long shadow over American politics. He is seen as the consummate political animal, an embodiment of everything wrong with those who hold the cards, more obsessed with the game than the outcome.
Writer Justin Sheri started a twitter account, where he began commenting on current news stories in the voice of Nixon. It serves as a reminder that the cynical win-at-all-costs nature of Nixon is still alive in current American politicians…looking at you Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.
In a side note, the most underrated film of Oliver Stone’s career is Nixon, check it out. It has examples of beautiful abstract cinematography, where he splices in images of flowers and the Vietnam War.
Plus it contains a fantastic line in the most brilliant deleted scene ever, that just embodies Nixon’s thirst for power. Speaking of the CIA director Richard Helms, the character Bob Kushman said: “He’s the epitome of sang-froid. A world-class poker player.”
“Yeah? Well, I own the fucking casino,” replies Anthony Hopkins Nixon.
The peaceful comic novel A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby, seems a long way off after reading this article. It’s part of a larger set of articles from the Intercept entitled The Drone Papers, which detail the inner workings of the U.S’s military assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
“The documents show that during a five-month stretch of the campaign, nearly nine out of ten people who died in airstrikes were not the Americans’ direct targets.”
This is really the equivalent of American Sniper meets the Hurt Locker as author Matthew Green follows AJ, a former British Royal Marine who was medically discharged from the military with post traumatic stress disorder. AJ was a sniper in Afghanistan; he sat on rooftops and protected his fellow soldiers “in a cool methodical fashion.”
Distance from a target didn’t desensitise him and AJ was scared of getting hit by bombs, scared of failing his comrades. It became a silent emotional weight that built up, unrealised, until he returned home. He realised something was wrong when “…he felt as if he was encased in a glass dome – the world beyond seemed remote and unreal.”