Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Swamp of War

General News 11/29/2016 at 09:27:50

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Sometimes it’s tough to pull lessons of any sort from our confusing world, but let me mention one obvious (if little noted) case where that couldn’t be less true: the American military and its wars. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has been in a state of more or less permanent war in the Greater Middle East and northern Africa. In those years, it’s been involved in a kaleidoscopic range of activities, including full-scale invasions and occupations, large-scale as well as pinpoint bombing campaigns, drone strikes, special ops raids, advisory missions, training programs, and counterinsurgency operations. The U.S. military has fought regular armies, insurgencies, and terror groups of all sorts, Shiites as well as Sunnis. The first war of this era, in Afghanistan — a country Washington declared “liberated” in 2002 — is still underway 16 years later (and not going well). The second war, in Iraq, is still ongoing 13 years later. From Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Somalia, the U.S. military effort in these years, sometimes involving “nation building” and enormous “reconstruction” programs, has left in its wake a series of weakened or collapsed states and spreading terror outfits. In short, no matter how the U.S. military has been used, nothing it’s done has truly worked out.

Now, we are about to enter the Trump era in which a series of retired generals, previously involved in these very wars, may end up running parts of the government or directly advising the president-elect on what course to take in the world. As Trump said in his recent interview with the New York Times, speaking of appointing retired General James Mattis as secretary of defense, “I think it’s time maybe, it’s time for a general. Look at what’s going on. We don’t win, we can’t beat anybody, we don’t win anymore. At anything.”

Nonetheless, you don’t have to be either a genius or a general to draw a simple enough lesson from these last 15 years of American war, even if it’s not Trump’s lesson: don’t do it. Of course, the new crew (aka the old crew) will naturally have ideas about how to “utterly destroy ISIS” and fulfill the president’s other promises in ways different from those already used. They will undoubtedly convince themselves that, unlike their predecessors (who just happen to be them), they have answers to the conundrum of how to effectively prosecute the war on terror. They will not, in other words, have learned the obvious lesson of these years and will, in some fashion, once again apply U.S. military power to the Greater Middle East and northern Africa — and whatever they do, however successful it may look in its early moments, it’s a guarantee that further disaster will ensue sooner or later. Guaranteed as well: that vast region will be “greater” only in terms of the ever vaster expanses of rubble where cities and towns used to be; and our “empire of chaos” there will continue to blow back here as well. It will come home in expense, in frustration, and in god knows what other ways.

Rest assured of one thing, it won’t be pretty, either there or here, a point made by TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, while doing something that, strangely enough, has scarcely been done in all these years of war: evaluating the performance of America’s generals. Tom

Winning
Trump Loves to Do It, But American Generals Have Forgotten How
By Andrew J. Bacevich

President-elect Donald Trump’s message for the nation’s senior military leadership is ambiguously unambiguous. Here is he on 60 Minutes just days after winning the election.

Trump: “We have some great generals. We have great generals.”

Lesley Stahl: “You said you knew more than the generals about ISIS.”

Trump: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done. OK, look at the job they’ve done. They haven’t done the job.”

In reality, Trump, the former reality show host, knows next to nothing about ISIS, one of many gaps in his education that his impending encounter with actual reality is likely to fill. Yet when it comes to America’s generals, our president-to-be is onto something. No doubt our three- and four-star officers qualify as “great” in the sense that they mean well, work hard, and are altogether fine men and women. That they have not “done the job,” however, is indisputable — at least if their job is to bring America’s wars to a timely and successful conclusion.

Trump’s unhappy verdict — that the senior U.S. military leadership doesn’t know how to win — applies in spades to the two principal conflicts of the post-9/11 era: the Afghanistan War, now in its 16th year, and the Iraq War, launched in 2003 and (after a brief hiatus) once more grinding on. Yet the verdict applies equally to lesser theaters of conflict, largely overlooked by the American public, that in recent years have engaged the attention of U.S. forces, a list that would include conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Granted, our generals have demonstrated an impressive aptitude for moving pieces around on a dauntingly complex military chessboard. Brigades, battle groups, and squadrons shuttle in and out of various war zones, responding to the needs of the moment. The sheer immensity of the enterprise across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa — the sorties flown, munitions expended, the seamless deployment and redeployment of thousands of troops over thousands of miles, the vast stockpiles of material positioned, expended, and continuously resupplied — represents a staggering achievement. Measured by these or similar quantifiable outputs, America’s military has excelled. No other military establishment in history could have come close to duplicating the logistical feats being performed year in, year out by the armed forces of the United States.

Nor should we overlook the resulting body count. Since the autumn of 2001, something like 370,000 combatants and noncombatants have been killed in the various theaters of operations where U.S. forces have been active. Although modest by twentieth century standards, this post-9/11 harvest of death is hardly trivial.

Yet in evaluating military operations, it’s a mistake to confuse how much with how well. Only rarely do the outcomes of armed conflicts turn on comparative statistics. Ultimately, the one measure of success that really matters involves achieving war’s political purposes. By that standard, victory requires not simply the defeat of the enemy, but accomplishing the nation’s stated war aims, and not just in part or temporarily but definitively. Anything less constitutes failure, not to mention utter waste for taxpayers, and for those called upon to fight, it constitutes cause for mourning.

By that standard, having been “at war” for virtually the entire twenty-first century, the United States military is still looking for its first win. And however strong the disinclination to concede that Donald Trump could be right about anything, his verdict on American generalship qualifies as apt.

Never-Ending Parade of Commanders for Wars That Never End

That verdict brings to mind three questions. First, with Trump a rare exception, why have the recurring shortcomings of America’s military leadership largely escaped notice? Second, to what degree does faulty generalship suffice to explain why actual victory has proven so elusive? Third, to the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy bear directly on the outcome of our wars, how might the generals improve their game?

As to the first question, the explanation is quite simple: During protracted wars, traditional standards for measuring generalship lose their salience. Without pertinent standards, there can be no accountability. Absent accountability, failings and weaknesses escape notice. Eventually, what you’ve become accustomed to seems tolerable. Twenty-first century Americans inured to wars that never end have long since forgotten that bringing such conflicts to a prompt and successful conclusion once defined the very essence of what generals were expected to do.

Senior military officers were presumed to possess unique expertise in designing campaigns and directing engagements. Not found among mere civilians or even among soldiers of lesser rank, this expertise provided the rationale for conferring status and authority on generals.

In earlier eras, the very structure of wars provided a relatively straightforward mechanism for testing such claims to expertise. Events on the battlefield rendered harsh judgments, creating or destroying reputations with brutal efficiency.

Back then, standards employed in evaluating generalship were clear-cut and uncompromising. Those who won battles earned fame, glory, and the gratitude of their countrymen. Those who lost battles got fired or were put out to pasture.

During the Civil War, for example, Abraham Lincoln did not need an advanced degree in strategic studies to conclude that Union generals like John Pope, Ambrose Burnside, and Joseph Hooker didn’t have what it took to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Humiliating defeats sustained by the Army of the Potomac at the Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville made that obvious enough. Similarly, the victories Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman gained at Shiloh, at Vicksburg, and in the Chattanooga campaign strongly suggested that here was the team to which the president could entrust the task of bringing the Confederacy to its knees.

Today, public drunkenness, petty corruption, or sexual shenanigans with a subordinate might land generals in hot water. But as long as they avoid egregious misbehavior, senior officers charged with prosecuting America’s wars are largely spared judgments of any sort. Trying hard is enough to get a passing grade.

With the country’s political leaders and public conditioned to conflicts seemingly destined to drag on for years, if not decades, no one expects the current general-in-chief in Iraq or Afghanistan to bring things to a successful conclusion. His job is merely to manage the situation until he passes it along to a successor, while duly adding to his collection of personal decorations and perhaps advancing his career.

Today, for example, Army General John Nicholson commands U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. He’s only the latest in a long line of senior officers to preside over that war, beginning with General Tommy Franks in 2001 and continuing with Generals Mikolashek, Barno, Eikenberry, McNeill, McKiernan, McChrystal, Petraeus, Allen, Dunford, and Campbell. The title carried by these officers changed over time. So, too, did the specifics of their “mission” as Operation Enduring Freedom evolved into Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Yet even as expectations slipped lower and lower, none of the commanders rotating through Kabul delivered. Not a single one has, in our president-elect’s concise formulation, “done the job.” Indeed, it’s increasingly difficult to know what that job is, apart from preventing the Taliban from quite literally toppling the government.

In Iraq, meanwhile, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend currently serves as the — count ’em — ninth American to command U.S. and coalition forces in that country since the George W. Bush administration ordered the invasion of 2003. The first in that line, (once again) General Tommy Franks, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime and thereby broke Iraq. The next five, Generals Sanchez, Casey, Petraeus, Odierno, and Austin, labored for eight years to put it back together again.

At the end of 2011, President Obama declared that they had done just that and terminated the U.S. military occupation. The Islamic State soon exposed Obama’s claim as specious when its militants put a U.S.-trained Iraqi army to flight and annexed large swathes of that country’s territory. Following in the footsteps of his immediate predecessors Generals James Terry and Sean MacFarland, General Townsend now shoulders the task of trying to restore Iraq’s status as a more or less genuinely sovereign state. He directs what the Pentagon calls Operation Inherent Resolve, dating from June 2014, the follow-on to Operation New Dawn (September 2010-December 2011), which was itself the successor to Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003-August 2010).

When and how Inherent Resolve will conclude is difficult to forecast. This much we can, however, say with some confidence: with the end nowhere in sight, General Townsend won’t be its last commander. Other generals are waiting in the wings with their own careers to polish. As in Kabul, the parade of U.S. military commanders through Baghdad will continue.

For some readers, this listing of mostly forgotten names and dates may have a soporific effect. Yet it should also drive home Trump’s point. The United States may today have the world’s most powerful and capable military — so at least we are constantly told. Yet the record shows that it does not have a corps of senior officers who know how to translate capability into successful outcomes.

Draining Which Swamp?

That brings us to the second question: Even if commander-in-chief Trump were somehow able to identify modern day equivalents of Grant and Sherman to implement his war plans, secret or otherwise, would they deliver victory?

On that score, we would do well to entertain doubts. Although senior officers charged with running recent American wars have not exactly covered themselves in glory, it doesn’t follow that their shortcomings offer the sole or even a principal explanation for why those wars have yielded such disappointing results. The truth is that some wars aren’t winnable and shouldn’t be fought.

So, yes, Trump’s critique of American generalship possesses merit, but whether he knows it or not, the question truly demanding his attention as the incoming commander-in-chief isn’t: Who should I hire (or fire) to fight my wars? Instead, far more urgent is: Does further war promise to solve any of my problems?

One mark of a successful business executive is knowing when to cut your losses. It’s also the mark of a successful statesman. Trump claims to be the former. Whether his putative business savvy will translate into the world of statecraft remains to be seen. Early signs are not promising.

As a candidate, Trump vowed to “defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” destroy ISIS, “decimate al-Qaeda,” and “starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah.” Those promises imply a significant escalation of what Americans used to call the Global War on Terrorism.

Toward that end, the incoming administration may well revive some aspects of the George W. Bush playbook, including repopulating the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and “if it’s so important to the American people,” reinstituting torture. The Trump administration will at least consider re-imposing sanctions on countries like Iran. It may aggressively exploit the offensive potential of cyber-weapons, betting that America’s cyber-defenses will hold.

Yet President Trump is also likely to double down on the use of conventional military force. In that regard, his promise to “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS” offers a hint of what is to come. His appointment of the uber-hawkish Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and his rumored selection of retired Marine Corps General James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis as defense secretary suggest that he means what he says. In sum, a Trump administration seems unlikely to reexamine the conviction that the problems roiling the Greater Middle East will someday, somehow yield to a U.S.-imposed military solution. Indeed, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, that conviction will deepen, with genuinely ironic implications for the Trump presidency.

In the immediate wake of 9/11, George W. Bush concocted a fantasy of American soldiers liberating oppressed Afghans and Iraqis and thereby “draining the swamp” that served to incubate anti-Western terrorism. The results achieved proved beyond disappointing, while the costs exacted in terms of lives and dollars squandered were painful indeed. Incrementally, with the passage of time, many Americans concluded that perhaps the swamp most in need of attention was not on the far side of the planet but much closer at hand — right in the imperial city nestled alongside the Potomac River.

To a very considerable extent, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, preferred candidate of the establishment, because he advertised himself as just the guy disgruntled Americans could count on to drain that swamp.

Yet here’s what too few of those Americans appreciate, even today: war created that swamp in the first place. War empowers Washington. It centralizes. It provides a rationale for federal authorities to accumulate and exercise new powers. It makes government bigger and more intrusive. It lubricates the machinery of waste, fraud, and abuse that causes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to vanish every year. When it comes to sustaining the swamp, nothing works better than war.

Were Trump really intent on draining that swamp — if he genuinely seeks to “Make America Great Again” — then he would extricate the United States from war. His liquidation of Trump University, which was to higher education what Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve are to modern warfare, provides a potentially instructive precedent for how to proceed.

But don’t hold your breath on that one. All signs indicate that, in one fashion or another, our combative next president will perpetuate the wars he’s inheriting. Trump may fancy that, as a veteran of Celebrity Apprentice (but not of military service), he possesses a special knack for spotting the next Grant or Sherman. But acting on that impulse will merely replenish the swamp in the Greater Middle East along with the one in Washington. And soon enough, those who elected him with expectations of seeing the much-despised establishment dismantled will realize that they’ve been had.

Which brings us, finally, to that third question: To the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy do affect the outcome of wars, what can be done to fix the problem?

The most expeditious approach: purge all currently serving three- and four-star officers; then, make a precondition for promotion to those ranks confinement in a reeducation camp run by Iraq and Afghanistan war amputees, with a curriculum designed by Veterans for Peace. Graduation should require each student to submit an essay reflecting on these words of wisdom from U.S. Grant himself: “There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword.”

True, such an approach may seem a bit draconian. But this is no time for half-measures — as even Donald Trump may eventually recognize.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com (“a regular antidote to the mainstream media”), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Swamp of War Sometimes it’s tough to pull lessons of any sort from our confusing world, but let me mention one obvious (if little noted) case where that couldn’t be less true: the American military and its wars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Hartung, Trump for the Defense As with so much of what Donald Trump has said in recent months, his positions on Pentagon spending are, to be polite, a bundle of contradictions.

Monday, November 21, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, No “New Normal” The night after the election, this long-time pacifist dreamed she shot a big white man carrying an arsenal of guns. He was wandering around a room full of people, waving a pistol and threatening to fire.

Thursday, November 17, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, You Don’t Leave Home Without It Not long before Election Day, but thousands of miles away in the Afghan village of Bouz Kandahari, 30 to 36 civilians died (including a significant number of children and infants).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 (2 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, America, the Election, and the Dismal Tide It wasn’t to be, but had it been, Hillary Clinton would have become not only the first woman president, but the first president to enter the Oval Office as a lame duck.

Monday, November 14, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Through the Gates of Hell The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of order as well as domination.

Monday, November 7, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Michael Klare, Whose Finger on the Nuclear Button? Once upon a time, when choosing a new president, a factor for many voters was the perennial question: “Whose finger do you want on the nuclear button?”

Thursday, November 3, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Resurrecting My Parents From the Dead for Election 2016 To say that this is the election from hell is to insult hell.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Ann Jones, Donald Trump’s Open Carry Donald Trump grabbed a new lifeline. Speaking at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 15th, he raised a hand as if to take an oath and declared: “I am a victim!”

Monday, October 31, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nate Terani, One Veteran’s War on Islamophobia Recently, I was asked a question about Kill Anything That Moves, my history of civilian suffering during the Vietnam War. An interviewer wanted to know how I responded to veterans who took offense at the (supposed) implication that every American who served in Vietnam committed atrocities.

Thursday, October 27, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Too Big to Fail, Hillary-Style Of a Hillary Clinton presidency, so much less has been written and yet she’s the woman who never saw a bank CEO she couldn’t get a couple of hundred thousand dollars from for giving thoroughly unsurprising speeches.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Hartung, The Doctrine of Armed Exceptionalism Here’s the strangeness of it all: America’s wars have been going badly for years in almost every way imaginable across the Greater Middle East and North Africa and yet, the Pentagon’s budget is already coming up roses and no matter who enters the Oval Office, it’s only going to get bigger.

Monday, October 24, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Gary Younge, America’s Deserving and Undeserving Dead Children On average, seven children a day, about 2,500 a year, are shot to death in this country. Given the availability of guns of every sort here, this should surprise no one.

Thursday, October 20, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, The Perpetual Killing Field Today’s TomDispatch post is a monumental piece of reporting from “the worst place on Earth” and, on a planet where, from Cambodia to Rwanda, people remember the grim slaughter grounds of our recent history, the least noticed “killing fields” around.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Sandy Tolan, The Death of the Two-State Solution The Obama administration just agreed to a 10-year military aid deal that will give Israel $38 billion dollars in, among other things, America’s most advanced weapons systems. The White House terms it “the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history.”

Monday, October 17, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Finding Hope in Dismal Times Luckily, not everyone has been glued to the screen, eternally watching The Donald. From Black Lives Matter to the climate change movement, activists have, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon points out in a powerful (and powerfully upbeat) new post, never stopped working to make this a better world.

Thursday, October 13, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: John Feffer, Slouching Toward the Apocalypse This piece suggests far wilder ways in which Trump couldn’t be more in that same grain, if what you have in mind is the Dr. Strangelovian current that runs through American life, involving evangelicals, apocalyptics, survivalists, and white racists; even his extremity, that is, couldn’t be more us — or, if you prefer, more U.S. This one is an original and definitely a must-read!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Unipolar No More As Dilip Hiro points out in his TomDispatch post today, if you’ve noticed the growing assertiveness of China and Russia, you’ll know that we’re on an increasingly multipolar planet.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, This Is Not About Donald Trump I attempt to take a step back when it comes to the Trump phenomenon and look at what, despite the millions of words pouring out about him, is seldom said or thought much about: the ways in which, unique as this presidential election season may be, Trump himself couldn’t be more in the American tradition — as American, in fact, as a piece of McDonald’s baked apple pie.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The National Security Void You may have missed it. Perhaps you dozed off. Or wandered into the kitchen to grab a snack. Or by that point in the proceedings were checking out Seinfeld reruns. During the latter part of the much hyped but excruciating-to-watch first presidential debate, Lester Holt posed a seemingly straightforward but cunningly devised question.

Monday, October 3, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, What Actually Keeps Americans Safe We have a vast national security state that remains remarkably helpless when it comes to finding the terrorists in our American world. It is simply incapable of picking those unexpected needles out of the vast haystack of us.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Trump’s Future Piggy Bank, Our Country? As Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers points out in her latest TomDispatch piece on election 2016, there’s one thing Donald Trump is not prepared to do, whatever the political positions he may espouse: give up what’s best for Donald Trump.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 (3 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Killing People, Breaking Things, and America’s Winless Wars America’s post-9/11 wars have been going on for years and it seems as if, in conflict after conflict, the U.S. military can’t get out of them and can’t win any of them either.

Monday, September 26, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Arresting Our Way to “Justice” More than 2.3 million people are in American jails and prisons at any moment, more than 11 million cycling through them each year.

Thursday, September 22, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, War, Peace, and Absurdity Here’s my version of why, in war and peace, bombing and politics, the stories out of this country these days should boggle our minds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Chip Ward, Peace Pipes, Not Oil Pipes With the return of Utah environmentalist Chip Ward to TomDispatch comes a vivid analysis of the latest dramatic oil pipeline battle in the West, the stand-off at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Monday, September 19, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, Class of 2017 — So Sorry! Fifteen years after 9/11, war and possible war are embedded in our American way of life and the public is consumed with safety and security-related fears, of terrorism in particular, that have little basis in reality but have helped immensely to expand our national security state.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Rise of the Right and Climate Catastrophe Today, consider what TomDispatch’s invaluable energy expert Michael Klare has to say about the rise of versions of The Donald globally and what, in climate-change terms, that means for the health of our planet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Aviva Chomsky, Deportations “R” Us Sometimes, as today at TomDispatch, what’s needed is a little history lesson to remind us that what seems unique in our moment — in this case, Donald Trump’s attitude toward immigrants (whether Mexican or Syrian) — is anything but unique to our time.

Monday, September 12, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Bill Moyers, Money and Power in America Bill Moyers on how the U.S. became a 1% society — and why democracy and plutocracy don’t mix.

Thursday, September 8, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington’s 15-Year Air War I offer what I hope is a unique 9/11 retrospective for the 15th anniversary of that nightmare: a look at what’s been at the heart of events since that morning — a set of air wars that have gone on fruitlessly and destructively for 15 years and show no signs of ever ending.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, What the U.S. Military Doesn’t Know (and Neither Do You) What the Pentagon and the U.S. military do matters greatly on this conflicted planet of ours, which is why I regularly find it amazing, even unnerving, that, in a world of monster media organizations, covering what the U.S. military does in Africa — and it’s doing more and more there — has largely been left to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.

Monday, August 29, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Arlie Hochschild, Trumping Environmentalism TomDispatch takes you on a remarkable journey into the bayous of Louisiana, a world of Tea Party supporters, of an environmental disaster, and of the confounding contradictions of American political life in the midst of Election 2016.

Thursday, August 25, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Ann Jones, “I Didn’t Serve, I Was Used” At TomDispatch today, a powerful piece on how, from Big Pharma to the Koch brothers, vets coming home from America’s wars have been taken to the cleaners.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Todd Miller, The Great Mexican Wall Deception Todd Miller reminds us, Trump supporters shouldn’t feel complete despair if, in the course of this election campaign, The Donald goes down in flames.

Monday, August 22, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Making Sense of Trump and His National Security State Critics Rebecca Gordon takes a clear-eyed look at the Republican national security luminaries who recently signed a letter declaring Donald Trump unfit for the Oval Office (and yes, indeed, he is unfit for office).

Thursday, August 18, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Best of TomDispatch: Andrew Bacevich, Pentagon, Inc. A writer who dares to revisit a snarky article dashed off five-plus years earlier will necessarily approach the task with some trepidation. Pieces such as the one republished below are not drafted with the expectation that they will enjoy a protracted shelf life. Yet in this instance, I’m with Edith Piaf: Non, je ne regrette rien.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Judith Coburn, On the Mean Streets of America Step aside, Sam Spade. Move over, Philip Marlowe. You want noir? Skip the famed private eye novels and films of the 1930s and 1940s and turn to our present American world and to neighborhoods where the postman doesn’t ring even once, but the police are ready to shoot more than once, often on the slightest excuse.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Astore, Why It’s So Hard for Members of the Military to Speak Out These days, who writes about how little public dissent or criticism of U.S. foreign policy and its disastrous wars comes from those who are at the heart of the process, who should know so much better than the rest of us? In all these years, I’ve seen next to nothing on the subject military dissent in particular.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (2 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Election From Hell Consider this post my attempt to make some sense of what we’re still calling an “election campaign,” although it has by now become more like an all-encompassing way of life and, despite its many “debates” (that now garner National Football League-sized audiences), is also what I label “the tao of confusion.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Pseudo-Election 2016 Andrew Bacevich takes a trip back to his childhood — to the 1956 election between Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson and offers a particularly clear-eyed look at how, over six decades, American politics at the national level descended into the pathological election campaign of the present moment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Pivots to Africa and That Continent Goes Down the Drain Things are not exactly going well militarily 15 years after 9/11. The Obama administration will hand over at least seven wars and conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa to the next administration and from Afghanistan to Libya, Somalia, and Nigeria, things are just getting worse.

Monday, August 1, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, Guns for Tots Frida Berrigan uses her experiences as a mother with her three young children to explore, in a freewheeling and fascinating way, toy culture, toy guns, the NRA, the weapons industry, and kids (and what we adults can take from such subjects).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Hartung, How to Arm a “Volatile” Planet So here’s this morning’s puzzle for you: two major U.S. industries make things that go boom in the night: Hollywood and the arms business.

Monday, July 25, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Crimes Against the Future In this one, as befits my age, I imagine the world I will, sooner or later, be leaving behind: a destabilizing country and a planet filling with refugees, especially millions of children uprooted from their worlds and lives, deprived often of parents, education, and a childhood.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Adam Hochschild, Letting Tarzan Swing Through History Adam Hochschild recently discovered that the latest reboot of the Tarzan movies, The Legend of Tarzan, was, bizarrely enough, in part based on his classic book King Leopold’s Ghost — on, that is, the colonial nightmare of the Belgian Congo.

Monday, July 18, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, How Extrajudicial Executions Became “War” Policy in Washington Rebecca Gordon’s new post is an eye-opening look at how two American administrations changed the nature of war, using the drone to bring extrajudicial executions — presidentially ordered assassinations — into the heartland of American foreign policy.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Michael Klare, Fossil Fuels Forever Based on the latest yearly report from the U.S. Department of Energy, while renewable forms of energy are growing far faster than anyone expected, so — startlingly enough — is the use of fossil fuels. As a result, it looks like oil, coal, and natural gas will continue to expand and dominate the global energy landscape for decades to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Astore, We Have Met the Alien and He Is Us When we go to the movies, we identify with the outgunned rebels, the underdogs, the liberators, against the alien invaders, the imperial stormtroopers, the Terminators. Here, however, is one retired Air Force lieutenant colonel’s hard won realization that we — the U.S. military in particular — may be the invading “aliens” in much of the world.

Monday, July 11, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, Trump Wins (Even If He Loses) Nomi Prins turns to the billionaire who has taken possession of us all. Her focus: his frenetic version of “You’re fired!” this election season and how that’s played out with the Republican establishment, without whom (and without whose money) she doubts he can make it to the Oval Office.

Thursday, July 7, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Where Did the American Century Go? Is this actually the American Century? And concludes that perhaps it’s not, despite the fact that we remain the globe’s “sole superpower.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Revolving Doors, Robust Rolodexes, and Runaway Generals Nick Turse offers a riveting look at what “retirement” means for top commanders in the U.S. military and believe me, if you don’t think public service pays big time, think again.

Thursday, June 30, 2016 (2 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Thomas Frank, Worshipping Money in D.C. Thomas Frank takes us on an eye-opening tour of the lobbying industry in Washington, a dimly lit corner of “corruption-free America,” a completely legal and remarkably unethical world that comes with its own guidebook: Influence, a newsletter chronicling daily dalliances involving money, alcohol, and political influence.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Patrick Cockburn, An Endless Cycle of Indecisive Wars As Patrick Cockburn points out in his TomDispatch post today, we have entered “an age of disintegration.” And he should know. There may be no Western reporter who has covered the grim dawn of that age in the Greater Middle East and North Africa.

Monday, June 27, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: John Feffer, Donald Trump and America B John Feffer focuses on the post-Cold War global economy and who it left behind, a group that has no name here but is known in Poland as “Poland B” and is now triumphantly represented in power by a rabid right-wing political party there.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics… and U.S. Africa Command Turse explores the way U.S. Africa Command has seemingly massaged its numbers in testimony to Congress and so evidently managed to disappear piles of its missions on that continent, obscuring the expansion of U.S. military operations there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 (4 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: William Astore, The End of Air Power? air power alone can’t be blamed for the sorry fates of the lands of the Greater Middle East, increasingly descending into chaos and terror, but let’s just say — as retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Astore does in his new post — that it has proven startlingly incapable of producing any positive results.

Thursday, June 16, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Andrew Cockburn, Victory Assured on the Military’s Main Battlefield — Washington Today, Andrew Cockburn, whose recent book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (just out in paperback), is a devastating account of how U.S. drone warfare really works, suggests that such results are anything but. Quite the opposite, it represents strategic thinking and maneuvering of the first order and results in the Pentagon regularly taking the budgetary high ground in Washington.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Ann Jones, Donald Trump Has the Traits of a Wife Abuser and Women Know It Ann Jones makes sense of Donald Trump’s stunningly unfavorable polling numbers among women and why, thanks to what lies behind them, the only billionaire in the running may not, in fact, make it to the White House.

Noam ChomskyMonday, June 13, 2016 (1 comments) Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Tick… Tick… Tick… It’s no small horror that, on this planet of ours, humanity continues to foster two apocalyptic forces, each of which — one in a relative instant and the other over many decades — could cripple or destroy human life as we know it.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

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