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The United States has launched a three-pronged offensive on Russia. First, it's attacking Russia's economy via sanctions and oil-price manipulation. Second, it's increasing the threats to Russia's national security by arming and training militant proxies in Syria and Ukraine, and by encircling Russia with NATO forces and missile systems. And, third, it's conducting a massive... Read More
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(And How We Might Have Avoided Him)
The present arrives out of a past that we are too quick to forget, misremember, or enshroud in myth. Yet like it or not, the present is the product of past choices. Different decisions back then might have yielded very different outcomes in the here-and-now. Donald Trump ascended to the presidency as a consequence of... Read More
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And It’s Not the War on Terror
Vietnam: it’s always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures. A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it and blaming others for doing so.... Read More
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. Credit: KOGL/Wikimedia Commons
Fearing that peace might break out with the two Koreas talking to each other, Washington instructed South Korean President Moon Jae-in to keep the message about anything but peace. It is not just Trump. A former top official for the Obama administration warned Moon that South Korea was not going to get anywhere with the... Read More
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General Ratko Mladic, now 75, was sentenced last week to life in prison by the NATO kangaroo court known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It is worth mentioning here that, just like Bosnian-Serb President Radovan Karadzic and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Mladic was attested and handed over to this NATO... Read More
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Or How to Further Enrich “The Masters of the Universe”
[This interview has been excerpted from Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, the new book by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian to be published this December.] David Barsamian: You have spoken about the difference between Trump’s buffoonery, which gets endlessly covered by the media, and the actual policies he is striving to... Read More
Three Men Soldier Statue at the Vietnam Wall Memorial in the Mall in Washington DC.
A Bad Mood, a Six-Pack, and a Typewriter
Harper’s, December, 1980 I begin to weary of the stories about veterans that are now in vogue with the newspapers, the stories that dissect the veteran’s psyche as if prying apart a laboratory frog — patronizing stories written by style-section reporters who know all there is to know about chocolate mousse, ladies’ fashions, and the... Read More
Photo by FDR Presidential Library & Museum | CC BY 2.0
One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin... Read More
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Dear friends: During our conversation you stated the following: The US needs a military One of the reasons why the US needs a military are regimes like the North Korean one The US has a right to intervene outside its borders on a) pragmatic and b) moral grounds During WWII the US “saved Europe” and... Read More
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Or How I Learned Not to Love Big Brother
[This piece has been adapted and expanded from the introduction to Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.] In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington pursued its elusive enemies across the landscapes of Asia and Africa, thanks in part to... Read More
There’s not a lot to be proud of in today’s America: the Punch and Judy show in Washington; brutal but inept colonial wars in the Mideast against poorly armed enemies; pollution of the climate, and culture of trash and violence. To see America as it once was, go back to the three days from 4... Read More
Brzezinski’s death at 89 years of age has generated a load of propaganda and disinformation, all of which serves one interest group or another or the myths that people find satisfying. I am not an expert on Brzezinski, and this is not an apology for him. He was a Cold Warrior, as essentially was everyone... Read More
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How Americans Remember (and Forget) Their Wars
Some years ago, a newspaper article credited a European visitor with the wry observation that Americans are charming because they have such short memories. When it comes to the nation’s wars, however, he was not entirely on target. Americans embrace military histories of the heroic “band of [American] brothers” sort, especially involving World War II.... 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
Photo by Stefan Krasowski | CC BY 2.0
Washington has never made any effort to conceal its contempt for North Korea. In the 64 years since the war ended, the US has done everything in its power to punish, humiliate and inflict pain on the Communist country. Washington has subjected the DPRK to starvation, prevented its government from accessing foreign capital and markets,... Read More
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Life on an Increasingly Improbable Planet
Vladimir Putin recently manned up and admitted it. The United States remains the planet’s sole superpower, as it has been since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. “America,” the Russian president said, “is a great power. Today, probably, the only superpower. We accept that.” Think of us, in fact, as the default superpower in an... Read More
Vietnam War Montage, Credit: Wikimedia Commons
War may be thought of in two ways. First, as a football game between armies, in which the function of the citizenry is to cheer for the home team. In football, success is measured in points scored, yardage gained, brilliance of play, and time of possession. In war as football, it is battles won, enemies... Read More
“Cry havoc, and Let Slip the Frogs of Yore”
It is curious how little military men know about war. You would think they would think about it more. Yet, oddly, they regularly misjudge practically everything concerning the dismal trade. Their errors are not the sort that inevitably must occur in a contest, as when a quarterback doesn’t pick up a blitz. They are fundamental... Read More
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How Diplomacy by Air Power Became an All-American Tradition
In April 2014, ESPN published a photograph of an unlikely duo: Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and former national security adviser and secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the Yankees-Red Sox season opener. In fleece jackets on a crisp spring day, they were visibly enjoying each other’s company, looking for all the... Read More
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What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me About the American Empire
[Republished from April 1, 2008] With an occupying army waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with military bases and corporate bullying in every part of the world, there is hardly a question any more of the existence of an American Empire. Indeed, the once fervent denials have turned into a boastful, unashamed embrace of the... Read More
The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence
They were the “best and the brightest” but on a spaceship, not planet Earth, and they exemplified the liberal optimism of their era. The original Star Trek,whose three-year TV run began in 1966, featured a talented, multiethnic crew. The indomitable Captain Kirk had the can-do sex appeal of a Kennedy; his chief advisor, the half-human,... Read More
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Obama’s Geopolitical Strategy for Containing China
In ways that have eluded Washington pundits and policymakers, President Barack Obama is deploying a subtle geopolitical strategy that, if successful, might give Washington a fighting chance to extend its global hegemony deep into the twenty-first century. After six years of silent, sometimes secret preparations, the Obama White House has recently unveiled some bold diplomatic... Read More
The huge military parade held in Beijing this week was billed as a commemoration of China’s role in World War II. Over 15 million Chinese died in its eight-year resistance to Japanese invasion. China’s supreme leader, Xi Jinping, dressed in a finely tailored Mao suit, stood atop the Forbidden City’s Gate of Heavenly Peace to... Read More
An article on Sputnik by Ekaterina Blinova,http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150815/1025789574.html , provides a history of US and British plans to destroy the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons in the early post-World War II years before the Soviets got the bomb and prior to President John F. Kennedy reining in the plans to use nuclear weapons against Soviet civilian... Read More
War, Sunny Side Up, and the Summer of Slaughter (Vietnam and Today)
Let me tell you a story about a moment in my life I’m not likely to forget even if, with the passage of years, so much around it has grown fuzzy. It involves a broken-down TV, movies from my childhood, and a war that only seemed to come closer as time passed. My best guess:... Read More
A Cheer for Irma the Caricaturist
Almost three quarters of a century ago, my mother placed a message in a bottle and tossed it out beyond the waves. It bobbed along through tides, storms, and squalls until just recently, almost four decades after her death, it washed ashore at my feet. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. Still, what happened, even stripped... Read More
“They finally shot the nigger!” the sparrow-slight soldier whooped. Nicknamed “Georgia” for the obvious reason, that’s what he apparently ran around shouting once word of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination wound its way out into the electric-green paddy fields of South Vietnam. I was told the story more than once by a member of his... Read More
(But Not the Civil War)
The Pentagon just can’t let go. In the wake of the Charleston Massacre, Amazon and Walmart have announced that they will no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise. Ebay says it will stop offering Confederate items for electronic auction. Mississippi's Republican speaker of the housecalls his state flag, which includes the Stars and Bars in the... Read More
A Self-Indulgent Memoir
Those were wilder times, hardier times, memorable and loose. The veterans of Vietnam were not yet aged and, as happens after wars, did not settle easily into selling air filters at the NAPA outlet. They had lain atop Amtracs in the tropical night, with star shells blazing white in the sky and the smoke trailing... Read More
Washington Versus China in the Twenty-First Century
For even the greatest of empires, geography is often destiny. You wouldn’t know it in Washington, though. America’s political, national security, and foreign policy elites continue to ignore the basics of geopolitics that have shaped the fate of world empires for the past 500 years. Consequently, they have missed the significance of the rapid global... Read More
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The Secret Origins of the CIA’s Torture Program and the Forgotten Man Who Tried to Expose It
The witness reported men being hung by the feet or the thumbs, waterboarded, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suffering from extended solitary confinement in what he said were indescribably inhumane conditions. It’s the sort of description that might have come right out of the executive summary of the Senate torture report released last... Read More
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How Hollywood has changed our perception of war
Memorial Day used to be a somber occasion, dedicated to reflection and remembrance of those killed in America’s wars. Today it is instead a celebration of ongoing wars, a long shopping weekend and the unofficial start of summer. Part of the problem with America’s shifting perception of the price to be paid when one goes... Read More
Memorial Day commemorates soldiers killed in war. We are told that the war dead died for us and our freedom. US Marine General Smedley Butler challenged this view. He said that our soldiers died for the profits of the bankers, Wall Street, Standard Oil, and the United Fruit Company. Here is an excerpt from a... Read More
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The American Empire has been long in the making. A green light was given in 1990 to finalize that goal. Dramatic events occurred that year that allowed the promoters of the American Empire to cheer. It also ushered in the current 25-year war to solidify the power necessary to manage a world empire. Most people... Read More
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America's soldiers have become too expensive to use
During the Second World War there was a tongue in cheek song about the benefits of joining the army. It promised “twenty-one dollars a day once a month.” Back when I found myself in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in 1968 the refrain was largely the same but my recollection is that we were... Read More
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Why There Is No Massive Antiwar Movement in America
There was the old American lefty paper, the Guardian, and the Village Voice, which beat the Sixties into the world, and its later imitators like the Boston Phoenix. There was Liberation News Service, the Rat in New York, the Great Speckled Bird in Atlanta, the Old Mole in Boston, the distinctly psychedelic Chicago Seed, Leviathan,... Read More
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As Those Who Will Not See
My wife and I had a number of visitors over the holidays, including several foreign friends from our time spent in Europe and the Middle East. Both the Americans and the visitors from overseas eventually came around to wanting to discuss how deformed United States foreign policy has become, noting generally that the elite that... Read More
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A Long Tradition of Those Who Walk Away From War
The United States military should consider itself lucky that it only has Bowe Bergdahl. During the Vietnam War nearly 420,000 soldiers deserted, which means that they left their posts without any intent to return or failed to show up for deployment. Those who were gone for more than a month were administratively categorized as having... Read More
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Memorial Day is when we commemorate our war dead. Like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day is being turned into a celebration of war. Those who lose family members and dear friends to war don’t want the deaths to have been in vain. Consequently, wars become glorious deeds performed by noble soldiers fighting for truth,... Read More
Exterminatory Worlds, Then and Now
In high school, I was one of those kids you probably loved to loath. You know, the one who grabbed a front-row seat and every time the teacher asked a question waved his hand so manically that he was practically screaming, me, me, call on me! But truth be told, amid all the things that... Read More
In 2010, I arrived at Harvard University with a mess of a manuscript -- 10 years' worth of research on American war crimes in Vietnam patchworked together in such a way that it was comprehensible to only one person on the planet: me. But I was lucky. I had a year to do something about... Read More
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How Veterans Return From America’s Wars
[The text of this piece is an excerpt, slightly adapted, from Ann Jones's new book They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- The Untold Story, just published by Dispatch Books/Haymarket Books] In 2010, I began to follow U.S. soldiers down a long trail of waste and sorrow that led from the... Read More
Category Classics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007