Michael Tomasky

Michael Tomasky is the American editor-at-large of the Guardian (UK). He was executive editor of the Prospect from 2003 to 2006.

Recent Articles

No Nam

The now-famous shock-and-awe strategy, which appears for the time being to have shocked and awed the American media just a little more than the Iraqi Republican Guards, was fathered chiefly by one Harlan Ullman, a former Navy pilot who spent the mid-1990s as part of a Pentagon research team known as the Rapid Dominance Study Group. Ullman was the lead author of the group's report, which recommended, well, rapid dominance as a way of minimizing casualties and shortening a war's duration. He points, improbably enough, to the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as responsible examples of the genre, arguing that not using atomic bombs would have prolonged the conflict and led to many more casualties on both sides. We can safely say that he is not a peacenik. So guess who's against the war? Ullman has given a passel of interviews since the bombs started dropping on Baghdad, but as far as I could find, it was only to The Guardian (in yesterday's edition) that he said: "Where we are is...

Dissent in America

The shooting may or may not have started by the time you read this. But one thing that has certainly begun is the campaign to force dissenters to keep it zipped when the shooting commences. "Once the war against Saddam [Hussein] begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if they can't do that, to shut up," bayed Bill O'Reilly on his Feb. 26 cable show. "Americans and, indeed, our allies who actively work against our military once the war is under way will be considered enemies of the state by me." This was a tad demagogic even by O'Reilly's virtually nonexistent standards, so the next night he toned it -- very marginally -- down. He said he won't think of dissenters as un-American, just as "bad" Americans. But he reiterated that "it is our duty as loyal Americans to shut up once the fighting begins, unless facts prove the operation wrong, as was the case in Vietnam." (It took roughly four years for a majority of Americans to decide that "the facts" dictated that the...

No Contradiction

True to form -- on its path to a war in whose name evidence has been doctored and public rationales have been trotted out like successive Lexus ad campaigns -- the administration has waited until the last possible second to attach a dollar amount to this supposedly unavoidable conflict. Or even later than the last possible second: In all likelihood, hostilities will commence before the Bush administration officially sends to Congress its request for war appropriations, expected to be in the $80 billion range. Where is that money coming from? As a congressional appropriations staffer explained to me, it comes from nowhere. It will just be added to the national deficit, which today stands at $158 billion. The war estimate quoted above is for a short conflict in which all goes well. So in other words, a war in which any complications ensue -- that takes two months, say, instead of one -- could come close to doubling the deficit. And this at a time -- during the very week, actually --...

Spooky Story

On Saturday evening March 1, Daniel Ellsberg was noodling around the Web and happened across a story from the British newspaper The Observer that caught his eye under the tantalizing headline , "Revealed: US Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War." The paper's Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy and Peter Beaumont had obtained a copy of a memo from a National Security Agency (NSA) official outlining U.S. plans to spy on certain United Nations Security Council members to get some insight into their thinking on Iraq and the coming Security Council vote. Interesting, Ellsberg thought. "So I rushed out the next morning at 5 o'clock to get [ The New York Times ] to see how they were covering it," he told me. Naturally, he was disappointed. And remains so, because, as I write, the Times has yet to mention the story, which has received only scant coverage elsewhere in the American press. Meanwhile, it's received far more coverage around the globe. And at the end of last week, the story took an ominous...

Hoarse Whisperer

The more or less pleasant cajolery didn't work. The coarse arm twisting hasn't been doing much good, either. So now, the Bush administration -- in its campaign to put the squeeze on the "Middle Six" United Nations Security Council members still on the fence with regard to a second UN resolution approving war against Iraq -- has commenced a whispering campaign designed to incite anti-Mexican sentiment or action in the United States. That's a big claim, it's true. What evidence supports it? In the Feb. 27 Economist , that magazine's correspondent in Mexico City reports that "a stream of American officials, sounding much more hostile than sorry, have been trekking south to argue the point" that American banking and corporate boardrooms, which obviously have considerable clout in Mexico's affairs, would look askance at a "no" vote by Mexico and pull back from financial commitments. So far, just the usual browbeating. But then the correspondent delivers the following astonishing couplet: "...

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