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Or How to Fight a War of Ultimate Repetitiousness
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Fair warning. Stop reading right now if you want, because I’m going to repeat myself. What choice do I have, since my subject is the Afghan War (America’s second Afghan War, no less)? I began writing about that war in October 2001, almost 17 years ago, just after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. That was how I inadvertently launched the unnamed listserv that would, a year later, become TomDispatch. Given the website’s continuing focus on America’s forever wars (a phrase I first used in 2010), what choice have I had but to write about Afghanistan ever since?

So think of this as the war piece to end all war pieces. And let the repetition begin!

Here, for instance, is what I wrote about our Afghan War in 2008, almost seven years after it began, when the U.S. Air Force took out a bridal party, including the bride herself and at least 26 other women and children en route to an Afghan wedding. And that would be just one of eight U.S. wedding strikes I toted up by the end of 2013 in three countries, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, that killed almost 300 potential revelers. “We have become a nation of wedding crashers,” I wrote, “the uninvited guests who arrived under false pretenses, tore up the place, offered nary an apology, and refused to go home.”

Here’s what I wrote about Afghanistan in 2009, while considering the metrics of “a war gone to hell”: “While Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we’ve been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.”

Here’s what I wrote in 2010, thinking about how “forever war” had entered the bloodstream of the twenty-first-century U.S. military (in a passage in which you’ll notice a name that became more familiar in the Trump era): “And let’s not leave out the Army’s incessant planning for the distant future embodied in a recently published report, ‘Operating Concept, 2016-2028,’ overseen by Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, a senior adviser to Gen. David Petraeus. It opts to ditch ‘Buck Rogers’ visions of futuristic war, and instead to imagine counterinsurgency operations, grimly referred to as ‘wars of exhaustion,’ in one, two, many Afghanistans to the distant horizon.”

Here’s what I wrote in 2012, when Afghanistan had superseded Vietnam as the longest war in American history: “Washington has gotten itself into a situation on the Eurasian mainland so vexing and perplexing that Vietnam has finally been left in the dust. In fact, if you hadn’t noticed — and weirdly enough no one has — that former war finally seems to have all but vanished.”

Here’s what I wrote in 2015, thinking about the American taxpayer dollars that had, in the preceding years, gone into Afghan “roads to nowhere, ghost soldiers, and a $43 million gas station” built in the middle of nowhere, rather than into this country: “Clearly, Washington had gone to war like a drunk on a bender, while the domestic infrastructure began to fray. At $109 billion by 2014, the American reconstruction program in Afghanistan was already, in today’s dollars, larger than the Marshall Plan (which helped put all of devastated Western Europe back on its feet after World War II) and still the country was a shambles.”

And here’s what I wrote last year thinking about the nature of our never-ending war there: “Right now, Washington is whistling past the graveyard. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the question is no longer whether the U.S. is in command, but whether it can get out in time. If not, the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Indians, who exactly will ride to our rescue? Perhaps it would be more prudent to stop hanging out in graveyards. They are, after all, meant for burials, not resurrections.”

And that’s just to dip a toe into my writings on America’s all-time most never-ending war.

What Happened After History Ended

If, at this point, you’re still reading, I consider it a miracle. After all, most Americans hardly seem to notice that the war in Afghanistan is still going on. To the extent that they’re paying attention at all, the public would, it seems, like U.S. troops to come home and the war to end.

That conflict, however, simply stumbles on amid continuing bad news with nary a soul in the streets to protest it. The longer it goes on, the less — here in this country at least — it seems to be happening (if, that is, you aren’t one of the 15,000 American troops stationed there or among their families and friends or the vets, their families and friends, who have been gravely damaged by their tours of duty in Kabul and beyond).

And if you’re being honest, can you really blame the public for losing interest in a war that they largely no longer fight, a war that they’re in no way called on to support (other than to idolize the troops who do fight it), a war that they’re in no way mobilized for or against? In the age of the Internet, who has an attention span of 17 years, especially when the president just tweeted out his 47th outrageous comment of the week?

If you stop to think about it between those tweets, don’t you find it just a tad grim that, close enough to two decades later, this country is still fighting fruitlessly in a land once known by the ominous sobriquet “the graveyard of empires”? You know, the one whose tribal fighters outlasted Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the British, and the Russians.

Back in October 2001, you might have thought that the history lurking in that phrase would have given George W. Bush’s top officials pause before they decided to go after not just Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan but the Taliban, too. No such luck, of course — then or since.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Afghanistan, American Military 
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When it comes to guns and Americans, here (thanks to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) are a couple of stats for you: every year an average of 17,102 children and teens and 116,255 Americans overall are shot in “murders, assaults, suicides, and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention.” And this doesn’t happen for no reason. Consider these recent estimates from the Small Arms Survey, a gun research group: “There were approximately 857 million civilian-held firearms in the world at the end of 2017… National ownership rates vary from about 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents in the United States to less than 1 firearm for every 100 residents in countries like Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, and several Pacific island states.” In fact, the U.S. leads the rest of the world by a long shot in gun ownership, with 45% of those 857 million weapons (you do the math) right here in this country. War-torn Yemen comes in a distant second.

In 2017, a Pew Research Center study found that 48% of American white men, 25% of white women, 25% of non-white men, and 16% of non-white women owned guns and, as Margaret Talbot wrote in the New Yorker, “Half of all gun owners say that ownership is essential to their identity.” There’s one catch, though. If you have that primal urge to buy a gun to strengthen your own sense of self-identity, you better set aside a little time to do so. After all, it took a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter all of seven minutes to buy an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle soon after the Parkland, Florida, massacre and it took just 38 minutes, according to the Huffington Post, to buy the same weapon in Orlando two days after an AR-15-style weapon was used in the Pulse nightclub massacre to kill 49 people.

Now, as TomDispatch regular William Hartung reports, Donald Trump and his administration are determined to make this a truly all-American planet by putting real effort into spreading such deadly small arms far and wide. Hey, think of it this way: in the weeks after Apple hit the headlines with a trillion-dollar market valuation, the Trump administration has the hope of hitting the trillion-firearm mark in civilian hands globally. Now that would be an accomplishment! What a boost for our global identity! USA! USA!

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
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It looks like TomDispatch may have a few less readers from now on. Perhaps it will surprise you, but judging by the mail I get, some members of the U.S. military do read TomDispatch — partially to check out the range of military and ex-military critics of America’s wars that this site publishes. Or rather they did read TomDispatch. No longer, it seems, if their computers are operating via Department of Defense (DoD) networks. The DoD, I’ve heard, has blocked the site. You now get this message, I’m told, when you try to go to it: “You have attempted to access a blocked website. Access to this website has been blocked for operational reasons by the DOD Enterprise-Level Protection System.” Oh, and the category that accounts for it being blocked? “Hate and racism.” Mind you, you can evidently still read both Breitbart and Infowars in a beautifully unblocked state via the same networks.

On consideration, however, I’ve concluded that the Department of Defense might have a point. Since this site was launched as a no-name listserv in October 2001 soon after the Afghan War started — you know, the war that the DoD is still pursuing so successfully almost 17 years later with its 17th commander now in the field, 15,000 American troops still fighting and advising there (and still dying there as well), and the enemy, the Taliban in particular, in control of yet more territory in that country — TomDispatch has always hated America’s never-ending, ever-spreading, refugee- and terror-producing wars that now extend from South Asia across the Middle East and deep into Africa. So perhaps this site is, after all, a must-block “hate” site.

And among the authors who have spread TomDispatch’s antiwar gospel of hatred — now so judiciously cut off by the Pentagon — Nick Turse, in particular, has long grimly tracked the growth and spread of Washington’s forever wars and of the Special Operations forces, the semi-secret military that has become, in these years, their heart and soul. He returns to this sorry tale again today, this time in a unique fashion — by tracing the careers of those in the military, commanders and commanded, dead and alive, who returned to America’s official and unofficial war zones again and again and yet again. Maybe someone should suggest to the Pentagon that there’s something else out there to block, so that another website, 17 years from now, won’t be writing about Washington’s 34th commander in the field in Afghanistan. Maybe it’s time to block those wars.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Censorship 
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Two weeks ago, another Trump business went down in flames. Caught in the whirlpool of her father’s presidency, with major department stores and other retail distributors continuing to drop her brand under pressure from consumer boycotts here and in Canada, daughter Ivanka shut down her line of clothes. This should have surprised no one. When it comes to her family, it’s the oldest story in the world. Think of it this way: Donald Trump’s greatest con in election 2016 was to convince a majority of Americans (and they remain convinced) that he was a “successful businessman.”

Here’s a simple portrait of his business acumen, as Michael Kruse summed it up at Politico last year:

“He flopped as an owner of a professional football team, effectively killing not only his own franchise but the league as a whole… He bankrupted his casinos five times over the course of nearly 20 years. His eponymous airline existed for less than three years and ended up almost a quarter of a billion dollars in debt. And he has slapped his surname on a practically never-ending sequence of duds and scams (Trump Ice bottled water, Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump magazine, Trump Mortgage, Trump University — for which he settled a class-action fraud lawsuit earlier this year for $25 million).”

And Kruse didn’t even mention The Donald’s sixth bankruptcy, the one he filed for the debt-ridden Plaza Hotel in 1992.

But I don’t want to imply that Donald Trump wasn’t successful. He has a skill that needs to be understood, if you want to grasp the nature of his presidency. You can see it in his five Atlantic City casino bankruptcies. They proved to be business disasters, but as the New York Times reported, his true skill was in jumping ship, money in hand, and leaving his financial catastrophes in the laps of “investors and others who had bet on his business acumen.” Think of this as his “art.” (It will undoubtedly be his daughter’s, too.) And as you read the latest piece by TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author most recently of Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, keep that art of his in mind. Right now, the economy is popping along at an “amazing” 4.1% growth rate for this last quarter and he’s a “successful” businessman-president. But when those bills start coming due (as Prins suggests today), when those bankruptcies start coming in, count on one thing — call it the art of the Trump — he and his family will jump ship, money in hand, and the rest of us will be left holding the bag.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Donald Trump 
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Here are a couple of questions for you: If, in this country, terrorism is to be fought by travel bans, if (as Donald Trump once tweeted) “we don’t want ‘em here,” then why are all the travel bans aimed at Muslims? If the most threatening terror types shouldn’t be traveling either to or in this country, then why aren’t there travel bans against white Americans? After all, in the United States, terror has actually been a remarkably ashen phenomenon and I’m not just thinking of young white supremacist Dylann Roof, who walked into Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME church and gunned down nine black parishioners in June 2015, or Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old white retiree who slaughtered almost 60 people and wounded hundreds more from a Las Vegas hotel window in November 2017, the largest mass shooting by a single gunman in American history. Between 2008 and 2015, for instance, a majority of the 208 cases defined as terrorism in the United States (115 of them) were perpetrated by right-wing white extremists, almost double the number inspired by Islamic terrorism. Such attacks, the record seems to show, are also more likely to be deadly.

Except in cases like those of Dylann Roof and that Las Vegas massacre, such white acts are often not treated as a form of terror at all, but as so many random incidents of violence and are generally not given the kind of blanket media attention that those of self-proclaimed Islamist terrorists get. As comedian Ken Cheng put it: “Terrorism is one of the only areas where white people do most of the work and get none of the credit.” And of course this has only become more obvious in the age of Trump, years in which, as TomDispatch regular Arnold Isaacs suggests today, a growing crew of Islamophobes, already professionalized and creating a stream of fraudulent propaganda about Islamist terrorism in this country, has become ever more influential in the world of the alt-right and beyond. Isaacs, who has been covering anti-Muslim bigotry in this country for this website, lays out today just how the Islamophobes make their “case.”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Islamophobia, Muslims 
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It’s been almost eight years since Chalmers Johnson died. He was the author of, among other works, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire and Dismantling the Empire. He was also a TomDispatch stalwart and a friend . As I watch the strange destructive dance of Donald Trump and his cohorts, I still regularly find myself wondering: What would Chal think? His acerbic wit and, as a former consultant to the CIA, his deep sense of how the national security state worked provided me with a late education. With no access to my Ouija board, however, the best I can do when it comes to answering such questions is repost his classic final piece for this site on the necessity of dismantling the American empire before it dismantles us. He wrote it in July 2009, convinced that we had long passed from a republic to an empire and were on the downward slide, helped along by what he called a “military Keynesianism” run amok. He saw the Pentagon and our empire of bases abroad as a kind of Ponzi scheme that would, someday, help bankrupt this country.

How fascinated he would have been by the first candidate to ride an escalator into a presidential contest on a singular message of American decline. (“Make American great again!”) And how much more so by the world that candidate is creating as president, intent as he seems to be, in his own bizarre fashion, on dismantling the system of global control the U.S. has built since 1945. At the same time, he seems prepared to finance the U.S. military at levels, which, even for Johnson, would have been eye-popping, while attempting to sell American arms around an embattled planet in a way that could prove unique. What a strange combination of urges Donald Trump represents, as he teeters constantly at the edge of war(“fire and fury like the world has never seen”), more war (“never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before”), and peace in our time. Amid all the strangeness, don’t forget the strangeness of a mainstream media that has gone bonkers covering this president as no one has ever been covered in the history of the universe (something that would undoubtedly have amazed Chal).

Think of what President Trump has launched as the potential imperial misadventure of a lifetime, while checking out Chal’s thoughts from so long ago on a subject that should still be on all our minds.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military 
Mine, America’s, and Humanity’s
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There was a period in my later life when I used to say that, from the age of 20 to my late sixties, I was always 40 years old; I was, that is, an old young man and a young old one. Tell that to my legs now. Of course, there’s nothing faintly strange in such a development. It’s the most ordinary experience in life: to face your own failing self, those muscles that no longer work the way they used to, those brain cells jumping ship with abandon and taking with them so many memories, so much knowledge you’d rather keep aboard. If you’re of a certain age — I just turned 74 — you know exactly what I mean.

And that, as they say, is life. In a sense, each of us might, sooner or later, be thought of as a kind of failed experiment that ends in the ultimate failure: death.

And in some ways, the same thing might be said of states and empires. Sooner or later, there comes a moment in the history of the experiment when those muscles start to falter, those brain cells begin jumping ship, and in some fashion, spectacular or not, it all comes tumbling down. And that, as they say (or should say), is history. Human history, at least.

In a sense, it may hardly be more out of the ordinary to face a failing experiment in what, earlier in this century, top officials in Washington called “nation building” than in our individual lives. In this case, the nation I’m thinking about, the one that seems in the process of being unbuilt, is my own. You know, the one that its leaders — until Donald Trump hit the Oval Office — were in the habit of eternally praising as the most exceptional, the most indispensable country on the planet, the global policeman, the last or sole superpower. Essentially, it. Who could forget that extravagant drumbeat of seemingly obligatory self-praise for what, admittedly, is still a country with wealth and financial clout beyond compare and more firepower than the next significant set of competitors combined?

Still, tell me you can’t feel it? Tell me you couldn’t sense it when those election results started coming in that November night in 2016? Tell me you can’t sense it in the venomous version of gridlock that now grips Washington? Tell me it’s not there in the feeling in this country that we are somehow besieged (no matter our specific politics), demobilized, and no longer have any real say in a political system of, by, and for the billionaires, in a Washington in which the fourth branch of government, the national security state, gets all the dough, all the tender loving care (except, at this moment, from our president), all the attention for keeping us “safe” from not much (and certainly not itself)? In the meantime, most Americans get ever less and have ever less say about what they’re not getting. No wonder in the last election the country’s despairing heartland gave a hearty orange finger to the Washington elite.

States of Failure

“Populist” is the term of the moment for the growing crew of Donald Trumps around the planet. It may mean “popular,” but it doesn’t mean “population”; it doesn’t mean “We, the People.” No matter what that band of Trumps might say, it’s increasingly not “we” but “them,” or in the case of Donald J. Trump in particular, “him.”

No, the United States is not yet a failed or failing state, not by a long shot, not in the sense of countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen that have been driven to near-collapse by America’s twenty-first-century wars and accompanying events. And yet, doesn’t it seem ever easier to think of this country as, in some sense at least, a failing (and flailing) experiment?

And don’t just blame it on Donald Trump. That’s the easy path to an explanation. Something had to go terribly wrong to produce such a president and his tweet-stormed version of America. That should seem self-evident enough, even to — though they would mean it in a different way — The Donald’s much-discussed base. After all, if they hadn’t felt that, for them, the American experiment was failing, why would they have voted for an obvious all-American con man? Why would they have sent into the White House someone whose Apprentice-like urge is to fire us all?

It’s hard to look back on the last decades and not think that democracy has been sinking under the imperial waves. I first noticed the term “the imperial presidency” in the long-gone age of Richard Nixon, when his White House began to fill with uniformed flunkies and started to look like something out of an American fantasy of royalty. The actual power of that presidency, no matter who was in office, has been growing ever since. Whatever the Constitution might say, war, for instance, is now a presidential, not a congressional, prerogative (as is, to take a recent example, the imposition of tariffs on the products of allies on “national security” grounds).

As Chalmers Johnson used to point out, in the Cold War years the president gained his own private army. Johnson meant the CIA, but in this century you would have to add America’s ever vaster, still expanding Special Operations forces (SOF), now regularly sent on missions of every sort around the globe. He’s also gained his own private air force: the CIA’s Hellfire-missile armed drones that he can dispatch across much of the planet to kill those he’s personally deemed his country’s enemies. In that way, in this century — despite a ban on presidential assassinations, now long ignored — the president has become an actual judge, jury, and executioner. The term I’ve used in the past has been assassin-in-chief.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump 
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If you don’t happen to be part of Donald Trump’s base and you’re a member of the “fake media,” it’s a commonplace to assume that our president is a creature of impulse, a giant id with hardly rhyme, no less reason for what he does. News headlines and those of opinion columns tell the story: “Trump is incapable of seeing past his own ego”; “The Potemkin policies of Donald Trump, the simplest summary of White House economic policy to date is four words: there is no policy”; “World Leaders have figured it out: you can play America by playing Trump’s ego”; “Quick takes: ‘Trump is pure raging authoritarian id’”; “America must deal with Donald Trump, the first rogue president”; “Donald Trump is proving too stupid to be president.” Let me stop there, but believe me, I wouldn’t have to. And whether you’re of the left, the center, or (as in several cases above) the right, you would undoubtedly have a point if you had written such pieces, given the mad spectacle of these months. Still, it might be worth thinking of such headlines less as a commentary on that spectacle and far more as part of it. These days, reporters and pundits, addictively focused on The Donald, increasingly seem like but another part of the Trumpian id released upon the world.

And since Donald Trump has, after his own fashion, smashed the ship of state directly into that same media and changed the landscape of our world of “information,” he’s also made an endless range of journalists and pundits into something new: actors on his planet. If you don’t believe me, watch Wolf Blitzer “interviewing” — which means mostly ranting to — Senator Rand Paul, who is defending the president, and tell me that we’re not in a new id-ified world of reportage.

In such a world of id-sters, it’s also possible that something important is being missed. Perhaps the way to think about it (and our president) is in this fashion: if there’s madness to his method (and there is), that doesn’t mean that there isn’t method to his madness. Read TomDispatch regular Michael Klare today and tell me that isn’t possible. Klare suggests that, when it comes to global policy in relation to Russia, China, and the European Union, there has always been a distinct Trumpian method to those mad displays of his.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump 
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September 11, 2001, was the day that “changed everything.” And indeed, in New York City and elsewhere, it was hard not to feel just that. Unfortunately, the top officials of the Bush administration took advantage of that deep sense of shock (and awe) to advance a global shock-and-awe program all their own, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that launched 17 years of non-stop war, refugee crises, and so much else. And the world did change. Sadly, it changed in ways that Osama bin Laden, despite his hijacked air force and the damage it inflicted on iconic American buildings (and the thousands of people in them), would have been utterly incapable of accomplishing himself.

You might say that from September 12th on — from the moment the air strikes of a small group of fanatics were greeted as if they had been carried out by a major power, as if it was truly “the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century” — we were in trouble. War was almost instantly declared from the White House (initially on next to no one) and a Global War on Terror launched. In the process, this country was itself hijacked and, in the years to come, dispatched on what might be thought of as a strange American version of a suicide mission that ended up, more than a decade and a half later, with Donald Trump in the White House. Today, TomDispatch regular John Feffer, the invaluable weekly columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus, suggests that Trump’s presidential “doctrine” is, in turn, a kind of suicide mission from hell and who knows, when the plane goes down, just what it will smash into.

Think of this as the dystopian vision of twenty-first-century American life from an author who has already produced a riveting novel, Splinterlands, about the potentially grim fate of this planet. Coming in the fall from Dispatch Books is Frostlands, book two in Feffer’s series about how we are, in fact, changing everything. Unfortunately, today’s essay is not fiction. So buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be an unforgettable ride.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: 9/11 
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The report was devastating — or would have been, if anyone here had noticed it. “Between 2001 and 2017,” it concluded, “U.S. government efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan mostly failed.” I’m thinking of “Stabilization: Lessons From the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan” put out by the office of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR. It focused on 15 years of U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban and “reconstruct” that country. Issued in late May, it got a few cursory news reports before disappearing into the maw of Trump addiction. But don’t blame The Donald for that. When was the last time — even before he entered the Oval Office — that any serious attention was paid here to the longest war in American history, our forever war or “generational struggle” or “infinite war”? When was the last true policy debate on it?

Presidents — even Donald Trump — just re-up on coming into office, surge more U.S. troops in, and watch as things devolve. The generals fight; U.S. commanders come and go (the 17th of the Afghan war is just arriving); our European allies ever more wearily support the last superpower on the planet; and things only get worse while SIGAR issues its reports. Even its latest one only ended up recommending yet more military and other efforts at greater cost to “stabilize” that country. There’s a certain pathos to it, even as yet more Afghans die, more lives are ruined or uprooted, and yet more insurgent/terror groups form in that country (and neighboring Pakistan). It has all the charm of watching mice on a treadmill. Recently, for instance, there was a new “insider attack” that took the life of an American serviceman and wounded two others, the first in perhaps a year; the Taliban seemed once again to be gaining ground as Afghan government security forces shrank; British Prime Minister Theresa May, preparing to be kicked in the teeth by President Trump, obsequiously came close to doubling her country’s force in Afghanistan; approximately 15,000 U.S. military personnel (not counting private contractors) continue to serve there; the U.S. air war has been ramped up; the latest Pentagon review of the American effort may soon be launched; and undoubtedly SIGAR has begun to clear the way for its next report.

Meanwhile, in this country, America’s forever wars, which should be on all our minds, have long since largely dropped from public consciousness. There is neither discussion, nor debate, nor protest of any significant sort about them, which is why it seemed worthwhile to ask TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon to review America’s wars in the Middle East before a new one, in Iran, can be added to the mix.

Tom Engelhardt
About Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the 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. 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 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