The Afghanistan Papers: A Reappraisal of an Appraisal

A little known agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), undertook the audit in 2014. The little-known government watchdog spent $11 million on the project, hired 600 staff. They recorded some 400 interviews. SIGAR’s mission: to assemble the Lessons Learned from the 18-year campaign in Afghanistan, 2,430 American soldiers dead, 775,000 deployed.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Washington Post demanded that the study of the war in Afghanistan be made public. The newspaper won. They dubbed the report the Afghanistan Papers. They have told SIGAR’s story. The findings ring with the force of truth finally spoken…[FULL STORY]

The Weakness of Demagoguery over Summer Rolls

From a dinner of pho and vermicelli, I was walking to my Hyundai with a friend when she posed again the question of the day, the month, the past three years. Daubing a bit fiercely at a spot of hoisin on a button of her shirt, she asked how a man like Donald Trump could have become president. It had been a particularly trying few days. We relayed the president’s weekly offal about Vladimir, about the miracles of tariffs, how again he insulted black and brown people, the latest quid pro quo.

And again my friend, daubing, daubing, asked with an ire and yet with a resignation: how could he have become president?… [FULL ARTICLE]

Letter to the Editor: On Project 1619, New York Times

Dear editor,

The objections to the 1619 Project by the truly eminent historians seemed granular, a poor example of wider held discomfort many historians hold with the project. The 1619 Project, for all its vital import in bringing light to dark spaces in American history, exchanges one master narrative for another. It seems a great shame to be resisted for a mix, a mess of multi-determinism. A creole history. Not a white, not a black founding. Not a great white or stranglehold of black protagonists. For there is a violence of one replacing the other.

Douglass stood on the shoulders of Payne; Lincoln on Somerset. Their ideas, their cultures, their ways of understanding the world could not be segregated. For we are not so immaculately conceived as a singular master narrative purports. The US is a creole stew of joy through violence through rights through hate through joy and liberty.

The 1619 Project vitally adds and challenges our thoughts to break more bonds of ignorance. But hopefully not to stamp on history, not as a stamp but as a part of a great and messy historical dialogue that began neither in 1776 nor 1619. For there was not one founding but a multiplicity.

Sincerely,

Zachary Jonathan Jacobson

Why Julian Assange Is Unlikely to Find a Refuge in the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON POST: Julian Assange last month ended his seven-year stay at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he had sought refuge from prosecution in Sweden and the United States. The British government has since ordered that he be extradited to the United States, where he may be charged under the U.S. Espionage Act.

In his role as founder and chief disseminator of WikiLeaks, Assange came under scrutiny in 2010 for publishing 250,000 classified American documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including information on an arguably indiscriminate airstrike by the American military that became known as the “Collateral Murder video”…[FULL ARTICLE]

The Silly Hunt for an Impeachment Smoking Gun

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The hunt is on for the definitive proof of President Trump’s election meddling by way of strong-arming Ukraine.

Former White House Counsel John Dean declared that “we’ve already seen the smoking gun” in what Trump calls his “perfect” conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The news has saturated with the fabled search. A whistleblower’s memorandum. An ambassador’s phone call loudly overheard. The mysterious calls Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Devin Nunes made to the White House. It has become a trail of smoldering conversations… [FULL ARTICLE]

The Deep State Did Not Begin with Trump

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Fears over the “deep state” have been chalked up to paranoia. And indeed the idea of a hidden counter-government has attracted the ranks of the paranoid. Conspiracies of a tentacled clique of career bureaucrats, wire diagrams of sinister assets and agents have piled up in the Trump era.

Still, to write off the mounting angst over the deep state as simply minds gone awry is far too dismissive. And to think of an abhorrence of the deep state as a Trump phenomenon is far too short-sighted. The fear of an unchecked counter-government working not for the people’s interest but for its own is not new. Fears over an encroaching, permanent bureaucracy are as old as the United States itself…[FULL ARTICLE]

The Nixon Act

PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES QUARTERLY: The often-rumpled United Press International (UPI) stringer George Reedy covered Richard Nixon as a young congressman. Reedy would become a loyal and often self-effacing press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson and would go on to serve as journalism dean at Marquette University. But decades after covering the Nixon congressional beat, he could still vividly recall the scene of one particular social gathering hosted by the promising politico from southern California. It was early 1947…[FULL ARTICLE]

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