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Gli Stati Uniti e le guerre del nuovo millennio

N. 11 Nuova Serie

Autunno 2016 - Anno XXIII

A cura di: 
Giorgio Mariani

Realizzazione editoriale: Michela Donatelli

Grafica di copertina a cura della Redazione.

Gli Stati Uniti e le guerre del nuovo millennio


Giorgio Mariani
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Why Can’t We Take Out These Bastards? L’Iraq, Obama e la politica estera degli Stati Uniti

Fabrizio Tonello

“Breakdown and failure reveal the true nature of things”, wrote Karl Jaspers in a quote used by William Appleman Williams. Indeed, the failure of the 2003 invasion of Iraq has its roots in the history of the country and, at the same time, clarifies many long-standing issues of American foreign policy, the most important of which is the constant temptation of using military force to alter history’s course. Unfortunately, Obama’s restraint in this respect will probably not survive the end of his term: in 2016, Hillary Clinton is the perfect interventionist candidate.

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La politica della cura: come gli ospedali per reduci curano chi è stato ferito alla testa in Iraq e Afghanistan

Jennifer L. Baldwin

Popular representations of injured veterans and the United States Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care system frequently portray the VA as failing to adequately care for US veterans. Such portrayals overlook the significant ways in which the VA defines and provides care to veterans, and leave unanalyzed the VA’s larger political and cultural roles in managing the effects of war on behalf of the US government and public. In this article, I draw upon ethnographic fieldwork in a mid-western VA polytrauma clinic newly established to provide care for mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (mTBI) among returning veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In describing this clinic’s bureaucratic model of care and everyday practices that include medical evaluations, diagnosis, and clinical communications, I characterize the US government’s response to one of the most common war-injuries of these recent wars. I demonstrate how these practices frame mTBIs as historical and transient states, and attribute current veteran struggles to individual characteristics of the veteran that require self-management to promote future disability. In this way, the medical management of mTBIs reflects a politics of care that promotes particular logics of state governance, citizenship, and state responsibility in the management of injured veterans and broader consequences of war.

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Riflessioni sulla guerra dei droni nel cinema

Marilyn Young

In this short essay, American US historian Marilyn B. Young discusses two recent drone war movies: Good Kill (directed by Andrew Niccol, 2014) and Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood, 2015). She argues that both movies show, albeit differently, unsettling aspects of drone wars, chiefly the dramatic conundrum of the American combatants who act without physical injury to oneself while being afraid of killing civilians (drone missiles kill within a 15-meter radius). Young argues that drone wars contribute to weakening the difference between war and peace, but she maintains its uneasiness is hypocritical: air warfare, as practised today, has very similar characteristics. Furthermore, she argues that drone warfare is a terrorist-producing factory, but instead of focusing on this aspect, the two movies choose to follow the American tradition of war narratives: i.e., they focus on the American point of view and the soldiers’ sufferings, refusing to inquire into the enemy’s perspective.

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Calling the shots: American Sniper, cinema populista e guerre impopolari

Susan L. Carruthers

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is sui generis: the sole commercially successful Hollywood film about the war in Iraq. This essay considers the politics of populist moviemaking in an era of unpopular war. Reading the film against the grain of Eastwood’s purported “antiwar” impetus for dramatizing the story of Chris Kyle, the author proposes that American Sniper valorizes both the killing of Arabs and gun culture more broadly. War, Eastwood implies, invariably damages warriors who deserve a better fate; yet guns are nevertheless endowed with quasi-sacred powers of regeneration in his paean to America’s most prolific sniper. To make this moral point, however, Eastwood has to occlude the final chapter of his protagonist’s life - killed by a fellow traumatized veteran whose therapy, devised and administered by Kyle, consisted of target shooting. Shorn of this bitterly ironic conclusion, Eastwood’s story encourages audiences to mourn the loss of an “American hero,” without considering either why he died or whether mass killing merits such reverent celebration.

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American Sniper, guerra e pace secondo Clint Eastwood

Gabriele Porro

Is Clint Eastwood a militarist, a warmonger, a writer and director completely imbued by war values? And is American Sniper only the portrait of a valiant American soldier in the Middle East Wars - Chris Kyle, the sniper nr.1 who killed over 160 enemies - buried at the end with all military honors? The answer in this essay is, no. Certainly Eastwood, the best known right-wing anarchist in Hollywood, has strong patriotic feelings and seems to be ideally close to his soldiers: but he doesn’t hide how horrible the war is, and shows how the duty of killing people of all ages brings his main character face to face with his conscience. That is not new. If one reflects on how war and violence are dealt with in the American cinema from Word War II through the Vietnam tragedy, and to the Middle East conflicts, as the author does in this essay, it appears that in all the wars internal American ethical and political dilemmas are also debated in various ways. Often, the enemy is not only the one “we” are fighting against; among “our” enemies are our contradictions, conscience, phantoms. That is the case with American Sniper, which ends with the killing of Kyle-the-hero by a brother in arms, like him recently returned home from Iraq, tormented, like Chris, by the thought of the people he killed and, at the same time, of not being there to perform his duty to kill again, along with his comrades. Not exactly a new John Wayne.

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Dal War Movie al Soldier Movie: il cinema americano contemporaneo e il ruolo delle immagini di guerra

Barbara Grespi, Luca Malavasi

This essay focuses on the main transformations witnessed in contemporary American war cinema, which places itself between fiction and documentary, Hollywood cinema and independent productions, with an emphasis on the so-called “War on Terror”. More specifically, this study aims to offer an image-specific introduction to the historical and moral issues of contemporary American conflicts. As a consequence of the emergence of new media tools and of a new accessibility to images, war cinema is facing today the challenge of a total representability of war in every respect, both at the level of personal experience and subjectivity. On the one hand contemporary war cinema attempts to cope with the partial visibility derived from the images produced by the soldiers’ use of light technologies; on the other hand it displays a form of tactical and holistic visibility, which is never as distant as in today’s warfare, due to the introduction of remote-controlled missiles, satellites and drones. This kind of dual representation invites at least two questions: what images can be trusted today? And what role do they play in contemporary war narratives?

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Teatri di guerra domestica: l’Iraq, il Terrore, l’arte e la rete nelle performance e installazioni di Wafaa Bilal

Cinzia Schiavini

The essay focuses on the Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal and his performances recreating war scenarios, from the Gulf Wars to the War on Terror, in art galleries in the US and other comfort zones. Starting from Iraqi House (2007), where war breaks into the domestic environment, to his most famous performances, like Domestic Tension (2007), with the artist as target for remote-control audience/ players, …and Counting (2010), in which the artist’s body is turned into a canvas dotted with visible and invisible victims, and 3rdi (2011), where a camera implanted on the artist’s head becomes the symbol of a forgotten past that could not be recorded a documented, Bilal explores issues like the shifty thresholds dividing war and safe spaces; the use and abuse of technology and the media, the overrepresentation and subsequent invisibility of war, its materiality and abstractness, and the role war has gained in the practices of everyday, consumers’ lives.

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Gli scrittori e il “complesso militare-letterario”. Un’introduzione alla letteratura americana sulle guerre del nuovo millennio

Giorgio Mariani

Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and the attack on Iraq, a plethora of novels, short stories, and memoirs by both combatants and journalists have appeared. The essay traces a tentative map of this literary production. In particular, it explores to what extent— as several critics have pointed out—US writers might have been following, however unwittingly, the dictates of a “military-literary complex”, thus failing to offer a fair and engaging representation of the peoples whose lands the American army invaded. The essay is divided in three parts. The first discusses memoirs and autobiographical accounts. The second, war journalism, while the third is devoted to fiction.

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La storia che esplode: guerra e letteratura in Iraq

Peter Fritzsche

The stories American novelists tell about the war in Iraq parallel those told by Iraqi novelists; both are absorbed in their national tribulations. If the Americans depict the loss of American innocence in far-away places, a trope that has been repeated throughout the country’s imperial century, the Iraqis use the war in 2003 to explore the accumulation of violence in their country’s twentieth-century history. The American invaders bleed into violent domestic events from the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Iran- Iraq War of 1980-88, the Baathist coups of 1963 and 1968, the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, and the expulsion of Iraq’s Jews who had constituted a substantial portion of Baghdad’s population and whose disappearance anticipated the religious and ethnic cleansing that intensified after 2003. The Iran-Iraq War in particular–part of the thirty years’ war, as some novelists put it–is ultimately the defining event in Iraq history, similar to World War I in European history. Most prominent Iraqi novelists live in exile, some since 1979 or 1980, others since 1991, younger ones in the aftermath of the ongoing sectarian conflict that so grossly inhibits civic debate and dialogue.

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Il trauma transnazionale e il mito dell’eroe di guerra americano in Redeployment di Phil Klay

Zeng Yanyu

This article analyzes Phil Klay’s 2014 National Book Award short-story collection, Redeployment, drawing on insights from the recent studies on trauma and transnationalism. I argue that American soldiers’ traumatic memories are actually both memorable and speakable. Focusing on the transnational nature of war trauma, I argue that the text shows Iraqi people’s trauma by way of narrating American trauma. By exposing American guilt and humanizing the Iraqis, the stories as a whole resist the modem impulse to dehumanize the enemy. Klay’s book displays an incisive and critical sensibility that exposes the power of American ideologies and their complicity in US ethnocentrism and imperialism. Thus, by challenging the tradition of hero mysticism centered around the passive, traumatized shell of The American soldier, Klay highlights the uneven power relations among nations and emphasizes the role of wider political and economic processes, like solipsism, ethnocentrism, and the American ignorance of the outside world.

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La dimensione ispanica nell’autobiografia del generale di corpo d’armata Ricardo Sanchez Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story: regione e religione nella guerra al terrore

William Arce

Ricardo Sanchez’s autobiography Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story focuses on Lieutenant General Sanchez’s experience as commander of the coalition forces in Iraq during the Iraq war. Sanchez was the highest ranking military officer in the theatre of battle during the war and acting commander when the infamous Abu Ghraib prisoner torture scandal broke. The scandal forced him to resign as commander of US forces in Iraq and to retire from his military career. The primary focus of the autobiography is his career in the military, but the text is also a reflection upon the value system he depends on to succeed in the military. In this essay, I use critical race theory to explore Lieutenant General Sanchez’s Mexican American upbringing in South Texas and the impact it had upon his value system. More precisely, I focus upon the implications of growing up as a Mexican American on a border city in South Texas and on his devotion to Catholicism. I argue that in the text, Sanchez strategically utilizes his life story, one that follows him from a disempowered Mexican American youth in South Texas to commander of coalition ground forces in the US-led occupation of Iraq, to project an image of the US military as a diverse and socially progressive institution struggling against a regressive Muslim community in Iraq.

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Il continuum copertura prossimale–copertura ancillare. Necessità narrativa e verità nel romanzo di Mark Doten The Infernal

Robert Moscaliuc

The article examines Mark Doten’s debut novel The Infernal (2015) in terms of its distancing from already established renditions of the American “war on terror” by advancing the notion of ancillary coverage. This particular notion derives from the terminological necessity of differentiating between proximal/media coverage and the literary/ancillary coverage of the “war on terror”. Divided into three parts, the article first sets the stage for a methodological reconsideration of the truth–fiction dichotomy by laying out the premises for a proximal–ancillary coverage continuum, then focuses on the notion of proximal coverage as well as its rules and regulations, so as to finally shed light on the notion of ancillary coverage and on how it operates in Doten’s novel.

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Giocando con il Cuore di tenebra: adattare Conrad/Coppola

Johannes Fehrle

Using the 2012 video game SpecOps: The Line, a lose adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now[: Redux] (1979/2001), as an example this article discusses how adaptation studies can come to grips with interactive adaptations. Drawing on game studies scholarship, the article argues that scholars writing about adaptations into interactive media should take seriously the ludic nature of these media. Such an approach should look beyond the supposed non-linearity of ergodic texts such as video games. The article examines how SpecOps: The Line achieves an unsettling effect by building on the game’s interactive, ludic nature. This effect is achieved not despite its lack of real narrative options, but precisely as a result of them: the game places the player in a situation (not dissimilar to Marlow’s in Heart of Darkness) where her ethics and her range of actions stand in a stark contrast.

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