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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Measuring Violence in a Single Superpower World
[This essay is adapted from “Measuring Violence,” the first chapter of John Dower’s new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two.] On February 17, 1941, almost 10 months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Life magazine carried a lengthy essay by its publisher, Henry Luce, entitled “The American Century.” The... Read More
Recently, the historian Marilyn Young, an old friend, died. She spent her life writing about America’s wars and a country at war. Her New York Times obituary quoted this telling passage from a speech she gave to the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations: “I find that I have spent most of my life... Read More
Ominous developments in East Syria have drawn the United States and Russia into closer proximity increasing the likelihood of a violent confrontation. The Trump administration has embarked on a dangerous plan to defeat the terrorist militia, ISIS, in Raqqa. But recent comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggest that Washington’s long-term strategy may... Read More
Back in the 1950’s, a British professor at the distinguished University of Malaya, C. Northcote Parkinson, observed that as the post-war Royal Navy shrank in size, its bureaucracy continued to expand. Parkinson formulated a law that bureaucracies will naturally grow at 5-7% per annum. He also wisely added ‘Make the people sovereign and the poor... Read More
Let’s be honest. The US attack on Mosul, Iraq, is not an attack on ISIS. It it a repeat of Israel’s operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The purpose is to kill as many Muslims for Israel as possible. Here is the evidence: http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/23/reports-us-airstrikes-killed-230-civilians-in-mosul-overnight/ http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/23/child-victims-of-mosul-overwhelm-emergency-hospital/ http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/23/un-warns-worst-is-yet-to-come-with-400000-civilians-trapped-in-western-mosul/ Remember, the reason ISIS is in Iraq and Syria is... Read More
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Onward and Upward with U.S. Central Command
By way of explaining his eight failed marriages, the American bandleader Artie Shaw once remarked, “I am an incurable optimist.” In reality, Artie was an incurable narcissist. Utterly devoid of self-awareness, he never looked back, only forward. So, too, with the incurable optimists who manage present-day American wars. What matters is not past mistakes but... Read More
U.S. Marines are, for the first time, deploying to Syria (with more to come). There’s talk of an “enduring” U.S. military presence in Iraq, while additional U.S. troops are being dispatched to neighboring Kuwait with an eye to the wars in both Iraq and Syria. Yemen has been battered by a veritable blitz of drone... Read More
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Panmunjom, the ‘peace village’ on the incredibly tense demilitarized zone (aka DMZ) between North and South Korea, is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever visited. Tough North Korean soldiers lurk about, watched by equally tough South Korean troops in one-way sunglasses and an aggressive judo ‘warrior’ stance. When I was filming at Panmunjom, we... Read More
How the Invasion of Iraq Came Home
If you want to know where President Donald Trump came from, if you want to trace the long winding road (or escalator) that brought him to the Oval Office, don’t look to reality TV or Twitter or even the rise of the alt-right. Look someplace far more improbable: Iraq. Donald Trump may have been born... Read More
Graeme MacQueen, a university professor in Canada, calls attention to the American left’s inability to exercise imagination with regard to the reports of the Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission. A collection of individuals and publications, somehow regarded as leftwing, has proven to be active agents for the conspiratorial state against true dissent. Here is... Read More
The other day, I walked across much of Manhattan Island on the street where I grew up. Once upon a time, in a space of just four blocks along that very street there were four movie theaters (no small wonder in the 1950s). Only The Paris Theater, somewhat the worse for wear, still stands. Tao,... Read More
Rebuilding a Last-Century Military to Fight Last-Century Wars
If you are an American male of a certain age -- Donald Trump’s age, to be exact -- you are likely to have vivid memories of Victory at Sea, the Emmy award-winning NBC documentary series about the U.S. Navy in World War II that aired from October 1952 to May 1953. One of the first... Read More
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The selection of Lt. General H. R. McMaster as Trump’s new National Security Advisor to replace Michael Flynn appears to be the coup de grâce to Trump’s efforts to achieve rapprochement with Russia. McMaster has received profuse praise from all types of mainstream figures: conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans. McMaster’s expressed hostile view of... Read More
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In all the political drama taking place in the US as a result of the attempted color revolution against Trump, the bigger picture sometimes gets forgotten. And yet, this bigger picture is quite amazing, because if we look at it we will see irrefutable signs that the Empire in engaged in some bizarre slow motion... Read More
We are now moving rapidly into stage II of Levantine Madness as the US boosts its intervention in the war-torn Mideast. Five thousand US troops are back in Iraq to bolster the shattered nation’s puppet regime that is propped up by American bayonets. New Iraqi military formations have been formed, totally equipped with modern US... Read More
From Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump
Introduction: US militarism expanded exponentially through the first two decades of the Twenty-First Century, and was embraced by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. The mass media’s hysteria towards President Trump’s increase in military spending deliberately ignores the vast expansion of militarism, in all its facets, under President Obama and his two predecessors, Presidents ‘Bill’ Clinton... Read More
To back up Defense Secretary "Mad Dog" Mattis' warning last month, that the U.S. "remains steadfast in its commitment" to its allies, President Donald Trump is sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to Korea. Some 300,000 South Korean and 15,000 U.S. troops have begun their annual Foal Eagle joint war exercises that run through April. "The... Read More
Every now and then, I think back to the millions of people who turned out in this country and across the globe in early 2003 to protest the coming invasion of Iraq. Until the recent Women’s March against Donald Trump, that may have been the largest set of demonstrations in American history or, at the... Read More
An Iraq War Anniversary to Forget
The other day, I found myself flipping through old photos from my time in Iraq. One in particular from October 2006 stood out. I see my 23-year-old self, along with my platoon. We’re still at Camp Buerhing in Kuwait, posing in front of our squadron logo splashed across a huge concrete barrier. It was a... Read More
The United States has been growing progressively insane for a long time. For my generation, the realization descended upon us in the 1960s when the military/security complex convinced Americans that if we permitted Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh to unify Vietnam, the dominoes would fall until the Communist World Revolution had us in its... Read More
Donald Trump, now preparing to lead the country into the latest version of our endless wars, recently offered this look back at American military prowess: “We have to start winning wars again. I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We... Read More
Fighting the Forever War
In his inaugural address, President Trump described a dark and dismal United States, a country overrun by criminal gangs and drugs, a nation stained with the blood seeping from bullet-ridden corpses left at scenes of “American carnage.” It was more than a little jarring. Certainly, drug gangs and universally accessible semi-automatic weapons do not contribute... Read More
Let’s think about the logic of it all for a moment. The 2016 Pentagon budget came in at just over $600 billion and that royal sum, larger than the combined military investments of the next seven countries, was hardly the full measure of the money U.S. taxpayers spent on what we like to call “national... Read More
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Could War With Iran Be on Washington’s Agenda?
In the splurge of “news,” media-bashing, and Bannonism that’s been Donald Trump’s domestic version of a shock-and-awe campaign, it’s easy to forget just how much of what the new president and his administration have done so far is simply an intensification of trends long underway. Those who already pine for the age of Obama --... Read More
Thrashing About in the Afghan Petri Dish
America’s war in Afghanistan is now in its 16th year, the longest foreign war in our history. The phrase “no end in sight” barely covers the situation. Prospects of victory -- if victory is defined as eliminating that country as a haven for Islamist terrorists while creating a representative government in Kabul -- are arguably... Read More
If you had asked Americans about Afghanistan before 1979, it’s a reasonable bet that most of us wouldn’t have known much about that country or even been able to locate it on a map. Perhaps only to the “freaks” of that era, in search of a superb hashish high, would its name have rung a... Read More
It can be a challenge to follow the pronouncements of President Trump, as he often seems to change his position on any number of items from week to week, or from day to day, or even from minute to minute. Consider his speech last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It was reported... Read More
The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see link and link). Two Cold War II issues are... Read More
The war party is back in power and the odds of normal relations with Russia have dropped to zero. The appointment of Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to the position of national security adviser indicates that Trump has done an about-face on his most critical foreign policy issue, normalizing relations with Russia. General Michael Flynn–... Read More
Boris Yeltsin was making a presidential visit to Washington in 1995 when he was found one night outside the White House dressed only in his underpants. He explained in a slurred voice to US secret service agents that he was trying to hail a cab so he could go and buy a pizza. The following... Read More
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David Brooks on Making America Great Again
Apart from being a police officer, firefighter, or soldier engaged in one of this nation’s endless wars, writing a column for a major American newspaper has got to be one of the toughest and most unforgiving jobs there is. The pay may be decent (at least if your gig is with one of the major... Read More
The Empire’s Nightmare
Methinks the insane hysteria over Russia needs to stop. It probably will not. For reasons of domestic and imperial politics the American public is again being manipulated into a war frenzy by Washington and New York. It is stupid, without justification, and dangerous. The silliness over Russia is, obviously, part of the Establishment’s drive to... Read More
The members of what TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, calls “the Church of America the Redeemer” are in some disarray these days and in quite an uproar over the new Pope and his aberrant set of cardinals now ensconced in Washington. Perhaps there was no more striking... Read More
If you’re going to surround yourself with generals in the Oval Office, as Donald Trump has done, that means one thing in these years: you’re going to appoint men whose careers were made (or unmade) by what was once known as the Global War on Terror. They will be deeply associated with Washington’s 15 years... Read More
The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos
The United States has already lost -- its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine... Read More
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All Options Are “On The Table”
Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that U.S. troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that... Read More
Consider it an irony or simply a reality of our moment, but these days Donald (“America First”) Trump is looking ever less like an old-fashioned, pre-World War II isolationist. In a mere three-plus weeks in office, he’s managed to mix it up royally with much of the rest of the planet. He threatened to send... Read More
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Time: “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Peña Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.” With Trump it is difficult to... Read More
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One of the most frustrating tasks is to try to debunk the Hollywood myths imprinted on the mind of Americans about warfare in general and about special forces and technology in particular. When last week I wrote my column about the first SNAFUs of the Trump Presidency I pretty much expected that some of the... Read More
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‘De Omnibus Dubitandum’ Everything is to be Doubted Introduction President Trump is deeply embedded in the politics of the deep state structure of American imperialism. Contrary to occasional references to non-intervention in overseas wars, Trump has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors. While neoconservatives and liberals have raised a hue and cry about Trump’s... Read More
Hopes for the Trump administration are not burning brightly. Trump’s military chief, Gen. Mattis, is turning out to be true to his “mad dog” nickname. He has just declared that Iran “is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” https://sputniknews.com/politics/201702041050338034-mattis-iran-terrorism/ He has declared Russia to be the number one threat to the... Read More
Let’s face it: since 9/11 everything in our American world has been wildly out of proportion. Understandably enough, at the time that attack was experienced as something other than it was. In the heat of the moment, it would be compared to city-destroying or world-ending Hollywood disaster films (“It was like one of them Godzilla... Read More
The Terror Inside Trump’s White House
What kind of national security policy will the Trump administration pursue globally? On this issue, as on so many others, the incoming president has offered enough contradictory clues, tweets, and comments that the only definitive answer right now is: Who knows? During his presidential campaign he more or less promised a non-interventionist foreign policy, even... Read More
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It is a rare privilege to be able to criticize a politician for actually fulfilling his campaign promises but Donald Trump is a unique President and this week he offered us exactly this opportunity with not one, but three different SNAFUs to report. First, there was the botched raid against an alledged al-Qaeda compound in... Read More
Last Friday, Donald Trump made his first visit to the Pentagon where he spoke of signing an order to begin “a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States,” something he’s been advocating for quite a while. As TomDispatch regular Bill Hartung indicates today, this will mean a massive surge in federal dollars... Read More
Trump’s Vision of a Militarized America
At over $600 billion a year and counting, the Pentagon already receives significantly more than its fair share of federal funds. If President Donald Trump has his way, though, that will prove a sum for pikers and misers. He and his team are now promising that spending on defense and homeland security will increase dramatically... Read More
President Trump says he wants the US to have better relations with Russia and to halt military operations against Muslim countries. But he is being undermined by the Pentagon. The commander of US forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, has lined up tanks on Poland’s border with Russia and fired salvos that the general says... Read More
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The election of Donald Trump has sent millions of people pouring out onto the streets to protest a man they think is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic bully who will destroy US democracy in his quest to establish himself as supreme fascist ruler of the country. Maybe they’re right. Maybe Trump is a fascist who will... Read More
It was a moment few noticed on Inauguration Day. It took place just before Donald Trump praised Hillary Clinton to the applause of those assembled for the Inaugural Luncheon. Standing at the microphone, the new president turned, looked toward a table somewhere in the room, and said, “We have so many of our cabinet members... Read More
Weapons, Warriors, and Fear as the New Order in America
I came of age during America's Cold War with the Soviet Union, witnessing its denouement while serving in the U.S. military. In those days, the USSR led the world's weapons trade, providing arms to the Warsaw Pact (the military alliance it dominated) as well as to client states like Cuba, Egypt, and Syria. The United... Read More
PastClassics
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution