The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. Defense Department photo

Not to mention rendition and indefinite detention

by REBECCA GORDON

When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney launched their forever wars — under the banner of a “Global War on Terror” — they unleashed an unholy trinity of tactics. Torture, rendition, and indefinite detention became the order of the day. After a partial suspension of these policies in the Obama years, they now appear poised for resurrection.

For eight years under Obama, this country’s forever wars continued, although his administration retired the expression “war on terror,” preferring to describe its war-making more vaguely as an effort to “degrade and destroy” violent jihadists like ISIS. Nevertheless, he made…


U.S. Air Force B-2 bomber. Air Force photo

Measuring violence in a single-superpower world

by JOHN DOWER

On February 17, 1941, almost 10 months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Life magazine carried a lengthy essay by its publisher, Henry Luce, entitled “The American Century.”

The son of Presbyterian missionaries, born in China in 1898 and raised there until the age of 15, Luce essentially transposed the certainty of religious dogma into the certainty of a nationalistic mission couched in the name of internationalism.

Luce acknowledged that the United States could not police the whole world or attempt to impose democratic institutions on all of mankind. …


Gage Skidmore photo

Donald Trump doesn’t care

by RAJAN MENON

Donald Trump’s supporters believe that his election will end business as usual in Washington. The self-glorifying Trump agrees and indeed his has, so far, been the most unorthodox presidency of our era, if not any era. It’s a chaotic and tweet-driven administration that makes headlines daily thanks to scandals, acts of stunning incompetence, rants, accusations, wild claims, and conspiracy theories.

On one crucial issue, however, Trump has been a complete conformist. Despite the headline-grabbing uproar over Muslim bans and the like, his stance on national security couldn’t be more recognizable. …


An F-35A takes off from Eglin Air Forece Base in Florida on Feb. 27, 2017. U.S. Air Force photo

The JSF is a terrible fighter, bomber and attacker — and unfit for aircraft carriers

by DAN GRAZIER

The F-35 still has a long way to go before it will be ready for combat. That was the parting message of Michael Gilmore, the now-retired Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, in his last annual report.

The Joint Strike Fighter Program has already consumed more than $100 billion and nearly 25 years. Just to finish the basic development phase will require at least an extra $1 billion and two more years. …


ARES. Photo via Wikimedia

Army and Air Force generals helped kill ARES

by DAVE MAJUMDAR

While the U.S. Air Force’s OA-X program is once again coming to the fore as an alternative to using high-end jet fighters against poorly armed insurgents, the idea is not a new one.

While the last iteration of the concept came in 2008, in earlier years the U.S. Army led the charge to field a new light attack aircraft under the Low Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft program, or LCBAA.

Though the program never reached fruition due to political infighting between elements within the Army and the Air Force, legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan build the Scaled Model…


U.S. President Donald Trump.

Follow the money

by BRIAN E. FRYDENBORG

Before Donald Trump was president or a candidate, and when he was hurting for investors as Wall Street had all but shut down loaning operations to him, his businesses established extensive ties to Russian oligarchs, including some allegedly affiliated with organized crime.

At the same time, associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government and future associates of Trump — most notably Paul Manafort, his future campaign chairman — were allegedly involved in a massive Eurasian natural gas and money laundering scheme worth billions of dollars, and part of Putin’s grand plan to control Ukraine.


A police officer in Baltimore, Maryland. Elvert Barnes photo via Flickr

The Black Guerrilla Family went from revolution to anarchy as police pulled back

by PATRICK BURKE

As you walk through Sandtown-Winchester, Baltimore City’s most violent neighborhood, the years of socio-economic degradation are readily apparent.

In violent areas of Chicago, such as the Austin neighborhood, the main thoroughfares are littered with liquor stores and boarded up buildings, but the residential areas are generally well-kept and the architecture is quite beautiful.

This is not the case in Sandtown-Winchester. It seems that at least half of the homes on every street have boarded-up or broken windows, soot marks from fires and even giant unexplained holes in the brick.

The structure below is across from a children’s…


An A-10 Warthog in Arizona. U.S. Air Force photo

Flying branch begins search for its next close air support plane

by DAVE MAJUMDAR

The U.S. Air Force is expected to hold demonstrations this summer to show off the capabilities of a new light attack aircraft the service might eventually purchase under a new OA-X program.

The Air Force had attempted to buy a light attack aircraft in 2008 under a previous iteration of the OA-X program, but ultimately that effort came to naught. The previous OA-X effort came at a time when the Air Force was fighting two counter-insurgency wars simultaneously in Iraq and Afghanistan, but political forces and bureaucratic inertia within the service carried the day.

How this latest…


Patrick Shanahan with John Kerry in 2015. Flickr photo

Amid ethics concerns, Boeing exec is headed to the Pentagon

by MANDY SMITHBERGER

Pres. Donald Trump recently named Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to be deputy secretary of defense, marking the second defense-contractor nominee this administration has named to a Pentagon post.

The appointment raises a number of potential conflict of issues the public and Congress should examine — including how difficult it will be for Shanahan to recuse himself from the business and interests of his former employer.

War Is Boring

We go to war so you don’t have to

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