The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
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 BlogviewTom Engelhardt Archive

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He was a graduate student when, in the midst of the Vietnam War, he started to explore the history behind the heroin epidemic then infecting the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He soon found himself, almost inadvertently, on the heroin trail across Southeast Asia and deep into the CIA’s involvement in an earlier version of America’s... Read More
Once upon a time, it was an “invisible government” -- or, at least, that’s what David Wise and Thomas Ross called it in their famed 1964 book of that title. Those two journalists, shining a bright light into “the shadows” of the Cold War, found the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies working assiduously to... Read More
There are a few genuinely upbeat news stories when it comes to this planet and people trying to figure out how to save us from ourselves and our fossil-fuel addiction. This at a moment of record global surface temperatures and record ocean heating when, despite the Paris climate accord of 2015, carbon dioxide from those... Read More
Charles W. Engelhard, Jr., was “the platinum king” of South Africa (and was evidently the model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond nemesis Goldfinger). He lived mainly in a “Rhinelike castle, turrets and all,” in Far Hills, New Jersey, but did shuttle via his own fleet of aircraft among four other palatial homes in Johannesburg, South... Read More
It turns out that I can thank former Army colonel and historian Andrew Bacevich for the fact that U.S. Army Major Danny Sjursen began his article-writing career at TomDispatch. That was in February 2017. His first piece was headlined “Mission Unaccomplished, 15 Years Later” and it began this way: “The United States has already lost... Read More
The Reign of King Toot
Recently, I did something rare in my life. Over a long weekend, I took a few days away and almost uniquely -- I might even say miraculously -- never saw Donald Trump’s face, since I didn’t watch TV and barely checked the news. They were admittedly terrible days in which 50 people were slaughtered in... Read More
Who now remembers the classic 1956 sci-fi movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? In it, alien spores drop to earth in... yes, California (undoubtedly not too far from the Mexican border)... and develop into seed pods that can replicate and then take over any nearby sleeping human being. What a nightmarish film. It certainly scared... Read More
I remember him (barely) as a thin, bald, little old man with a white mustache and a cane. As I write this, I’m looking at a photo of him in 1947, holding the hand of little Tommy Engelhardt who had just turned three that very July day. They’re on a street somewhere in Brooklyn, New... Read More
How appropriate, don’t you think? America’s longest war, the Afghan one, now heading into its 18th year, may set another kind of record -- for the longest withdrawal ever. The Pentagon recently revealed news of its daring “plan” to end that war. It will take up to five years to get 14,000 U.S. troops (and... Read More
Yes, it’s happening. It really is. And I’m not just thinking about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the support it’s getting from Democratic presidential candidates or the controversy it’s generating. I’m also thinking about Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s entry into the 2020 presidential race on a platform that boils down to a... Read More
Here’s something that should still stun anyone, but has had no discernible impact in this country. Between December 29, 2001, when B-52 and B-1B bombers killed more than 100 revelers in a village in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, and December 2013, when a drone slaughtered perhaps 15 members of a car caravan headed for a wedding... Read More
I’ll tell you when the nightmare that TomDispatch regular Bob Dreyfuss raises so eloquently first hit me hard. I’m talking about the possibility that the next U.S. military disaster of the twenty-first century might be Iran. That country has, of course, had a significant spot on Washington’s war-making to-do list since the days of George... Read More
Sometimes your past returns in the strangest of ways, as happened to me when today’s article from TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon first crossed my doorstep. As you’ll see, its subject would not be one on which this almost 75-year-old guy would consider himself to have the slightest expertise: women discovering their bodies in complex ways... Read More
He descended that Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential candidacy already bragging about the “great, great wall” he was going to build on the U.S.-Mexico border (“and nobody builds walls better than me... And I will have Mexico pay for that wall”). “When Mexico sends its people,” he insisted that... Read More
Call me crazy, if you want, but I think I see how to do it! We have two intractable issues, one intractable president, and an intractable world, but what if it weren’t so? What if those two intractable problems could be swept off the table by a single gesture from that same intractable man? As... Read More
If you think of the age of Trump as a spectator sport, then perhaps the truly riveting show isn’t on the president’s Twitter feed or in his latest shout-outs to the press or at another of those “cabinet meetings” where everyone is obliged to publicly praise you-know-perfectly-well-who (and so does he). I wouldn’t for a... Read More
Honestly, the inequality gap in America should stagger the imagination or, on second thought, maybe it shouldn’t, not with the first billionaire in the White House and at least two more threatening to join him in a run for the presidency in 2020. After all, we now live on the planet of the billionaires. In... Read More
She began cutting school on Fridays and simply sitting on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Her name was Greta Thunberg. She was 15 years old, with a mind of her own and a sign demanding a school strike against climate change. Her parents wanted her to go back to school, but Friday after Friday... Read More
Former Obama speechwriter, confidant, and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes had an all-encompassing label for the wonks, experts, think tankers, cable news talking heads, and former or future officials, always ready to spin through Washington’s infamous revolving door, who make up the capital’s “foreign policy community.” He called them “the Blob,” a crew, as... Read More
These days, the trade “war” between the Trump administration and China is regularly in the headlines and, sometimes, so are the bases the Chinese are building in the South China Sea, the ships the U.S. Navy is sending ever more provocatively close to them, and the potential clashes that might result. But the global nature... Read More
An Obituary for the Republic
What dreamers they were! They imagined a kind of global power that would leave even Rome at its Augustan height in the shade. They imagined a world made for one, a planet that could be swallowed by a single great power. No, not just great, but beyond anything ever seen before -- one that would... Read More
  Consider it a marriage made in hell. Start with the groom, Donald Trump, the man who once wondered why in the world we make nuclear weapons if we can’t use them; who wouldn’t rule out using nukes, even in Europe; who insisted that a president should be “unpredictable” on the subject; who suggested that... Read More
  Think about this for a moment: in a country whose infrastructure is falling apart and where an inequality gap of monumental proportions is still growing, at least we should feel remarkably well-protected. After all, in the last fiscal year, the Pentagon, the one institution in Washington that only seems to receive more taxpayer dollars... Read More
Think of it as the real-world feedback loop from hell. In October 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and launched a “war on terror.” With the invasion of Iraq a year and a half later, that war would begin to spread across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. It would, in the... Read More
In 2013, ExxonMobil CEO and future secretary of state Rex Tillerson -- the man who called the president who would fire him a “moron” -- summed up our world with eerie accuracy in a single question. Speaking of climate change and ExxonMobil’s role in producing carbon emissions, he asked that company’s shareholders, “What good is... Read More
When terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, this country promptly launched a Global War on Terror that has, by now, cost trillions of dollars and shows no signs of ending anytime soon. In those years, staggering sums were poured into the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state to... Read More
Give Donald Trump credit. As a businessman, he’s brought into office some skills that previous presidents lacked. Take, for example, his willingness to plough staggering sums of money into five casinos destined to go bankrupt (and then jump ship, money in hand, leaving others holding the financial bag). Now, he seems to be applying the... Read More
  Think of it as a reverse miracle. Seventeen years of American war in this century waged by a military considered beyond compare on a planet that, back in 2001, was almost without enemies. How, then, was it possible, month after month, year after year, to turn the promise of eternal victory so repetitiously into... Read More
Afghanistan and the Implosion of America
As I approach 75, I’m having a commonplace experience for my age. I live with a brain that’s beginning to dump previously secure memories -- names, the contents of books I read long ago (or all too recently), events, whatever. If you’re of a certain age yourself, you know the story. Recently, however, I realized... Read More
  More than a week ago, Jayme Closs, a 13-year-old from Wisconsin, escaped her 21-year-old abductor who had killed her parents. When she turned up 66 miles from home, having been missing for almost three months, her relatives, her small town, and even the police celebrated. Her return from a horrific experience, especially for a... Read More
Let me tell you a little story about Hiroshima and me: As a young man, I was anything but atypical in having the Bomb (we capitalized it then) on my brain, and not just while I was ducking under my school desk as sirens howled their nuclear attack warnings outside. Like many people my age,... Read More
Dahr Jamail, a TomDispatch regular, reported strikingly from Iraq in the years after the 2003 American invasion of that country. Since then, he’s refocused the skills he learned as a war reporter on covering a fossil-fuelized war against the planet (and humanity itself). It goes by the mild name of climate change or global warming... Read More
He arrived on the political scene in 2015 already promoting a future “great, great wall,” even if it was originally no more than a “mnemonic device” invented by his handlers to remind him to bring up the issue of immigration on the campaign trail. Okay, so what? And so what if the original great, great... Read More
They are unending. There’s no way to keep up, much less respond effectively, and it almost goes without saying that they are never to be taken back, corrected, or amended in any way. Call them false claims, lies, untruths, misstatements, whatever you want, but they are what comes out of his mouth just about anytime... Read More
  As TomDispatch’s Nick Turse reminds us today, the United States remains an imperial military presence unlike any other -- not just in this moment but in the history of empire. Never has a single country had so many military bases on so many parts of Planet Earth. Consider that a striking fact of 2019,... Read More
Honestly, This Could Get a Lot Uglier
Sixty-six million years ago, so the scientists tell us, an asteroid slammed into this planet. Landing on what’s now Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, it gouged out a crater 150 kilometers wide and put so much soot and sulfur into the atmosphere that it created what was essentially a prolonged “nuclear winter.” During that time, among so... Read More
On December 9th, the Washington Post covered Donald Trump's offhand, if long expected, announcement of the ousting of retired Marine General John Kelly from an embattled White House. Its report focused on the chief of staff’s “rocky tenure” there with a nod to his many merits, among them that he “often talked the president out... Read More
After six all-American decades in business, Toys "R" Us crashed in 2018, closing its 735 U.S. stores and filing for bankruptcy. As it happens, however, the Washington-branded outfit, Mistreatment and Misconduct "R" Us (or M&M "R" Us), continues to thrive, as it has this century so far. In case the holiday season has swept your... Read More
Imagine, for a moment, a country that no longer rebuilds or reinforces its sagging infrastructure but just can’t stop pouring money into its military. Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine that at all! You just have to look at the United States. This fall, for instance, the president who swore he was going to... Read More
They swore he’d never build, just tear down. He was, after all, the ultimate loner president with a grim history of bankruptcies. It was obvious that, among other things, he’d destroy the country’s alliances. And admittedly, these last two years his strength hasn’t always been in building. Take that “big, fat, beautiful wall” of his.... Read More
This year, I simply couldn’t get one fact out of my head: according to a 2017 report from the Institute for Policy Studies, three billionaires -- Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates -- have amassed as much wealth as the bottom half of American society. That’s 160 million people! (And unlike our president, I... Read More
It’s not been a good era for migrants -- and no, I’m not talking about those “caravans” of desperate human beings from Central America heading for the U.S. (and the wrath of Donald J. Trump). I’m thinking about birds -- shorebirds, in fact, which are surely the greatest migrants on the planet. The Hudsonian godwit,... Read More
In a Crippled World, All the News That’s Fit to Splint
Breaking News! -- as NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt often puts it when beginning his evening broadcast. Here, in summary, is my view of the news that’s breaking in the United States on just about any day of the week: Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Or rather (in the president’s style): Trump! Trump! Trump!... Read More
What planet do we actually live on? Start with this fact: the last four years -- 2015, 2016, 2017, and (it seems a sure thing) 2018 -- will be the hottest on record. And if that doesn’t seem like evidence enough of something worth noting, how about 20 of the last 22 years being the... Read More
Who could doubt that the world of Donald Trump has recently become yet more embattled? Yes, there’s the Mueller investigation reportedly winding up (or down). And yes, there were those midterm elections, a blow -- as journalist and novelist Ben Fountain explains today -- to The Donald, creating yet another crew ready to investigate, subpoena,... Read More
Whether you realize it or not, we are in a new age of imperial geopolitics on a grand -- and potentially disastrous -- scale. TomDispatch regular Alfred McCoy, author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, lays out devastatingly just what that is likely to mean... Read More
In the 1950s, I grew up in the heart of New York City and had a remarkable amount of contact with Native Americans. As you might expect, I never actually met one in those years. What I had in mind was all the time I spent at the local RKO and other movie theaters watching... Read More
It’s now more than 17 years later, years in which American commanding generals in Afghanistan repeatedly hailed the U.S. military’s “progress” there and regularly applauded the way we had finally “turned a corner” in the Afghan War -- only to find more Taliban fighters armed with RPGs around that very corner. Finally, in the 18th... Read More
I remember Chalmers Johnson once describing to me his surprise on discovering that, after the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union imploded, the whole global military structure that Washington had set up -- which he later came to call “America’s empire of bases” or our “globe-girdling Baseworld” -- chugged right on. It didn't matter... Read More
Whatever you may think of President Trump, it’s important to be fair to him. You might have noticed that, on his recent trip to France (“five days of fury”), officially to mourn and praise America’s war dead on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, he managed to misshis first scheduled ceremony.... Read More
Tom Engelhardt
About Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tomdispatch.com is the sideline that ate his life. Before that he worked as an editor at Pacific News Service in the early 1970s, and, these last three decades, as an editor in book publishing. For 15 years, he was Senior Editor at Pantheon Books where he edited and published award-winning works ranging from Art Spiegelman's Maus and John Dower's War Without Mercy to Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy. He is now Consulting Editor at Metropolitan Books, as well as co-founder and co-editor of Metropolitan's The American Empire Project. Many of the authors whose books he has edited and published over the years now write for Tomdispatch.com. He is married to Nancy J. Garrity, a therapist, and has two children, Maggie and Will.

His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.


Personal Classics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower