The Death of Meaningful Live Coverage in US Media

June 24, 2021

In an important article in Foreign Affairs cited yesterday in this column, Charles King mentions a particular initiative of media manipulation that an increasingly panicked President Lyndon Johnson undertook to defuse criticism of the war he had engaged in Vietnam. King describes a game of...

Fulbright, Vietnam and the Problem of Purity in US Politics

June 23, 2021

Though few millennials recognize his name other than as the title of a scholarship fund, Senator J. William Fulbright (1905-1995) stands as one of the most important and influential US politicians of his time. For the generation of young Americans appalled by the knee-jerk militarism coupled with...

Ken Burns’ Misunderstanding of Pronouns

March 17, 2021

Last week, David Marchese interviewed filmmaker Ken Burns for The New York Times. It came on the occasion of yet another in the growing series of Burns documentaries about the iconic people, objects and trends that most Americans recognize as the pillars of their culture. They include baseball,...

Why We Should Call It the “War for Terror”

December 07, 2018

Throughout history, the US has defined itself by its capacity to make war and its ability to convince itself that it was doing so in the name of democracy and progress. This is the first of a two-part series. The numbers are in, though they are provisional and incomplete. Brown University’s...

The Fourth and Final Disappearance of Muhammad Ali

June 07, 2016

Many of the issues Muhammad Ali brought to the fore are still here, some in aggravated form. An enigmatic American cultural icon disappeared this week, for the fourth and final time. Muhammad Ali is now routinely called by the media “the greatest sportsman of the 20th century,” but his...

The World This Week: Vietnam, Japan, the Asia Pivot and the Obama Doctrine

May 29, 2016

Obama visits Asia to heal past wounds, push for trade, deepen security ties, promote American interests and contain China in a masterly display of diplomacy. The late Harold Macmillan, heir to a publishing business, a British prime minister and chancellor of the University of Oxford, was once...

Shades of Vietnam in the 21st Century

March 13, 2016

Robert McNamara’s reflections on the Vietnam War have lessons that are applicable to US foreign policy today. The memoir of Robert S. McNamara, published 20 years ago, runs through and “presents” situations akin to the tragic drama (re)enacted today—a “repeat performance” of a...

The Inextinguishable Strains of Fear

August 18, 2013

America's international relations are now described more often by its drones. "While launching an international airlift of humanitarian aid to the former Soviet Union, US officials have contracted with a Roman Catholic agency to begin shipping food into remote provinces of...

Why Barack Struggles with Syria

August 17, 2013

There is little appetite within Obama's camp to feed the military-industrial cabal. Even before I had gone to war for the first time, it had been visceral among us. In our smoke filled cellars, cradling our Kerouac, we would rail ''MFs up against the wall" at the mere thought...

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