Document 3 : International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival inaugural public talk, in collaboration with Glasgow School of Art, by Robert Fisk on his new book 'The Great War for Civilisation : The Conquest of the Middle East'.
Listen to MP3 : http://www.variant.org.uk/audio/Fisk.mp3
Rarely have first hand reporting and history been so powerfully combined than in Robert Fisk’s epic story of tragedy and betrayal in the Middle East. As his narrative of bloodshed and cruelty unfolds in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Palestine and other battlefields, the carnage of September 11th, 2001, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime take on a new and frightening meaning.
Fisk, who has met Osama bin Laden three times, has been on the battlefront of the Middle East’s conflict for 28 years and his devastating accounts of human suffering are now read around the world.
In the tradition of all foreign correspondents, his eyewitness testimony of the horrors of modern warfare – in the tradition of the great reporters of the Second World War – is laced with both suspicion and anger. This is no chronology of Middle East history but a passionate outcry against the lies and deceit that have sent soldiers to their deaths and killed tens of thousands of men and women – Arab, Christian, and Jew – over the past century.
It is also a chronicle of journalists at war, of the rage, humour and frustration of the correspondents who spend their lives reporting the first draft of history, of their occasional courage – and sometimes their deaths.
It is also a deeply personal memoir which moves from Fisk’s own presence on the front line in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s to the experience of his father, 2nd Lt Bill Fisk, in the trenches of the Somme in 1918. In the months that followed the First World War, the victors drew the borders of Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia and much of the Middle East; Robert Fisk has spent his entire career watching people within these borders die.
The Great War for Civilisation – the legend on the back of his father’s 1914-1918 campaign medal – is a masterpiece of adventure and tragedy, softened with both humour and compassion. It is the story of the violent world that is shaping our lives – and our future.