Afghanistan

BP and Sado-Messochism

Aside from the occasional asteroid and volcanic outburst, human beings are responsible for the greatest messes on the planet. We’ve polluted the air and water, punched holes in the ozone, and pumped enough carbon into the atmosphere to overwhelm the global thermostat. Nor is this merely a modern attribute of homo sapiens. As Jared Diamond points out in his book Collapse, we’ve repeatedly taxed the limits of our environment, from the heart of the Mayan civilization to far-flung Easter Island. We’ve hunted countless species into extinction and exhausted the soil to feed burgeoning populations. And what we once did on a local basis, we are now applying on a global scale.

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Call the Politburo, We’re in Trouble: Entering the Soviet Era in America

Gorbachev had dubbed Afghanistan “the bleeding wound,” and when the wounded Red Army finally limped home, it was to a country that would soon cease to exist. For the Soviet Union, Afghanistan had literally proven “the graveyard of empires.” If, at the end, its military remained standing, the empire didn’t. (And if you don’t already find this description just a tad eerie, given the present moment in the U.S., you should.)

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The Trillion-Dollar Question

The full-page ads in The Washington Post seem so reasonable. The military contractor Pratt & Whitney has been arguing that America doesn’t need to spend $485 million to develop a second engine for the F-35 jet fighter. It’s a compelling argument. We’re in a serious economic crisis, so why on earth would we build another jet engine when the first one is sufficient?

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