Are things getting worse? No, just uncovered.

Commentary on “zero tolerance” immigration policies, with five suggestions

by Ken Sehested

U.S. President Donald Trump is a self-obsessed, infantile, demagogic and malicious huckster without a shred of moral capacity other than self-promotion.

There. Say it out loud.

Say it again. Read more ›

Blessed assurance

Call to the table in the face of terror

by Ken Sehested

        One important thing that hasn’t been said this week [about the savagery of separating of children from parents at the US-Mexican border] is that this Department of Justice policy change is in fact a form of terrorism.

        The point of terrorism isn’t killing people. Terrorists make strategic use of aggressive trauma to spread fear for the purpose of affecting social or political objectives. Look up the FBI’s definition.*

        When Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced this new administrative procedure six weeks ago, he explicitly used the threat of separating children to spread fear among would-be immigrants. Already, 2,000 children have been separated from families. Read more ›


Meditation on Israel, Palestine, and the calculus of power

by Ken Sehested

        15 May is the anniversary of what Palestinians call al-Nakba, translated as “the Catastrophe” in reference to the day following Israel’s formation as a state in 1948. Some three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forced from their homes. Four hundred Palestinian villages cease to exist. The heirs of the expelled now number five million, most living in refugee camps on the West Bank, Gaza, and surrounding countries.

        I was in my 30s when I first heard the word Nakba, and the historical moment it represents, well into a career requiring broad knowledge of global affairs. In my experience, few here in North America know the word.

        A more evocative translation of al-Nakba could be “the Humiliation,” since in English “catastrophe” is often associated with “natural” disasters. As such, no human agency is implied—only the brute hand of climatic turbulence well beyond our control or even prediction. Read more ›

Worried about increasing US-Iran tensions?

You should be

by Ken Sehested

Worried about increasing US-Iran tensions? You should be. The stakes are high, Trump is recklessly impulsive and currently in need of a public distraction from the Mueller investigation. It’s not likely to be an all-out war, but some limited strike—maybe backing Israel to do so, as it did in 2007—that would further escalate belligerence.

(Remember: This year is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I which began with one assassination, in a country few US citizens had heard of, igniting what was then the deadliest war in history, due to a complex web of international alliances, planting the seeds of World War II, then the Cold War, and on and on.)

Hatred—as e.e. cummings said—bounces. Read more ›