Category Archives: Iraq

September 1, 2010, 1:35 am

This Is The End, My Only Friend The End: US Combat Forces Out of Iraq

Answer the following question. The closest parallel to the outcome achieved by seven years of war in Iraq is:
a. Vietnam;
b. Korea;
c. Weimar Germany;
d. Only time will tell.

May 9, 2010, 11:59 am

Sunday Radical Roundup: Marry That Book Before She Gets Much Older!

Despite the strange weather, and an oil spill in the Gulf as big as Rhode Island, it’s the beginning of summer break and you know what time it is! Time to get gussied up and get hitched to that book manuscript again! This time the relaitonship will work, I swear: there has been counseling, there are promises not yet broken, and for some of us a new computer will get things started on the right foot. So in the interests of a proper, Connecticut-style traditional wedding, the Radical recommends the following news items to you this week.

Something Old: Looking to warm up by writing an article? Well, look around you and check out who the buildings are named for. At UT-Austin, there is a dormitory named after a member of the Ku Klux Klan, so says Thomas Russell (who used to teach there.) The dorm was built in 1954, and named after a former UT law professor, William Stewart Simkins, who…

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April 8, 2010, 3:13 pm

The First Casualty Of War

This video of two Reuters news staff, two children and numerous unarmed bystanders (including a van that tried to assist the wounded) being being shot at and killed by a US military helicopter in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad will resonate for those of us old enough to remember the senseless cruelty of the Viet Nam War. As in Viet Nam, the lies begin with the soldiers on the ground and then trickle up.

It’s long and tedious, as well as graphic, but worth watching. It was obtained by Reuters with great difficulty via the Freedom Of Information Act, and sent to me by one of my students. For additional information, see Wikileaks.

March 20, 2010, 1:42 pm

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Gendering War In The Hurt Locker

It may turn out that I am one of the few people in the United States who didn’t like The Hurt Locker, a movie about a bomb disposal team in Iraq which is all the rage. Yes, I know it won six Academy Awards, including the first Oscar ever awarded to a woman director, Katherine Bigelow. I realize that I am always supposed to cheer for the woman, but as a feminist historian and cultural critic I found this film terribly disturbing.

(Speaking of history: Bigelow’s Wikipedia entry lists her as married to James Cameron; go to his, and you will discover that they divorced in 1991, and Cameron has added one ex and a current wife since.)

There were the good disturbing parts, of course. Bigelow, a director of several action and horror films, was exactly the candidate for the scenes where Staff Sergeant Will James (Jeremy Renner) has to figure out, not where the bomb is, but how many bombs…

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October 7, 2008, 12:56 am

Being Against The War Means Being Actively Interested In The War

Because we were catching up on old episodes of Army Wives before I came upstairs this evening, I am reminded of a fact few people know about the Radical: her connections to the military. Two of my cousins served in Gulf I; and we had a family connection who was deployed to Afghanistan with the Special Forces a couple years back. In fact I, and my sister, are the first generation of my father’s family to have not served in the military since at least the American Revolution (since our family comes from western Massachusetts, it seems likely that we could take that date back to the French and Indian War, and perhaps even Metacom’s War.) Not accidentally, one of my current favorite activities is reading the blogs of military wives (who probably detest Army Wives, much as medical people scoff at ER and Grey’s Anatomy.) At The Real Army Wife you can read the thoughts of an infantry…

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April 11, 2008, 6:07 pm

Thinking War, Thinking History: A Short Review Essay

(Editor’s Note: every once in a while, someone who follows the Tenured Radical is Reading feature asks what I think about a book I have read. Mostly I don’t say, since it would be a great burden to review everything, and because there is a reason book review sections have editors. However, as I am formally inaugurating my relationship with Cliopatra today, I though this cross-posted essay might be a good start.)

Perhaps it is an effect of the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, or perhaps it is the impending retirement of my American Studies colleague Richard Slotkin, but I seem to be reading more about war and violence this year than I have in the last decade.

Following on William A. Williams’ Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959), a book that sought to understand how the project of democracy could be simultaneously well intentioned and destructive, a few scholars of the United…

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March 9, 2008, 8:25 pm

The Pain of Privilege; Or, You Thought College Admissions Couldn’t Get Any Sillier, Didn’t You?

Having created a ridiculous problem, which is that high school students have to build a resume and a transcript worthy of a Rhodes scholar to get into a selective four-year college, you will be glad to know that these coveted institutions and gatekeepers to success have found a solution to the stress this causes to young people. The answer is to throw money at it, imply that the students and their helicopter parents are pathological, and urge the admitted students not to matriculate until they have rested and feel less emotional and cynical about the whole thing.

That’s right. Do not re-evaluate what you are doing that is causing kids to show up at college as nervous wrecks, and sometimes even leave after a month or two because they are so burned out and care so little about real learning anymore. Do not admit that, because of you, young people are running themselves ragged with…

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March 6, 2008, 1:50 pm

Good Morning, Vietnam: A Shout Out From An Old Radical To Some Younger Radicals

As a historian I know perfectly well that the war in Iraq has major differences from the war in Vietnam, and it’s not just because depleted uranium weapons are now used in conventional combat, or because the troops are fighting in sand for oil, as opposed to fighting in jungles against Communism. But when I was driving to rowing practice at around 5:00 a.m. and heard about this bombing of the military recruiting center in Times Square, I thought, Wow. That I should live to see this again in my lifetime.

When I was a kid in the 1960′s and ’70′s, such bombings were associated with an increasingly militarized anti-war movement, made up mostly of white college students. I followed the doings of the Weather Underground very closely: my research on this radical antiwar movement and an unhealthy fascination with the doings of the Philadelphia mob are probably what, in the end, either led me…

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July 11, 2007, 6:52 pm

Blowin’ In The Wind

It looks like Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) are the most recent defectors from the War Party to join their Democratic Party colleagues in asking for a draw-down of U.S. trooops in Iraq that would begin in four months: read about it here. Pete Dominici (R-NM), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Lugar (R-IN) beat them to the punch; John Warner (R-VA) is apparently involved in shaping the Republican insurgency, and will publicly break with President George “What–Me Worry?” Bush any day now. You can read the New York Times story here. Just to be nice let’s call them Peace Republicans. Or Late to Dinner (did your mother ever say that — “Call me anything, but don’t call me late to dinner?”) At least they finally got to dinner, which is more than many of our soldiers will ever do again.

As of today, the body count of U.S. soldiers alone (no Iraquis, no…

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