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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection

A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Tom Engelhardt Archive
In case you hadn’t noticed, someone recently loosed a satirist in American politics. Let me give you an example. You remember FBI Director James Comey, who gained a certain notoriety by stepping into the limelight 11 days before the recent presidential election via a very publicly dispatched letter to the Congressional leadership. It focused on... Read More
Heading into the Trump era, our American world already feels like it’s overheating badly. The headlines careen from the president-elect’s tweets against Meryl Streep (“one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood...!”) to conflicts over conflicts of interest to secret briefings by the intelligence community on highly compromising (but unsubstantiated and possibly completely insubstantial) “personal... Read More
Tell me if this sounds familiar: the leadership of a distant nation has its own ideas about whom you should vote for, or who should rule your country, and acts decisively on them, affecting an election. Such interference in the political life of another country must be a reference to... no, I’m not thinking about... Read More
At the height of the George W. Bush years, a bit of a TomDispatch piece would sometimes be reposted at a right-wing website with a disparaging comment, and I’d suddenly be deluged with abusive emails (many homophobic) that regularly advised me to take my whatever and get out of Dodge. Though I was born in... Read More
It’s easy to forget just how scary the “good times” once were. I’m talking about the 1950s, that Edenic, Father-Knows-Best era that Donald Trump now yearns so deeply to bring back in order to “make America great again.” Compared to the apocalyptic fears of those years, present American ones would seem punk indeed, if it... Read More
Don’t think the fad for “draining the swamp” began on the campaign trail with Donald Trump. It didn’t, although the “swamp” to be drained in the days after the 9/11 attacks wasn’t in Washington; it was a global one. Of course, that’s ancient history, more than 15 years old. Who even remembers that moment, though... Read More
Thank You, Donald Trump
Know thyself. It was what came to mind in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory and my own puzzling reaction to it. And while that familiar phrase just popped into my head, I had no idea it was so ancient, or Greek, or for that matter a Delphic maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the... Read More
The Future According to Trump
Can you doubt that we’re in a dystopian age, even if we’re still four weeks from Donald Trump entering the Oval Office? Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such vivid previews of what unfettered capitalism is likely to mean in an ever more unequal country, now that its version of 1% politics has elevated... Read More
In a sense, human history could be seen as an endless tale of the rise and fall of empires. In the last century alone, from the Hapsburgs and Imperial Japan to Great Britain and the Soviet Union, the stage was crowded with such entities heading for the nearest exit. By 1991, with the implosion of... Read More
When Donald Trump enters the Oval Office, awaiting him will not only be his own private air assassination corps (those CIA drones that take out terror suspects globally from a White House “kill list”), but his own private and remarkably secret military. Ever since John F. Kennedy first made the Green Berets into figures of... Read More
The Trump administration-in-formation is a stew of generals, billionaires, and multimillionaires -- and as in the case of retired Marine General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, the likely new secretary of defense, even the military men seem to have made more than a few bucks in these last years. In retirement, Mattis, for instance, joined the... Read More
What is it about America and its twenty-first-century wars? They spread continually -- there are now seven of them; they never end; and yet, if you happen to live in the United States, most of the time it would be easy enough to believe that, except for the struggle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,... Read More
Just whom Donald Trump will appoint to various key posts in his future administration has an unbearably enticing set of moving targets for the media (until, as at a recent rally in Cincinnati, dramatic announcements are made at unexpected moments, or released in other ways). And give The Donald credit: if he has a genius... Read More
Old as I am, I can still remember secretly reading books by flashlight under the covers at a time when my parents thought I was asleep. Those were the haunted hours of my young life, a perfect time -- my early teens -- to check out, say, an Isaac Asimov space opera or some shivery... Read More
Imagine this scenario: you’ve occupied an office for eight years and now you’re about to move out. You know who's going to move in and, by reputation, he’s a fellow with a minimal ability to control himself who might conceivably be a danger to others. So here’s one thing you undoubtedly wouldn’t do: leave a... Read More
The Election That Changed Everything and Could Prove History’s Deal-Breaker
For decades, Washington had a habit of using the Central Intelligence Agency to deep-six governments of the people, by the people, and for the people that weren’t to its taste and replacing them with governments of the [take your choice: military junta, shah, autocrat, dictator] across the planet. There was the infamous 1953 CIA- and... Read More
Sometimes it’s tough to pull lessons of any sort from our confusing world, but let me mention one obvious (if little noted) case where that couldn’t be less true: the American military and its wars. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has been in a state of more or less permanent war in the Greater... Read More
Call it a unique presidency, even before it begins, and look on the bright side: should President Donald Trump ever have to pay a visit to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he’ll be able to put up his feet and relax at the soaring Trump Towers Istanbul. He’ll undoubtedly be joined there by his national... Read More
It couldn’t be stranger when you think about it (which few here care to do). In the latter part of the twentieth century and the first years of this one, Washington did what no power in history had ever done. It garrisoned the globe with a staggering number of military bases in a remarkably blanket... Read More
At 72, I experienced election night with a 103-degree temperature, so it was literally a fever-dream for me. And in a certain sense, it’s remained so ever since. Now that a white supremacist has just been made the next president’s closest White House adviser, and the president-elect has called conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Infowars... Read More
Not long before Election Day, but thousands of miles away in the Afghan village of Bouz Kandahari, 30 to 36 civilians died (including a significant number of children and infants). Those deaths took place in a war Americans had largely filed in the library of forgotten events, though the conflict there is still fiercely underway.... Read More
It wasn’t to be, but had it been, Hillary Clinton would have become not only the first woman president, but the first president to enter the Oval Office as a lame duck. For Republicans in (and out) of a Congress they totally controlled, it would have been scorched-earth tactics all the way. Not a law,... Read More
With President Trump, Is the American Experiment Over?
The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of order as well as domination. So here’s the confounding thing about the American version of empire in the years when this country was often referred to as “the sole superpower,” when it was... Read More
I was born on July 20, 1944, the day of the failed officers’ plot against Adolf Hitler. That means I preceded the official dawning of the nuclear age by exactly 369 days, which makes me part of the last generation to do so. I’m speaking not of the obliteration of two Japanese cities by America’s... Read More
Recently, the New York Times produced a veritable thesaurus of Trumpian twittery -- every insulting tweet of The Donald’s that their researchers could find since he declared his candidacy. It’s quite a collection in which he goes after 282 people, places, and things in his uniquely abusive fashion. (Don’t even get me started on his... Read More
Donald Trump has long campaigned on the promise of running the country the way he's run his businesses. On that basis, we essentially already know what it would mean if he entered the Oval Office and applied his personal business acumen to this nation (and the rest of the world). There's a surprisingly full record... Read More
War, what is it good for? In America, the answer is that, much of the time, you’ll probably never know what it's good for -- or, in some cases, even notice that we’re at war. Right now, the U.S. is ever more deeply involved in significant conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and increasingly Yemen... Read More
It's rare to hear an author say, “Researching and writing this book has made me want to scream.” But perhaps it's not surprising, given the topic of Gary Younge’s Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives -- the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly death-by-gun of startling numbers of kids in... Read More
Slaughter is all too human. Killing fields or mass burial grounds are in the archeological record from the Neolithic period (6,000 to 7,000 years ago) on. Nonetheless, with the advent of modern weaponry and industrial processes, the killing fields of the world have grown to levels that can stagger the imagination. During World War II,... Read More
Okay, here’s your quiz of the day: What country, according to the Congressional Research Service, has been the “largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II,” to the tune of $124.3 billion, and most of it military in nature? Great Britain, Germany, Japan, the Philippines? The answer: none of the above. The... Read More
Consider it justice (of a sort): he who lives by the media dies by the media. I’m talking -- as if you had a scintilla of doubt -- about Donald Trump. If the Washington Post’s release of avideo of his lewd conversation with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush (that family again!) on his way to the... Read More
Recently, I posted a piece, “This Is Not About Donald Trump,” in which I explored some of the ways in which The Donald was, in American terms, anything but a freak of nature. As I suggested, the two roles he’s inhabited most fully in his life -- salesman and conman -- are so in the... Read More
Last week in Afghanistan, the Taliban, once almost lacking a presence in the northern part of the country, attacked Kunduz, a northern provincial capital and held parts of it for days (as they had in 2015). At the moment, that movement also has two southern capitals under siege,Tarin Kot in Helmand Province and Lashkar Gah... Read More
And Truly, This Is Not About Donald Trump...
This is not about Donald Trump. And I mean it. From the moment the first scribe etched a paean of praise to Nebuchadnezzar into a stone tablet, it’s reasonable to conclude that never in history has the media covered a single human being as it has Donald Trump. For more than a year now, unless... Read More
Since 9/11, untold sums of money have gone into building up the national security state. That includes new billion-dollar-plus headquarters for some of its agencies, hiring outside contractors by the bushelful, and creating a system of global surveillance the likes of which would once have been inconceivable even for the rulers of totalitarian states. It... Read More
Think of American politics today as a tale of two Donalds. First, there’s Donald Trump, political provocateur, a man with his eye on the Oval Office who’s ready to say just about anything to get into it. That includes insisting, in his “America First” campaign, that he -- and he alone -- will bring back... Read More
It’s the timing that should amaze us (were anyone to think about it for 30 seconds). Let’s start with the conflict in Afghanistan, now regularly described as the longest war in American history. It began on October 7, 2001, and will soon reach its 15th “anniversary.” Think of it as the stepchild of America’s first... Read More
The figures boggle the mind. Approximately 11 million Americans cycle through our jails and prisons each year (including a vast “pre-trial population” of those arrested and not convicted and those who simply can’t make bail). At any moment, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, there are more than 2.3 million people in our “1,719 state... Read More
Adventures in an American World of Frustration
Recently, sorting through a pile of old children’s books, I came across a volume, That Makes Me Mad!, which brought back memories. Written by Steve Kroll, a long-dead friend, it focused on the eternally frustrating everyday adventures of Nina, a little girl whose life regularly meets commonplace roadblocks, at which point she always says... well,... Read More
In our new political world, the phrase "follow the money" has real meaning. Consider the $1,530,000 that, according to OpenSecrets.org, billionaire Kelcy Warren has personally given away in the 2016 election cycle to influence your vote (or someone’s vote anyway). One hundred percent of his dollars, just in case you were curious, have gone to... Read More
Let’s start with the basics. In an era when the U.S. seemed to have no great power rivals on the horizon, its national security state was expanded to monstrous proportions and given the “right” to commit acts ranging from kidnapping to torture, surveillance of its citizenry toassassination, based on the horrific events of a single... Read More
The man who might be president insists that climate change is an elaborate, “very expensive hoax,” even possibly a “Chinese” one meant to undermine the American economy. It’s “bullshit” and “pseudoscience” (on which, it seems, he’s an expert). He’s said this sort of thing numerous times, always mockingly, always dismissively. Only recently in his Phoenix... Read More
For the sake of this discussion -- of any discussion of Donald Trump, in fact -- what our language needs is an extreme vetting. Certain words and phrases arriving from dangerous linguistic zones and threatening to upend The Donald’s world really should be banned. And I’m not just talking about “Sharia law” or “Syrian refugee.”... Read More
Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com
Their Precision Weaponry and Ours
On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers. One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The other three hit their targets -- the two towers of the World... Read More
It hardly matters where you look. There are the nearly million-and-a-half weapons that the Pentagon shipped to war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. As a recent study shows, it evidently lost complete track of hundreds of thousands of them, many of which seem to have simply gone on the open market in countries where buyers are unlikely... Read More
You might not care to admit it, but there’s a little bit of Donald Trump in all of us. Yes, his curiously insinuating, allusive, and always inflammatory comments -- from his invocation of gun owners as the force to deal with a Hillary Clinton presidential victory to his dubbing of “Barack Hussein Obama” as the... Read More
Imagine that across the planet, back in the early months of 2003, millions of people marchedin the streets of global cities and small towns, protesting, toting handmade signs, making their voices heard in every way they could to indicate that the prospective Bush administration invasion of Iraq would be an immoral disaster (and no matter... Read More
Step aside, Sam Spade. Move over, Philip Marlowe. You want noir? Skip the famed private eye novels and films of the 1930s and 1940s and turn to our present American world and to neighborhoods where the postman doesn’t ring even once, but the police are ready to shootmore than once, often on the slightest excuse.... Read More
How, I’ve often wondered, can people who have spent their lives working in an institution, particularly in the military or some other part of the national security state, retire and suddenly see that same institution in a different and far more negative light? Once outside, they become, in essence, critics of their former selves. I’ve... Read More
How Billions of Words, Tweets, Insults, and Polls Blot Out Reality in Campaign 2016
Yep, it finally happened. In early May, after a long, long run, the elephants of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were ushered into retirement in Florida where they will finish their days aiding cancer research. The Greatest Show on Earth was done with its pachyderms. The same might be said about the... 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