This has the definite advantage that Filkins does not add to the pile of increasingly irrelevant argumentation about the possibilities of ill-defined "success" in these regions, but rather lets the reader vicariously experience the reality of living and fighting in these war-torn countries. In a way, this is nonetheless a political argument on its own, as despite Filkins' good relations with the American soldiers he joined as an 'embedded reporter', it is clear from his experiences that not much is being achieved by way of either 'nation-building' or establishing lasting security in these countries, indeed the least any occupier with pretentions of superiority could do.
The fact that Filkins does not explicitly make this argument, or any argument, is fairly pleasant in that it lets the experiences speak for themselves in a more subtle manner than newspaper moralizing often permits. However, this book also has clear downsides. Filkins does not give much, if any, background information on the combatant parties involved or even of the countries, other than the absolutely necessary. What's more, his war reporting uses a heavily colloquial style that is very grating initially and makes him seem to 'try too hard' to come off as cool, detached and rough - perhaps this is something that he took over from the Marines he was stationed with, but it does not in my view help the book's readability any. One does get used to it and over the course of the book he gets more serious, but the first few chapters are rather annoying.
The main value of the book is probably the service it does to humanizing the people involved, both of the occupying armies and their opponents. They say that truth is the first casualty of war, but surely the greatest casualty of war is a sense of shared humanity. Indeed it is hard to get any group to fight any other without in some way dehumanizing them first, and all the political argumentation of the world does not suffice of itself to repair a warped view of this kind once it is dominant. What can do so is a vivid description of real people and their human traits and follies. It used to be that literature played this role, but the authority and impact of the writer has diminished; now perhaps journalists can take this over to some extent. Some people combine this with the political argumentation for the greatest possible effect, like Robert Fisk does for example, but even if one leaves out the politics, the experience of humanization alone is very valuable. This is what Filkins' book contributes.