War Correspondent, Writer, Peace Activist
(1956 – )
Once we sign on for war’s crusade, once we see ourselves on the side of the angels, once we embrace a theological or ideological belief system that defines itself as the embodiment of goodness and light, it is only a matter of how we will carry out murder.
Additional Quotes by Chris Hedges
- The failure to dissect the cause of war leaves us open for the next installment.
- Point us away from the city of man toward the city of God.
- Rape mutilation, abuse, and theft are the natural outcome of a world in which force rules, in which human beings are objects.
- Very few veterans can return to the battlefield and summon the moral courage to confront what they did as armed combatants.
- War is necrophilia. And this necrophilia is central to soldiering, just as it is central to the makeup of suicide bombers and terrorists. The necrophilia is hidden under platitudes about duty or comradeship.
Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America , the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was an early and outspoken critic of the US plan to invade and occupy Iraq and called the press coverage at the time “shameful cheerleading.” In 2002, he was part of a team of reporters for The New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism and that same year he won an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. In 2003, shortly after the war in Iraq began, Hedges was asked to give the commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Ill. He told the graduating class “…we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power and security.” He went on to state that “This is a war of liberation in Iraq, but it is a war of liberation by Iraqis from American occupation.” As he spoke several hundred members of the audience began jeering and booing. His microphone was cut twice. Two young men rushed the stage to try to prevent him from speaking and Hedges had to cut short his address. He was escorted off campus by security officials before the awarding of diplomas. This event made national news and he became a lightning rod not only for right wing pundits and commentators, but also mainstream newspapers. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial which denounced his anti-war stance and the New York Times issued a formal reprimand which required that Hedges cease speaking about the war. The reprimand condemned his remarks as undermining the paper’s impartiality. Hedges resigned not long afterwards and became a senior fellow at the Nation Institute.
Hedges’ is the author of the 2002 best seller War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is an examination of the poison of war and what it does to individuals and societies. He states that war is the pornography of violence, a powerful narcotic that “…has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque.” He goes on to explain, “War gives us a distorted sense of self. It gives us meaning. It creates a feeling of comradeship that obliterates our alienation and makes us feel, for perhaps the first time in our lives, that we belong.” Of his own experience of war, living and working as a journalist in the war zones of Central America, the Balkans and the Middle East, he writes: “I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried and untouched most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.” It is, possibly, his sensitivity to his own experiences with war that led him to what some contend is his most courageous work to date: his 2008 book Collateral Damage for which he interviewed combat veterans from the Iraq war. This book represents the largest number of named eyewitnesses within the US Military who have testified on therecord about atrocities carried out by American soldiers and marines during the military occupation of Iraq. His book reveals in heartbreaking detail the devastating moral and physical consequences of the occupation.