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About Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute's His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.

Shadow Government cover

Articles by Tom Engelhardt

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Watching the world burn: at the circus with Donald Trump

With every clownish gaffe, Trump strips back the façade of American imperalism, revealing in newly bumbling ways a far older tale – one of empire, bloodshed and destruction. It's no laughing matter.

Mapping a world from hell: how 76 countries became embroiled in Washington’s war on terror

More than 16 years after the 'liberation' of Afghanistan, the war on terror remains a remarkably global phenomenon. This complex set of intertwined conflicts is not over – not by a long shot. 

Donald Trump, unFounding Father

Keep on staring just like you’ve been doing, just like we’ve all been doing since he rode down that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and, while you have your eyes on him, I’ll tell you exactly why you shouldn’t stop.

Empire of madness: fiddling through the smoke in 2025

The year is 2025, and the war on terror rages on – as does the increasing extremity of the planet's weather.

Victory at last

In America’s wars, failure is the new success. Three generals stand alone, except for President Trump’s own family members, at the pinnacle of power in Washington.

America Last: the making of a pariah nation

Might Donald Trump, by dismantling a system of "soft power," preside over the most precipitous decline of a truly dominant power in history, one only recently considered at the height of its glory?

Undeclared US war

Precisely because there are no US economic or military interests in Yemen, could it be the first arena in Washington’s endless war on terror to abandon ?

With Donald Trump's election, has the American 'experiment' run its course?

A deep and spreading sense of disorder lay at the heart of the bizarre election campaign and, with Donald Trump's election, it may never really end.

A case for demilitarizing the US military

15 years after the global war on terror was launched, America faces a deeply embedded (remarkably unsuccessful) version of militarism, and a seldom recognized crisis in civil-military relations.

The new great game between China and the US

The revival of the Silk Road is an escape route for the Chinese from the Washington Consensus and dollar-centered global financial system. While guns are being drawn, for the Chinese leaders, the 'battlefied' of the future is essentially a global economic one.

The angel of death

On 3 October, an American AC-130 gunship “mistakenly struck” a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz. Why were we not told?                 

Mantra for 9/11: improbable world, fourteen years later

Fourteen years later and do you even believe it? Did we actually live it? Are we still living it? And how improbable is that?

Where did the anti-war movement go?

The spectacle of slaughter never ends, even if the only Americans watching are sometimes unnerved drone video analysts.

America's Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years later

Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun?

The previous sole superpower

A little history of Great Britain excerpted from Galeano's late-in-life masterpiece, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone.

Requiem for the home front: a cheer for Irma the caricaturist

A personal look at how the US moved from people’s wars to “people-less wars,” from the national mobilization of WW2 to the demobilized American “home front”.

Our jihadis and theirs

If ISIS is currently the United States' "greatest threat", why doesn't it figure highly among the thousands of deadly shootings which occur every year?

The theology of American national security

Clinging to policies that have manifestly failed is madness—but that is exactly what the US is doing in Iraq.

The forgotten costs of war in the Middle East

As the expelled inhabitants of Diego Garcia continue their campaign for justice, is Anglo-American policy finally shifting to right this historic wrong?

Through the looking glass

The planet currently seems to be on the cusp of a decidedly unharmonic convergence. Did ‘Market-Leninism’ win the Cold War? 

Writing history before it happens

Nine surefire future headlines from a bizarro American world.

AFRICOM behaving badly

United States Africa Command likes to think that it is in the business of exporting ‘rule of law’. But it has been riddled with misdeeds, since it began overseeing the US military pivot to Africa.

The renewable revolution

Four reasons why the transition from fossil fuels to a green energy era is gaining traction.

The military-industrial complex in Iraq

Radical Islam has proven, with Washington’s help, a worthy successor to the Soviet Union, a superb money-making venture and great way to build a monumental national security state.

American torture--past, present, and future?

Make no mistake. Getting even this partial and redacted report into public view is a real victory for everyone who hopes to end state torture. But it’s just the beginning.

The Snowden reboot

On working with Edward Snowden, and how he changed the way we view our world. Interview.

ISIS in Washington: America's soundtrack of hysteria

Inside America’s system of terror-mongering: how it works, why it works, who benefits from it, and how it completes the demobilization of the American people.  

Failure is success: how American intelligence works in the 21st century

 Is repeated failure actually the key to the success and endless expansion of the US intelligence community?  

How America made ISIS

The American record in these last 13 years is a shameful one.  Do it again should not be an option.

The Fourth Branch: the rise of the national security state

Though the US may be finally addressing some of the fictions propping up its security policies, the question remains: who rules Washington? 

The 95% doctrine: climate change as a weapon of mass destruction

When we speak of WMD, we usually think of weapons - nuclear, biological, or chemical - that are delivered in a measurable moment in time. Consider climate change, then, a WMD on a particularly long fuse, already lit and there for any of us to see.  

High speed silk roads: the birth of a Eurasian century

No amount of US "pivoting" can prevent the emergence of a multipolar, multi-powered world along a Eurasian axis that challenges western neoliberal hegemoy.  

The US military's new normal in Africa

Every new African nightmare turns out to be another opening for US military involvement.

The creation of a border security state

Americans may increasingly wonder whether NSA agents are scouring their meta-data, reading their personal emails, and the like. On the US-Mexican border no imagination is necessary.

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