War Hawks and Chickenhawks
Sometimes I get sick of saying it, but just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse … Donald Trump’s continual cabinet reshuffling — otherwise the stuff of reality-T.V. drama — has become genuinely frightening. Like so many Russian matryoshki, or nesting dolls, the president has been removing one... Read more
Something for Everyone in the Military-Industrial Complex
Think of it as the chicken-or-the-egg question for the ages. Do very real threats to the United States inadvertently benefit the military-industrial complex or does the national security state, by its very nature, conjure up inflated threats to feed that defense machine? Back in 2008, some of us placed... Read more
The War That Never Ends
Vietnam. It’s always there. Looming in the past, informing America’s future. A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still being refought by one group of Americans. The military high command. And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it … and blaming others for... Read more
Expect Yet More War Under Donald Trump
I remember the day Pres. Barack Obama let me down. It was December 1, 2009, and as soon as the young president took the podium at West Point and — calm and cool as ever — announced a new troop surge in Afghanistan, I knew. There wasn’t a doubt... Read more
An Alternative Strategy for 9/12/2001
“Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most.” — Thucydides You’ve heard the platitude that hindsight is 20/20. It’s true enough and, though I’ve been a regular skeptic about what policymakers used to call the Global War on Terror, it’s always easier to poke holes in the past... Read more
War Without War Powers
On Sept. 1, 1970, soon after Pres. Nixon expanded the Vietnam War by invading neighboring Cambodia, Democratic senator George McGovern, a decorated World War II veteran and future presidential candidate, took to the floor of the Senate and said, “Every senator is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young... Read more
Counterinsurgency, Policing and the Militarization of America’s Cities
I can remember both so well. 2006. My first raid in South Baghdad. 2014. Watching on YouTube as a New York police officer asphyxiated — murdered — Eric Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner not five miles from my old apartment. Both events... Read more
The Hazards of Military Worship
This story originally appeared on May 15, 2017. More, more, more. I was guilty of it myself. Commanding a small cavalry troop of around 85 soldiers in southwest Kandahar Province back in 2011, I certainly wanted and requested more. More troopers, more Special Forces advisers, more Afghan police, more... Read more
When It Comes to the War in the Greater Middle East, Maybe We’re the Bad Guys
I used to command soldiers. Over the years, lots of them actually. In Iraq, Colorado, Afghanistan and Kansas. And I’m still fixated on a few of them like this one private first class in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011. All of 18, he was short, scrawny and popular. Nine months... Read more
The Folly of the Next Afghanistan ‘Surge’
We walked in a single file. Not because it was tactically sound. It wasn’t—at least according to standard infantry doctrine. Patrolling southern Afghanistan in column formation limited maneuverability, made it difficult to mass fire, and exposed us to enfilading machine-gun bursts. Still, in 2011, in the Pashmul district of... Read more
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