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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Tom Engelhardt ArchiveBlogview
In the first paragraphs of George Orwell’s famed novel 1984, Winston Smith slips through the doors of his apartment building, “Victory Mansions,” to escape a “vile wind.” Hate week -- a concept that should seem eerily familiar in Donald Trump’s America -- was soon to arrive. “The hallway,” writes Orwell, “smelt of boiled cabbage and... Read More
As his polling figures sag, the chaos of his presidency increases exponentially, and the news turns ever grimmer (for him), President Trump faces growing opposition nationwide. As TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer reports today, from boycotting businesses carrying his products to jamming the phone lines of his hotels, an expanding, if somewhat uncoordinated, set of anti-Trump... Read More
It's a beautiful day in May. The sun is streaming down; the birds are on their migration paths north; the first daylilies are just breaking into bloom -- and students are gathering for their graduation ceremonies on an afternoon when everything seems just right in a world where so much seems so wrong. These are... Read More
War, American-style, in the twenty-first century hasn’t exactly been a sterling success story. (How did the Brits ever manage to run that empire of theirs for so many years with such modest numbers of troops?) Take Afghanistan, for example. We now know something of Washington's latest plans for pursuing the war in that country well... Read More
What It Really Means to Be on a “Flattening” Planet
The closest I ever got to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was 1,720.7 miles away -- or so the Internet assures me. Although I’ve had a lifelong interest in history, I know next to nothing about Mosul’s, nor do I have more than a glancing sense of what it looks like, or more accurately what... Read More
Here’s a footnote to America’s present wars that’s worth pondering for a few moments. The U.S. Air Force is running out of ordinary bombs, smart bombs, and in some cases missiles. No kidding. The air war over Syria and Iraq that began in August 2014 and is now two-and-a-half years old has eaten through America’s... Read More
Wilbur Ross put the matter... well, mouth-wateringly. At a Milken Institute Global Conference in California, the commerce secretary recalled how President Trump was hosting a dinner for China’s president, Xi Jinping, at his Mar-a-Lago club at the moment when a bevy of Tomahawk missiles were being dispatched against an airfield in Syria. Ross described the... Read More
Our lives are, of course, our histories, which makes us all, however inadvertently, historians. Part of my own history, my other life -- not the TomDispatch one that’s consumed me for the last 14 years -- has been editing books. I have no idea how many books I’ve edited since I was in my twenties,... Read More
They are the outposts of empire. They have been or are being built in countries across the world from Indonesia to Dubai, India to Uruguay, South Korea to Qatar, the Philippines to Turkey, and in the future possibly, from Saudi Arabia to
If you’re a reader of TomDispatch, then you know something of real importance about this country that most Americans don’t. As an imperial power, there’s never been anything like the United States when it comes to garrisoning this planet. By comparison, the Romans and imperial Chinese were pikers; the Soviet Union in its prime was... Read More
From his “big, fat, beautiful wall” to his travel bans, much of Donald Trump's push to isolate America, like so much else in his program, has hit a series of ugly speed bumps. Not only won’t the Mexicans “pay” to build that much-promised wall, but even Congress is unlikely to do so, as its price... Read More
Or Why Trump’s Wars Should Seem So Familiar
MOAB sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, aka “the mother of all bombs.” Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600 pounds of MOAB, truly get his attention. He wasn’t even involved in the decision to... Read More
There are the terrorists, who get attention out of all proportion to their actual clout, and then there are those with big-time clout -- I think of them as the terrarists -- who get almost no attention at all. Back in May 2013, I came up with that term and here’s how I described those... Read More
Now, we know. According to Todd Harrison, an expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the replacement cost for the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles recently dumped on an air base in Syria: $89 million. That not-exactly-decisive strike in Washington’s 15 years of war in the ever more chaotic Greater Middle East against... well,... Read More
Recently, historians Samuel Moyn and Stephen Wertheim wrote an interesting New York Times op-ed on why the last 15 years of failed American wars across the Greater Middle East seem to have taught our military and civilian leadership absolutely nothing. Hence, the recent 59-missile strike against a Syrian airfield -- just the latest act that... Read More
Let’s skip the obvious. Leave aside, for instance, the way Donald Trump’s decision to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian air base is but another example of what we already know: that acts of war are now the prerogative, and only the prerogative, of the president (or of military commanders whom Trump has... Read More
It has to be one of the oddities of our history: the near-obsessive level of attention that, for almost 60 years, Washington has lavished on a modest-sized, impoverished island-nation of little strategic importance 90 miles off our southern coast. I’m talking, of course, about Cuba, which the U.S. has embargoed since 1959, as it hasn’t... Read More
In 2003, not long after the American invasion, Dahr Jamail, a youthful freelance journalist from Alaska, headed to Iraq. He wasn’t then a reporter for anyone or, put another way, he was at that moment perhaps the most “unembedded” reporter on the face of the Earth. In the years to come, he would visit that... Read More
Human whats? In the Middle East and elsewhere, the Trump administration has begun to signal that human rights aren’t exactly on its agenda. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken the lead in this process in a round of personal diplomacy in the Middle East (with Trump’s generals not far behind). In early March, he... Read More
A Nation Made by War and a Citizenry Unmade By It
On successive days recently, I saw two museum shows that caught something of a lost American world and seemed eerily relevant in the Age of Trump. The first, “Hippie Modernism,” an exploration of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s (heavy on psychedelic posters), was appropriately enough at the Berkeley Art Museum. To my surprise,... Read More
Whatever the relations may or may not have been between Donald Trump and his crew and Vladimir Putin and his crew, here’s one thing that the two presidents do not have in common: popularity. According to polls, Putin’s approval rating was at 82% late last year. In his 17-year reign, he’s never fallen below the... Read More
Recently, the historian Marilyn Young, an old friend, died. She spent her life writing about America’s wars and a country at war. Her New York Times obituary quoted this telling passage from a speech she gave to the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations: Curiously enough, with the exception of World War II and... Read More
It was one of the worst moments of the Vietnam War era in America. U.S. troops had just invaded Cambodia and the nation’s campuses erupted in a spasm of angry and frustrated protest. At Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen had killed four students. In Washington that day in May 1970, the first of... Read More
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
It’s true that, last week, few in Congress cared to discuss, no less memorialize, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, two anniversaries of American disasters and crimes abroad -- the “mission accomplished” debacle of 2003 and the 45th anniversary of the My Lai massacre -- were at least noted in passing in... Read More
U.S. Marines are, for the first time, deploying to Syria (with more to come). There’s talk of an “enduring” U.S. military presence in Iraq, while additional U.S. troops are being dispatched to neighboring Kuwait with an eye to the wars in both Iraq and Syria. Yemen has been battered by a veritable blitz of drone... Read More
How the Invasion of Iraq Came Home
If you want to know where President Donald Trump came from, if you want to trace the long winding road (or escalator) that brought him to the Oval Office, don’t look to reality TV or Twitter or even the rise of the alt-right. Look someplace far more improbable: Iraq. Donald Trump may have been born... Read More
The other day, I walked across much of Manhattan Island on the street where I grew up. Once upon a time, in a space of just four blocks along that very street there were four movie theaters (no small wonder in the 1950s). Only The Paris Theater, somewhat the worse for wear, still stands. Tao,... Read More
“More than 25 years ago, as I sat on the roof of our house watching the neighborhood’s furniture float down the street, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. Everything I owned was under water. The capital of my country was ruined. Mother Earth was exacting its revenge upon its most arrogant inhabitants. As it... Read More
Every now and then, I think back to the millions of people who turned out in this country and across the globe in early 2003 to protest the coming invasion of Iraq. Until the recent Women’s March against Donald Trump, that may have been the largest set of demonstrations in American history or, at the... Read More
Donald Trump, now preparing to lead the country into the latest version of our endless wars, recently offered this look back at American military prowess: “We have to start winning wars again. I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We... Read More
Let’s think about the logic of it all for a moment. The 2016 Pentagon budget came in at just over $600 billion and that royal sum, larger than the combined military investments of the next seven countries, was hardly the full measure of the money U.S. taxpayers spent on what we like to call “national... Read More
Here’s a little fact of our age: Rear Admiral Peter Clark is the 16th commander of America’s notorious prison complex at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, opened in January 2002, and it seems he won’t be the last. As the New York Times recently reported, the Trump administration is already readying a draft executive order that would... Read More
If you had asked Americans about Afghanistan before 1979, it’s a reasonable bet that most of us wouldn’t have known much about that country or even been able to locate it on a map. Perhaps only to the “freaks” of that era, in search of a superb hashish high, would its name have rung a... Read More
How the U.S. Invaded, Occupied, and Remade Itself
It’s been epic! A cast of thousands! (Hundreds? Tens?) A spectacular production that, five weeks after opening on every screen of any sort in America (and possibly the world), shows no sign of ending. What a hit it's been! It’s driving people back to newspapers (online, if not in print) and ensuring that our everyday... Read More
The members of what TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, calls “the Church of America the Redeemer” are in some disarray these days and in quite an uproar over the new Pope and his aberrant set of cardinals now ensconced in Washington. Perhaps there was no more striking... Read More
If you’re going to surround yourself with generals in the Oval Office, as Donald Trump has done, that means one thing in these years: you’re going to appoint men whose careers were made (or unmade) by what was once known as the Global War on Terror. They will be deeply associated with Washington’s 15 years... Read More
While preparing to walk in New York City -- or, as it turned out, given the staggering crowds, to stand in one spot for long periods -- in support of the Women’s March (which would set protest records nationally), I had a specific urge. I wanted to carry the flag. I’m talking about the stars... Read More
In April 2016, with Donald Trump showing remarkable staying power in the presidential campaign, I started thinking about the slogan adorning his product line, the one that he had tried to trademark as early as November 2012 (only days after Mitt Romney lost the presidency), the one that became a crucial punch line at his... Read More
Consider it an irony or simply a reality of our moment, but these days Donald (“America First”) Trump is looking ever less like an old-fashioned, pre-World War II isolationist. In a mere three-plus weeks in office, he’s managed to mix it up royally with much of the rest of the planet. He threatened to send... Read More
We’re in a strange new world -- of fantasists (see Kellyanne Conway’s terrorist “massacre” in Bowling Green, Kentucky), delusionaries (see Sean Spicer’s account of the “Iranians” who attacked an “American” naval vessel), and dreamers (if having a nightmare is your idea of dreaming). Only the other day, for instance, at the National Prayer Breakfast, President... Read More
The 25/8 News Cycle Is Already Rolling, But the Looting of America Hasn’t Really Begun
It started in June 2015 with that Trump Tower escalator ride into the presidential race to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” (“But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead, there's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead, don't feel like Satan, but I am to them...")... Read More
Let’s face it: since 9/11 everything in our American world has been wildly out of proportion. Understandably enough, at the time that attack was experienced as something other than it was. In the heat of the moment, it would be compared to city-destroying or world-ending Hollywood disaster films (“It was like one of them Godzilla... Read More
Last Friday, Donald Trump made his first visit to the Pentagon where he spoke of signing an order to begin “a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States,” something he’s been advocating for quite a while. As TomDispatch regular Bill Hartung indicates today, this will mean a massive surge in federal dollars... Read More
What a strange moment. Everything, even the Super Bowl, is being Trumpified and is now divisive. Of course, the Super Bowl is always officially divisive with two rival teams and the fervent fans of each. Still, in a normal year, no matter which two teams are playing, the Super Bowl is also the great unifying... Read More
We now find ourselves in Donald Trump’s back-to-the-future world. And why should we be surprised? His whole campaign pitch was to do it “again” -- to return to his dream of past American greatness, which seems mired in a 1950s America of burning fossil fuels and urban smog. In his very first days in office,... Read More
It was a moment few noticed on Inauguration Day. It took place just before Donald Trump praised Hillary Clinton to the applause of those assembled for the Inaugural Luncheon. Standing at the microphone, the new president turned, looked toward a table somewhere in the room, and said, “We have so many of our cabinet members... Read More
In a sense, the damage is already done and who can doubt that what follows will be a demolition derby -- with an exception almost too obvious to mention. In the pre-inaugural period, one simple fact of the Trumpian accession stood out boldly: just about every one of his appointees to a non-national-security post was... Read More
The Collective "Wisdom" of the U.S. Intelligence Community
They call themselves the U.S. “Intelligence Community,” or the IC. If you include the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which in 2005 began as a crew of 12 people, including its director, and by 2008 had already grown to a staff of 1,750, there are 17 members (adding up to an alphabet... Read More
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
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