Articles by: Tom Engelhardt

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It Could Have Been Different – My World and (Unfortunately) Welcome to It

Let me be blunt. This wasn’t the world I imagined for my denouement. Not faintly. Of course, I can’t claim I ever really imagined such a place. Who, in their youth, considers their death and the world that might accompany it, the one you might leave behind for younger generations? I’m 76 now. True, if I were lucky (or perhaps[Read More…]

by August 10, 2020 World
Osama bin Laden Won (Twice)

Osama bin Laden Won (Twice)

It’s July 2020 and I’m about to turn 76, which, as far as I’m concerned, officially makes me an old man. So put up with my aging, wandering brain here, since (I swear) I wasn’t going to start this piece with Donald J. Trump, no matter his latest wild claims or bizarre statements, increasingly white nationalist and pro-Confederate positions (right down to[Read More…]

by July 16, 2020 World
The Age of Disappointment? Or How the American Century Ends

The Age of Disappointment? Or How the American Century Ends

Let me rant for a moment. I don’t do it often, maybe ever. I’m not Donald Trump. Though I’m only two years older than him, I don’t even know how to tweet and that tells you everything you really need to know about Tom Engelhardt in a world clearly passing me by. Still, after years in which America’s streets were[Read More…]

by June 19, 2020 World
A Graduation Speech for an Age of Collapse

A Graduation Speech for an Age of Collapse

Class of 2020, wherever you are, I had planned to address you on this graduation day. But how can I? Yes, I know that former President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks all took part in elaborate online graduation ceremonies, offering commentary, advice, and encouragement in our now campus-less world, but I’m a hapless old guy with a flip phone from another age. And,[Read More…]

by June 1, 2020 World
The Assassin-in-Chief Comes Home

The Assassin-in-Chief Comes Home

“Be assured of one thing: whichever candidate you choose at the polls in November, you aren’t just electing a president of the United States; you are also electing an assassin-in-chief.” So I wrote back in June 2012, with a presidential election approaching. I was referring then to the war on terror’s CIA and military drone assassination programs, which first revved up in[Read More…]

by May 1, 2020 World
Might the Coronavirus Be a Peacemaker?

Might the Coronavirus Be a Peacemaker?

 Let me quote a Trumpian figure from long ago, Henry Ford. That’s right, the bigot who created the Ford Motor Company (and once even ran for president). Back in 1916, in an interview with a Chicago Tribune reporter, he offered this bit of wisdom on the subject of history: “Say, what do I care about Napoleon? What do we care about what they did 500 or 1,000[Read More…]

by April 14, 2020 World
A Planet of Missing Beauties – In Memoriam

A Planet of Missing Beauties – In Memoriam

The other morning, walking at the edge of a local park, I caught sight of a beautiful red cardinal, the first bird I ever saw some 63 years ago. Actually, to make that sentence accurate, I should probably have put either “first” or “ever saw” in quotation marks. After all, I was already 12 years old and, even as a city[Read More…]

by March 25, 2020 Climate Change
War Addicts, Inc.

War Addicts, Inc.

My first question is simple enough: After 18-plus years of our forever wars, where are all the questions? Almost two decades of failing American wars across a startlingly large part of the planet and I’d like to know, for instance, who’s been fired for them? Who’s been impeached? Who’s even paying attention? I mean, if another great power had been[Read More…]

by February 14, 2020 Imperialism
The Fate of the Earth – See Page Five

The Fate of the Earth – See Page Five

Let me betray my age for a moment. Some of you, I know, will be shocked, but I still read an actual newspaper. Words on real paper every day. I’m talking about the New York Times, and something stuck with me from the January 9th edition of that “paper” paper. Of course, in the world of the Internet, that’s already ancient history[Read More…]

by January 27, 2020 Climate Change
The Global War of Error – No, That’s Not a Typo

The Global War of Error – No, That’s Not a Typo

Yes, our infrastructure stinks, our schools are failing, this country’s a nightmare of inequality, and there’s a self-promoting madman in the White House, so isn’t it time to take pride in the rare institutional victories America has had in this century? Arguably, none has been more striking than the triumphal success of the American war system. Oh, you’re going to bring that up immediately?[Read More…]

by January 10, 2020 Imperialism
Is Donald Trump the Second 9/11? Or Is He the Third?

Is Donald Trump the Second 9/11? Or Is He the Third?

Here’s the question at hand — and I guarantee you that you’ll read it here first: Is Donald Trump the second or even possibly the third 9/11? Because truly, he has to be one or the other. Let me explain, and while I do, keep this in mind: as 2019 ends, thanks to Brexit and the victory of Boris Johnson[Read More…]

by December 23, 2019 World
The Age of Trump, the End of What?

The Age of Trump, the End of What?

French king Louis XV reputedly said, “Après moi, le déluge.” (“After me, the flood.”) Whether that line was really his remains unclear, but not long after his death did come the French Revolution. We should be so lucky! Our all-American version of Louis XV, Donald I, is incapable, I suspect, of even imagining a world after him. Given the historically unprecedented way[Read More…]

by November 27, 2019 World
Down the Rabbit Hole With Donald Trump

Down the Rabbit Hole With Donald Trump

There can be no question about it. Donald Trump is Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts. “Off with his head!” was the president’s essential suggestion for — to offer just one example — a certain whistleblower who fingered him on that now notorious Ukrainian phone call. And if The Donald hasn’t also been playing the roles of White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and other characters from Carroll’s[Read More…]

by November 4, 2019 World
American Brexit

American Brexit

  Donald Trump may prove to be the ultimate Brexiteer. Back in August 2016, in the midst of his presidential campaign, he proudly tweeted, “They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!” On the subject of the British leaving the European Union (EU) he’s neither faltered nor wavered. That June, he was already cheering on British voters, 51.9% of whom had just opted[Read More…]

by October 14, 2019 World
Sea Levels Are Rising and So Are We!

Sea Levels Are Rising and So Are We!

Look what Greta started and what she did to me! I took part in the recent climate-strike march in New York City — one of a quarter-million people (or maybe 60,000) who turned out there, along with four million others across all seven continents. Then I came home and promptly collapsed. Which tells you one thing: I’m not 16 years old like Greta Thunberg, the[Read More…]

by September 30, 2019 Climate Change
On the Precipice: The Collective Asteroid of Human History

On the Precipice: The Collective Asteroid of Human History

Worlds end. Every day. We all die sooner or later. When you get to my age, it’s a subject that can’t help but be on your mind. What’s unusual is this: it’s not just increasingly ancient folks like me who should be thinking such thoughts anymore. After all, worlds of a far larger sort end, too. It’s happened before. Ask the[Read More…]

by September 17, 2019 Climate Change
Invasion! Who Are the Real Invaders on Planet Earth?

Invasion! Who Are the Real Invaders on Planet Earth?

He crossed the border without permission or, as far as I could tell, documentation of any sort. I’m speaking about Donald Trump’s uninvited, unasked-for invasion of my personal space. He’s there daily, often hourly, whether I like it or not, and I don’t have a Department of Homeland Security to separate him from his children, throw them all in degrading versions of prison[Read More…]

by September 6, 2019 World
Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump

Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump

I, Winston Smith… I mean, Tom Engelhardt… have not just been reading a dystopian novel, but, it seems, living one — and I suspect I’ve been living one all my life. Yes, I recently reread George Orwell’s classic 1949 novel, 1984. In it, Winston Smith, a secret opponent of the totalitarian world of Oceania, one of three great imperial superpowers left[Read More…]

by August 19, 2019 World
Ambush at Kamikaze Pass

Ambush at Kamikaze Pass

Call it a summer whim or something about this grim moment of ours, but I had an urge to post at TomDispatch my very first piece of published writing. It appeared 48 years ago in what was, at the time, one of the more obscure journals on the face of the Earth, one I helped found as a then-antiwar-China-scholar-to-be: the Bulletin of Concerned Asian[Read More…]

by August 12, 2019 Arts/Literature
Planet of the Surreal – Turning 75 in the Age of Trump

Planet of the Surreal – Turning 75 in the Age of Trump

As I turn 75, there’s no simpler way to put it than this: I’m an old man on a new planet — and, in case it isn’t instantly obvious, that’s not good news on either score. I still have a memory of being a camp counselor in upstate New York more than half a century ago. I was perhaps 20[Read More…]

by July 18, 2019 Life/Philosophy
Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action? 

Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action? 

Headlined “U.S. Seeks Other Ways to Stop Iran Shy of War,” the article was tucked away on page A9 of a recent New York Times. Still, it caught my attention. Here’s the first paragraph: “American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that[Read More…]

by July 2, 2019 Imperialism
If Donald Trump Is the Symptom… Then What’s the Disease?

If Donald Trump Is the Symptom… Then What’s the Disease?

Don’t try to deny it! The political temperature of this country is rising fast. Call it Trump change or Trump warming, if you want, but grasp one thing: increasingly, you’re in a different land and, whatever happens to Donald Trump, the results down the line are likely to be ever less pretty. Trump change isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s[Read More…]

by June 17, 2019 World
Suicide Watch on Planet Earth

Suicide Watch on Planet Earth

As Notre Dame burned, as the flames leapt from its roof of ancient timbers, many of us watched in grim horror. Hour after hour, on screen after screen, channel after channel, you could see that 850-year-old cathedral, a visiting spot for 13 million people annually, being gutted, its roof timbers flaring into the evening sky, its steeple collapsing in a ball of fire. It was dramatic[Read More…]

by April 26, 2019 Climate Change
Tom Engelhardt-American War Is Off the Charts

Tom Engelhardt-American War Is Off the Charts

How the U.S. Military Feeds at the Terror Trough Here’s a statement it might be hard to disagree with: American war is off the charts. Still, I’d like to explain — but I’m nervous about doing so. I know perfectly well that the next word I plan to write will send most of you tumbling elsewhere in a universe in[Read More…]

by April 15, 2019 Imperialism
A Swiftian Modest Proposal for the President

A Swiftian Modest Proposal for the President

Or How to Solve the Border and China Problems in One Swell Foop 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[Read More…]

by March 4, 2019 World
 Veni, Vidi, Tweeti (I Came, I Saw, I Tweeted)- An Obituary for the Republic

 Veni, Vidi, Tweeti (I Came, I Saw, I Tweeted)- 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 build (as its National Security Strategy put[Read More…]

by February 15, 2019 Imperialism
A new study from Brown University's Costs of War Project found that the U.S. "War on Terror" has killed half a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. (Photo: Spc. Phillip McTaggart/Flickr/cc)

“The Bleeding Wound”- Afghanistan and the Implosion of America

As I approach 75, I’m having a commonplace experience for my age. I live with a brain that’s beginning to dump previously secure memories — names, the contents of books I read long ago (or all too recently), events, whatever. If you’re of a certain age yourself, you know the story. Recently, however, I realized that this experience of loss,[Read More…]

by January 24, 2019 World
 Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh 

 Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh 

You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science.  Everything “networked.”  It was to be a glorious dream of limited destruction combined[Read More…]

by July 21, 2017 Imperialism
The Election From Hell

The Election From Hell

As the world careens toward “an environment never experienced before,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the two parties to the American spectacle continues to insist that climate change is a hoax. Meanwhile, the other party, the one theoretically promoting much-needed responses to climate change, wasn’t even willing to highlight the subject in prime time on any of the last three days of its convention. In other words, the deepest, most unnerving realities of our world are, in essence, missing in action in election 2016. You want to be afraid? Be afraid of that!

by August 9, 2016 World