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War Begets War . . . and Nothing Else

By Robert C. Koehler Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran . . . Thanks, John McCain! Let’s mix a little humor in with war. It’s so much easier to take when we do. By the way, have you noticed that we’re always on the verge of war? “The bombing will be massive, but will be […]

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The Armed Bureaucracy

By Robert C. Koehler “Sooner or later they end up in a cage, where (they) belong.” This is hardly a surprise: A recent study by the Missouri attorney general’s office shows that black drivers are at least twice as likely — in some towns, much more than that — to be stopped by police as […]

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The Quiet Killer at the Core of Patriotism

By Robert C. Koehler What? Another mass murder? Almost missed this one: Virginia Beach. Twelve killed on May 31, plus the killer himself, who was a city employee — an engineer. He had legitimate access to the building where he shot people on three floors. His guns were legally purchased. Nothing about him, prior to […]

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Shattering the Context of War

By Robert C. Koehler The U.S. government protects itself, not democracy. That’s what is most apparent about its 18-count indictment of Julian Assange, not to mention the ongoing imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, for the leaking and release of State Department and military documents and videos a decade ago. The current reporting on the indictment is […]

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Politicizing a Woman’s Body

By Robert C. Koehler White men rule! That’s the uber-message quietly emerging from the new anti-abortion laws recently passed in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio and Missouri, no matter that the public remains predominantly supportive of safe, legal abortions. That doesn’t matter, see. The fact that the Republican Party controls the legislatures in so many states where […]

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War’s Unanswered Questions

By Robert C. Koehler “Over these last few years, given the wars it has waged and the international treaties it has arbitrarily reneged on, the U.S. government perfectly fits its own definition of a rogue state.” — Arundhati Roy You have the world’s largest military, you’re going to use it, right? Donald Trump and his […]

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What’s Next: War with Venezuela?

By Robert C. Koehler Mix a little socialism in with the oil and war may be unavoidable. Thus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, talking about Venezuela: “The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do.” He goes on, demonstrating how […]

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Nonviolence or Nonexistence

By Robert C. Koehler The day before he died, Martin Luther King said these words at a packed church in Memphis: “Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. Now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world, it […]

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Hell Mixed with Futility

By Robert C. Koehler Oh, the normalcy of militarism! Our annual financial hemorrhage to this complex menagerie of institutions — from the Pentagon to Homeland Security to the Nuclear Security Administration to the CIA and its secret expenditures — must not be seriously questioned in the corridors of Congress, even though, all things considered, it […]

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War Crimes and National Security

By Robert C. Koehler How dare she question the sanctity of American militarism? As national security adviser John Bolton declared last fall, the International Criminal Court constitutes “an assault on the constitutional rights of the American people and the sovereignty of the United States.” That’s you and me that Bolton is speaking about, and the […]

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Challenging the Status Quo in 2020

By Robert C. Koehler Reparations for slavery? Upending militarism and waging peace? Taking climate change seriously? Getting carbon out of the atmosphere and fossil fuel money out of the EPA? Valuing healing over punishment in our disastrous criminal justice system? Ending mass incarceration? Bringing all this up — and much, much more — in a […]

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Our Wounded Planet

By Robert C. Koehler Should we save the planet or kill the enemy? Perhaps no question more succinctly separates the past from the future, or so it occurred to me after I read Rebecca Solnit’s stunning observation in a recent essay: that the mass murders in Christchurch, N.Z. on March 15 occurred on the same […]

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Putting Our Better Angels to Work

By Robert C. Koehler Nationalists — white or otherwise — need “invasions” on a regular basis in order to stay revved up and equal to the cause. Thus: “We are experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history,” the New Zealand killer (whose name I will not mention, honoring the precedent set […]

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Artificial Morality

By Robert C. Koehler Artificial Intelligence is one thing. Artificial morality is another. It may sound something like this: “First, we believe in the strong defense of the United States and we want the people who defend it to have access to the nation’s best technology, including from Microsoft.” The words are those of Microsoft […]

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Re-Inhabiting Planet Earth

By Robert C. Koehler “I believe that for a moment I thought the explosion might set fire to the atmosphere and thus finish the Earth, even though I knew that this was not possible.” These words of Manhattan Project physicist Emilio Segre, quoted by Richard Rhodes in his book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, […]

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Are You Black, White or Human?

By Robert C. Koehler Some of my best friends are colored. All of them are, actually. And so I introduce you to Lowell Thompson, artist — indeed, psycho-realist, as he calls himself — recovering ad man and “colored person.” He’s also, you might say, the king of irreverence and political incorrectness, but this is only […]

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The Music That’s in All of Us

By Robert C. Koehler And suddenly the music burst through the borders. This was in May of 1999, in a city in the Netherlands called Alkmaar. Laura Hassler, an American woman who had been living in the Netherlands for many years by then — who was a choir director and, in essence, the “town musician,” […]

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Jim Crow Jumps into the Game

By Robert C. Koehler History in blackface slaps the present moment awake. What? The governor put that picture on his yearbook page? In 1984? The wave of outrage, the demand for his resignation — from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s own party, the Democrats — can’t be dismissed with a shrug and an apology. His career […]

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Disarmament, Not Low-Yield Nukes

By Robert C. Koehler Seven-plus decades ago, as humanity was ensnarled in a monstrous world war, its instinct to win — to dominate others above all else — achieved ultimate manifestation: the capacity to annihilate all life on Planet Earth. Nuclear weapons are, you might say, the logical outcome of the 10,000-year journey of civilization: […]

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King’s Vision Is Still Defiant

By Robert C. Koehler Mike Pence, in his attempt the other day to commandeer the spirit of Martin Luther King to shill for his boss’s agenda, unintentionally did so much more. He brought the enormity of King’s vision back into national awareness, where it shattered the Trump Wall of Fear just as resoundingly as it […]

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What About Open Borders?

By Robert C. Koehler There are things that go unquestioned in the national discussion. Because this is a country wrapped in fear and self-importance, the basic, unchallenged premise determining how we behave, how we spend our money, is that we need to protect ourselves . . . from The Enemy. There’s always an enemy lurking […]

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A Green Future Is One Without War

By Robert C. Koehler Donald Trump and his base — the leftover scraps of Jim Crow, the broken shards of racist hatred that once were the American mainstream and made the country seem “great” to those who weren’t its victims — have, it appears, a crucial role to play in our future. President Trump is […]

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A Loose Cannon for Peace?

By Robert C. Koehler Circle the wagons! Apparently what’s under assault is war itself, or so the Establishment believes, in the wake of the shocking announcement by the president that he plans to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops now deployed in Syria and 7,000, or half, the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. No, can’t do that! […]

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Yemen: Our Future?

By Robert C. Koehler “They must kill and continue to kill, strange as it may seem, in order not to know that they are killing.” — Rene Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World Socially sanctioned killing is called war. The word “war” may be the most powerful word in human history, because […]

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Border Security

By Robert C. Koehler It’s the phrase “border security” that freezes my soul every time I hear it uttered, every time I see it in print — so simplistically obvious, the equivalent of keeping your door locked. Did you ever have your cellphone swiped? If you’re careless about this, you’ll pay the price. “This is […]

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