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
It was the summer of 2002. The Bush administration's top officials knew that they were going into Iraq in a big way. They were then in planning mode, but waiting until fall to launch their full-throttle campaign to persuade Congress and the American people to back them. As White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card,... Read More
On June 13th, Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan of the Washington Post reported what should have been big news (though it was hardly noted). In recent White House "debates" over a disastrously deteriorating situation in Iraq, President Obama's top military officials were dragging their feet on the question of what more the U.S. should do.... Read More
In April 2003, with Baghdad occupied by American troops, the top officials of the Bush administration were already dreaming of building bases in Iraq that would be garrisoned more or less in perpetuity. Everyone was too polite to call them “permanent bases,” so they were sometimes referred to by the Pentagon as “enduring camps.” Still,... Read More
Think of this as a little imperial folly update -- and here's the backstory. In the years after invading Iraq and disbanding Saddam Hussein’s military, the U.S. sunk about $25 billion into “standing up” a new Iraqi army. By June 2014, however, that army, filled with at least 50,000 “ghost soldiers,” was only standing in... Read More
Call it what you will -- Iraq War 3.0, the war against ISIS, the new Syrian War -- it was regularly headline-making news in this country in the second half of last year: the stunning advances of the Islamic State (IS) movement; its newly proclaimed “caliphate”; the collapse of the Iraqi Army; the Obama administration’s... Read More
Let’s play a game, the kind that makes no sense on this single-superpower planet of ours. For a moment, do your best to suspend disbelief and imagine that there’s another superpower, great power, or even regional power somewhere that, between 2001 and 2003, launched two major wars in the Greater Middle East. We’re talking about... Read More
Last week, the New York Times front-paged a story about plans for “Iraq” to mount “a major spring offensive against Islamic State fighters.” Its goal, among other things: to take back the country’s second largest city, Mosul. The plan, wrote Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt, was “being devised with the help of American military planners... Read More
You may not believe in the supernatural, but it’s still a certifiable fact. Your tax dollars are paying for ghosts. Just ask John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, who recently wrote to three U.S. commanders in that country suggesting that the Pentagon might be “unwittingly helping to pay the salaries of non-existent... Read More
On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King delivered a speech at Riverside Church in New York City titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” In it, he went after the war of that moment and the money that the U.S. was pouring into it as symptoms of a societal disaster. President Lyndon Johnson’s poverty... Read More
Think of the new “caliphate” of the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's gift to the world (with a helping hand from the Saudis and other financiers of extremism in the Persian Gulf). How strange that they get so little credit for its... Read More
Bombing Iraq, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and TomDispatch regular William Astore indicates today, has become an American pastime. (These days, you can’t be president without sending in the bombers and drones.) So let’s try to get our heads around the latest U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq against the forces of the new... Read More
Who even knows what to call it? The Iraq War or the Iraq-Syrian War would be far too orderly for what’s happening, so it remains a no-name conflict that couldn’t be deadlier or more destabilizing -- and it’s in the process of internationalizing in unsettling ways. Think of it as the strangest disaster on the... Read More
Imagine the president, speaking on Iraq from the White House Press Briefing Room last Thursday, as the proverbial deer in the headlights -- and it’s not difficult to guess just what those headlights were. Think of them as Benghazi on steroids. If the killing of an American ambassador, a Foreign Service officer, and two CIA... Read More
As Iraq was unraveling last week and the possible outlines of the first jihadist state in modern history were coming into view, I remembered this nugget from the summer of 2002. At the time, journalist Ron Suskind had a meeting with “a senior advisor” to President George W. Bush (later identified as Karl Rove). Here’s... Read More
“But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential... 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.