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Opening Gitmo to the World

By Robert C. Koehler To read Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo is to run your mind along the contours of hell. The next step, if you’re an American, is to embrace it. Claim it. This is who we are: We are the proprietors of a cluster of human cages and a Kafkaesque […] more

Dead Civilians and the Language of War

By Robert C. Koehler Finally it comes down to this: Some people are expendable. In certain parts of the world — where we and our allies are waging war — the expendable people come in two categories: terrorists (good riddance!) and civilians, whom we only kill if and when necessary, and whose deaths often elicit […] more

Nukes and the Global Schism

By Robert C. Koehler The United States boycotted the U.N. negotiations to ban — everywhere across Planet Earth — nuclear weapons. So did a few other countries. Guess which ones? The international debate over this historic treaty, which became reality a week ago by a margin of 122 to 1, revealed how deeply split the […] more

Skewing Democracy White

By Robert C. Koehler Every real problem this country — and this planet — face is replaced by a fantasy problem, which all the powers of government then pretend to address. Meet Donald Trump, master of the street con, trickster extraordinaire. How many cabinet positions and high-level government posts have been filled by someone whose […] more

The Fire Burns, the Caldron Bubbles

By Robert C. Koehler America serves up its news in a caldron from hell, or so it sometimes seems. The fragments are all simmering in the same juice: bombs and drones and travel bans, slashed health care, police shootings, the Confederate flag. Double, double, toil and trouble . . . Suddenly I’m thinking about the […] more

When the Detainee Is American . . .

By Robert C. Koehler The corpses pile up like sandbags along the planet’s geopolitical borders. “Perhaps his condition deteriorated and the authorities decided it was better to release him in a coma than as a corpse.” So said an expert on North Korea recently, quoted in the New York Times following the death of 22-year-old […] more

Uprooting the N-Word

By Robert C. Koehler The word, inappropriately uttered, has the news value of a bullet fired off at the mall. One word. It’s the ticking time bomb of American history. It pulsates with paradox. I want to take a moment to honor at least that: the paradox. How come its meaning changes depending on who […] more

A Dying Man’s Gift of Awareness

By Robert C. Koehler “Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them . . .” These words are also part of the geopolitics of murder — these words of light and hope, alive and pulsing amid the bullet casings, the blood and wreckage, the shattered […] more

Strip and Flip: Democracy in a Cage

By Robert C. Koehler The wound burst open in November. History, suddenly, could no longer be avoided. Reality could no longer be avoided. American democracy is flawed, polluted, gamed by the oligarchs. It always has been. But not until the election process whelped Donald Trump did it become so unbearably obvious. Welcome to The Strip […] more

Cancer with Political Clout

By Robert C. Koehler A suicide bomber inflicts hell at a concert hall in Manchester, England that’s full of children, as though that was the point — to murder children. The horror of war . . . well, terrorism . . . doesn’t get any worse. And the media, as they focus on the spectacle […] more