MoJo Author Feeds: Tom Engelhardt | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/authors/11273 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The Late Historian Who Predicted The Years of War After September 11 http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/jonathan-schell-predict-war-september-11 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175871/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website. </em></p> <p>In December 2002, finishing the introduction to his as-yet-unpublished book The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Jonathan Schell wrote that the twentieth century was the era in which violence outgrew the war system that had once housed it and became "dysfunctional as a political instrument. Increasingly, it destroys the ends for which it is employed, killing the user as well as his victim. It has become the path to hell on earth and the end of the earth. <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a>This is the lesson of the Somme and Verdun, of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, of Vorkuta and Kolyma; and it is the lesson, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." More than a decade later, that remains a crucial, if barely noticed, lesson of our moment. Jonathan Schell died this March, but he left behind a legacy of reporting and thinking&mdash;from The Real War and The Fate of the Earth to The Unconquerable World&mdash;about just how, as the power to destroy ratcheted up, war left its traditional boundaries, and what that has meant for us (as well as, potentially, for worlds to come). In The Unconquerable World, published just before the Bush invasion of Iraq, he went in search of other paths of change, including the nonviolent one, and in doing so he essentially imagined the Arab Spring and caught the essence of both the horrors and possibilities available to us in hard-headed ways that were both prophetic and moving. Today, partly in honor of his memory (and my memory of him) and partly because I believe his sense of how our world worked then and still works was so acute, this website offers a selection from that book. Consider it a grim walk down post-9/11 Memory Lane, a moment when Washington chose force as its path to... well, we now know (as Schell foresaw then) that it was indeed a path to hell.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/jonathan-schell-predict-war-september-11"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Afghanistan Iraq Military Tom Dispatch Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:43:58 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 256736 at http://www.motherjones.com A 70-Year-Old Reflects On the So-Called "American Century" http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/tom-engelhardt-reflect-american-century <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175870/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>* Seventy-three years ago, on February 17, 1941, as a second devastating global war approached, Henry Luce, the publisher of <em>Time</em> and <em>Life</em> magazines, <a href="http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6139.htm">called on</a> his countrymen to "create the first great American Century." Luce died in 1967 at age 69. <em>Life</em>, the pictorial magazine no home would have been without in my 1950s childhood, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_%28magazine%29">ceased</a> to exist as a weekly in 1972 and as a monthly in 2000; <em>Time</em>, which launched his career as a media mogul, is still <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/business/media/time-inc-to-set-a-lonely-course-after-a-spinoff.html">wobbling on</a>, a shadow of its former self. No one today could claim that this is <em>Time</em>'s century, or the American Century, or perhaps anyone else's. Even the greatest empires now seem to have shortened lifespans. The Soviet Century, after all, barely lasted seven decades. Of course, only the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/world/europe/florence-green-last-world-war-i-veteran-dies-at-110.html">rarest</a> among us live to be 100, which means that at 70, like <em>Time</em>, I'm undoubtedly beginning to wobble, too.</p> <p>* The other day I sat down with an old friend, a law professor who started telling me about his students. What he said aged me instantly. They're so young, he pointed out, that their parents didn't even come of age during the Vietnam War. For them, he added, that war is what World War I was to us. He might as well have mentioned the Mongol conquests or the War of the Roses. We're talking about the white-haired guys riding in the open cars in Veteran's Day parades when I was a boy. And now, it seems, I'm them.</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>* In March 1976, accompanied by two friends, my wife and I got married at City Hall in San Francisco, and then adjourned to a Chinese restaurant for a dim sum lunch. If, while I was settling our bill of perhaps $30, you had told me that, almost half a century in the future, marriage would be an annual <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/02/12/182794/how-pinterest-powers-charlottes.html">$40 billion dollar</a> business, that official couplings would be preceded by elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties, and that there would be such a thing as <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/destination-weddings-blessing-or-burden/2011/06/30/gIQABf1f3H_story.html">destination weddings</a>, I would have assumed you were clueless about the future. On that score at least, the nature of the world to come was self-evident and elaborate weddings of any sort weren't going to be part of it.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/tom-engelhardt-reflect-american-century"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Tom Dispatch Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:39:30 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 256611 at http://www.motherjones.com American Power Is Becoming Ineffective. Here's Why. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/american-power-becoming-ineffective-heres-why <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175867/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>For America's national security state, this is the age of impunity. <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175833/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_knowledge_is_crime/" target="_blank">Nothing it does</a>&mdash;torture, kidnapping, assassination, illegal surveillance, you name it&mdash;will ever be brought to court. For none of its beyond-the-boundaries acts will anyone be <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/us/holder-rules-out-prosecutions-in-cia-interrogations.html" target="_blank">held accountable</a>. The only crimes that can now be committed in official Washington are by those foolish enough to believe that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth. I'm speaking of the various <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175500/tomgram%3A_peter_van_buren,_in_washington,_fear_the_silence,_not_the_noise/" target="_blank">whistleblowers and leakers</a> who have had an <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-employees-quest-to-release-information-destroyed-my-entire-career/2014/07/04/e95f7802-0209-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html?hpid=z3" target="_blank">urge</a> to let Americans know what deeds and misdeeds their government is committing in their name but without their knowledge. They continue to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/us/manning-sentenced-for-leaking-government-secrets.html" target="_blank">pay a price</a> in accountability for their acts that should, by comparison, stun us all.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/american-power-becoming-ineffective-heres-why"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics International Military Tom Dispatch Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:49:42 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 256081 at http://www.motherjones.com Karl Rove Unintentionally Predicted the Current Chaos in Iraq http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/us-karl-rove-iraq-crisis <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175858/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>As Iraq was unraveling last week and the possible outlines of the first jihadist state in modern history were coming into view, I remembered this nugget from the summer of 2002. At the time, journalist Ron Suskind had a meeting with "a senior advisor" to President George W. Bush (later <a href="https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/speech/danner.htm" target="_blank">identified</a> as Karl Rove). Here's how he <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html" target="_blank">described</a> part of their conversation:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The aide said that guys like me were &lsquo;in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who &lsquo;believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. &lsquo;That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. &lsquo;We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality&mdash; judiciously, as you will&mdash;we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>As events unfold increasingly chaotically across the region that officials of the Bush years liked to call the Greater Middle East, consider the eerie accuracy of that statement. The president, his vice president Dick Cheney, his defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, among others, were indeed "history's actors." They did create "new realities" and, just as Rove suggested, the rest of us are now left to "study" what they did.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/06/us-karl-rove-iraq-crisis"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics International Iraq The Right Thu, 19 Jun 2014 22:11:51 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 254421 at http://www.motherjones.com American-Style War Just Doesn't Work http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/why-american-style-war-just-doesnt-work <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175854/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>The United States has been at war&mdash;major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, air strikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts, and covert actions&mdash;nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. That's more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions.</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that can't be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.</p> <p>So here are five straightforward lessons&mdash;none acceptable in what passes for discussion and debate in this country&mdash;that could be drawn from that last half century of every kind of American warfare:</p> <p>1. No matter how you define American-style war or its goals, it doesn't work. Ever.</p> <p>2. No matter how you pose the problems of our world, it doesn't solve them. Never.</p> <p>3. No matter how often you cite the use of military force to "stabilize" or "protect" or "liberate" countries or regions, it is a destabilizing force.</p> <p>4. No matter how regularly you praise the American way of war and its "warriors," the US military is incapable of winning its wars.</p> <p>5. No matter how often American presidents claim that the US military is "the finest fighting force in history," the evidence is in: it isn't.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/06/why-american-style-war-just-doesnt-work"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Afghanistan International Iraq Military Tom Dispatch Tue, 10 Jun 2014 19:01:06 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 253781 at http://www.motherjones.com Climate Change As a Weapon of Mass Destruction http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/climate-change-weapon-mass-destruction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175847/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>Who could forget? At the time, in the fall of 2002, there was such a <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/9301/%20jim_lobe_on_timing_the_cheney_nuclear_drumbeat">drumbeat</a> of "information" from top figures in the Bush administration about the secret Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and so endanger the United States. And who&mdash;other than a few suckers&mdash;could have doubted that Saddam Hussein was eventually going to get a nuclear weapon? The only question, as our vice president suggested on "Meet the Press," was: Would it take one year or five? And he wasn't alone in his fears, since there was plenty of proof of what was going on. For starters, there were those "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/08/world/threats-responses-iraqis-us-says-hussein-intensifies-quest-for-bomb-parts.html">specially designed aluminum tubes</a>" that the Iraqi autocrat had ordered as components for centrifuges to enrich uranium in his thriving nuclear weapons program. Reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon hit the front page of the <em>New York Times</em> with that story on September 8, 2002.</p> <p>Then there were those "mushroom clouds" that Condoleezza Rice, our national security advisor, was so publicly worried about&mdash;the ones destined to rise over American cities if we didn't do something to stop Saddam. As she fretted in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on that <a href="http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0209/08/le.00.html">same September 8th</a>, "[W]e don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." No, indeed, and nor, it turned out, did Congress!</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a>And just in case you weren't anxious enough about the looming Iraqi threat, there were those unmanned aerial vehicles&mdash;Saddam's drones!&mdash;that could be <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2001848577_powell01.html">armed</a> with chemical or biological WMD from his arsenal and flown over America's East Coast cities with unimaginable results. President George W. Bush went on TV to talk about them and congressional votes were changed in favor of war thanks to hair-raising <a href="http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5385.htm">secret administration briefings</a> about them on Capitol Hill.</p> <p>In the end, it turned out that Saddam had no weapons program, no nuclear bomb in the offing, no centrifuges for those aluminum pipes, no biological or chemical weapons caches, and no drone aircraft to deliver his nonexistent weapons of mass destruction (nor any ships capable of putting those nonexistent robotic planes in the vicinity of the US coast). But what if he had? Who wanted to take <em>that</em> chance? Not Vice President Dick Cheney, certainly. Inside the Bush administration he propounded something that journalist Ron Suskind later <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0743271106/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20">dubbed</a> the "one percent doctrine." Its essence was this: if there was even a 1 percent chance of an attack on the United States, especially involving weapons of mass destruction, it must be dealt with as if it were a 95 percent-100 percent certainty.</p> <p>Here's the curious thing: if you look back on America's apocalyptic fears of destruction during the first 14 years of this century, they largely involved three city-busting weapons that were fantasies of Washington's fertile imperial imagination. There was that "bomb" of Saddam's, which provided part of the pretext for a much-desired invasion of Iraq. There was the "bomb" of the mullahs, the Iranian fundamentalist regime that we've just loved to hate ever since they repaid us, in 1979, for the CIA's <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175267/stephan_kinzer_BP_in_the_Gulf">overthrow</a> of an elected government in 1953 and the installation of the Shah by taking the staff of the US embassy in Tehran hostage. If you believed the news from Washington and Tel Aviv, the Iranians, too, were perilously close to producing a nuclear weapon or at least repeatedly on the verge of the verge of doing so. The production of that "Iranian bomb" has, for years, been a focus of American policy in the Middle East, the "brink" beyond which <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175612/tomgram%3A_jeremiah_goulka,_the_urge_to_bomb_iran/">war</a> has endlessly loomed. And yet there was and is no Iranian bomb, nor evidence that the Iranians were or are on the verge of producing one.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/05/climate-change-weapon-mass-destruction"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Climate Change Energy Obama Regulatory Affairs Tom Dispatch Thu, 22 May 2014 21:29:14 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 252486 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Punished in Washington http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/kidnapping-torture-assassination-perjury-punished-washington <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175833/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>How the mighty have fallen. Once known as "Obama's favorite general," James Cartwright will soon don a prison uniform and, thanks to a plea deal, spend 13 months behind bars. Involved in setting up the earliest military cyberforce inside US Strategic Command, which he led from 2004 to 2007, Cartwright also played a role in launching the first cyberwar in history&mdash;the release of the Stuxnet virus against Iran's nuclear program. A Justice Department investigation found that, in 2012, he leaked information on the development of that virus to David Sanger of the New York Times. The result: a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html">front-page piece</a> revealing its existence, and so the American cyber-campaign against Iran, to the American public. It was considered a serious breach of national security. On Thursday, the retired four-star general stood in front of a US district judge who told him that his "criminal act" was "a very serious one" and had been "committed by a national security expert who lost his moral compass." It was a remarkable ending for a man who nearly reached the heights of Pentagon power, was almost appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and had the president's ear.</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a>In fact, Gen. James Cartwright has not gone to jail and the above paragraph remains&mdash;as yet&mdash;a grim Washington fairy tale. There is indeed a <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/report-stuxnet-former-general-93544.html">Justice Department investigation</a> open against the president's "favorite general" (as Washington scribe to the stars Bob Woodward once labeled him) for the possible leaking of information on that virus to the <em>New York Times</em>, but that's all. He remains quite active in private life, <a href="http://csis.org/expert/james-e-cartwright">holding</a> the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as a consultant to <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/05/general-cartwright-usmc-ret-and-general-chiarelli-usa-ret-join-abc-news/">ABC News</a>, and on the board of <a href="http://raytheon.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&amp;item=2027">Raytheon</a>, among other things. He has suffered but a single penalty so far: he was <a href="http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/09/24/obamas_favorite_general_stripped_of_his_security_clearance">stripped</a> of his security clearance.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/04/kidnapping-torture-assassination-perjury-punished-washington"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Crime and Justice Military Obama Tom Dispatch Mon, 21 Apr 2014 18:58:18 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 250276 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Did the Media Devote So Much Attention to the Missing Malaysian Airplane? http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/media-attention-missing-malaysian-airplane-flight-370 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175826/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>Isn't there something strangely reassuring when your eyeballs are gripped by a "<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/mystery-flight-370-us-helping-investigation-23121894">mystery</a>" on the news that has no greater meaning and yet sweeps all else away? This, of course, is the essence of the ongoing tale of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Except to the relatives of those on board, it never really mattered what happened in the cockpit that day. To the extent that the plane's disappearance was solvable, the mystery could only end in one of two ways: it landed somewhere (somehow unnoticed, a deep unlikelihood) or it crashed somewhere, probably in an ocean. End of story. It was, however, a tale with thrilling upsides when it came to filling airtime, especially on cable news. The fact that there was no <em>there</em> there allowed for the raising of <a href="http://thedailyshow.cc.com/full-episodes/wi0xs9/march-24--2014---arianna-huffington">every possible disappearance trope</a>&mdash;from Star Trekkian black holes to the Bermuda Triangle to Muslim terrorists&mdash;and it had the added benefit of instantly evoking a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_%28TV_series%29">popular TV show</a>. It was a formula too good to waste, and wasted it wasn't.</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a>The same has been true of the story that, in the US, came to vie with it for the top news spot: the devastating mudslide in Washington State. An act of nature, sweeping out of nowhere, buries part of a tiny community, leaving an unknown but possibly large number of people dead. Was anyone still alive under all that mud? (Such potential "<a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023266670_mudslidesundayxml.html">miracles</a>" are like manna from heaven for the TV news.) How many died? These questions mattered locally and to desperate relatives of those who had disappeared, but otherwise had little import. Yes, unbridled growth, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/egan-at-home-when-the-earth-moves.html">lack of attention</a> to expected disasters, and even possibly <a href="http://www.climatestorytellers.org/stories/subhankar-banerjee-climate-impasse-appetite-substitutes/">climate change</a> were topics that might have been attached to the mudslide horror. As a gruesome incident, it could have stood in for a lot, but in the end it stood in for nothing except itself and that was undoubtedly its abiding appeal.</p> <p>Both stories had the added benefit (for TV) of an endless stream of distraught relatives: teary or weeping or stoic or angry faces in desperately tight close-ups making heartfelt pleas for more information. For the media, it was like the weather before climate change came along.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/04/media-attention-missing-malaysian-airplane-flight-370"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics International Media Offbeat Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:17:18 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 249071 at http://www.motherjones.com In Memoriam: Jonathan Schell http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/03/memoriam-jonathan-schell-journalist <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175824/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>"Up to a few months ago, Ben Suc was a prosperous village of some thirty-five hundred people." That is the initial line of <em>The Village of Ben Suc</em>, his first book, a copy of which I recently reread on a plane trip, knowing that he was soon to die. That book, that specific copy, had a history of its own. It was a Knopf first edition, published in 1967 in the midst of the Vietnam War, after the then-shocking text had appeared in the <em>New Yorker</em> magazine. An on-the-spot account of an American operation, the largest of the Vietnam War to that moment, it followed American troops as they helicoptered into a village controlled by the enemy about 30 miles from the capital, Saigon. All its inhabitants, other than those killed in the process, were removed from their homes and sent to a makeshift refugee camp elsewhere. The US military then set Ben Suc afire, brought in bulldozers to reduce it to rubble, and finally called in the US Air Force to bomb that rubble to smithereens&mdash;as though, as the final line of his book put it, "having once decided to destroy it, we were now bent on annihilating every possible indication that the village of Ben Suc had ever existed."</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a>I had read the piece in the <em>New Yorker</em> when that magazine devoted a single issue to it, something it had not done since it published John Hersey's <em>Hiroshima </em>in a similar fashion in 1946. I never forgot it. I was then 23 years old and just launched on a life as an anti-Vietnam War activist. I would not meet the author, 24-year-old neophyte reporter Jonathan Schell, for years.</p> <p>To look at that first edition some 47 years later is to be reminded of just how young he was then, so young that Knopf thought it appropriate in his nearly nonexistent bio to mention where he went to high school ("the Putney School in Vermont"). The book was tiny. Only 132 pages with an all-print orange cover that, in addition to the author and title, said: "The story of the American destruction of a Vietnamese village&mdash;this is the complete text of the brilliant report to which the <em>New Yorker</em> devoted almost an entire issue." That was bold advertising in those publishing days. I know. As an editor at a publishing house as the 1980s began, I can still remember having a fierce argument about whether or not it was "tasteless" to put a blurb from a prominent person on a book's cover.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/media/2014/03/memoriam-jonathan-schell-journalist"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Media Media Tom Dispatch Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:56:13 +0000 Chris Appy and Tom Engelhardt 248661 at http://www.motherjones.com Colonel Manners Answers Your Questions on CIA Practices, Proper Cyberwar Behavior, and Invasion Etiquette http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/colonel-manners-answers-questions-cia-practices-cyberwar <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175820/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>[<strong>Editor's note:</strong><em> Our old friend Colonel Manners (ret.) made his </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175758/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_advice_from_the_colonel/"><em>first appearance</em></a> <em>at TomDispatch last October. Today, he's back for </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175778/engelhardt_the_american_way_of_manners"><em>the third time</em></a><em>. We have yet to run into anyone more knowledgeable in the mores, manners, and linguistic habits of the national security state. His CV (unfortunately redacted) would blow you away. At a time of heightened tension among the US Intelligence Community, the White House, Congress, and the American people, who better to explain the workings and thought patterns of the inner world of official Washington than the Colonel? Once again, he answers the questions of ordinary citizens about how their secret government actually works. Among advice columnists, he's a nonpareil. Here's just a sampling of his answers to recent correspondence.</em>]</p> <p>Dear Col. Manners,</p> <p>When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he insisted that we "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/us/politics/12inquire.html?pagewanted=all">look forward</a>," not backward. While he <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/30/obama-waterboarding-mistake">rejected</a> the widespread use of torture and abuse by the CIA in the Bush years, his Department of Justice<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer"> refused to prosecute</a> a single torture case, even when<a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics-july-dec12-cia_08-31/"> death</a> was the result. (The only CIA agent to<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/23/cia-whistleblower-john-kiriakou-leak"> go to jail</a> during the Obama presidency was the guy who blew the whistle on the CIA torture program!)</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a>Jump ahead five years, and instead of looking forward, it seems that we're again looking backward big time. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, usually the staunchest backer of US intelligence, seems to have <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/11/dianne-feinstein-cia-senate-statement-full-text">sworn</a> a vendetta against the CIA on the Senate floor for spying on her oversight committee as it prepared its still-unreleased report on the Agency's torture program. The CIA denies it all and claims committee staffers spied on them. Once again, the Justice Department faces the issue of charges over the Agency's torture program! It seems like little short of a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/dianne-feinstein-cia-intelligence-committee-constitutional-crisis">constitutional catfight</a>.</p> <p>What gives, Colonel? Shouldn't President Obama have prosecuted CIA torturers in the first place and isn't it time that he and his Justice Department finally take all this to court?</p> <p>Tortured in Tacoma</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/03/colonel-manners-answers-questions-cia-practices-cyberwar"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Tom Dispatch Wed, 19 Mar 2014 21:58:31 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 247861 at http://www.motherjones.com