Bush’s decisions to invade Iraq and Afghanistan were obviously the most consequential of his presidency, but the decision to…
March 23, 2020
Hard times in an uncertain south
He has been fighting for eleven months and talks with bitterness about the conditions in the dry hills where the front line is. He scrolls past pictures of himself posing with his rifle to find the pictures of his daughter, who is back in Aden, back down the road, back where he is from. Visibly upset, he pauses to collect himself.
February 7, 2020
“Interesting read,” was Kobe’s verdict. “#MuseOn.”
Over the course of several meetings in 2017 and 2018, I taught Kobe and his crew a smattering of ancient history. I had known about him for many years—since he first came to the Lakers. Among my earliest memories of shame comes from his first or second season: I thought that since his team-mate Shaquille O’Neill was clearly somehow Irish, Kobe, too, must be Irish, and so I referred to him (in front of friends, and friends’ parents) as Kobe O’Bryant. I was maybe 8; the memory still stings.
Today, rather than serving as a model for conservatives, the memory of El Salvador and the solidarity movement it generated may…
January 3, 2020
December 18, 2019
An adventist police chief in Duterte’s drug war
On hazing and counterinsurgency
We had staggered through hell, and came out to look at the world with the jaded, contemptuous eyes of the combat veteran. Some people might think it’s hyperbolic to describe a frat initiation as a hell akin to combat. Those people don’t know much about frat initiations.
Civilian, child, refugee: according to the logic of the war on terror, they’re all always enemy combatants.
March 20, 2019
The killings in New Zealand
An American who leaves for war never leaves America. The war that is America, rather, comes to the American.
American foreign policy hasn’t done any real thinking in two years
Peace is possible, if just barely, on the Korean peninsula neither thanks to nor in spite of America’s leadership, but because America isn’t leading at all. The country’s ruling party has been thrown into such chaos by Trump’s election that it lacks a coherent geopolitical strategy, and the State Department is a nonfunctioning husk of its former self. What Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in have done is recognize America’s geopolitical incoherence as an opportunity to act on their own behalf. The peace process is primarily of South Korean design, it was underway months before Trump flew to Singapore, and it illustrates the kinds of space that open up, and the kinds of diplomacy that become possible, as the US begrudgingly starts to cede its place at the head of the world’s table.
September 12, 2018
Bob Woodward’s self-parody
At the center of this universe sits Trump, like the Blind Idiot God Azathoth in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. If the self-serving narratives of personal accomplishment Woodward’s principals relate are dubious, their descriptions of Trump are not. He is impetuous and erratic, vulgar and incurious. A font of abuse, he showers invective on those around him.