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
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
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
Someday, someone will write a history of the U.S. national security state in the twenty-first century and, if the first decade and a half are any yardstick, it will be called something likeState of Failure. After all, almost 15 years after the U.S. invaded the Taliban’s Afghanistan, launching the second American Afghan War of the... Read More
One of the strangest news developments of our time is the way the media now focus for days, if not weeks, 24/7, on a single event and its ramifications. Omar Mateen’s slaughter of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando is only the latest example of this. If no other calamitous or eye-catching event... Read More
As I’ve written elsewhere, what Chalmers Johnson called America’s “empire of bases” was “not so much our little secret as a secret we kept even from ourselves” -- at least until Johnson broke the silence and his book Blowback became a bestseller in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. In those years, however, if (like... Read More
It’s been an incredibly quiet show. In recent years, the U.S. military has moved onto the African continent in a big way -- and essentially, with the exception of Nick Turse (and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post), just about no one has noticed. In a sense, it’s a reporter’s dream story. Something major is... Read More
President Obama couldn’t have been more eloquent. Addressing the Clinton Global Initiative, for instance, he said: “When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed -- that’s slavery.” Denouncing Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and offering aid to Uganda and its neighbors in tracking Kony... Read More
There were those secret service agents sent to Colombia to protect the president on a summit trip and the prostitutes they brought back to their hotel rooms. There was the Air Force general on a major bender in Moscow (with more women involved). There were those Drug Enforcement Administration agents and their “sex parties” abroad... Read More
Years ago, Chalmers Johnson took a term of CIA tradecraft, “blowback,” and put it into our language. Originally, it was meant to describe CIA operations so secret that, when they blew back on this country, Americans would be incapable of tracing the connection or grasping that the U.S. had anything to do with what hit... Read More
Sometimes, to see the big picture you need to focus on the smallest part of it, as Nick Turse does in the latest of his dispatches on the U.S. military in Africa. He takes a look at that military in Chad. Yep, I said “in Chad.” At least 99% of Americans are undoubtedly unfamiliar with... Read More
As American hysteria over events in the Middle East rises, news about whatever grim video the Islamic State (IS) has just released jostles for attention with U.S. bombing runs in Iraq, prospective ones in Syria, and endless confusing statements out of Washington about what the next seat-of-the-pants version of its strategy might be. These days,... Read More
In light of recent history, perhaps it’s time to update that classic U.S. Army recruitment campaignslogan from “be all that you can be” to “build all that you can build.” Consider it an irony that, in an era when Congress struggles to raise enough money to give America’s potholed, overcrowded highways a helping hand, building... Read More
On return from his recent reporting trip to Africa, Nick Turse told me the following tale, which catches something of the nature of our battered world. At a hotel bar in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, he attended an informal briefing with a representative of a major nongovernmental organization (NGO). At one point, the... Read More
For the last two years, TomDispatch Managing Editor Nick Turse has been following the Pentagon and the latest U.S. global command, AFRICOM, as they oversaw the expanding operations of the American military across that continent: drones, a special ops surge, interventions, training missions, bases (even if not called bases), proxy wars. Short of a major... Read More
Amid the horrific headlines about the fanatical Islamist sect Boko Haram that should make Nigerians cringe, here’s a line from a recent Guardian article that should make Americans do the same, as the U.S. military continues its “pivot” to Africa: “[U.S.] defense officials are looking to Washington’s alliance with Yemen, with its close intelligence cooperation... Read More
Let me explain why writing the introduction to today’s post by TomDispatch Managing Editor Nick Turse is such a problem. In these intros, I tend to riff off the ripples of news that regularly surround whatever subject an author might be focusing on. So when it comes to the U.S. military, if you happen to... Read More
After years in the shadows, U.S. Navy SEALs emerged in a big way with the 2011 night raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Afterward, they were lauded in print as supermen, feted by the president, and praised by the first lady. Soon, some of the country’s most secretive and elite special operators were taking the... Read More
Our major post-9/11 wars are goners and the imagery of American war-making is heading downhill. The Iraq War was long ago left in the trash heap of history, while in Afghanistan the talk is now about “the zero option” -- that is, about an irritated Obama administration making a lock, stock, and drone departure from... Read More
Here’s a question for you: Can a military tiptoe onto a continent? It seems the unlikeliest of images, and yet it’s a reasonable enough description of what the U.S. military has been doing ever since the Pentagon created an Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. It’s been slipping, sneaking, creeping into Africa, deploying ever more forces... Read More
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.