My Departure Letter from NBC

Note to readers:  I circulated this letter to NBC colleagues on January 2 and since it quickly leaked and got recirculated all over, I’d thought I’d post it here, on my own laconic blog:

January 4 is my last day at NBC News and I’d like to say goodbye to my friends, hopefully not for good. This isn’t the first time I’ve left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis. My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less in value at the moment. And I find myself completely out of sync with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus.

I first started my association with NBC 30 years ago, feeding Cold War stories to Bob Windrem and Fred Francis at the Pentagon. I became an on-air analyst during the 1999 Kosovo War, continuing to work thereafter with Nightly News, delighting and oftentimes annoying in my peculiar position of being a mere civilian amongst THE GENERALS and former government officials. A scholar at heart, I also found myself an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military, anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers.

When the attacks of 9/11 came, I was called back to NBC. I spent weeks on and off the air talking about al Qaeda and the various wars we were rushing into, arguing that airpower and drones would be the centerpiece not troops. In the new martial environment where only one war cry was sanctioned I was out of sync then as well. I retreated somewhat to writing a column for the Los Angeles Times, but even there I had to fight editors who couldn’t believe that there would be a war in Iraq.  And I spoke up about the absence of any sort of strategy for actually defeating terrorism, annoying the increasing gaggles of those who seemed to accept that a state of perpetual war was a necessity.

I thought then that there was great danger in the embrace of process and officialdom over values and public longing, and I wrote about the increasing power of the national security community. Long before Trump and “deep state” became an expression, I produced one ginormous investigation – Top Secret America – for the Washington Post and I wrote a nasty book – American Coup – about the creeping fascism of homeland security. Looking back now they were both harbingers for what President Obama (and then Trump) faced in terms of largely failing to make enduring change.

Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave began, it was clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could no longer keep up with the world. Added to that was the intellectual challenge of how to report our new kind of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success. To me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at “war,” no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ and Wes Clarks’, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as “analysts”. We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.

As perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives, I’m proud to say that I’ve never deviated in my argument at NBC (or at my newspaper gigs) that terrorists will never be defeated until we better understand why they are driven to fighting. And I have maintained my central view that airpower (in its broadest sense including space and cyber) is not just the future but the enabler and the tool of war today.

Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others) meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn’t close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult. We have contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story.  I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.

I’m a difficult guy, not prone to either protocol or procedure and I give NBC credit that it tolerated me through my various incarnations. I hope people will say in the early days that I made Brokaw and company smarter about nuclear weapons, about airpower, and even about al Qaeda. And I’m proud to say that I also was one of the few to report that there weren’t any WMD in Iraq and remember fondly presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board. I argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years, doing the daily blah, blah, blah in Secaucus, but also poking at the conventional wisdom of everyone from Matthews to Hockenberry. And yet I feel like I’ve failed to convey this larger truth about the hopelessness of our way of doing things, especially disheartened to watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow become a defender of Washington and the system.

Windrem again convinced me to return to NBC to join the new investigative unit in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself – busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.

I’d argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I’d also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there’s a lot to report here, but I’m more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America’s wars.

I know it is characteristic of our overexcited moment to blast away at former employers and mainstream institutions, but all I can say is that despite many frustrations, my time at NBC has been gratifying. Working with Cynthia McFadden has been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve learned a ton about television from her and Kevin Monahan, the secret insider tricks of the trade and the very big picture of what makes for original stories (and how powerful they can be). The young reporters at NBC are also universally excellent. Thanks to Noah Oppenheim for his support of my contrarian and disruptive presence. And to Janelle Rodriguez, who eventually came around to understanding deep expertise. The Nightly crew has also been a constant fan of my too long stories and a great team. I continue to marvel as Phil Griffin carries out his diabolical plan for the cable network to take over the world.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done with my team and know that there’s more to do. But for now it’s time to take a break. I’m ever so happy to return to writing and thinking without the officiousness of editorial tyrants or corporate standards.  And of course I yearn to go back to my first love, which is writing boring reports about secret programs, grateful that the American government so graciously obliges in its constant supply. And I particularly feel like the world is moving so quickly that even in just the little national security world I inhabit, I need more time to sit back and think. And to replenish.

In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think – like everyone else does – that we miss so much. People who don’t understand the medium, or the pressures, loudly opine that it’s corporate control or even worse, that it’s partisan.  Sometimes I quip in response to friends on the outside (and to government sources) that if they mean by the word partisan that it is New Yorkers and Washingtonians against the rest of the country then they are right.

For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump’s various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI.  Of course he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula?  Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really earn for the Cold War?  And don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?

Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that we have become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social media children. And because of the “cycle,” we at NBC (and all others in the field of journalism) suffer from a really bad case of not being able to ever take a breath. We are a long way from resolving the rules of the road in this age, whether it be with regard to our personal conduct or anything related to hard news.  I also don’t think that we are on a straight line towards digital nirvana, that is, that all of this information will democratize and improve society. I sense that there is already smartphone and social media fatigue creeping across the land, and my guess is that nothing we currently see – nothing that is snappy or chatty – will solve our horrific challenges of information overload or the role (and nature) of journalism. And I am sure that once Trump leaves center stage, society will have a gigantic media hangover. Thus for NBC – and for everyone else – there is challenge and opportunity ahead. I’d particularly like to think and write more about that.

There’s a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly what they want to hear.  I’m proud to say that NBC didn’t do that when it came to me.  Similarly I can say that I’m proud that I’m not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most – variability, disturbance, difference – those things that are also the primary drivers of creativity – are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks.

I’m happy to go back to writing and commentary. This winter, I’m proud to say that I’ve put the finishing touches on a 9/11 conspiracy novel that I’ve been toiling on for over a decade. It’s a novel, but it meditates on the question of how to understand terrorists in a different way.  And I’m undertaking two new book-writing projects, one fiction about a lone reporter and his magical source that hopes to delve into secrecy and the nature of television. And, If you read this far, I am writing a non-fiction book, an extended essay about national security and why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war. There is lots of media critique out there, tons of analysis of leadership and the Presidency. But on the state of our national security?  Not so much. Hopefully I will find myself thinking beyond the current fire and fury and actually suggest a viable alternative. Wish me luck.

51 responses to “My Departure Letter from NBC

  1. Thanks for being “out of sync,” Bill. We will miss your well-informed contrarian viewpoint. Having edited your “Divining Victory” for Air University Press, I hold great respect for your level of research and academic honesty. Looking forward to your non-fiction work.

    • Thanks Jerry! If I can write something on the era of perpetual war that is as relevant to “peace-loving” partisans and airpower experts alike, I will have achieved an important goal.

  2. Mr. Arkin, since I consume very little “main stream news” I was not aware of you. I appreciate your candor and your perspective. I’m one of those who finally realized that our Mid-East war mongering has little to do with our security. I hope, someday, to make amends with friends I have lost over defending the Iraq / Afghanistan et al actions.

    I’m not sure what’s coming soon — I view President Trump as the man who is shaking the etch-a-sketch but what are we going to draw once he gets the “old guard” out of the way?

    I truly understand your comment:
    “Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that we have become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social media children. And because of the “cycle,” we at NBC (and all others in the field of journalism) suffer from a really bad case of not being able to ever take a breath.”

    We, the people, have grown complacent. We’re depending upon other people to do our thinking for us. We’re also stuck on the shortcut of “clique warfare” where disagreeing with one thing that someone says is tantamount to banishing all thought from that person.

    We have more information, more history and more research at our fingertips than ever before but I don’t think we’ll ever achieve the prescience of a John Locke, Thomas Jefferson or Adam Smith because we’re too busy chasing the next shiny object.

    I look forward to reading your books.


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  4. margreet anceaux

    I’m so impressed. And sad: we have politicians in the highest offices, who think it’s a bonus that they do nót develop any vision. And we (voters, media, in the Netherlands) think that’s oké. So, grateful for your thoughts, and I do wish you luck.

  5. I, too, appreciate your candor and contrariness as another commenter has said. My father was in Vietnam and in hospice care right now. I have been delving into the circumstances as to why we were involved in that part of the world. I am grateful to know that you and perhaps others are not shy when it comes to finding out the “why” in all the other wars we have been thrust into with no seemingly satisfactory outcome. I look forward to reading your thoughts now that you are untethered from the mainstream news. Best wishes!

  6. I found your article a tired and ignorant rant. You seem to lack any ability to ‘see’ behind the curtain created by our ‘controllers’. Those who control the substance of ‘reality’ that humanity is subjected to. Dig a bit deeper if you want to write articles that are worthy of the awakened menbers of humanity reading them.

  7. Fresh perspective about a sorry state of affairs. Thanks.

  8. Thanks for expressing your concerns, William Arkin. I tend to agree with almost all of it. I would add that ever since 9/11 it has been more difficult than ever to have rational debate about the nature of, the wisdom in, and the morality of our military’s presence across the globe. Strangely enough, Trump is such an arrogant, incompetent, narcissistic president that when he presents ideas many of us have long agreed with – ending the wars and military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, re-evaluating our role in the continuation of tribal and sectarian conflicts in many parts of the world – we can not support him because of the brash, impetuous, self-serving aspect of his pronouncements. It is impossible to take any of those positions seriously when he also talks about increasing our nuclear arsenal and making huge profits on arms sales to Saudi Arabia (and other parts of the world). He has managed to make those of us who have long warned against the ascendancy of the military-industrial complex root for the generals who advise him because they are, at least, rational. We hope for them to moderate him at the same time we may disagree with them on many points. We find ourselves defending the FBI because of his treatment of them, even though, we have long understood that the FBI has its dark side, too. Somehow, Trumpism has turned us inside out. Our fear and loathing of this president has made strange bedfellows of us and those institutions of which we have been highly critical. Finally, and I think, most importantly in regard to the media and major networks climate change (euphemism we have adopted for global warming) is being almost ignored. A story here, a nod there, but this crisis surely deserves as much attention as Trump’s tweet, his incompetent staff, his family intrigue, etc. My goal in 2019 and beyond is to force the media and, hence, the public to focus on this issue in a real and substantive way. Not just the media – the House and the Senate. We must slow global warming and we must begin now to imagine how we will cope with the environmental damage that has already occurred. None of us, anywhere in the world, will be safe from the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. The fact that we have a president who is leading us blithely down the path of environmental devastation for political and monetary gain should be the story of the decade! The fact that most of us are doing about it WILL be the Story of the Century to future generations.

    • Well I would say that trump selling arms to Saudi Arabia would prove that trumps not racist to muslims then considering the Muslim ban which the media trumped up those charges, when Obama did the very same thing and the liberal media protected him. Can’t get behind our president because you dont like the guy. Wow! That’s not how its supposed to work man. Your beliefs about he’s this and that’s only your and others point of view. That’s it. The guy defends himself when he’s treated unfairly. Guys not a politician but an average man. Can the guy be rude? Probably. We did not elect a Washington insider to be president. We hired a successful man who contributed to society. The trump Russia narrative is a coverup for the biggest loss in history for dems. He was right. If the Russia story had been true, they would have found it already so that’s that. And no 17 govt agencies did say Russia influenced the election. What many dont know is that has been retracted down to 4.

      • I whole heartily agree with you. Not liking someone who is trying to implement what others before him proclaimed should be done and now MUST be done, shows an absolute, foot stamping ignorance. A hypocrisy that to me screams your arrogance and small closed minds. The article admits space protection is inevitable. Trump see this but has been ripped as a joke. As for the wall it is an absolute shame that we the Patriotic “Gun clingers” are having to gang up to have to slam the door shut on all immigration. The past policies have placed ALL AMERICANS in harms way…yet we have a divided gov’t. How can anyone not understand the basics of their sworn office? Why would their constituents accept their nonsensical reasoning when murder and human trafficking has proven rampant? We need the wall.Build it, revamp immigration WHILE IMPLEMENTING THE STANDING LAWS to protect us. Let not be naive there is technology rolled into that money. This in order to gain a semblance of safety for our citizens and most importantly to our kids. I agree the young adults have run amok with social media to such a destructive (antifa) degree they are ramming their heads into their own ruination with the great feel good socialism lie.As for the middle aged and celebrities on social media..what a disgrace. The lack of respect boggles the mind. New congress members dancing like buffoons and carrying in 6 packs yes its Childish yet you can not abide the Pres. behavior? How would you endure the barrage of attacks? Don’t kid yourself we are all very reactionary to criticism. Most tap away gloriously in the group think piranha frenzy on the most powerful man in office. Shameful. The shame lies on those who have the pack mentality of destroy no matter that YOU’VE ADMITTED he is trying his damndest to do right on many issues. To Protect ALL Americans. Even those who hate him. I will tell you he is gaining more support then he is losing. I ask this of you. Look up his inauguration speech. Can’t abide watching him? Fine. Read it with an open mind.

    • Well put and many valid points!

  9. That last sentence should have said the fact that most of us are doing NOTHING about it will be the story of the century. Sorry for the error.

  10. Jan Krause Greene has put his finger on the real core issue being ignored: short-term distractions and vision for short-term gains and entertainment /concerns while the smoldering reality of world-wide disruption is being sidelined as the main story. The main story is the main context within which all the other stories should (and are) playing out. Context helps shape meaning…and the press has failed to create true context in that sense. May your time to pause and consider context be fruitful, Mr Aarkin. I will be follow ing your blog with great interest.

  11. A bit more specificity regarding my comment above: global warming/climate change has been seen by our defense department as the most significant threat to world stability in the long-term, as I understand some earlier reports. The political and military situations and dynamics in all existing sites of conflict will be altered significantly by the displacement of people, agriculture, economies and power when crops fail, storms disrupt infrastructure ,and land becomes uninhabitable. Even more sites of conflict will emerge, and “stable” parts of the world will become defensive, isolationist and authoritarian. Military sites will not be effective resources to cope with social unrest, population pressure changes and economic decline…military personel and hardware will not have a clear “enemy” to respond to. (Sounds a bit like our War on Terrorism). Our huge military budget and posture will be our Maginot Line…unable to respond to a new kind of threat, and a waste of resources directed the wrong way. The context of global climate change should define our thinking and shape our planning for a future we shape, rather than victimize us by our own narrow vision.

  12. Ralph Knudsen, thank you for seeing my point clearly and for expanding on it. I agree with everything you have written here.
    p.s. I’m female.

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  14. I enjoyed reading the inside scoop on an NBC reporter with conscience. Thank you for being a single moral voice in what appears to be insanity in the mainstream press. I see you have almost figured it out.
    What I find very sad about the reporting on the news in every quarter, is the missing “elephant in the room” that I am sure your editors would NEVER allow you to acknowledge, but which fills in the entire picture of what has been going on. Some call it the Deep State, some the secret government etc. but this influence is not factored into any of the reports on wars and struggles that have taken place and which we tax payers have funded for years. If we were middle class in 1970, we are now struggling class in the 2019’s. What your mainstream media will not report for obvious reasons as the same agencies controlling the news (just 6 groups) are also controlled by those fomenting the wars.
    For example it has now been verified in alternative news sources that McCain recruited ISIS in the Middle Eastern countries to foment “terrorism” which kept money for war pouring out of our country and slaves, drugs and funds coming in for immoral elites. A similar deception was happening in North Korea and elsewhere, controlled by these same evil, drug smuggling, human trafficking agencies to keep the fear of nuclear war rolling along so humanity could be freaked out constantly by their threats while the tax payers paid for it. Yes. It is shocking, but it is WHY the US has been in endless war for so long. It fills in the questions you have Mr. Arkin.
    Thank God Trump just blasted through that insanity and the North Korea situation has finally made sense now he kicked the traitor agencies out. Also he has cut through this evil trade in Syria and Yemen. So while your mainstream media struggle to make sense of what has been going on, just plug in this shocking information to your equation and see how much SENSE it all makes. I see Mr. Arkin has come close to figuring this out.
    But if you are squeamish or love your head on your body too much, best to avoid the ELEPHANT in the room and carry on in business as usual. I am grateful that warriors like President Trump and his patriotic front are unafraid to face the demons that have been making this planet so disgustingly unloving, traitorous, disloyal, uncaring, exploitive of humanity, vile and warlike. I am also very grateful to the citizen journalists who are bringing this to our attention and who are not afraid to report this ugly truth. I pity the MSM journalists who cannot tell the truth even if they want to. Thank you for your work. Hari om tat sat.

  15. Dear Bill Arkin,

    Here in Australia I didn’t get to see your television work, but I have benefitted from your research work and journalism for many years. From SIOP and the NW Databook through to Code Names. For which many many thanks. I look forward to reading much more.

    Best wishes for the years to come,

    Richard Tanter

    On Sat, 5 Jan 2019 at 03:38, William M. Arkin Online wrote:

    > william arkin posted: “Note to readers: I circulated this letter to NBC > colleagues on January 2 and since it quickly leaked and got recirculated > all over, I’d thought I’d post it here, on my own laconic blog: January 4 > is my last day at NBC News and I’d like to say goodbye to” >

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  17. Being a liberal you’re biased against our great president. I wish you would report on the accomplishments of the president or that you dont know them or perhaps those accomplishments go against your and other liberals ideology. Even if that were the case, at least be happy that America benefits from them. Trump is not what you say he is. You’re biased. James o’Keefe was right, every one of you so called journalist hate the president therefore can’t report him fairly and without bias because of your and others ideology. New journalists are needed without political bias of any sort.

  18. You should research the domestic government exercise Noble Resolve. Americans have no idea what is coming.

  19. WOW! Well said. Good luck and I look forward to your future writings.

  20. Thank you William Arkin. I recommend reading military historian John Grenier’s book, “The First Way of War,” to better understand the historical roots of US endless war. It didn’t begin just after 9/11.

  21. Kate Rose O'Neal

    Since witnessing the elegantly executed collapse of The Twin Towers (and Bldg.#9) I’ve wondered if the core perpetrators weren’t those who benefited in getting the PATRIOT Act passed into law, along with all the other trimmings from a country at “war with Terrorism.”
    (The new movie “Vice” has an excellent reenactment of what happened behind closed doors and the old film, “Loose Change” was extremely thought-provoking, as well.)

    I’m hoping your novel will address some of these questions and observations, Mr. Arkin.
    It was absolutely thrilling to read your letter of resignation…. sanity is thrilling these days.

  22. inga Fisher Williams

    The media fixation to report and repeat plus analyze every inane tweet from POTUS is simply a symptom of addition to sensationalism. The poor slobs can’t help themselves. The dumpster fire in the White House is their daily fix. They are clueless that they’re being played – they think they report news, bringing us ‘information’. The Donald has them by the balls.

  23. inga Fisher Williams

    The dumpster fire in the White House is seemingly resistable for a media addicted to sensationalism. Reporting, repeating, analyzing every inane tweet from this POTUS is their daily fix. The poor schmucks can’t help themselves. They have no idea that they’re being played. The Donald is masterfully exploiting their fixation.

  24. Best wishes to you William on your many book writing endeavors. I think you’re a talented and caring journalist with an emphathetic approach to uncovering the truth under stressful circumstances. Thank you for your many years of objective journalism. Blessings and peace! 🙏

  25. James D Hamlett Sr

    Wishing you the best, in the next stage. Truth is easy to define, isn’t it?

  26. Mr. Aarkin,
    I must say I rather appreciate your thoughtfully written statement as in avoiding a ranting anrgy denouncing of these so called “news” corporations (that they have worked tirelessly to earn) you have maintained the integrity of your message in a way that cannot be dismissed in the easy fasion of painting as a bitter & surly former employee.

    I believe Chomsky said “American’s are among the most entertained and least informed people in the world” and in this was absolutely correct.
    I would say the only real difference in how you describe the current wave of u.s. imperialism is it has not been a failure to the imperialists: for them things are proceeding exactly as planned- I mean portraits of New American Century, don’t you?

    I appreciate all people of character, I wish you luck in your further writting endevours.

    Robert N. Deskins, 🐉

  27. I do wish you luck and thank you for your informative service over the years, I was a loyal fan. Looking forward to reading your new books and I pray you keep adding your expertise to the conversation. Not many of you out there. All my best.

  28. Brilliant analysis and insight and sadly so very rare (i.e., someone who tells the American people the TRUTH).
    S. Tillman
    Shell Beach, CA

  29. Well, that was a long-winded goodbye letter. I agree with some of what you say (the part I understand as an outsider in the media world). I will say that if you have yet to study the evidence assembled by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth that the collapse of the Twin Towers and Building Seven was carried out by explosions that were not planted by Al-Queda, (and nothing you wrote indicates that you have studied said evidence), then you may have something significant to learn about why we are in wars in the Middle East, killing, maiming and destroying.

  30. Build the wall. MAGA 2020

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  33. Bravo for your integrity and your courage to go against the mainstream – and good luck in your future writing adventures. More journalists need to examine their lives and find their courage once again.

  34. Mr. Arkin, You wrote a very thoughtful, well-reasoned resignation letter to NBC and I heard you on Democracy Now recently make some very cogent points that bring clarity to the debate on perpetual war, the threat of a renewed nuclear arms race, the continual diversion of unaccounted (according to the DOD IG) trillions to the military-corporate-Congressional complex away from even modest investments in infrastructure, combating climate change (which the Pentagon rightfully has acknowledged as critical), renewed R&D in cancer and other chronic diseases, and other essential needs, both foreign and domestic. Unfortunately you represent, like myself and many others, a breed that is becoming extinct. When I worked for 11 years at The Center for Defense Information (CDI), we represented untold numbers of active-duty and reserve military men/women and civilians who supported “non-partisan (okay, actually The Post almost always referred to us as “left-leaning”), non-profit…independent research on the social, economic, environmental, political, and military components of global security.” (quoting from the 2002 title flap of Winslow T. Wheeler’s “Mr. Smith is Dead: No One Stands In The Way As Congress Laces Post-Sept.11 Defense Bills With Pork.”) But CDI, a well-intentioned, sometimes misguided, but well-meaning organization, at least with its weekly TV program, its Defense Monitor newsletter (both paper and later online), made a somewhat valiant effort to critique Pentagon errors, wars, misguided weapons (smaller yield more usable neutron bombs, which proves history does repeat itself), illogical policies, and inefficiencies. Today, nearly all such dinosaurs have become extinct. Thankfully we are at least left with independent-minded, experienced and intelligent scholars like yourself to carry the water and raise some hell not unlike a person important in the history of my flawed home state of West Virginia – Mary “Mother” Jones. Keep on researching, writing, thinking and agitating. With gratitude, Jeffrey W. Mason.

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  37. As a veteran journalist myself, and Vietnam veteran on 100% VA PTSD disability benefits, I find your reflection on the societal mental disability that has driven us to a condition of perpetual war heartening. As I try to point out in “Badass Marine Soul Repair” (, until humanity faces the truth about what it means to train “normal” people in the ultimate anti-social behavior of killing and destruction, war is inevitable. But I don’t think it must remain so any more than our inability to fly was prior to discovery of the Bernoulli effect. Thank you for your service.

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  44. Pingback: THE DEEP STATE’S TYRANNY ENDURES - Building Blocks for Liberty

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