Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves by Matthew Sweet

The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves

A JAPANESE FISHING boat, moving north to Soviet waters. Six Americans in the forward hold below the captain’s cabin. Trying to stay warm. Trying to keep their nerve. Trying not to vomit too loudly. One is too drunk to feel seasick. He’s up on his feet, swigging from a bottle of sake, peering into the moonless night, swearing he can see dolphins in the water and helicopters in the sky. The others don’t bother to look. But when the beam of a searchlight streams through the crack in the door, all six scramble to the porthole, jostling to catch sight of the ship that has come down from the ice floes to meet them. “It’s them, man,” says one. “The Russians are coming. We gonna be free now, baby.” Most of us would find it hard to pinpoint the single act that determined the course of our lives. Mark Shapiro […]

The Race for What's Left

How Donald Trump Plans to Enlist Fossil Fuels in the Struggle for Global Dominance

The new U.S. energy policy of the Trump era is, in some ways, the oldest energy policy on Earth. Every great power has sought to mobilize the energy resources at its command, whether those be slaves, wind-power, coal, or oil, to further its hegemonic ambitions. What makes the Trumpian variant — the unfettered exploitation of America’s fossil-fuel reserves — unique lies only in the moment it’s being applied and the likely devastation that will result, thanks not only to the 1950s-style polluting of America’s air, waters, and urban environment, but to the devastating hand it will lend to a globally warming world. Last month, if you listened to the chatter among elite power brokers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, you would have heard a lot of bragging about the immense progress being made in renewable energy.  “My government has planned a major campaign,” said Indian Prime Minister […]

Kill Anything That Moves

Pentagon Watchdog Calls Out Two Commands for Financial Malfeasance

2017 was a year of investigations for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).  There was the investigation of the two-star commander of U.S. Army Africa who allegedly sent racy texts to an enlisted man’s wife.  There was the investigation into the alleged killing of a Special Forces soldier by Navy SEALs in Mali. There was the inquiry into reports of torture and killings on a remote base in Cameroon that was also used by American forces.  There was the investigation of an alleged massacre of civilians by American special operators in Somalia.  And don’t forget the inquiry into the killing of four Special Forces soldiers by Islamic State militants in Niger. And then there was the investigation that hardly anyone heard about, that didn’t spark a single headline.  And still, the question remains: Whatever became of that $500 million? To be fair, this particular scandal isn’t AFRICOM’s alone, nor did that sizeable […]

America's War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew Bacevich

(And How We Might Have Avoided Him)

The present arrives out of a past that we are too quick to forget, misremember, or enshroud in myth.  Yet like it or not, the present is the product of past choices.  Different decisions back then might have yielded very different outcomes in the here-and-now.  Donald Trump ascended to the presidency as a consequence of myriad choices that Americans made (or had made for them) over the course of decades. Although few of those were made with Trump in mind, he is the result. Where exactly did Trump come from?  How are we to account for his noxious presence as commander-in-chief and putative Leader of the Free World?  The explanations currently on offer are legion.  Some blame the nefarious Steve Bannon, others Hillary Clinton and her lackluster campaign.  Or perhaps the fault lies with the Bernie Sanders insurgency, which robbed Clinton of the momentum she needed to win, or with […]

Shadow Government by Tom Engelhardt

At the Circus with Donald Trump

Recently, a memory of my son as a small boy came back to me. He was, in those days, terrified of clowns. Something about their strange, mask-like, painted faces unnerved him utterly, chilled him to the bone. To the rest of us, they were comic, but to him — or so I came to imagine anyway — they were emanations from hell.  Those circus memories of long ago seem relevant to me today because, in November 2016, the American electorate, or a near majority of them anyway, chose to send in the clowns.  They voted willingly, knowingly, for the man with that strange orange thing on his head, the result — we now know, thanks to his daughter — of voluntary “scalp reduction surgery.”  They voted for the man with the eerily red face, an unearthly shade seldom seen since the perfection of Technicolor.  They voted for the overweight man […]

War Is Not Over When It's Over by Ann Jones

Should We Build a Wall to Keep Them Out?

In the past couple of weeks, thanks to the president’s racist comments about Haiti and African countries he can’t even name — remember “Nambia”? — as well as the stamp of approval he awarded future immigrants from Norway, we’ve seen a surprising amount of commentary about that fortunate country. Let me just say: those Norwegians he’s so eager to invite over are my ancestral people and, thanks to years I’ve spent in that country, my friends.  Donald Trump should understand one thing: if he and his Republican backers really knew the truth about life in Norway, they would be clamoring to build a second “big, fat, beautiful” wall, this time right along our Eastern seaboard. One thing is incontestable: a mass of Norwegian immigrants (however improbable the thought) would pose a genuine threat to Donald Trump’s America.  They would bring to our shores their progressive values, advanced ideas, and illustrious […]

The Wall and the Gate by Michael Sfard

Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights

The legal struggle for human rights, like any legal dispute, takes place mostly (though not only) in the courtroom. The swords wielded in this battle are the legal norms—that is, the rules—of any given legal system; these determine what is permitted, what is prohibited, and what powers, rights, and obligations are allowed to people, corporations, and public authorities. Without these two conditions—a law and a court—there is no legal battle. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are not part of the State of Israel. Other territories occupied in 1967, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, were put under Israeli law and administration by the legislature (an act that is not recognized by the international community as it defies international law that prohibits the annexation of a territory seized by force).1 Therefore, from Israel’s perspective, its courts have jurisdiction to hear any dispute that arises in the Golan Heights and East […]

Or How to Build a Wall and Lose an Empire

As 2017 ended with billionaires toasting their tax cuts and energy executives cheering their unfettered access to federal lands as well as coastal waters, there was one sector of the American elite that did not share in the champagne celebration: Washington’s corps of foreign policy experts. Across the political spectrum, many of them felt a deep foreboding for the country’s global future under the leadership of President Donald Trump. In a year-end jeremiad, for instance, conservative CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria blasted the “Trump administration’s foolish and self-defeating decision to abdicate the United States’ global influence — something that has taken more than 70 years to build.” The great “global story of our times,” he continued, is that “the creator, upholder, and enforcer of the existing international system is withdrawing into self-centered isolation,” opening a power vacuum that will be filled by illiberal powers like China, Russia, and Turkey. The editors of […]

Kill Anything That Moves

From Afghanistan to Somalia, Special Ops Achieves Less with More

At around 11 o’clock that night, four Lockheed MC-130 Combat Talons, turboprop Special Operations aircraft, were flying through a moonless sky from Pakistani into Afghan airspace. On board were 199 Army Rangers with orders to seize an airstrip.  One hundred miles to the northeast, Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters cruised through the darkness toward Kandahar, carrying Army Delta Force operators and yet more Rangers, heading for a second site.  It was October 19, 2001.  The war in Afghanistan had just begun and U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) were the tip of the American spear.  Those Rangers parachuted into and then swarmed the airfield, engaging the enemy — a single armed fighter, as it turned out — and killing him.  At that second site, the residence of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the special operators apparently encountered no resistance at all, even though several Americans were wounded due to friendly fire […]

Shadow Government by Tom Engelhardt

76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror

He left Air Force Two behind and, unannounced, “shrouded in secrecy,” flew on an unmarked C-17 transport plane into Bagram Air Base, the largest American garrison in Afghanistan. All news of his visit was embargoed until an hour before he was to depart the country. More than 16 years after an American invasion “liberated” Afghanistan, he was there to offer some good news to a U.S. troop contingent once again on the rise. Before a 40-foot American flag, addressing 500 American troops, Vice President Mike Pence praised them as “the world’s greatest force for good,” boasted that American air strikes had recently been “dramatically increased,” swore that their country was “here to stay,” and insisted that “victory is closer than ever before.” As an observer noted, however, the response of his audience was “subdued.”  (“Several troops stood with their arms crossed or their hands folded behind their backs and listened, […]

Shadow Government by Tom Engelhardt

Not Them, Not It, Not Him, Not (Evidently) Us

Let’s start with the universe and work our way in. Who cares? Not them because as far as we know they aren’t there. As far as we know, no one exists in our galaxy or perhaps anywhere else but us (and the other creatures on this all-too-modest planet of ours). So don’t count on any aliens out there caring what happens to humanity. They won’t. As for it — Earth — the planet itself can’t, of course, care, no matter what we do to it.  And I’m sure it won’t be news to you that, when it comes to him — and I mean, of course, President Donald J. Trump, who reputedly has a void where the normal quotient of human empathy might be — don’t give it a second’s thought.  Beyond himself, his businesses, and possibly (just possibly) his family, he clearly couldn’t give less of a damn about […]

Kill Anything That Moves

Elite Commandos Deployed to 149 Countries in 2017

“We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in October. That was in the wake of the combat deaths of four members of the Special Operations forces in the West African nation of Niger. Graham and other senators expressed shock about the deployment, but the global sweep of America’s most elite forces is, at best, an open secret. Earlier this year before that same Senate committee — though Graham was not in attendance — General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), offered some clues about the planetwide reach of America’s most elite troops. “We operate and fight in every corner of the world,” he boasted.  “Rather than a mere ‘break-glass-in-case-of-war’ force, we are now proactively engaged across the ‘battle space’ of the Geographic Combatant Commands… providing key […]

Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite by Jake Bernstein

Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite

Nazis and Radical Priests Against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky, a disembodied voice, vaguely recognizable from the world of advertising, declares: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” The quotation launches an eighteen-minute corporate video to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Filmed in 2012, the video tells the sanitized origin story of a pair of visionaries who built a global empire selling secrecy. The firm started as two people and grew to almost six hundred employees with forty-two offices around the world. Its Panama headquarters operated twenty-four hours a day, churning out anonymous companies, a product as versatile as it was desirable. Each company was an empty corporate shell waiting to be filled. It could do practically anything: hold a bank account, own a mansion, enter into complex business transactions. Best of all, it was […]

Shadow Government by Tom Engelhardt

Niger, 9/11, and Apocalyptic Humiliation

Honestly, if there’s an afterlife, then the soul of Osama bin Laden, whose body was consigned to the waves by the U.S. Navy back in 2011, must be swimming happily with the dolphins and sharks. At the cost of the sort of spare change that Donald Trump recently offered aides and former campaign officials for their legal troubles in the Russia investigation (on which he’s unlikely to deliver) — a mere $400,000 to $500,000 — bin Laden managed to launch the American war on terror. He did so with little but a clever game plan, a few fanatical followers, and a remarkably intuitive sense of how this country works. He had those 19 mostly Saudi hijackers, a scattering of supporters elsewhere in the world, and the “training camps” in Afghanistan, but his was a ragged and understaffed movement.  And keep in mind that his sworn enemy was the country that […]

Kill Anything That Moves

U.S. Commandos Are a “Persistent Presence” on Russia’s Doorstep

“They are very concerned about their adversary next door,” said General Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), at a national security conference in Aspen, Colorado, in July.  “They make no bones about it.” The “they” in question were various Eastern European and Baltic nations.  “Their adversary”?  Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Thomas, the commander of America’s most elite troops — Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them — went on to raise fears about an upcoming Russian military training event, a wargame, known as “Zapad” or “West,” involving 10 Russian Navy ships, 70 jets and helicopters, and 250 tanks.  “The point of concern for most of these eastern Europeans right now is they’re about to do an exercise in Belarus… that’s going to entail up to 100,000 Russian troops moving into that country.” And he added, “The great concern is they’re not going to leave, and… that’s […]