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Defying the Nuclear Sword

By Robert C. Koehler “. . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” These lost words — Isaiah 2:4 — are nearly 3,000 years old. Did they ever have political traction? To believe […] more

We Are All Indigenous

By Robert C. Koehler “All things are interrelated. Everything in the universe is part of a single whole. Everything is connected in some way to everything else. It is therefore possible to understand something only if we can understand how it is connected to everything else.” These words, the first of the Twelve Teachings of […] more

Participatory Evolution

By Robert C. Koehler The big black pickup truck plunged into the protesters blocking the parking lot and I cringed, viscerally, as though I could feel it myself — this merciless crush of steel against flesh. I was recovering from a bicycle injury when I watched the event on the news last week, as members […] more

Dead Canaries

By Robert C. Koehler “Many people think that the fight for America is already lost. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe. I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.” This is how the El Paso killer ended his white […] more

The Inner Nixon

By Robert C. Koehler The Nixon tapes are still in the news! My God, they’re still spewing bile, still making America’s eyeballs roll. They’re as relevant as ever. Donald Trump, it turns out, is merely the inner Richard Nixon, live and uncensored. He’s also the inner Ronald Reagan — the inner voice, suddenly made public, […] more

The Strongest People on the Planet

By Robert C. Koehler “Send her back! Send her back!” The chant: Is it merely a case study in collective stupidity or is it a signal of rising fascism? When I look at the viral video — the latest manifestation of Trumpism and the freeing of good old American racism from the constraints of political […] more

Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War

By Robert C. Koehler “The easy movement of high ranking military officers into jobs with major defense contractors and the reverse movement of top executives in major defense contractors into high Pentagon jobs is solid evidence of the military industrial-complex in operation.” I was utterly stunned when I read these words of former Wisconsin senator […] more

The Mop Closet of American History

By Robert C. Koehler “They were quiet, and just staring, blankly,” she said. “There were just blank stares and no expressions on their faces.” Welcome to hell, as presided over by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This image bears deep reflection. It doesn’t change. Children are taken from their parents, jammed into cages. They have […] more

Trouble at the Border

By Robert C. Koehler Yes, we have a serious problem at the border — indeed, at every border we create and defend with force of arms and bureaucratic indifference. “‘If you want water, just drink from a toilet.’ That’s what border patrol told one thirsty woman we met on today’s #DemsAtTheBorder trip. These are the […] more

American Concentration Camps

By Robert C. Koehler “These aren’t people. These are animals.” These words alone set off the alarm — the fascism alarm, you might say. Donald Trump is by no means the sole source of America’s democracy nosedive, but he’s its current, deeply troubling manifestation. Should I write this week about the wars he wants to […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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 […] more

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, […] more