The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 TomDispatch Archives

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Calculating the Damage from a Century of Drug Prohibition
We live in a time of change, when people are questioning old assumptions and seeking new directions. In the ongoing debate over health care, social justice, and border security, there is, however, one overlooked issue that should be at the top of everyone’s agenda, from Democratic Socialists to libertarian Republicans: America’s longest war. No, not... Read More
He was a graduate student when, in the midst of the Vietnam War, he started to explore the history behind the heroin epidemic then infecting the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He soon found himself, almost inadvertently, on the heroin trail across Southeast Asia and deep into the CIA’s involvement in an earlier version of America’s... Read More
Once upon a time, it was an “invisible government” -- or, at least, that’s what David Wise and Thomas Ross called it in their famed 1964 book of that title. Those two journalists, shining a bright light into “the shadows” of the Cold War, found the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies working assiduously to... Read More
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The Trump Era as an Occasion for Truth Telling
Irony, paradox, contradiction, consternation -- these define the times in which we live. On the one hand, the 45th president of the United States is a shameless liar. On the other hand, his presidency offers an open invitation to Americans to confront myths about the way their country actually works. Donald Trump is a bullshit... Read More
...Barely
It’s still the most dangerous border on Earth. Yet compared to the recent tweets of President Donald Trump, it remains a marginal news story. That doesn’t for a moment diminish the chance that the globe’s first (and possibly ultimate) nuclear conflagration could break out along that 480-mile border known as the Line of Control (and,... Read More
There are a few genuinely upbeat news stories when it comes to this planet and people trying to figure out how to save us from ourselves and our fossil-fuel addiction. This at a moment of record global surface temperatures and record ocean heating when, despite the Paris climate accord of 2015, carbon dioxide from those... Read More
1% Politics and the Scandals of A New Gilded Age
Despair about the state of our politics pervades the political spectrum, from left to right. One source of it, the narrative of fairness offered in basic civics textbooks -- we all have an equal opportunity to succeed if we work hard and play by the rules; citizens can truly shape our politics -- no longer... Read More
Charles W. Engelhard, Jr., was “the platinum king” of South Africa (and was evidently the model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond nemesis Goldfinger). He lived mainly in a “Rhinelike castle, turrets and all,” in Far Hills, New Jersey, but did shuttle via his own fleet of aircraft among four other palatial homes in Johannesburg, South... Read More
The Forever Wars Go On Without Me
“Patriotism, in the trenches, was too remote a sentiment, and at once rejected as fit only for civilians, or prisoners.” -- Robert Graves, Goodbye To All That(1929). I’m one of the lucky ones. Leaving the madness of Army life with a modest pension and all of my limbs intact feels like a genuine escape. Both... Read More
It turns out that I can thank former Army colonel and historian Andrew Bacevich for the fact that U.S. Army Major Danny Sjursen began his article-writing career at TomDispatch. That was in February 2017. His first piece was headlined “Mission Unaccomplished, 15 Years Later” and it began this way: “The United States has already lost... Read More
The Reign of King Toot
Recently, I did something rare in my life. Over a long weekend, I took a few days away and almost uniquely -- I might even say miraculously -- never saw Donald Trump’s face, since I didn’t watch TV and barely checked the news. They were admittedly terrible days in which 50 people were slaughtered in... Read More
John Bolton and Mike Pompeo Defy the International Criminal Court
Events just fly by in the ever-accelerating rush of Trump Time, so it’s easy enough to miss important ones in the chaos. Paul Manafort is sentenced twice and indicted a third time! Whoosh! Gone! The Senate agrees with the House that the United States should stop supporting Saudi Arabia in Yemen (and Mitch McConnell calls... Read More
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The advent of sound recording deep-sixed this age-old thought experiment and offered a definitive answer: Yes! I’ve got another one for you, though: if you water-torture someone at a secure military compound and no one... Read More
Who now remembers the classic 1956 sci-fi movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? In it, alien spores drop to earth in... yes, California (undoubtedly not too far from the Mexican border)... and develop into seed pods that can replicate and then take over any nearby sleeping human being. What a nightmarish film. It certainly scared... Read More
Or Why Donald Trump’s Great Wall Is Viagra for Him, But a Border Disaster
Borders are cruel. I know this because I’ve been studying the U.S.-Mexico border for more than 40 years. It features prominently in two of my books, written in different decades. It keeps pulling me back. Every time I cross that border, I say to myself that this is no big deal -- I’m used to... Read More
I remember him (barely) as a thin, bald, little old man with a white mustache and a cane. As I write this, I’m looking at a photo of him in 1947, holding the hand of little Tommy Engelhardt who had just turned three that very July day. They’re on a street somewhere in Brooklyn, New... Read More
Death by a Thousand Cuts
It turns out that walls can’t always be seen. Donald Trump may never build his “great, great wall,” but that doesn’t mean he isn’t working to wall Americans in. It’s a story that needs to be told. This past month, for instance, claims of ISIS’s near total defeat in Syria have continued to mount. As... Read More
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America's Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War
“Veni, Vidi, Vici,” boasted Julius Caesar, one of history’s great military captains. “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that famed saying when summing up the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 -- with a small alteration. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said with a laugh... Read More
How appropriate, don’t you think? America’s longest war, the Afghan one, now heading into its 18th year, may set another kind of record -- for the longest withdrawal ever. The Pentagon recently revealed news of its daring “plan” to end that war. It will take up to five years to get 14,000 U.S. troops (and... Read More
Or Will They Parent Us?
Kids are taking over the streets in other countries, rallying and chanting and refusing to go to school one day a week. Young people across the world are striking to draw attention to the ravages of climate change. They are demanding -- with their bodies and their voices -- that the catastrophe each of them... Read More
Yes, it’s happening. It really is. And I’m not just thinking about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the support it’s getting from Democratic presidential candidates or the controversy it’s generating. I’m also thinking about Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s entry into the 2020 presidential race on a platform that boils down to a... Read More
Linking Gun Violence at Home to America’s Wars Abroad
In the wake of the February 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 students and staff members, a teacher said the school looked “like a war zone.” And to many young Americans, that’s exactly what it felt like. But this shooting was different. Refusing to be... Read More
Here’s something that should still stun anyone, but has had no discernible impact in this country. Between December 29, 2001, when B-52 and B-1B bombers killed more than 100 revelers in a village in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, and December 2013, when a drone slaughtered perhaps 15 members of a car caravan headed for a wedding... Read More
I’ll tell you when the nightmare that TomDispatch regular Bob Dreyfuss raises so eloquently first hit me hard. I’m talking about the possibility that the next U.S. military disaster of the twenty-first century might be Iran. That country has, of course, had a significant spot on Washington’s war-making to-do list since the days of George... Read More
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The Trump Administration Is Reckless Enough to Turn the Cold War With Iran Into a Hot One
Here’s the foreign policy question of questions in 2019: Are President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all severely weakened at home and with few allies abroad, reckless enough to set off a war with Iran? Could military actions designed to be limited -- say, a heightening... Read More
Sometimes your past returns in the strangest of ways, as happened to me when today’s article from TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon first crossed my doorstep. As you’ll see, its subject would not be one on which this almost 75-year-old guy would consider himself to have the slightest expertise: women discovering their bodies in complex ways... Read More
How Young Women Learn to Hate Their Genitals
I’ll never forget the first time I saw my own menstrual period start. I was seated on the floor in a circle of women, legs bent in front of me, soles facing each other, a mirror resting on my feet. The flashlight directed at the mirror illuminated my vagina, which was held open by a... Read More
He descended that Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential candidacy already bragging about the “great, great wall” he was going to build on the U.S.-Mexico border (“and nobody builds walls better than me... And I will have Mexico pay for that wall”). “When Mexico sends its people,” he insisted that... Read More
Bound at the Border, or How to Make Border Porn
On February 15th, Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency in order to fund his “great, great” border wall without having to go through Congress. There is, of course, no emergency, despite the rape fantasy that the president has regularly tried to pass off as public policy. In speech after speech, including his declaration... Read More
Call me crazy, if you want, but I think I see how to do it! We have two intractable issues, one intractable president, and an intractable world, but what if it weren’t so? What if those two intractable problems could be swept off the table by a single gesture from that same intractable man? As... Read More
If you think of the age of Trump as a spectator sport, then perhaps the truly riveting show isn’t on the president’s Twitter feed or in his latest shout-outs to the press or at another of those “cabinet meetings” where everyone is obliged to publicly praise you-know-perfectly-well-who (and so does he). I wouldn’t for a... Read More
How Climate Change Could End Washington’s Global Dominion
Once upon a time in America, we could all argue about whether or not U.S. global power was declining. Now, most observers have little doubt that the end is just a matter of timing and circumstance. Ten years ago, I predictedthat, by 2025, it would be all over for American power, a then-controversial comment that’s... Read More
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All Are Equal, Except Those Who Aren’t
Like a gilded coating that makes the dullest things glitter, today’s thin veneer of political populism covers a grotesque underbelly of growing inequality that’s hiding in plain sight. And this phenomenon of ever more concentrated wealth and power has both Newtonian and Darwinian components to it. In terms of Newton’s first law of motion: those... Read More
Honestly, the inequality gap in America should stagger the imagination or, on second thought, maybe it shouldn’t, not with the first billionaire in the White House and at least two more threatening to join him in a run for the presidency in 2020. After all, we now live on the planet of the billionaires. In... Read More
Hilel Garmi’s phone is going straight to voicemail and all I’m hoping is that he’s not back in prison. I’ll soon learn that he is. Prison 6 is a military prison. It’s situated in the Israeli coastal town of Atlit, a short walk from the Mediterranean Sea and less than an hour’s drive from Hilel’s... Read More
She began cutting school on Fridays and simply sitting on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Her name was Greta Thunberg. She was 15 years old, with a mind of her own and a sign demanding a school strike against climate change. Her parents wanted her to go back to school, but Friday after Friday... Read More
How Middle Eastern Powers Fund Think Tanks
The 2016 elections awakened Americans to a startling reality: the country’s political system is ripe for foreign interference. The Russians took full advantage of social media with bot armies and through unregistered foreign agents. While their influence garnered considerable attention and has led to increased enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), one area... Read More
Former Obama speechwriter, confidant, and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes had an all-encompassing label for the wonks, experts, think tankers, cable news talking heads, and former or future officials, always ready to spin through Washington’s infamous revolving door, who make up the capital’s “foreign policy community.” He called them “the Blob,” a crew, as... Read More
Now in 80 Countries, It Couldn’t Be More Global
In September 2001, the Bush administration launched the “Global War on Terror.” Though “global” has long since been dropped from the name, as it turns out, they weren’t kidding. When I first set out to map all the places in the world where the United States is still fighting terrorism so many years later, I... Read More
“Training.” It sounds so innocuous. It also sounds like something expected of a military. All professional soldiers undergo some sort of basic training. Think: calisthenics, negotiating obstacle courses, and marksmanship. Soldiers require instruction, otherwise they’re little more than rabble. Sometimes soldiers from one country even train the troops of another, imparting skills from the basic... Read More
These days, the trade “war” between the Trump administration and China is regularly in the headlines and, sometimes, so are the bases the Chinese are building in the South China Sea, the ships the U.S. Navy is sending ever more provocatively close to them, and the potential clashes that might result. But the global nature... Read More
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It’s Already Under Way
In his highly acclaimed 2017 book, Destined for War, Harvard professor Graham Allison assessed the likelihood that the United States and China would one day find themselves at war. Comparing the U.S.-Chinese relationship to great-power rivalries all the way back to the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BC, he concluded that the future risk... Read More
An Obituary for the Republic
What dreamers they were! They imagined a kind of global power that would leave even Rome at its Augustan height in the shade. They imagined a world made for one, a planet that could be swallowed by a single great power. No, not just great, but beyond anything ever seen before -- one that would... Read More
  Consider it a marriage made in hell. Start with the groom, Donald Trump, the man who once wondered why in the world we make nuclear weapons if we can’t use them; who wouldn’t rule out using nukes, even in Europe; who insisted that a president should be “unpredictable” on the subject; who suggested that... Read More
The Most Dangerous Weapon Ever Rolls Off the Nuclear Assembly Line
Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile,... Read More
  Think about this for a moment: in a country whose infrastructure is falling apart and where an inequality gap of monumental proportions is still growing, at least we should feel remarkably well-protected. After all, in the last fiscal year, the Pentagon, the one institution in Washington that only seems to receive more taxpayer dollars... Read More
A young friend is seriously considering joining her state’s National Guard. She’s a world-class athlete, but also a working-class woman from a rural background competing in a rich person’s sport. Between seasons, she works for a local farm and auctioneer to put together the money for equipment and travel. Each season, raising the necessary money... Read More
Trump's Policies Hurt People Instead of Fixing the System
"Make America Cruel Again." That's how journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Shipler has reformulated Donald Trump's trademark slogan. Shipler's version is particularly apt when you think about the president's record over the last two years on refugee resettlement and other humanitarian-related immigration issues. President Trump's border-wall obsession and the political uproar over it have... Read More
Think of it as the real-world feedback loop from hell. In October 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and launched a “war on terror.” With the invasion of Iraq a year and a half later, that war would begin to spread across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. It would, in the... Read More
War in the Shadows (of You Know Who)
The news, however defined, always contains a fair amount of pap. Since Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency, however, the trivia quotient in the average American’s daily newsfeed has grown like so many toadstools in a compost heap, overshadowing or crowding out matters of real substance. We’re living in TrumpWorld, folks. Never in the history... Read More
PastClassics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower