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Tag: Tomdispatch


To Terrify and Occupy

Welcome to a new era of American policing, where cops increasingly see themselves as soldiers occupying enemy territory, often with the help of Uncle Sam’s armory, and where even nonviolent crimes are met with overwhelming force and brutality.

Posted on Aug 14, 2014 READ MORE



Blown Chances in Gaza

For the last eight years, Israel and the U.S. had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza. Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza.

Posted on Aug 12, 2014 READ MORE



How Many Minutes to Midnight? Hiroshima Day 2014

Human history can be broken into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era). The latter opened on Aug. 6, 1945. As we enter its 70th year, we should be contemplating with wonder that we have survived. We can only guess how many years remain.

Posted on Aug 7, 2014 READ MORE



China, America and a New Cold War in Africa?

For the last decade China has used aid, trade and infrastructure projects to set itself up as the dominant foreign player in Africa, while the U.S. has increasingly confronted the continent as a “battlefield.” These approaches have produced starkly contrasting results for the powers involved and the rising nations of the continent. The differences are perhaps nowhere as stark as in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.

Posted on Aug 1, 2014 READ MORE



The Original Geo-Engineers: How to Save the Iconic West from the Cow

The great novelist Wallace Stegner sorted the conflicting impulses in his beloved American West into two camps: the “boomers” and the “nesters.” The modern version of the nesters are conservationists who try to partner with the ecosystems where they live. They understand that you cannot steer and control nature, but you might be able to dance with it.

Posted on Jul 31, 2014 READ MORE



The Path to a New 1914? How America Chose War After 9/11

The analogy between 1914 and 2001, like all measurements of the present with yardsticks from the past, is useful only for querying events, not for predicting them. There are equally important differences between the two moments, some of them obvious, others less so.

Posted on Jul 24, 2014 READ MORE



The Future Is Not Ours (and Neither Is the Past)

The famed fog of war is nothing compared to the fog of the future or, as I’ve often said, I’d be regularly riding my jetpack in traffic through the spired city of New York, as I was promised in my childhood. Our urge to predict the future is unsurpassed. Our ability to see it as it will be: next to nil.

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 READ MORE



Incinerating Iraq: How America’s Policies Sealed the Country’s Fate

The disintegration of Iraq is the result of U.S. policies that, since 2003, have been strikingly devoid of coherence or any real comprehension when it comes to the forces at play in the country or the region.

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 READ MORE



Still Living With Jack Bauer in a Terrified New American World

Once upon a time, if a character on TV tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. From “24” to “Zero Dark Thirty,” it’s been the good guys who wielded the pliers and the waterboards. We’re not only living in a post-9/11 world, we’re stuck with Jack Bauer in the 25th hour.

Posted on Jul 11, 2014 READ MORE



Twenty-First-Century Energy Wars

The world is aflame with new or intensifying conflicts that appear to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances. But look more closely and they share several key characteristics—notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that have been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.

Posted on Jul 10, 2014 READ MORE



Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people’s wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives.

Posted on Jun 27, 2014 READ MORE



It’s the Oil, Stupid!

Sunni insurgents are not only in a struggle against what they see as oppression by a largely Shiite government in Baghdad and its security forces, but also over who will control and benefit from what Nouri al-Maliki—speaking for most of his constituents—told The Wall Street Journal is Iraq’s “national patrimony.”

Posted on Jun 26, 2014 READ MORE



Drowning in Profits

A story of a private equity firm, a missing pool fence, and the death of a two-year-old child raises troubling questions about how, as a nation, we define security in housing and why, in the midst of what’s regularly termed a “recovery,” many neighborhoods may actually be growing increasingly vulnerable.

Posted on Jun 23, 2014 READ MORE



Who Won Iraq?

Bush and his top officials remade reality in Iraq on an almost unimaginable scale and, as we study the region today, the results bear no relation to the world they imagined creating. On the other hand, there were two dreams they had that, after a fashion, did come into existence.

Posted on Jun 19, 2014 READ MORE



How to Forgive Your Torturer

When I read the statistics on Americans and Britons that approve of torture, a scene comes back to me. I remember a man I met 20 years ago, not in my native Latin America or in faraway lands where torture is endemic, but in the extremely English town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Posted on Jun 17, 2014 READ MORE



What We’ve Lost Since 9/11

America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. Deeper, darker waters lie ahead. And we seem drawn down into them.

Posted on Jun 16, 2014 READ MORE



Drafted by the National Security State

This country has changed a lot since I joined ROTC in 1981, was fingerprinted, typed for blood, and otherwise poked and prodded. Nowadays, in Fortress America, every one of us is, in some sense, government issue in a surveillance state gone mad.

Posted on Jun 13, 2014 READ MORE



Don’t Walk Away From War

Here are five straightforward lessons—none acceptable in what passes for discussion and debate in this country—that could be drawn from that last half century of every kind of American warfare.

Posted on Jun 12, 2014 READ MORE



The World Cup and the Corporatization of Soccer

Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of spectators.

Posted on Jun 9, 2014 READ MORE



#YesAllWomen Changes the Story

The Isla Vista murderer took out men as well as women, but blowing away members of a sorority seems to have been the goal of his rampage. He evidently interpreted his lack of sexual access to women as offensive behavior by women who, he imagined in a sad mix of entitlement and self-pity, owed him fulfillment.

Posted on Jun 2, 2014 READ MORE



The Last Commencement Address: Surveilling the Class of 2014

Internet Class of 2014, I’m in awe of you! To this giant, darkened auditorium filled with sparkling screens of every sort, welcome!

Posted on May 29, 2014 READ MORE



Climate Change as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Unlike various fantasies promulgated by the Bush and Obama administrations during the first 14 years of this century, there is a weapon of mass destruction that could do staggering damage to or someday simply drown New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, and other East Coast cities.

Posted on May 23, 2014 READ MORE



Pandora’s Box and the Volunteer Police Force

You can abolish the reproductive rights women gained in 1973, with Roe v. Wade, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion—or rather ruled that women had a right to privacy over their own bodies that precluded the banning of abortion. But you can’t so easily abolish the idea that women have certain inalienable rights.

Posted on May 22, 2014 READ MORE



The Birth of a Eurasian Century

A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass—at the expense of the United States.

Posted on May 19, 2014 READ MORE



The U.S. Military’s New Normal in Africa

The real “new normal” for U.S. Africa Command is the culmination of years of construction, ingratiation, and interventions, the fruits of wide-eyed expansion and dismal policy failures, the backing of proxies to fight America’s battles, while increasing U.S. personnel and firepower in and around the continent.

Posted on May 15, 2014 READ MORE



Book Excerpt: How I Met Edward Snowden

On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.

Posted on May 13, 2014 READ MORE



The Three Faces of Drone War: Speaking Truth From the Robotic Heavens

It would be easy enough to assume that the kind of analytical work remote pilots do would result in a sense of job satisfaction and little more. That, it turns out, would be a mistake.

Posted on May 12, 2014 READ MORE



Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance

As Washington increasingly comes to rely on the “forward projection” of military force to maintain its global position, the Fulbright Program, now on the State Department’s chopping block, may be the last vestige of an earlier, more democratic, equitable, and generous America that enjoyed a certain moral and intellectual standing in the world.

Posted on May 9, 2014 READ MORE



Mapping the Chinese Conquest of the Planet

According to a map I made and recently discovered in my high school history textbook, I would have been 24 when I became a “Red Chinese” subject, and atomic weapons would have been removed from the equation.

Posted on May 8, 2014 READ MORE



How the U.S. Created the Afghan War—and Then Lost It

To understand how America’s battle in Afghanistan went so wrong for so long, a hidden history lesson is in order. The story of Jalaluddin Haqqani, who turned from America’s potential ally into its greatest foe, is the paradigmatic case of how the war on terror created the very enemies it sought to eradicate.

Posted on May 1, 2014 READ MORE



The Road From Abu Ghraib

As the White House, the CIA, and various senators still battle over the release of a summary of a 6,300-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Bush-era torture policies, it’s worth considering, on the 10th anniversary of Abu Ghraib, the strange journey we’ve taken, and wondering just where we as a nation mired in the legacy of torture might be headed.

Posted on Apr 28, 2014 READ MORE



An Apartheid of Dollars

There are many sides to whistle-blowing. The one that most people don’t know about is the very personal cost, prison aside, including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here’s a part of my own story I’ve not talked about much before.

Posted on Apr 25, 2014 READ MORE



They Are Watching You

It is here at the Border Security Expo 2014 that U.S. Homeland Security officials, local law enforcement, and border forces from all over the world talk contracts with private industry representatives, exhibit their techno-optimism, and begin to hammer out a future of ever more hardened, up-armored national and international boundaries.

Posted on Apr 24, 2014 READ MORE



Star-Spangled Baggage

Amid the barrage of coverage of Specialist Ivan Lopez’s shooting spree at Fort Hood, evidence that has been in plain sight for years of how the violence of America’s distant wars comes back to haunt the “homeland” was missing. In that context, Lopez’s killings are one more marker on a bloody trail of death that leads from Iraq and Afghanistan into the American heartland.

Posted on Apr 17, 2014 READ MORE



Washington Fights Fire With Fire in Libya

Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command. “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email. “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.”

Posted on Apr 15, 2014 READ MORE



AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly

At a recent Pentagon news conference, the AFRICOM commander assured reporters that the U.S. “has little forward presence” in Africa. Just days earlier, however, the men building that presence told a very different story to some of the biggest military engineering firms on the planet. And the story was of war.

Posted on Apr 14, 2014 READ MORE



Open Systems and Glass Ceilings

Take a look at gender and the Web comes quickly into focus, leaving you with a vivid sense of which direction the Internet is heading in and—small hint—it’s not toward equality or democracy.

Posted on Apr 11, 2014 READ MORE


Could a New Equity Empire Spark the Next Housing Crisis?

Laura Gottesdiener talks with “Democracy Now!” about her TomDispatch article on the team-up of big banks and private equity firms to bundle rental property mortgages into a new financial product called “rental-backed securities.”

Posted on Apr 10, 2014 READ MORE



When Predatory Equity Hit the Big Apple

Private equity firms are partnering with big banks to bundle mortgages on more than 200,000 rental homes across the country bought up in the foreclosure crisis into a new financial product known as “rental-backed securities.” New York City has been a private equity playground for the last decade, and the result, unsurprisingly, has been a disaster for tenants and the market alike.

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 READ MORE



How Many Watch Lists Fit on the Head of a Pin?

No one knows how many names are on the no-fly list. According to one source, 21,000 people, including some 500 Americans, are blacklisted; another puts the figure at 44,000. The actual number is classified.

Posted on Apr 7, 2014 READ MORE



Hijacking the American Plane of State

Isn’t there something strangely reassuring when your eyeballs are gripped by a “mystery” on the news that has no greater meaning and yet sweeps all else away?

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 READ MORE



Tomgram: In Memoriam: Jonathan Schell (1943-2014)

Jonathan Schell was in the early days of this century perhaps the only person who imagined that, in our future, lay an Arab Spring, an Occupy Movement and whatever-is-still-to-come.

Posted on Mar 31, 2014 READ MORE



U.S. Military Averaging More Than a Mission a Day in Africa

For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are small scale. A U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman once expressed worry that tabulating the command’s deployments would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts there. It turns out that the numbers do just the opposite.

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 READ MORE



Invasion of the Data Snatchers

Estimates vary, but by 2020 there could be over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet. Once dumb, they will have smartened up thanks to sensors and other technologies embedded in them and, thanks to your machines, your life will quite literally have gone online.

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 READ MORE



Advice Too Secret to Ignore

Col. Manners answers questions on CIA practices, proper cyberwar behavior, and invasion etiquette.

Posted on Mar 20, 2014 READ MORE



How ‘Revolution’ Became an Adjective

For the last several years, the word has been hanging around backstage on the national television talk-show circuit waiting for somebody, anybody—visionary poet, unemployed automobile worker, late-night comedian—to cue its appearance on camera.

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 READ MORE



Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa

The U.S. has been making common cause with one of the continent’s former European colonial powers in a set of wars that seem to be spreading, not staunching violence and instability in the region.

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 READ MORE



By the Way, Your Home Is On Fire

People in power and bureaucrats seem exceptionally obtuse when it comes to recognizing that the world has changed and the old rules no longer apply.

Posted on Mar 13, 2014 READ MORE



The Pentagon’s Phony Budget War

Despite cries of doom since the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration surfaced in Washington in 2011, the Pentagon has seen few actual reductions, and there is no indication that will change any time soon.

Posted on Mar 7, 2014 READ MORE



Apocalypses Everywhere

Two clouds of genuine doom still darken our world: nuclear extermination and environmental extinction. If they got the urgent action they deserve, they would be at the top of our political priority list.

Posted on Feb 27, 2014 READ MORE


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