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Policing and the Sanctity of Life

By Robert C. Koehler This is so much bigger than personal accountability. Yes, the four police officers present at the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis were fired the next day. The case is being investigated by the FBI. And the mayor of Minneapolis and lots of other politicians are talking about “values.” […] more

Rethinking Public Safety: Trust vs. Force

By Robert C. Koehler “Guns aren’t just a danger in and of themselves,” writes Noah Berlatsky at Quartz. “They enable a policing philosophy built on violence and forced compliance, rather than one founded on respect, trust and consent. That philosophy affects every police interaction, even those that don’t involve actual shooting.” Examples of this, of […] more

Racism and the National Soul

By Robert C. Koehler How deep does American racism go? And is it possible to uproot it? Or will it simply — endlessly — shift shape, wrap itself in the political correctness of the day and morph, say, from slavery to Jim Crow, from Jim Crow to stand-your-ground laws, gerrymandering and voter suppression? At some […] more

Can We Achieve Nuclear Adulthood?

By Robert C. Koehler “I’ll never tire of repeating: We need to demilitarize world affairs, international politics and political thinking.” What if a world leader — someone with extraordinary power, even, my God, control over nuclear weapons — were to talk this way? Well, this is as close as we can get for now. The […] more

A United World Must Break Out of Prison

By Robert C. Koehler At a time when the president wants to reopen the economy — but not the borders! — it’s time to grab ahold of the moment and start groping in our minds beyond what’s politically possible and start envisioning serious social change. Life is fervid chaos right now for those who are […] more

Moral Injury and the Pandemic of Violence

By Robert C. Koehler “The vet in the mirror may be wounded in the soul — and it is your duty to carry this one last vet for help.” This is not an easy reach — into the soul of the loneliest man or woman on Earth, which is the definition of everyone who is […] more

War, Irony and the New Normal

By Robert C. Koehler The uber-irony about the deadly coronavirus is that, as it claims lives, endangers millions and interrupts the social normal, threatening unprecedented global chaos, it is also quietly informing us what we must do to create a better world — and, indeed, creating it, in certain ways, as we look on in […] more

What World Shall We Create?

By Robert C. Koehler As the quarantine continues, as I gaze out my window at the quiet street in front of my house — wow, look, there’s a cardinal . . . oh yeah, there’s a neighbor walking her dog — I swell with wonder at the paradoxical unity, “the shared humanity,” I feel in […] more

Developing a Vaccine Against War

By Robert C. Koehler What if the vaccine that’s eventually developed is so large in scope it includes the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Pope Francis? I revisit Guterres’ words of a week ago: “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an […] more

The Virus Is Our Teacher

By Robert C. Koehler Last Sunday at 11 a.m. I went for a walk. Even if it’s nothing special, a walk isn’t a normal thing to do these days. But this brief walk — around the block, consuming maybe ten minutes of my time — had a transcendent dimension to it that continues to awe […] more

Creative Empathy in a Pandemic

By Robert C. Koehler One thing about a pandemic: It’s inclusive. We cannot survive it, move beyond it, by protecting merely some people. We have to protect everyone. Of all the disruption, paradox and chaos that have been unleashed by the coronavirus, this is the most stunning: It has something to teach us that we […] more

War, Profit and the Coronavirus

By Robert C. Koehler If you want expertise, don’t bother reading any further here. I know as much about coronavirus as any stunned disbeliever with a sudden, irresistible urge to touch his face. This is a news story that’s spookily personal — far more personal, somehow, than all those other ongoing horror stories out there, […] more

The Meaning of Super Tuesday

By Robert C. Koehler A gush of corporate relief fills the airwaves as Super Tuesday becomes history. A progressive wave was not electorally visible as the Democratic status quo consolidated itself behind Joe Biden and won nine or maybe ten states. I was feeling a lot more hope when Super Tuesday began than I’m feeling […] more

Bernie’s Assault on Our Cliché of Greatness

By Robert C. Koehler “Excuse me, occasionally it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy.” I don’t think I’ve heard that much honesty from a mainstream-party presidential candidate in virtually half a century. And suddenly this race begins to matter in a way that seems like . . . oh […] more

The Wall: Separating Democracy from Voters

By Robert C. Koehler The mainstream media imposes some serious certainties on the 2020 presidential election that drive me into a furious despair, e.g.: Even though Bernie Sanders, winner of the first two Democratic primaries, is now leading in the national polls, he “can’t and won’t” be the party’s nominee “because in coming weeks,” writes […] more

Voting with Food and Water

By Robert C. Koehler A bad app in Iowa throws everything into a tizzy. Who won? Come on, the horse race has begun. Let’s get some numbers up on the board. Spectator Nation stomps its feet. Voting is the activity at the core of democracy, right? It’s a citizen’s sacred duty. While I have always […] more

Maneuvering Hell for Our Advantage

By Robert C. Koehler When the mainstream media writes about war, even critically, the image that often comes to mind for me is an infant wrapped in plastic. That infant is naked reality, a.k.a., the present moment, suffocating and screaming for its life; the plastic smothering it are the journalistic euphemisms by which murder and […] more

FBI, King and the Tremors of History

By Robert C. Koehler Nothing like trying to rewrite history. Remember way back when, when America was one nation under God and everyone got along so nicely? That was the sentiment of an FBI tweet on Martin Luther King Day, which — oh, the horror! — blew up in the agency’s face and brought a […] more

Will We Always Be This Way?

By Robert C. Koehler “The people do not want war!” These were the words that did it, that knocked the composure out of me. I was standing at what felt like the heart of Chicago on a January afternoon, corner of Wabash and Wacker, next to the river and beneath the tower known as Trump. […] more

Militarism: The Delusion Lives

By Robert C. Koehler The annual defense budget, passed recently by both the House (377-48) and Senate (82-8), came in at $738 billion for 2020, up from last year a sweet $22 billion. War hits the motherlode every year. “The money just isn’t there” for virtually anything that matters — you know, healthcare for all, […] more

Letting Our Values out of Their Cage

By Robert C. Koehler My God, they put Jesus and his parents in cages, as though that’s what U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents would do — you know, keep the spirit of love and compassion from entering the United States of America. Are they suggesting there’s an equivalence here between the divine family and […] more

Envisioning a United World

By Robert C. Koehler Let’s bomb Iowa! Or maybe Texas or Michigan or Nebraska . . . Oh wait, I got confused for a second. Those places are part of America and we love them. We would never bomb them. These are places we would bomb: Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Congo, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, El […] more

The Intelligence of Tomorrow

By Robert C. Koehler “Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her [expletive].” These words, uttered by some lost soul, were directed at U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar earlier this year. He had called her office and talked to a staffer, calling […] more

Celebrating Peace: A Work in Progress

By Robert C. Koehler Veterans For Peace, an organization that speaks truth to war like nobody else, is attempting to reclaim Armistice Day, the Nov. 11 holiday that was flipped on its head 65 years ago when it was renamed Veterans Day — and became a celebration not of the end of war but of […] more

A Tight Grip on Our Nuclear Toys

By Robert C. Koehler “Everyone wants to play with the big boys, and the only way to become one of the big boys is to have nuclear toys.” Attention Planet Earth! Attention Planet Earth! It is time to grow up. The words are those of Mohamed ElBaradei, then director general of the International Atomic Energy […] more