Dead Civilians and the Language of War

Finally it comes down to this: Some people are expendable. In certain parts of the world – where we and our allies are waging war – the expendable people come in two categories: terrorists (good riddance!) and civilians, whom we only kill if and when necessary, and whose deaths often elicit official apologies (if there’s … Continue reading “Dead Civilians and the Language of War”

When the Detainee Is American…

The corpses pile up like sandbags along the planet’s geopolitical borders. “Perhaps his condition deteriorated and the authorities decided it was better to release him in a coma than as a corpse.” So said an expert on North Korea recently, quoted in the New York Times following the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, six days … Continue reading “When the Detainee Is American…”

Classified America: Why Is the US Public Allowed To Know So Little?

For a journalist – especially one covering government and politics – the most suspicious, least trustworthy word in the language ought to be: “classified.” As the drama continues to swirl around Russiagate, or whatever the central controversy of the Trump administration winds up being known as, that word keeps popping up, teasingly, seductively: “It appeared … Continue reading “Classified America: Why Is the US Public Allowed To Know So Little?”

Nuclear Standoff: Human Conscience Dismissed on a Technicality

Values the size of Planet Earth are at stake, as the American presidential election grows ever smaller, ever pettier, ever more certain that rancor triumphs over relevance. Can you imagine, let us say, an issue the size of global nuclear disarmament emerging in this race, somewhere between the groper tapes and the hacked DNC emails? … Continue reading “Nuclear Standoff: Human Conscience Dismissed on a Technicality”

What To Do in Syria: Stop the Killing

Maybe half a million dead, half a country – 10 million people – displaced from their homes, jettisoned onto the mercy of the world. Welcome to war. Welcome to Syria. This is a conflict apparently too complex to understand. The U.S. brokered a ceasefire with Russia, then proceeded to lead a bombing strike that killed … Continue reading “What To Do in Syria: Stop the Killing”

The Nuclear Breakfast Menu

Donald Trump is a reckless fool. But the U.S. defense establishment is M.A.D. And herein lies one of the darker problems with the Trump candidacy, and the reason why so many establishment conservatives are awkwardly distancing themselves from America’s leading narcissist – if not running screaming into the night in fear for their lives (and … Continue reading “The Nuclear Breakfast Menu”

Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz

“The people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces.” The doctor who uttered these words still thought the hospital itself was a safe zone. He was with Doctors Without Borders, working in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government forces were engaged in hellish fighting and civilians, as always, were caught … Continue reading “Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz”