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Book Awards by Year
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Juan Gonzalez on America's role in Latin America
Adam Hochschild on how World War I began
Manning Marable, 1950 - 2011, dies days before publication of his biography of Malcolm X
Edward Herman and David Peterson on Julian Assange and Luis Posada Carriles
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
American scholar Chalmers Johnson, 1931 - 2010
Susan Reverby has won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for Examining Tuskegee
Fractal Mathmematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot, 1924 – 2010
Mohammed Arkoun, Islamic scholar who explored Enlightenment ideals, 1928-2010
Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize
Tariq Ali on "The Obama Syndrome"
Historian and public intellectual Tony Judt, 1948 - 2010
Former U.S. Senator James Abourezk on Leaders in Hiding
David Kirby on something else we feed chickens
Andrew J. Bacevich on How to Dismantle the American Empire
Stacy Malkan on Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry
Joy Gordon on the Invisble War, the United States and Iraq Sanctions
Tom Engelhardt on the American Way of War
Writer, critic and activist Carlos Monsiváis, 1938 - 2010
He is totally unreproducible — he was sui generis — Martin Gardner, 1914 - 2010
Joe Meadors: I seem to have all the bad luck in the world when it comes to the Israelis.
Historian Bruce Cumings on the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula
How the hell did it happen? - Daniel Okrent on how Prohibition democratized drinking and made the income tax possible
"We have more than an oil slick out of control, we also have these big corporations out of control." - Marine toxicologist Rikki Ott on the BP and Exxon Valdez oil spills.
"This is too important. We cannot leave this to governments": Cormac Cullinan on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights
Anarchist, poet, publisher and chess-player, John Rety, 1930 - 2010
"Literature was another victim of the war": Miguel Delibes, 1920 - 2010
The beautiful brain of Sherman Alexie: War Dances wins 2010 Pen/Faulkner Award
It's terrible to be possessed by brittle things: Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version wins the Best Translated Book Award for Poetry
Translator, critic and BBC script editor, Barbara Bray, 1924 - 2010
Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award to D. A. Powell
The banks have had nine months to creatively increase the real cost of borrowing: Robert Manning on Credit Card Nation
Robert McChesney and John Nichols the history and necessity of government subsides for US journalism
Of course, I’d forgotten she’d died: An extract from A Scattering by Christopher Reid, the 2009 Costa Book of the Year
Tributes to People's Historian Howard Zinn, 1922 - 2010
Johann Hari on P. W. Singer's Wired For War
Jamin Raskin on the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling which removes limits on corporate campaign spending
"Haitians have been punished ever since for claiming their freedom", Tracy Kidder and Peter Hallward on Haiti
At 42, she was one of the best poets of her generation, Rachel Wetzsteon, 1967 - 2009
You have to decide which side you are on: there is always a side. Commitment does not exist in an abstraction; it exists in action: Dennis Brutus, 1924 - 2009
The wedding guests look upon the cracked, pink lips of Rosie's bridegroom - an extract from Petina Gappah's An Elegy for Easterly, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award winning book
David Cortright on Obama's shallow understanding of the priciples of Just War Theory
Obama's rejection of Landmine Treaty lacks vision, compassion, and basic common sense
Those who saw him hushed: Let the Great World Spin, the National Book Award winner by Colum McCann
Robert Jensen: Of Turkeys and Holocausts
Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1908 - 2009, his works as a practical anti-racist manifesto
Power exercised by man over his fellow man is always a usurpation, Francisco Ayala, 1906 - 2009
If you think you'll to be rich someday, why resent million-dollar bonuses: Barbara Ehrenreich on Positive Thinking
Four Canadians tortured in the name of fighting Terror, Kerry Pither wins Ottawa Book Award for Dark Days
The Potato that Became a Tomato, Playgiarist Raymond Federman, 1928 - 2009
Andrew J. Bacevich on How to Dismantle the American Empire
The question demands to be asked: Who is more deserving of contempt? The commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes? Or the commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?
The Afghanistan decision was his [Obama's] opportunity to begin to chart a new course on national security policy, to begin to break away from this pattern of behavior that we’ve adhered to for the past sixty or so years. And he blew it. I can’t pretend to look into his heart and understand what factors caused him to make the decision he did. I suspect that a political calculation may have weighed more heavily than a strategic calculation or a moral calculation. And I find that deeply upsetting, because I, and I think many of us, felt that here, finally, was a public figure who—whose decisions would not be influenced primarily by political calculations... My guess is the President probably right now has a case of buyer’s remorse and is wishing that he hadn’t actually made the decision that he did, but it has become Obama’s war. I mean, he finds himself in a circumstance now where, having bought the war, it’s going worse now than it was last year. And he’s basically facing a reelection campaign right around the corner. Unless David Petraeus, our new commander, truly pulls a rabbit out of the hat, then President Obama will run for reelection in 2012 with this war still very much ongoing and, in all likelihood, with no end in sight.
But you asked the question, where does the pressure come from? And the pressure comes from what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. The pressure comes from the national security apparatus. There are people in institutions who are deeply invested in maintaining the status quo. There are budgets, there are prerogatives, there are ambitions, that ostensibly get satisfied by maintaining this drive for American globalism, again, backed by an emphasis on military power. So I don’t discount for a second that the President would have had to, you know, shove aside some fairly stubborn resistance to make that course change on Afghanistan, and he chose not to do it. -
Andrew J. Bacevich
There exists an alternative tradition to which Americans today could repair, should they choose to do so. This tradition harks back to the nearly forgotten anti-imperial origins of the Republic. Succinctly captured in the motto “Don’t Tread on Me,” this tradition is one that does not seek trouble but insists that others will accord the United States respect. Updated for our own time, it might translate into the following substitute for the existing sacred trinity.
First, the purpose of the U.S. military is not to combat evil or remake the world, but to defend the United States and its most vital interests.
However necessary, military power itself is neither good nor inherently desirable. Any nation defining itself in terms of military might is well down the road to perdition, as earlier generations of Americans instinctively understood. As for military supremacy, the lessons of the past are quite clear. It is an illusion and its pursuit an invitation to mischief, if not disaster. Therefore, the United States should maintain only those forces required to accomplish the defense establishment’s core mission.
Second, the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America.
Just as the U.S. military should not be a global police force, so too it should not be a global occupation force. Specific circumstances may from time to time require the United States on a temporary basis to establish a military presence abroad. Yet rather than defining the norm, Americans should view this prospect as a sharp departure, entailing public debate and prior congressional authorization. Dismantling the Pentagon’s sprawling network of existing bases promises to be a lengthy process. Priority should be given to those regions where the American presence costs the most while accomplishing the least. According to those criteria, U.S. troops should withdraw from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia forthwith.
Third, consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should employ force only as a last resort and only in self-defense.
The Bush Doctrine of preventive war -- the United States bestowing on itself the exclusive prerogative of employing force against ostensible threats even before they materialize—is a moral and strategic abomination, the very inverse of prudent and enlightened statecraft. Concocted by George W. Bush to justify his needless and misguided 2003 invasion of Iraq, this doctrine still awaits explicit abrogation by authorities in Washington. Never again should the United States undertake “a war of choice” informed by fantasies that violence provides a shortcut to resolving history’s complexities.
Were this alternative triad to become the basis for policy, dramatic changes in the U.S. national security posture would ensue. Military spending would decrease appreciably. The Pentagon’s global footprint would shrink. Weapons manufacturers would see their profits plummet. Beltway Bandits would close up shop. The ranks of defense- oriented think tanks would thin. These changes, in turn, would narrow the range of options available for employing force, obliging policy makers to exhibit greater restraint in intervening abroad. With resources currently devoted to rehabilitating Baghdad or Kabul freed up, the cause of rehabilitating Cleveland and Detroit might finally attract a following.
President Lyndon Johnson had hoped that an ambitious domestic reform program known as the Great Society might define his legacy. Instead, he bequeathed to his successor a nation that was bitterly divided, deeply troubled, and increasingly cynical.
To follow a different course would have required Johnson to depart from the Washington rules. This he -- although not he alone -- lacked the courage to do.
Here lies the real significance -- and perhaps the tragedy -- of Barack Obama’s decision, during the first year of his presidency, to escalate the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan. By retaining Robert Gates as defense secretary and by appointing retired four-star officers as his national security adviser and intelligence director, Obama had already offered Washington assurances that he was not contemplating a radical departure from the existing pattern of national security policy. Whether wittingly or not, the president now proffered his full-fledged allegiance to the Washington consensus, removing any lingering doubts about its durability.
In his speech of December 1, 2009, while explaining to the cadets at West Point why he felt it necessary to widen a war already in its ninth year, Obama justified his decision by appending it to a much larger narrative. “More than any other nation,” he declared, “the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades -- a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.” Obama wanted it known that by sending tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to fight in Afghanistan his own administration was carrying on the work his predecessors had begun. Their policies were his policies.
The six decades to which the president referred in his artfully sanitized rendering of contemporary history were the years during which the American credo and the sacred trinity had ascended to a position of uncontested supremacy. Thus did the president who came into office vowing to change the way Washington works make known his intention to leave this crucially important element of his inheritance all but untouched. Like Johnson, the president whose bold agenda for domestic reform presaged his own, Obama too was choosing to conform - an excerpt from
WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path To Permanent War
Andrew J. Bacevich
Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
Andrew J. Bacevich
The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy
Professor Andrew J. Bacevich