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Creating Peace Means Changing the World

By Robert C. Koehler Only threat, pain and inflicted hell preserve peace, right? Get the bad guy! Russia: bad. If it invades Ukraine, such a “voluntary war of aggression,” according to David Leonhardt of the New York Times, “would be a sign that Putin believed that Pax Americana was over and that the U.S., the […] more

Afghanistan on the Brink of Disaster

By Robert C. Koehler Gay rights, women’s rights — in reality, these are a nuisance to many U.S. conservatives, but purporting to protect these rights on the other side of the world is a great excuse to play war. And you don’t need bombs to play. All you need is the will to dominate and […] more

The Court of Ecological Awareness

By Robert C. Koehler Pssst . . . here’s a little secret. Don’t tell anyone, OK? It might cause trouble. In recent years, there have been more than a thousand lawsuits filed around the world — including a few in the United States — challenging corporate or governmental negligence about climate change and ecosystem damage. […] more

Ukraine and the Nuclear Paradox

By Robert C. Koehler Somewhere out there in the geopolitical wilderness of Eastern Europe, two powerful beasts stalk each other. One of them is good. One of them is evil. The future of all life on this planet is at stake. We’ll be back after these messages . . . (or maybe not). This seems […] more

Jim Crow Wails in Anguish

By Robert C. Koehler “The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.” Even if Mitch McConnell’s viral gaffe last week is as innocent as he claims it to be, the stench of something deep — the unexamined racist fear […] more

A Citizen of the World (Still) Speaks

By Robert C. Koehler I decided to honor Martin Luther King Day this year by reading — and trying to absorb, more fully than ever before — the entirety (nearly 7,000 words) of the iconic speech he gave at Riverside Church a year to the day before his assassination. The speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time […] more

Untangling Ourselves from the Dark Side

By Robert C. Koehler Guess what? I direct the following insight to, among others, the U.S. Congress, which annually and without comment, with only a few objectors, passes a trillion-dollar (and growing) military budget, by far the largest such budget on Planet Earth. “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” The words are those […] more

The Myth of the Good War

By Robert C. Koehler Love thy enemy? I get a chance to do so on a regular basis, thanks to the email (or nasty-mail) I sometimes get in response to my column, e.g.: “Must be a dearth of anyone with anything intelligent to say for the News to put your drivel out for us to […] more

Do We Dare Stop Being Afraid of Ourselves?

By Robert C. Koehler What’s your story? We tell stories, which evolve into myths — and myths are what hold us together. They create the collective entity known as the human race. And myths evolve. At least, good God, I hope they do. We’re stuck, right now, in the myth of collective suicide, more generally […] more

Poisoning Ourselves with War

By Robert C. Koehler War spews hell in all directions. Just ask the guys at Talon Anvil, a secret U.S. “strike cell” recently exposed by the New York Times as a unit with a reputation for ignoring the rules of engagement and killing lots and lots of civilians with drone strikes as it plays war […] more

Mass Murder: New Victims, Same Old Questions

By Robert C. Koehler Four students dead, six more, plus a teacher, wounded. Can you believe – another mass shooting last week. This one north of Detroit, at Oxford High School. A 15-year-old boy – and his parents – were arrested. While the shock and collective horror are still fresh, before the news cycle moves […] more

Our Shackled Planet

By Robert C. Koehler “Protecting the border” is essentially the same thing as protecting your own property, right? You’ve got to protect it from invaders, thieves — lawless jerks who want what you have. If you’re rich and paranoid, then you have no doubt that’s what refugees are, especially down there at the southern U.S. […] more

Reclaiming a Lost Sense of Community

By Robert C. Koehler The first time it happened was bad enough. “It” amounted to this: It was Wednesday afternoon, I had finished my column early and walked out to my car, parked in the alley behind my house. I was on my way to an art show — very excited. I got in the […] more

National Defense and Dead Children

By Robert C. Koehler A new defense budget looms. Maybe we’re running out of wars to fight, but no matter. The proposed figure before Congress is bigger than ever: $778 billion. How fascinating — and how irrelevant — that the vote is scheduled just a few days after the New York Times published its investigation […] more

American History: Let’s Face the Truth

By Robert C. Koehler When you’re losing the game, summon the commies! And conservative white America has been losing for quite some time — losing control of the future, that is. The good old days of unabated white supremacy aren’t coming back; racism can only maintain a public forum, and political relevance, if it’s wrapped […] more

A World Without Money

By Robert C. Koehler And climate change begins . . . “Three or four thousand years ago the gods began a migration from the lakes, forests, rivers, and mountains into the sky, becoming the imperial overlords of nature rather than its essence.” So writes Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics, defining a transition in human existence […] more

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

By Robert C. Koehler Several million dollars’ worth of fiction exploded the other day, leaving cinematographer Halyna Hutchins — age 42, a wife, a mom — dead, and plunging Alec Baldwin, who accidentally shot her, into a state of unimaginable hell. This happened on Oct. 21, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the set of […] more

Assange: A Threat to War Itself

By Robert C. Koehler The Pentagon’s offer of “condolence money” to the relatives of the ten people (seven of them children) who were killed in the final U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan — originally declared righteous and necessary — bears a troubling connection to the government’s ongoing efforts to get its hands on WikiLeaks founder […] more

A Zen Koan on Columbus Day

By Robert C. Koehler It’s too easy, right? Too simple — shoving Christopher Columbus off the historical honor roll, pulling down his statues, yanking his “day” away from him and renaming it in honor of the people he murdered, kidnapped, turned into property? Or is Indigenous Peoples Day seen by the world as simply a […] more

Wrestling with Infinity

By Robert C. Koehler I use walking sticks when I walk nowadays, kind of like cross-country skiing in late summer, but I had no idea doing so would connect me with a guy named Joe and open a flow of aching love and the deep desire to matter. “Can I give you a cane?” he […] more

Separating the Cross and the Sword

By Robert C. Koehler What is a gaffe but an inadvertent uttering of an awkward truth? For instance: “This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” The “gaffe” part of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 announcement that the War on Terror had begun was, of course, his calling it a crusade. Doing […] more

Women’s Rights: Afghanistan and Beyond

By Robert C. Koehler Suddenly there’s major concern across the country — from the mainstream media to every last rock-ribbed Republican — for the rights of Afghan women and girls to be able to work, to go to school. Oh my God, we’ve given Afghanistan back to the Taliban! Even George W. Bush found his […] more

A National Rite of Passage: Beyond War

By Robert C. Koehler A recent New York Times op-ed was perhaps the strangest, most awkward and tentative defense of the military-industrial complex — excuse me, the experiment in democracy called America — I’ve ever encountered, and begs to be addressed. The writer, Andrew Exum, was an Army Ranger who had deployments in the early […] more

Letting the Future Out of Its Cage

By Robert C. Koehler We pretend to have enemies, but mostly what we “have” are people whose lives simply don’t matter. And then we kill them, either directly — via airstrikes or other war games, turning them into collateral damage — or indirectly . . . by simply failing to notice that they exist. The […] more

After Afghanistan . . . a Truth Commission?

By Robert C. Koehler “Ten members of one family — including seven children — are dead after a US drone strike targeting a vehicle in a residential neighborhood of Kabul . . . “The youngest victims of Sunday’s airstrike were two 2-year-old girls, according to family members. “Relatives found the remains of one of the […] more