On Standing Armies

P.J. Sullivan Albert Einstein said that the way to prevent wars is to prepare for them. Jeanette Rankin disagreed, saying that preparation for war leads to war. Armies always claim self-defense. They don’t like to admit to being the aggressor. It is always “the other guy” who started it. Of course, this is absurd. Somebody…

Watching Football, Waiting for War

Brandon Lingle [Reprinted from the New York Times by permission of the author] At an outpost surrounded by blast walls and scrub brush, I huddled in an auditorium with two dozen other airmen to watch the Super Bowl streamed via a jerry-built cellphone Wi-Fi connection. “We probably have a worse broadcast than Kandahar,” said a…

Do We Learn Anything from History?

W.J. Astore As a historian, I like to think we learn valuable lessons from history.  Those who don’t learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them, or so my students tell me, paraphrasing (often unknowingly) the words of George Santayana. We applaud that saying as a truism, yet why do we…

The Predatory Nature of War

W.J. Astore Are we fighting a war on terror, or a war against predators? Surely the latter is more accurate. We see terrorists as predators. We fear them as such. They’re hiding in the weeds, morphing into the background, only to emerge to kill innocents with seemingly arbitrary (and thus very scary) rapacity. Therefore, following…

War! What Is It Good For? Profit and Power

I started writing for TomDispatch, a remarkable contrarian site founded and edited by Tom Engelhardt, a fine editor/writer and even finer gentleman, in October 2007.  My first article was on the Petraeus surge and how President Bush and his administration were hiding behind the absurdly bemedaled and beribboned uniform of that general. Tom Engelhardt’s generous…

The Persistence of War

W.J. Astore “[W]ar is a distressing, ghastly, harrowing, horrific, fearsome and deplorable business.  How can its actual awfulness be described to anyone?”  Stuart Hills, By Tank Into Normandy, p. 244 “[E]very generation is doomed to fight its war, to endure the same old experiences, suffer the loss of the same old illusions, and learn the…