The annotated table of contents below offers a sneak peek at what’s in issue 27. To get the issue delivered straight to your door, subscribe now.
[Joseph M. Keegin]
The protests did not stop the allied war effort in Iraq; those in Russia will not end the invasion of Ukraine. But both mobilizations imply an attitude about the relationship of citizens to the military: namely, that there is one.
On writing about war
When I write fiction, when it’s working, I feel a sort of wild, anarchic freedom, one that opens a gulf between my work and my compulsion to bear witness. This is a chaotic, unruly part of myself, one that I’m not sure speaks well of me, though it is one I suspect is inseparable from the creation of art. And it pushes me to ask impertinent questions, even of the dead.
Orphanhood as identity
Signing up to orphanhood implied a claim to a vision of moral purity, a useful fundraising tool for a plight that was not mine. If that were all it had to offer, I might have been well advised to walk away.
The Anxiety of Difficulty
Trying to read Thomas Mann
When I think back to my first experience reading him, I remember skipping or skimming whole passages and feeling like I was reading it wrong, thinking that my reading needed to be urgently fixed through explicit instruction and education. It did not occur to me then that instruction and education—valuable and mind-expanding as they are—could also take something away from me.
Symposium: What is the military for?
Readiness Is Not All
As far as I can tell, Sustainable Readiness is based on the assumption that with almost no expansion of its personnel and a huge expansion of its budget, the Army can magically do everything it’s ever done in the past, except now simultaneously.
The Soldier and the Citizen
This soldier, whose gesture restored my sense of myself and extracted me from a battlefield I had mistaken for a parking lot—he was to be one of my students.
As defeat in both Iraq and Afghanistan unspooled over the past decade, American politicians and senior civil servants collectively adopted a common incantation when extolling the frustrated service members: “The finest fighting force the world has ever known.” This force, however fine it may be, now faces its most serious foe yet: the inclinations and inadequacies of its future recruits.
One Must Imagine Faust Happy
[Michael D. Gordin]
Cash was poured liberally upon the scientists, knowledge flowed back to their military paymasters, and all it cost was the former’s souls and a planet thrust into precarity. Faust is ready for his close-up. Except that is not exactly how it happened—not for most scientists, either in the United States or, perhaps more surprisingly, in the Soviet Union.
[Stephanie Cuepo Wobby]
How to stop running. How to ask for help—you were trained to do a lot, but not this. How to admit you need it, to say it out loud: I don’t think I’m handling this too well. I don’t think I’m handling this at all.
Every gun purchased is money stolen from the needy. And yet, in U.S. history, as the military moves closer to center stage, America tends to become more equal, and as the military recedes from view, America tends to become less equal.
My Complex—And Ours
Is this all merely abject failure? Is the world’s most moneyed and technologically advanced military really so inept? If we’re convinced the Pentagon’s objective is the swift and just administration of national security, then yes, it has failed. But if we reframe its primary objective to that aforementioned transmission of trillions of dollars to thousands of companies, then all that waste and failure amount to dazzling victories.
“I joined due to a healthy mix of patriotism, needing money for school and getting out of Dodge before I got into irreversible trouble. Looking back, the reality is that I joined because I didn’t know any better.”
The Weight of Service
A conversation with Shoshana Johnson
[Shoshana Johnson and Allison Erickson]
“Sometimes when they go, ‘Oh, you’re the first Black female POW,’ the first thing I think of is: that’s not good. I hate it. For over two hundred years, Black females have been contributing to this country. Whether people want to admit it or not, we’ve been participating in conflict. And I’m the only one to get caught in history. That’s what I want to be known for? No.”
What a Coup Is
A conversation with Edward Luttwak
[Edward Luttwak and Jon Baskin]
“People in the American military are not a docile mass. They themselves are educated, and understand very well the structure of government, and the concept of legitimacy and all the rest of it. You can’t pick up a phone and say, I am General Blogs, I order you to take your tank battalion and move over and seize the White House. The military chiefs are immediately going to disobey any such order. And so will anybody else.”
Éric Zemmour and the future of the French right
Let me make a wager: the main legacy of the Zemmour candidacy will be the “union of the right.” This expression is an old obsession of the far right and signifies the union of right-wing and far-right parties and their coming to power. It calls into question a constant of French political life under the Fifth Republic: the refusal of the center right to broker an alliance with the far right.
I am sympathetic to the premise of Europe: A Philosophical History. The legacy of the past is with us whether we want it or not, and we remain in need of a vision of the common good, a sense of the significance of our lives in this world. I think about these questions, however, at a remove from Glendinning’s position.
The Somerville Quartet
[Jennifer A. Frey]
If anything binds these women together into a meaningful unity, it is the intellectual friendship between them. And that love shared between them deserves to be an object of our attention, because it is the sort of love that isn’t often recognized as the ground of strong bonds of affection between women.