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On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump wasn’t shy when it came to the issue of debt. As he told Norah O’Donnell of CBS This Morning at the time, “I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt and if things... Read More
Today’s War-Financing Strategies Will Only Increase Inequality
In the name of the fight against terrorism, the United States is currently waging “credit-card wars” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Never before has this country relied so heavily on deficit spending to pay for its conflicts. The consequences are expected to be ruinous for the long-term fiscal health of the U.S., but they... Read More
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Introduction “Immigration” has become the dominant issue dividing Europe and the US, yet the most important matter which is driving millions to emigrate is overlooked is wars. In this paper we will discuss the reasons behind the massification of immigration, focusing on several issues, namely (1) imperial wars (2) multi-national corporate expansion (3) the decline... Read More
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Beam me up, Scotty!
I thought that perhaps I had tuned into John Oliver or to Saturday Night Live in error, but no doubt about it, there was an unmistakable President Donald Trump speaking before an audience at the National Space Council. He was saying that on his own presidential authority "I'm hereby directing the Department of Defense and... Read More
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In the short space of five days, June 8-12, President Trump took three steps that upended the old post WWII global order and moved us a few steps toward a more peaceful world. Two of those steps are undeniable; the third is perhaps not so obvious. The Singapore Summit. The Singapore Summit comes first, because... Read More
Two decades ago, when I was working as an editor at a publishing house, Chalmers Johnson, then an eminent scholar of Asia and a former CIA consultant, sent in a proposal for a book he was already calling Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. I still remember the passage from his prologue that... Read More
...And a Crossroads
On April 19th, university students in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, exploded onto the streets. Their initial demand? A more effective government response to wildfires burning out of control in the country’s most precious repository of biodiversity. Soon, a social wildfire took hold in Managua and then spread across the country. Thousands of Nicaraguans added a second... Read More
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and... Read More
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Who is he and what does he want to do?
I had coffee with a foreign friend a week ago. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up and my friend said that he was torn between describing Trump as a genius or as an idiot, but was inclined to lean towards genius. He explained that Trump was willy-nilly establishing a new world order that... Read More
There’s no other imperial tradition like it. For two millennia, dynasty after dynasty rose and fell, spread and shrank, reaching into Southeast Asia and far out into the steppes of Eurasia, its commercial fleets -- 3,500 ships in the fourteenth century -- voyaging as far as Africa. It’s true that ours is a remarkably westernized... Read More
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The re-nomination (albeit somewhat reshuffled) of the "economic block" of the Medvedev government has elicited many explanations, some better than others. Today I want to look at one specific hypothesis which can be summed up like this: Putin decided against purging the (unpopular) "economic block" from the Russian government because he wanted to present the... Read More
American Wars and Self-Decline
Think of it as the all-American version of the human comedy: a great power that eternally knows what the world needs and offers copious advice with a tone deafness that would be humorous, if it weren’t so grim. If you look, you can find examples of this just about anywhere. Here, for instance, is a... Read More
When President Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, on October 11, 1987, it helped put into motion events that would dramatically change the global system. A line of communication was fully opened with an enemy of decades and substantive issues were on the table. Though the summit was initially reported as a failure,... Read More
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The Gravy Train Rolls On
“The United States of Amnesia.” That’s what Gore Vidal once called us. We remember what we find it convenient to remember and forget everything else. That forgetfulness especially applies to the history of others. How could their past, way back when, have any meaning for us today? Well, it just might. Take the European conflagration... Read More
In case you hadn’t noticed -- and it wasn’t exactly front-page news -- America’s eighth war commander in Afghanistan (and keep in mind that we’re only talking about this country’s second Afghan War), General John Nicholson, is about to be history. Sometime in the coming months, the ninth, Lieutenant General Austin “Scott” Miller, who spent... Read More
Air and artillery strikes by the US and its allies inflicted devastating loss of life on civilians in the Isis-held city of Raqqa, according to an Amnesty International report. It contradicts claims by the US, along with Britain and France, that they precisely targeted Isis fighters and positions during the four month siege that destroyed... Read More
The Military-Industrial Complex Strikes (Out) Again
Did you know the U.S. Air Force is working on a new stealth bomber? Don’t blame yourself if you didn’t, since the project is so secret that most members of Congress aren’t privy to the details. (Talk about stealthy!) Known as the B-21 Raider, after General Doolittle’s Raiders of World War II fame, it’s designed... Read More
Remember Donald Trump’s magical plan to turn $200 billion in federal money... hey, presto!... into $1.5 trillion in investment in America’s aging, underfunded infrastructure (to which the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a grade of D+ in 2017)? Why should you, especially since that plan is now officially dead in the water in Congress... Read More
This month of course ended with Memorial Day, when we remember those who died serving in our country's armed forces. The Derbs got a more forceful reminder at the very beginning of the month. Around noon on Tuesday, May 1st my son Danny came into the study to tell me a soldier from his former... Read More
Once upon a time, dystopian fiction was left to the novelists: Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick. And once upon a time, the futuristic dreams of the military were distinctly upbeat. They were of generals leading armies to victory, of air power causing the morale of enemy nations to collapse (with surrender... Read More
Pentagon Documents Detail Dystopian Dangers
For almost 20 years, U.S. drone warfare was largely one-sided. Unlike Afghans and Yemenis, Iraqis and Somalis, Americans never had to worry about lethal robots hovering overhead and raining down missiles. Until, that is, one appeared in the skies above Florida. But that’s a story for later. For now, let’s focus on a 2017 executive... Read More
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Conference last weekend shows the Russian government’s ensnarement by neoliberal economic policy. Putin defended globalism and free trade, and he warned that crisis will result from the breakup of the global system. In fact, crisis is the result of globalism and neoliberal economics. For... Read More
Mark Karlin: How much money has gone to the U.S. war on terror and what has been the impact of this expenditure? Tom Engelhardt: The best figure I’ve seen on this comes from the Watson Institute’s Costs of War Project at Brown University and it’s a staggering $5.6 trillion, including certain future costs to care... Read More
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This has been an interesting week for Russia. First, and contrary to my own expectations, Iulia Skripal has been allowed to make a recorded statement on video where she is seen writing a statement in English and Russian. This falls far short of even the basic British obligations to allow consular access to both Skripals,... Read More
U.S. threats to crush Iran and North Korea may yet work, but as of now neither Tehran nor Pyongyang appears to be intimidated. Repeated references by NSC adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence to the "Libya model" for denuclearization of North Korea just helped sink the Singapore summit of President Trump and Kim... Read More
How Unpiloted Aircraft Expand the War on Terror
They are like the camel’s nose, lifting a corner of the tent. Don’t be fooled, though. It won’t take long until the whole animal is sitting inside, sipping your tea and eating your sweets. In countries around the world -- in the Middle East, Asia Minor, Central Asia, Africa, even the Philippines -- the appearance... Read More
Six years ago, in late May 2012, I read a New York Times piece by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will.” They reported that President Obama was then overseeing a “regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room”... Read More
The Trump regime has sabotaged Putin’s peace efforts in Syria, Iran, Ukraine, and North Korea. In the interest of peace Putin has avoided responding to US and Israeli provocations in Syria. Putin went so far as to invite the war criminal and genocidal maniac Netanyahu to Russia for the celebration of Russia’s victory over Germany... Read More
Preserving the Positive Legacy of an Empire in Decline
Month by month, tweet by tweet, the events of the past two years have made it clearer than ever that Washington’s once-formidable global might is indeed fading. As the American empire unravels with previously unimagined speed, there are many across this country’s political spectrum who will not mourn its passing. Both peace activists and military... Read More
When I was young, I often imagined myself as an American diplomat. Back in the early 1960s, it seemed like serving my country in such a role would be an honorable, even glorious, path to take. Can you believe that I ever thought such a thing in this twenty-first-century moment when diplomats by the hundreds... Read More
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It’s got to be either one of the stupidest acts that I can recall or a very wicked plan by Washington neocons to sabotage Korean peace talks. How else to describe the decision by Big Brother USA and junior sidekick South Korea to stage major air force exercises on North Korea’s border. The prickly North... Read More
After Pyongyang railed this week that the U.S.-South Korean Max Thunder military drills were a rehearsal for an invasion of the North, and imperiled the Singapore summit, the Pentagon dialed them back. The B-52 exercises alongside F-22 stealth fighters were canceled. But Pyongyang had other objections. Sunday, NSC adviser John Bolton spoke of a "Libyan... Read More
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US media figures are in the habit of referring to the president of the United States as the “Commander in Chief of the United States” People who do that badly misunderstand the structure of US government as described in the Constitution of the United States. This misunderstanding may have been caused by the disappearance of... Read More
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Pay and benefits are out of control
America’s Republican politicians complain that “entitlements,” by which they mean pensions and medical care, are leading the country to bankruptcy even as they fatten the spending on the Pentagon, which now takes 12 percent of the overall budget. And it should be noted that while workers contribute to the social programs during all their years... Read More
The U.S. Military Takes Us Through the Gates of Hell
[This essay is the introduction to Tom Engelhardt’s new book, A Nation Unmade by War, a Dispatch Book published by Haymarket Books.] As I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into... Read More
Will Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, and Tehran Face Off in a Future Cataclysm?
With Donald Trump’s decision to shred the Iran nuclear agreement, announced last Tuesday, it’s time for the rest of us to start thinking about what a Third Gulf War would mean. The answer, based on the last 16 years of American experience in the Greater Middle East, is that it won’t be pretty. The New... Read More
It’s already long forgotten here, but the theocratic regime in Iran was really our baby. After all, in 1953, the CIA and British intelligence engineered a coup to replace a democratic government in Iran with the autocratic Shah and so gave Iranians just what they didn’t want (including his creepy secret police, the Savak). In... Read More
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Brandishing the American Military
Why did the Cockatoo-in-Chief renege on the Iran deal deeply prized by Russia, China, France, Germany, England, and the European Union? Why did he deliberately damage relations with Europe and cost American workers many thousands of jobs at Boeing among others? Why do all of this to hurt a country that poses no danger to... Read More
Israel has launched its biggest attack ever on Iranian forces in Syria. This is a serious development, but reports of the entire Middle East being on the verge of all out war fail to fully appreciate the motives and intentions of the various players. Looked at from the Israeli point of view, it is an... Read More
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“Were we right or were we wrong?” This was Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet’s central question in his 2004 talk to the faculty and students of his alma mater, Georgetown University. What he was talking about, of course, was the critical political issue of whether or not the Intelligence Community (IC) of which... Read More
This next week may determine whether President Trump extricates us from that cauldron of conflict that is the Middle East, as he promised, or plunges us even deeper into these forever wars. Friday will see the sixth in a row of weekly protests at the Gaza border fence in clashes that have left 40 Palestinians... Read More
Iran has an exaggerated reputation in the Middle East for Machiavellian cunning and an ability to outmanoeuvre its enemies. Britain used to be regarded in the same light in the region: its most ill-considered actions were admired as devilishly clever plots when all it was doing was taking advantage of the blunders of its opponents.... Read More
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Between the US strikes on Syria in April and the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, we are in somewhat of a lull in the Empire's search for a new war to start. The always helpful Israelis, in the person of the ineffable Bibi Netanyahu, are now beating the drums for, well, if not a... Read More
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Obsessed with Stalin, the disciples of Leon Bronstein see betrayed revolutions everywhere
I first encountered Trotskyists in Minnesota half a century ago during the movement against the Vietnam War. I appreciated their skill in organizing anti-war demonstrations and their courage in daring to call themselves “communists” in the United States of America – a profession of faith that did not groom them for the successful careers enjoyed... Read More
‘Chutzpah’ is a wonderful Yiddish word that means outrageous nerve, or unmitigated gall. This week’s Chutzpah Award goes to Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Standing in front of props of data files and cd’s, Netanyahu claimed Israel’s renowned Mossad spy agency had stolen a small mountain of secret Iranian nuclear data from a warehouse in... Read More
find myself wondering if Russia understands the Washington criminal with whom Russia is so desperate to negotiate peace and understanding. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is excited that Trump has invited Putin to the White House “to jointly curb the arms race.” Of course the US military/security complex wants to curb an arms race in which... Read More
Congress Offers a Bipartisan Blank Check to Donald Trump
It may be too late. The president of the United States is now a veritable autocrat in the realm of foreign policy. He has been since at least 1945, when the last congressionally declared war finally ended. Wars in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen (among other places) were all... Read More
It began, of course, with the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the second Afghan war of our era. In November 2002, in Yemen, the CIA conducted its first drone assassination strike outside of Afghanistan, killing six al-Qaeda suspects in a car. (More strikes would follow there years later, along with Special Operations raids of... Read More
Almost 17 years after Washington’s war on terror was launched, déjà vu all over again hardly sums up the situation. Still, it’s a place to start. Take a headline from nearly a decade ago -- July 2009, to be exact. By then, the American war in Afghanistan (the second Afghan War of our era) was... Read More
Americans Need to Rethink War and Look Honestly at Ourselves and Our Friends
"This time, they think they have it right." So declared an Associated Press story reporting an upbeat assessment by this country's top military officer at the end of a five-day visit to Afghanistan earlier this spring. Marine General Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was heading home from the war zone,... Read More
PastClassics
Talk TV sensationalists and axe-grinding ideologues have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?