The United States has been a country at war for the better part of this century. Days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared a war on terrorism, and Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Terrorists. The following month, U.S. armed forces launched military operations in Afghanistan (over ten years later, the war is now one of the longest in U.S. history) and in March 2003, invaded Iraq and stayed through December 2011. These wars have resulted in the death, injury, detention, displacement, trauma, and impoverishment of millions of people from dozens of countries, including the United States.
This reading group will examine these wars and occupations through the eyes and voices of people who have experienced them directly. We will read and reflect on memoirs written by women and men on multiple sides of these conflicts: the civilian and the combatant, the occupied and the occupier, the prisoner and the jailer, the opponent of Islamic fundamentalism and the opponent of U.S. domination. By exposing ourselves to perspectives that rarely take center stage in classrooms or living rooms, we will try to better understand the consequences of American wartime policies and actions of the past decade. Discussion will include reflection on how testimonials affect our own policy positions, as well as our perceptions of our roles and responsibilities as lawyers, scholars, citizens, and fellow humans.
The reading group will meet every other week, for a total of six times over the course of the term. Students will be expected to read one book or watch one film in advance of each session and to help organize an event that brings one of the authors to campus. This course is open to students of all levels; no prior coursework or experience is necessary. Enrollment will be capped at six students.