‘Unprovoked’ Attacks, From 1812 to 9/11

The killing of Osama bin Laden reminds us that there are only two disciplines in which uncaused events occur—quantum physics and the history of U.S. foreign policy. According to the version of history expounded by the American media and politicians, the passenger aircraft hitting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 were a … Continue reading “‘Unprovoked’ Attacks, From 1812 to 9/11”

US Out of Iraq. Really.

When the United States begins to draw down overseas military forces from trouble spots, the American media, and therefore the public, assumes the show is over and loses interest. This waning of attention and interest has happened in Iraq and is dangerous. This phenomenon occurred even during the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon told the … Continue reading “US Out of Iraq. Really.”

For Cluster Bomb Survivors, War Far From Over

VIENTIANE, Laos – Eighteen-year-old Phongsavath Manithong rubbed his eyes with the back of his arms as he described how his life changed forever. He was not even born yet when U.S. military pilots dropped millions of tiny explosives onto Laos. But almost four decades after war ended for this South-east Asian nation, it is people … Continue reading “For Cluster Bomb Survivors, War Far From Over”

The Taliban: Forced Into Negotiation While Winning?

Although David Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, recently peddled the notion that senior Taliban chieftains had made contact with senior Afghan government officials about the possibility of starting reconciliation talks, such talk of peace in our time is likely to be hype. By publicizing such contacts, Petraeus is cleverly implying, but not saying, … Continue reading “The Taliban: Forced Into Negotiation While Winning?”

American War Versus Real War

One striking aspect of the Vietnam years – and the antiwar movement of that era – was the degree to which you could see images of Vietnamese civilian suffering here in the United States. Among the iconic images of that war, for instance, was Nick Ut’s photo of a young girl, burned by napalm from … Continue reading “American War Versus Real War”

More Lives Lost in Vain

During the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson and the military argued that we had to win in order to prevent communism from taking over other nations in the vicinity, the so-called domino theory. The military asserted repeatedly that provided we sent over more troops, they could win the war. They also argued that we needed … Continue reading “More Lives Lost in Vain”

Living in the 51st State (of Denial)

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: In recent years, this Web site has had a fine record when it comes to college commencement addresses, in part because I have a fondness for the form at its best, and in part because I think we should all have a chance to graduate into our world, whatever our ages. … Continue reading “Living in the 51st State (of Denial)”

Reflections on Rolling Thunder

WASHINGTON – It is all too clear why we can’t seem to protest our way out of this war. And as a result, the war itself may never end. In fact, Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently suggested that “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan may be just that – “enduring” – for a very, very long time. … Continue reading “Reflections on Rolling Thunder”

Mac Bundy Said He Was ‘All Wrong’

Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam By Gordon M. Goldstein Holt, 300 pp., $16.00 (paper) The debate over foreign policy that culminated in President Barack Obama’s address to the nation on December 1, 2009, concerns a war that began with the attack of a mainly Saudi Arabian group of politically radicalized Muslim men on New York and Washington, targets symbolic of … Continue reading “Mac Bundy Said He Was ‘All Wrong’”