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 BlogviewTom Engelhardt Archive

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When it comes to America’s wars, more than 16 years later our generals are victorious. Not, of course, in the distant lands where those conflicts grind on unendingly, but in the one place that matters: Washington, D.C. Could there be a more striking sign of that than the elevation of three of those generals to... Read More
A Trip Down Memory Lane, Pentagon-Style
If you’re in the mood, would you consider taking a walk with me and, while we’re at it, thinking a little about America’s wars? Nothing particularly ambitious, mind you, just -- if you’re up for it -- a stroll to the corner. Now, admittedly, there’s a small catch here. Where exactly is that corner? I... Read More
Think of President Trump and his administration as a den of thieves. There is, of course, the obvious thievery: what they will in the end, as with the recently passed tax “reform” bill, steal from ordinary citizens and offer as never-ending presents to the already staggeringly wealthy, among them the president himself (possible savings up... Read More
Donald Trump has, it seems, finally offered his plan for dealing with the opioid crisis in America. He did so during his State of the Union address to Congress, filled with Republican applause (none louder than The Donald’s), introducing the country to an Albuquerque policeman who had decided to adopt the future baby -- now... Read More
He took a remarkable star turn at Davos -- and, no, I don’t mean President Trump. I was thinking about Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, when he claimed the title of globalist-in-chief in a highly praised speech to the world’s assembled CEOs and plutocrats. He was then promoting a “community of shared future for... Read More
The groundwork is already laid for America’s next war(s) in the Middle East and, in the process, one of the last relatively undamaged areas of Syria (at least before the Turkish military began to pound it with air strikes and artillery, then moving in tanks) is about to be added to the rubble of the... Read More
There’s no way to measure just how cheery this period really is -- not if you’re the CEO of a major company. Just as the World Economic Summit was opening in Davos, Switzerland, and President Donald Trump was flying in to put his mark on the moment, PwS, a global consulting firm, released its annual... Read More
If I were to pick a single decision by an American president and his team in this century as our own August 1914, I would choose the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. Of course, in that era of the “sole superpower,” there were no other great powers (as in the World War... Read More
I recently read Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. No book -- that antiquated object that displays writing on pages of paper -- has gotten news attention quite like it in a long time. Of course, that’s what happens when only one person truly matters anymore -- and you know just... Read More
At the Circus with Donald Trump
Recently, a memory of my son as a small boy came back to me. He was, in those days, terrified of clowns. Something about their strange, mask-like, painted faces unnerved him utterly, chilled him to the bone. To the rest of us, they were comic, but to him -- or so I came to imagine... Read More
More than three decades ago, my aunt Hilda wrote an account of her father’s voyage to and life in America for my daughter to read “someday.” She began it this way: “Your great grandfather, Moore Engelhardt, a boy of 16, arrived in New York from Europe in March 1888. It was during the famous blizzard... Read More
On January 6, 1941, at the edge of what would become a terrible global war, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress and spoke of a better future “founded upon four essential human freedoms.” These were, as he saw it, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, freedom... Read More
Honestly, how many times in your life have you ever run across a headline like this: “Top general says he would resist ‘illegal’ nuke order from Trump”? That was Air Force General John Hyten, head of the U.S. Strategic Command, the present commander of American nuclear forces, speaking at a conference in Canada last November.... Read More
In 1956, in an interview with journalist Anna Louise Strong, Chinese leader Mao Zedong famously said of American imperialism: “In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger.” It wasn’t the first time he had used the image. Ten years earlier he had... Read More
Here’s a cheery note for you: the last mass killing of 2017 took place moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve. A 16-year-old New Jersey boy picked up a semi-automatic rifle, “lawfully acquired” by a member of his family, and killed his father, mother, sister, and a family friend. In doing so, he helped ensure... Read More
If you want to know something about life in America these days, consider how New York Times columnist David Leonhardt began his first piece of the year, “7 Wishes for 2018”: "Well, at least it’s not 2017 anymore. I expect that future historians will look back on it as one of the darker non-war years... Read More
Let me mention a small joy of my life. One afternoon and evening a week I take care of my 5½-year-old grandson, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we take care of each other. We always stop for cookies -- grandparents being allowed, according to The Official Rulebook of Child-Rearing (see... Read More
76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror
He left Air Force Two behind and, unannounced, “shrouded in secrecy,” flew on an unmarked C-17 transport plane into Bagram Air Base, the largest American garrison in Afghanistan. All news of his visit was embargoed until an hour before he was to depart the country. More than 16 years after an American invasion “liberated” Afghanistan,... Read More
Not Them, Not It, Not Him, Not (Evidently) Us
Let’s start with the universe and work our way in. Who cares? Not them because as far as we know they aren’t there. As far as we know, no one exists in our galaxy or perhaps anywhere else but us (and the other creatures on this all-too-modest planet of ours). So don’t count on any... Read More
In a Washington politically riven in ways not seen since the pre-Civil War era, take hope. Despite everything you’ve read, bipartisanship is not dead. On one issue, congressional Democrats and Republicans, as well as Donald Trump, all speak with a single resounding voice, with, in fact, unmatched unanimity and fervor as they stretch hands across... Read More
Ambassadors of the traditional kind? Who needs them? Diplomats? What a waste! The State Department? Why bother? Its budget is to be slashed and its senior officials are leaving in droves ever since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office. Under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, hiring is frozen, which means those officials are generally not... Read More
Sometimes I wonder what school I went to. I mean, I know perfectly well. I attended a place I never wanted to go: Yale. But when I was 17 years old, my parents -- and a familial urge to be upwardly mobile -- more than overwhelmed my personal and private desire to go elsewhere. So,... Read More
It's been going on for so many years -- Predators cruising, looking for their prey. Some attention has since been paid to the phenomenon and to the devastating effect their actions have had on their victims, but it hasn’t really mattered. The predation has only spread. Oh, before I go any further, let me clear... Read More
Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands. The U.S. got clobbered. Three category 4 or 5 Atlantic hurricanes of startling intensity, a record for any single season, whacked the country. Records were also set for rainfall and destruction. Two of those mega-storms, Irma and Maria, their power intensified by waters growing ever warmer thanks to... Read More
By the time you read this, the latest brouhaha will undoubtedly be history -- or do I mean “fake history”? -- and largely forgotten. It will have been replaced by an explosion of media coverage about some other nightmarish set of presidential tweets or comments. After all, it’s a pattern. I’m referring to President Trump’s... Read More
Few Americans ever took in the vastness of the prison outsourcing system the administration of George W. Bush set up from Afghanistan to Iraq, Thailand to Poland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. In those years, I began referring to that global network of prisons as our... Read More
Why We Need to Stare at You Know Who
Don’t look away. I mean it! Keep on staring just like you’ve been doing, just like we’ve all been doing since he rode down that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and, while you have your eyes on him, I’ll tell you exactly why you shouldn’t stop. To begin with, it’s time to... Read More
If you want a gauge of the state of America, the country that put billionaire Donald Trump in the White House, consider this: the three richest Americans -- Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett -- now have the wealth of the bottom half of the U.S. population, or 160 million Americans. Or consider this:... Read More
Consider the latest news from America's war zones, still spreading across the Greater Middle East and Africa. The U.S. military is now reportedly building up its troop strength (mostly Special Operations forces) in Somalia. Their number has already doubled, reaching 500, while U.S. airstrikes are increasing against al-Shabab, the well-entrenched Islamist terror outfit in that... Read More
Who even remembers that, back in September 2002, Lawrence Lindsey, then President George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser, offered an upper limit estimate on the cost of a future war in Iraq at $100 billion to $200 billion? He also suggested that the “successful prosecution” of such a war “would be good for the economy.”... Read More
Speaking of the situation on the Korean peninsula, he predicted that there would be “the greatest slaughter.” He later requested 34 nuclear weapons for possible use in connection with the Korean situation. He would later claim that he had considered dropping “30 to 50 tactical atomic bombs” and had suggested laying a “belt of radioactive... Read More
Starting with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and film producer Harvey Weinstein, they’ve fallen like so many dominoes in the glare of publicity and grim public testimony from the women (and, in a few cases, men) they mistreated -- all those predators, gropers, sexual abusers of Hollywood, TV, the news, magazines, comedy, and politics, including... Read More
When it comes to the art of the deal, at least where arms sales are concerned, American presidents, their administrations, and the Pentagon have long been Trumpian in nature. Their role has been to beat the drums (of war) for the major American weapons makers and it’s been a highly profitable and successful activity. In... Read More
As you read today’s piece by historian and TomDispatch regular Alfred McCoy, author most recently of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, think of Afghanistan as the gateway drug for three Washington administrations. Within weeks of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush and his top officials... Read More
Back in May 2013, a word came to mind that I wanted to see in all our vocabularies. It wasn’t the ever-present “terrorist” but “terrarist” and I meant it to describe people intent on destroying the planetary environment that had welcomed and nurtured so many species, including our own, for so long; in other words,... Read More
Who can keep up with the madness of our never-ending Trumpian media moment? Each day is a lesson in the bizarre, in ever-wilder comments, accusations, charges, and claims of every sort from or against The Donald and crew. Each day spotlights subjects you hardly knew were subjects until they burst onto cable news and individual... Read More
Seventeen days after the Twin Towers fell in an apocalyptic mushroom cloud of smoke and ash, Congress passed with a single dissenting vote an “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” or AUMF, stating: Sixteen years later, in the wake of four American military deaths at the hands of an ISIS-affiliated terror group in the lawless... Read More
I’m 73, which means that saying goodbye for the last time is increasingly a part of my life. Today, with the deepest regret, I’m bidding a final farewell at TomDispatch to one of the more remarkable writers I’ve known, Eduardo Galeano. I initially got involved with him in the early 1980s. I was a young... Read More
Niger, 9/11, and Apocalyptic Humiliation
Honestly, if there’s an afterlife, then the soul of Osama bin Laden, whose body was consigned to the waves by the U.S. Navy back in 2011, must be swimming happily with the dolphins and sharks. At the cost of the sort of spare change that Donald Trump recently offered aides and former campaign officials for... Read More
Memo to Senator John McCain: Senator, the other day I noticed that, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, you threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for information about the recent attack in Niger that killed four American soldiers. “There’s a mindset over there that they’re a unicameral government,” you said. “It was easier under... Read More
Once upon a time, long ago in another universe, the end of the world was left in the hands of the gods, not human beings. Today, however, humanity, in its curious ingenuity, has managed to come up with two ways of destroying itself, as well as the very habitat that welcomed and nourished it all... Read More
Stop thinking of this country as the sole superpower or the indispensable nation on Earth and start reimagining it as the great fracturer, the exceptional smasher, the indispensable fragmenter. Its wars of the twenty-first century are starting to come home big time -- home being not just this particular country (though that’s true, too) but... Read More
Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, a former businessman who had helped run companies into the ground, he was widely considered ill-prepared for the presidency, out of his depth, a lightweight in a heavyweight world. Still, having won the Republican nomination and then a uniquely contested election, once in the Oval Office... Read More
Gladiatorial contests were the “sport” of choice of the Roman Empire for more than 650 years. Losing gladiators were regularly wounded or killed, outcomes in which the audience often had the final say (thumbs up or down or a closed fist with two fingers extended). Such decisions were reportedly accompanied by screams of “let him... Read More
David Petraeus Finally Answers His Own Question
It took 14 years, but now we have an answer. It was March 2003, the invasion of Iraq was underway, and Major General David Petraeus was in command of the 101st Airborne Division heading for the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Rick Atkinson, Washington Post journalist and military historian, was accompanying him. Six days into a lightning... Read More
Karen Greenberg first arrived at TomDispatch in January 2005 in tandem with defense attorney Joshua Dratel. Their book The Torture Papers was just being published and they were asking questions. Thirty-seven of them, to be exact, all pointed, all uncomfortable, all directed at then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, all focused on the Bush administration’s torture... Read More
“Bring the war home”: once, a long, lost time ago -- in October 1969, to be exact -- that slogan represented a promise made by the most radical wing of the vast movement against the war in Vietnam. Wearing football helmets and wielding lead pipes, that tiny crew of extreme leftists carried out what they... Read More
I’m sure you’ve heard about the $65 million. Or was it $86 million? Or was it even more? You know, the funds the Pentagon sunk into that hotshot plane it was preparing for its Afghan drug interdiction program. You haven’t? Well, as Megan Rose reported at ProPublica, with its “electro-optical infra-red video capacity,” that counternarcotics... Read More
Even though the article was buried at the bottom of page eight of the September 28th New York Times, it caught my attention. Its headline: “Russia Destroys Chemical Weapons and Faults U.S. for Not Doing So.” In a televised ceremony, wrote reporter Andrew Higgins, Russian President Vladimir Putin “presided over the destruction of his country’s... Read More
I first “met” Noam Chomsky in 1969 by reading these words of his about the My Lai massacre: Discussing various of America’s criminal acts in the larger war in Vietnam, Chomsky then added of the My Lai massacre itself: Chomsky wrote “After Pinkville” -- areas like Song My were then colored pink on American military... 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