Orlando and the Future of Terrorism

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the recent tragedy that left 49 dead at a gay bar in Orlando. The shooter, Omar Mateen, declared his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call he made during the massacre. President Obama and much of the news media have declared the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history an act of terrorism. Perhaps the incident was a terrorist act. The killer was...
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Obama’s Nuclear Paradox

Of all the accomplishments and disappointments of the Obama presidency, his nuclear weapons policy is the greatest. Yes, you read that correctly. Obama’s approach to nukes will be his most significant legacy as well as his most salient failure. Obama promised “hope and change” in 2007. The paradox of his nuclear weapons policy is that it falls somewhere between these aspirational poles of...
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Big Oil Isn’t Going Down without a Fight

An extreme weather event hits Norway. Finally shocked into doing something radical about climate change, Norwegian citizens propel the Green Party into government, where it declares an immediate suspension of oil and gas production. The new prime minister promises to provide Europe instead with electricity from the next generation of “clean” nuclear power. The European Union, heavily...
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The Pentagon’s Potlatch

Among the Kwakiutl and several other indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest, the potlatch was a ritual of hospitality. The host would invite guests to a big feast and then distribute gifts. The distribution was a way of demonstrating the host’s status: the more significant the gifts, the more important the host. Think: swag bags for the pre-celebrity era. Although this sophisticated...
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The Children’s Crusade

In 1954, a single book destroyed the popular notion that children are innocent souls. In that book, a plane of such innocent souls crashes on a deserted island. There, in a paradise of coral and coconuts and wild pigs, the survivors soon revert to a state of nature. But such a state, author William Golding warned us, is not an idyll of flower-sniffing and poetry-writing. In The Lord of the Flies,...
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Trump: Foreign Policy’s Useful Idiot?

He wants to cut back on U.S. military commitments overseas. He calls the Iraq War “one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of our country.” He promises to make deals with America’s adversaries. He’s comfortable with the détente with Cuba. And he really pisses off the stuffed shirts at The Washington Post. So, what’s not to like about Donald Trump? Well, a great deal, of...
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