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  • Originally published 04/16/2014

    The Slaughter Bench of History

    How war created civilization over the past 10,000 years—and threatens to destroy it in the next 40.

  • Originally published 08/19/2013

    Clinging to Mass Violence

    Resorting to violence is a long-term, deeply-ingrained habit in human history, and is not easily discarded.

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    H.R. McMaster: The Pipe Dream of Easy War

    H. R. McMaster is an Army major general and the commanding officer at Fort Benning, Ga., who led the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq as a colonel in 2005 and 2006.FORT BENNING, Ga. — “A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.We engaged in such thinking in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; many accepted the conceit that lightning victories could be achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances.

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Roy Scranton: Why Fiction Tells the Truth About War

    Roy Scranton, an Iraq veteran, was an artilleryman in the Army. He is co-editor, with Matt Gallagher, of Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.This week we look back and think about what it meant that we invaded Iraq ten years ago. What kind of story do we tell? What’s our narrative? It’s not an easy question, but it’s an important one, because the stories we tell about how we got where we were turn into stories about where we’re going.Some might think this is a job strictly for history. Since 9/11, if not before, people have talked about reality outstripping fiction, as if fiction can’t keep pace with events. More, we’re all tired of government duplicity, overblown product claims, scripted reality shows, and faked memoirs. When someone tells us they’ve made something up, we’re apt to feel what David Shields called “reality hunger”: Don’t sell me the well-crafted fake, buddy, give me the real deal.

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Besieged commander's 'Victory or Death' letter returns to the Alamo for first time

    A plea for help penned in 1836 by the commander of the besieged rebel Texas forces at the Alamo, in which he vowed "Victory or Death," returns to old Spanish mission for the first time Friday. William Barret Travis' famous letter to "the People of Texas and All Americans in the World," will get a police escort from the state archive in Austin to the Alamo, which is now in the heart of downtown San Antonio. The weathered, single-page letter will go on display for two weeks, starting this weekend, and will be kept in a special display cabinet and given round-the-clock guards....  

  • Originally published 01/31/2013

    The Hagel Hearings

    Via Flickr/Secretary of Defense.Originally posted on

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