Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, Gitmo's Living Legacy in the Trump Era
Eight years ago, when I wrote a book on the first days of Guantanamo, The Least Worst Place: Guanta'namo's First 100 Days, I assumed that Gitmo would prove a grim anomaly in our history. Today, it seems as if that "detention facility" will have a far longer life than I ever imagined and that it, and everything it represents, will become a true, if grim, legacy of twenty-first-century America.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Embracing Our Inner Empire
I can remember both so well.
2006: my first raid in South Baghdad. 2014: watching on YouTube as a New York police officer asphyxiated -- murdered -- Eric Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner not five miles from my old apartment. Both events shocked the conscience.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Disappearance, a Body, and What It Takes to Make the News
We were already roaring down the road when the young man called to me over his shoulder. There was a woman seated between us on the motorbike and with the distance, his accent, the rushing air, and the engine noise, it took a moment for me to decipher what he had just said: We might have enough gas to get to Bamurye and back.
Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, When a Voice Tells You You'll Never Be Enough
Living in such a backward, misogynistic, and violent country as the United States can make strange things happen inside women's heads, as TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer explains. That's what gender discrimination is meant to do. But at long last it made Hillary Clinton rightfully angry. It makes me angry, too. How about you?
Monday, September 25, 2017
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, In Donald Trump's Washington, The House Always Wins
Now, give him credit. As president, The Donald has done just what he promised the American people he would do: run the country like he ran his businesses. At one point, he even displayed confusion about distinguishing between them when he said of the United States: "We're a very powerful company -- country."
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Tomgram: Ann Jones, When Will They Ever Learn?
Here we go again! Years after most Americans forgot about the longest war this country ever fought, American soldiers are again being deployed to Afghanistan. For almost 16 years now, at the command of three presidents and a sadly forgettable succession of generals, they have gone round and round like so many motorists trapped on a rotary with no exit.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Tomgram: Michael Klare, The New Face of "War" at Home
Deployed to the Houston area to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, U.S. military forces hadn't even completed their assignments when they were hurriedly dispatched to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to face Irma, the fiercest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Tomgram: Ariel Dorfman, A Tale of Two Donalds
The organizers of the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville last month knew just what they were doing when they decided to carry torches on their nocturnal march to protest the dethroning of a statue of Robert E. Lee. That brandishing of fire in the night was meant to evoke memories of terror, of past parades of hate and aggression by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Adolf Hitler's Freikorps in Germany.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Tomgram: William Astore, The Superpower That Fought Itself -- And Lost
When it comes to the "world's greatest military," the news has been shocking. Two fast U.S. Navy ships colliding with slow-moving commercial vessels with tragic loss of life. An Air Force that has been in the air continuously for years and yet doesn't have enough pilots to fly its combat jets. Ground troops who find themselves fighting "rebels" in Syria previously armed and trained by the CIA...
Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Whose Side Are You On?
I used to command soldiers. Over the years, lots of them actually. In Iraq, Colorado, Afghanistan, and Kansas. And I'm still fixated on a few of them like this one private first class (PFC) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011.
Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, The CIA and Me
When historian Alfred McCoy began his long journey to expose some of the darkest secrets of the U.S. national security establishment, America was embroiled in wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Almost 50 years later, the United States is, in one way or another, involved in so many more conflicts from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen to Libya, Somalia, the Lake Chad region of Africa, and the Philippines.
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Welcome to the Post-American World
Let me try to get this straight: from the moment the Soviet Union imploded in 1991 until recently just about every politician and mainstream pundit in America assured us that we were the planet's indispensable nation, the only truly exceptional one on this small orb of ours.
Tomgram: Robert Lipsyte, Hail to the Duffer in Chief
From TomDispatch this morning: a devastating anatomy of the sport that's central to Donald Trump's plutocratic vision of his presidency and the promotion of the Trump brand -- Robert Lipsyte, "The Sport of Plutocrats, Golf Is Trump"
Tomgram: William Hartung, The Trillion-Dollar National Security Budget
You wouldn't know it, based on the endless cries for more money coming from the military, politicians, and the president, but these are the best of times for the Pentagon. Spending on the Department of Defense alone is already well in excess of half a trillion dollars a year and counting.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Bombing the Rubble
You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science. Everything "networked." It was to be a glorious dream of limited destruction combined with unlimi
Tuesday, July 18, 2017(3 comments)
Tomgram: John Feffer, The Invisible Monster of Climate Change
Once upon a time, long, long ago, I testified before the great assembly of our land.
When I describe this event to children today, it really does sound to them like a fairy tale. Once upon a time -- a time before the world splintered into a million pieces and America became its current disunited states -- this old woman was a young idealist who tried to persuade our mighty Congress that a monster was stalking the land.
Monday, July 17, 2017(1 comments)
Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Trumping the Empire
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.
From Donald Trump's first days in office, news of the damage to America's international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
William Astore, Returning to Cheyenne Mountain
Has there ever been a nation as dedicated to preparing for doomsday as the United States? If that's a thought that hasn't crossed your mind, maybe it's because you didn't spend part of your life inside Cheyenne Mountain. That's a tale I'll get to soon, but first let me mention America's "doomsday planes."
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, Resistance is Fertile (Not Futile)
In the wake of Donald Trump's inauguration, George Orwell's 1984 soared onto bestseller lists, as did Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which also hit TV screens in a storm of publicity. Zombies, fascists, and predators of every sort are now stalking the American imagination in ever-greater numbers and no wonder, given that guy in the Oval Office. Certainly, 2017 is already offeri
Monday, July 10, 2017(1 comments)
Aiding and Abetting the Tweeter-in-Chief
I don't tweet, but I do have a brief message for our president: Will you please get the hell out of the way for a few minutes? You and your antics are blocking our view of the damn world and it's a world we should be focusing on!
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Two Impulsive Leaders Fan the Global Flames
The Middle East. Could there be a more perilous place on Earth, including North Korea? Not likely. The planet's two leading nuclear armed powers backing battling proxies amply supplied with conventional weapons; terror groups splitting and spreading; religious-sectarian wars threatening amid a plethora of ongoing armed hostilities stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. And that was before Donald Trump and his team arrived on
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Fighting the War You Know (Even If It Won't Work)
We walked in a single file. Not because it was tactically sound. It wasn't -- at least according to standard infantry doctrine. Patrolling southern Afghanistan in column formation limited maneuverability, made it difficult to mass fire, and exposed us to enfilading machine-gun bursts. Still, in 2011, in the Pashmul District of Kandahar Province, single file was our best bet.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, All War All the Time, or War American-Style
The headlines arrive in my inbox day after day: "U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria killed hundreds of civilians, U.N. panel says." "Pentagon wants to declare more parts of world as temporary battlefields." "The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades." There are so many wars and rumors of war involving our country these days that it starts to feel a little unreal, even for the most devoted of news
Monday, June 26, 2017
Tomgram: Nick Turse, The Commandos of Everywhere
The tabs on their shoulders read "Special Forces," "Ranger," "Airborne." And soon their guidon -- the "colors" of Company B, 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group -- would be adorned with the "Bandera de Guerra," a Colombian combat decoration.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, "There Will Be Hell to Pay"
Forgive me for complaining, but recent decades have not been easy ones for my peeps. I am from birth a member of the WHAM tribe, that once proud, but now embattled conglomeration of white, heterosexual American males. We have long been -- there's no denying it -- a privileged group. When the blessings of American freedom get parceled out, WHAMs are accustomed to standing at the head of the line. Those not enjoying the trifecta
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Tomgram: William Hartung, Trump's Love Affair With the Saudis
At this point, it's no great surprise when Donald Trump walks away from past statements in service to some impulse of the moment. Nowhere, however, has such a shift been more extreme or its potential consequences more dangerous than in his sudden love affair with the Saudi royal family. It could in the end destabilize the Middle East in ways not seen in our lifetimes (which, given the growing chaos in the region, is no small t
Karen Greenberg, A Planet's Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children
"This is a war against normal life." So said CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward, describing the situation at this moment in Syria, as well as in other parts of the Middle East. It was one of those remarks that should wake you up to the fact that the regions the United States has, since September 2001, played such a role in destabilizing are indeed in crisis, and that this process isn't just taking place at the level of failing st
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Engelhardt, The Making of a Pariah Nation
In its own inside-out, upside-down way, it's almost wondrous to behold. As befits our president's wildest dreams, it may even prove to be a record for the ages, one for the history books. He was, after all, the candidate who sensed it first.
Nomi Prins, In Washington, Is the Glass(-Steagall) Half Empty or Half Full?
Remember when "draining the swamp" was something the Bush administration swore it was going to do in launching its Global War on Terror? Well, as we all know, that global swamp of terror only got muckier in the ensuing years. (Think al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, think ISIS.) Then, last year, that swamp left terror behind and took up residence in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017(2 comments)
William Astore, Back in the USSR
I had long had a feeling that, of the two superpowers of the Cold War era, one had left the stage in a rush, while the other was slowly inching its way toward the exits enwreathed in self-congratulation and an overwhelming sense of triumphalism.
Monday, June 5, 2017(2 comments)
Rajan Menon, What Would War Mean in Korea?
Here's a reasonable question to ask in our unreasonable world: Does Donald Trump even know where North Korea is? The answer matters and if you wonder why I ask, just remember his comment upon landing in Israel after his visit to Saudi Arabia. "We just got back from the Middle East," he said. In response, reported the Washington Post, "the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, put his forehead in his palm."
Thursday, June 1, 2017(4 comments)
John Feffer, Trump, China, and the Unsettled Future of Asia
Asia has been the future for more than a generation.
When Americans try to glimpse what's to come, images of the Pacific Rim flood the imagination. For movie audiences in 1982, the rain-soaked Los Angeles of Blade Runner looked like downtown Tokyo.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Little Big Man Into the Whirlwind
He's huge. Outsized. He fills the news hole at any moment of any day. His over-tanned face glows unceasingly in living rooms across America. Never has a president been quite so big. So absolutely monstrous. Or quite so small.
He's our Little Big Man.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Beating the War Drums... Again
You couldn't make this up, could you?
Just before Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, a genuinely despotic land with an extreme ideology and lacking elections, Iran's moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, was swept back into office. It was an exuberant election campaign in which he trounced a hardline fundamentalist opponent, winning 57% of the vote. Voter turnout was reportedly close to 73% which by the way beat...
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Rebecca Gordon, Those Who Do Not Remember History...
The Trump administration seems intent on tossing recent history down the memory hole. Admittedly, Americans have never been known for their strong grasp of facts about their past. Still, as we struggle to keep up with the constantly shifting explanations and pronouncements of the new administration, it becomes ever harder to remember the events of yesterday, let alone last week, or last month.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Mattea Kramer, Hit Him Where It Hurts
In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of The Handmaid's Tale from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president's penchant for grabbing women "by the p*ssy." Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.
The Globalization of Misery
Consider what I never learned about Mosul my loss, a sign of my ignorance. Yet, in recent months, little as I know about the place, it's been on my mind -- in part because what's now happening to that city will be the world's loss as well as mine.
Thursday, May 11, 2017(2 comments)
Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, America's Wars and the "More" Strategy
I was guilty of it myself. Commanding a small cavalry troop of about 85 soldiers in southwest Kandahar Province back in 2011, I certainly wanted and requested more: more troopers, more Special Forces advisers, more Afghan police, more air support, more supplies, more money, more... everything.
John Dower, Terror Is in the Eye of the Beholder
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.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Nomi Prins: All in the Family Trump
President Trump, his children and their spouses, aren't just using the Oval Office to augment their political legacy or secure future riches. Okay, they certainly are doing that, but that's not the most useful way to think about what's happening at the moment. Everything will make more sense if you reimagine the White House as simply the newest branch of the Trump family business empire, its latest outpost.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa
General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy. "I would just say, they are on the ground. They are trying to influence the action," commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa. "We watch what they do with great concern."
Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Chameleon Presidency
MOAB sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, aka "the mother of all bombs." Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600 pounds of MOAB, truly get his attention.
Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Remind Us How This Ends...
Make no mistake: after 15 years of losing wars, spreading terror movements, and multiplying failed states across the Greater Middle East, America will fight the next versions of our ongoing wars. Not that we ever really stopped.