By Bob Koehler
A door opened for me on a Wednesday afternoon, as I was trying to finish a column.
This is not a door I would have opened by myself. So the Tribune Company, for which I had worked as an editor for 14 years, opened it for me. The year was 2009, when financial disaster was commonplace and doors were flying open everywhere. In fact, the Trib had been undergoing a serious jettisoning of employees for the past year, but of course I felt secure. And then on that May afternoon, as I was about a dozen paragraphs into almost my five hundredth column . . .
“The desperation of our military efforts is showing around the edges of the carnage and tragedy.” I had written. “This past week has brought three official U.S. denials that we have done what eyewitnesses and/or other evidence indicates we did: a) used white phosphorous as a weapon against Afghan civilians; b) killed nearly 150 Afghan villagers in a sustained bombardment; c) killed a 12-year-old Iraqi boy as he stood innocently by the side of the road selling fruit juice.
“Note to David: Goliath’s vulnerability is the truth.”
By Robert C. Koehler
It was a moment as tiny as marking a ballot — those two minutes of the second debate, when the presidential election hung suspended mid-diatribe and the candidates let go of their opponent’s flaws long enough to honor a bit of common humanity.
No big deal. Yeah, I know.
But as the thing winds down to the day of reckoning, and a sense of lost values and lost democracy overwhelms me — the election season is pure spectacle, full of sound and fury (signifying nothing?) — I find myself going back to those two minutes over and over, trying to understand why they hit me with such force.
By Robert C. Koehler
World War II never quite ended — it morphed.
Today we call it the status quo, or endless war, or we just don’t bother to notice it. Indeed, now more than ever we don’t notice it. It’s barely part of the 2016 election, even though we’re engaged in active conflict in half a dozen countries, toying with a relaunch of the Cold War with Russia and, of course, hemorrhaging, as always, more than half our annual discretionary budget on “defense.”
World War II has been going on for seven decades now and has no intention of ever stopping . . . of its own volition. But this year’s rocking electoral craziness — not just Hurricane Donald, but the unexpected staying power of the Bernie Sanders campaign — may well be the harbinger of transcendence. Apparently there’s another force in the universe capable of standing up to the American, indeed, the global, military-industrial status quo.