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Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine

Hastings, in his hard-hitting new book, discusses "politically correct imperialism," why the military is obsessed with its legacy, and why we're stuck in post-9/11 thinking.

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The fact that every journalist in the Pentagon Press Corps wasn't standing up when they were going to escalate in Afghanistan and saying, 'are you guys fucking kidding me? We're going to escalate in Afghanistan? Are you guys nuts? Have you all gone mad?' But the majority just reported that some unnamed military official says McCrystal wants more troops, and Obama better give them to him. You know? It was pathetic. It was really, really pathetic.

RG: Which was worse: the reporting on Iraq or the reporting on Afghanistan?

MH: I don't know. I trash the media but in many ways you can actually be quite well informed if you read The New York Times and the Washington Post and all these places – again, I want to make the distinction between the reporting out in the field and the reporting that happens in Washington ... you can get a pretty good sense of what's going on, you know, from reporters in the field.

But unfortunately, in this warped Beltway view of the world, what happens on the ground matters much less than what happens in Washington. I mean, the great catalyst -- and this I write about extensively in the book – the great catalyst for the Afghanistan debate was not what was happening in Afghanistan, it was the fact that Bob Woodward published a report in Washington. It was the leak. That was the great catalyst of the Afghanistan debate in the first year of President Obama's administration.

Which is really incredible because it's not like Afghanistan was that much worse than it was six months or a year or two years earlier. I mean, it was a little bit worse but not, you know, not entirely noticeably worse. But it was the fact that it became a political issue in Washington that actually impacted the debate.

RG: Yes. Well, I think that's an important, and a good distinction. And we found that in our work also -- that talking to the reporters who were there in the war zones on the ground is like speaking a totally different language than those who were only at the cocktail parties.

I want to thank you for the book, and the work you've done, Michael, and encourage anybody reading this to get a copy. It's an important book, and it's a great read. And I keep pretty well informed, but there's all kinds of stuff that I didn't know about until I read your book.

Robert Greenwald is the director/producer of "Rethink Afghanistan," "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," and many other films. He is a board member of the Independent Media Institute, AlterNet's parent organization. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

 
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