U.S. Army sniper team from Jalalabad Provincial Reconstruction Team near Our Baba, Afghanistan, October 19, 2006. Courtesy of the U.S. Army/Cpl. Bertha Flores.

At last, after 20 years, the never-ending war in Afghanistan is finally over.

You can bet that a lot of ink will be spilled in future months to suss out why America’s attempt to remake Afghanistan in its own image failed so spectacularly.

The basics are not that complicated. While some Afghans welcomed the undeniably positive changes the American invasion brought, to be sure, many certainly did not. Add to this Afghan corruption and warlordism, the nation’s poverty and religious extremism and indiscriminate American violence and blind hubris, and you’ve got a mess of epic proportions.


How German interference blew up the Middle East in World War I

Curt Prüfer (right) in Cairo, 1910. Trina Prufer Collection.

Alexandria, Egypt. September, 1914.

Robert Mors was in serious trouble.

Immigration officials had stopped him for questioning on his arrival at the port of Alexandria from Constantinople, and they immediately became suspicious. Great Britain and Germany were now at war, and the British-controlled government of Egypt had begun expelling Germans from the country. Why was this man, an admitted German citizen, trying to get back in?

A search of Mors and his luggage yielded two boxes of dynamite blasting caps, a hand-drawn map of the nearby Suez Canal, and slips of paper with cyphered messages. …


This is a confession.

When I got word of Rush Limbaugh’s death early on the afternoon of Ash Wednesday, my gut reaction was this: good riddance, you vicious bastard.

To be honest, I’ve always loathed and detested Rush.

In his 40 plus years behind the microphone, he transformed hatred, bitter resentment, and bigotry into public virtues in the conservative mind. He waged a relentless, decades-long assault on society’s weakest and most vulnerable, and he did it with a cruel, sadistic gusto.

Worst of all, Rush’s hatred and cruelty infected millions of Americans for two generations, making ugly, anti-social behavior socially acceptable and weaponizing it…


The Trump era has officially ended.

The former president’s Senate impeachment trial finally wrapped up on Saturday, the House impeachment managers falling short of the required 67-vote supermajority needed to convict. Donald Trump now stands acquitted of inciting insurrection.

Screenshot from cnn.com.

To be sure, Trump’s escape from justice after almost shipwrecking our democratic way of life is bitterly disappointing. Nonetheless, the presidency of Donald J. Trump is finally over.

At last.

His awesome power to steal, kill, and destroy on a national scale with near godlike impunity has been stripped away from him, as has his chief messaging platform (Twitter, etc.). …


What kid doesn’t love the American flag?

Every year when the 4th of July rolls around, everybody trots out their grills, the hamburgers and hotdogs, brown beans, the potato salad. We sit in the sweltering shade and drink our beers and lemonade, or perhaps we run around like crazy people half the day and then jump in the pool and collapse. Later on, there come the parades and the fireworks, and then we go home.

By day’s end, you’re hot, sweaty, and tired. You nonetheless feel content, because you live in a great country, which Americans like you acknowledge on…


OSS Airlines, Serbia: A Rescue Story

Emergency evacuation from Pranjani, Serbia during Operation Halyard, September 17, 1944. This C-47 transport plane damaged a wing on landing when it clipped a haystack next to the runway. Courtesy National Archives/OSS/Photographers mate J.B. Allin, USNR.

Black puffs from flak bursts began blossoming in the air around Lt. Thomas Oliver’s B-24 bomber, high over the town of Bor, Yugoslavia. Suddenly, he felt a violent jolt. The plane had gotten hit…again.

Earlier over the target, the railroad marshalling yards at Campina, Rumania, enemy fire had eviscerated engines, #3 and #4. Now, #2 engine was engulfed in flames, the third one to be destroyed that day.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. …


This image is a computer generated representation of COVID-19 virions (SARS-CoV-2) under electron microscope. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Felipe Esquivel Reed. License: CC BY-SA 4.0.

It was inevitable, I suppose: I just knew conservatives were going to start publicly arguing that the American economy must be restarted, even at the risks of thousands of coronavirus deaths.

As the nation began shutting down public gatherings last week, an article by R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, demanded “Keep the Churches Open!” Yesterday, he followed up with an even worse message to the American public: “Say ‘No’ to Death’s Dominion.”

In this second, stunningly tone-deaf article, Reno asserted with a straight face that aggressive measures for containing the spread of coronavirus such as those promulgated by New…


Don’t Panic, Bernie Fans! It Ain’t Over Yet

Bernie Sanders at a rally in St. Paul, MN, March 3, 2020. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Lorie Shaull. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

It’s Wednesday, the day after Super Tuesday, and I know what some of you Bernie supporters are thinking.

Bernie’s lost! We’ve lost! This is the end!

The somewhat misleading headlines like “Joe Biden’s Historic Night” (CNN) and “Sanders Laments Turnout After Biden’s Big Night” (New York Times) doubtless didn’t help any of us put things in proper perspective. You’d think that the election was all over, Biden had wrapped up the nomination and we could now all relax and go back to ignoring politics until convention time.

I was frankly pretty disappointed…


The Genesis of Photojournalism

Confederate caisson and eight horses destroyed on Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg, Virginia by shelling from the 2nd Massachussetts Siege Gun Battery, 1863. Courtesy of the National Archives.

One day in 1897, the rap of an auction-house gavel fetched novice photo collector Frederick Hill Meserve a thick package wrapped in brown paper and string. Meserve’s successful $1.10 bid was a sight-unseen purchase (the auction catalogue description said merely “photographs”), but for such a man on a mission, it was a worthy gamble.

He was seeking Civil War-era photographs to illustrate the wartime memoirs which his father, Union army veteran William Meserve, was then writing. What Meserve didn’t realize was that the contents of his plain paper package, bought for pennies, was a small piece…


Like the Man Said: the Only Thing We have to Fear is Fear Itself

Courtesy Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash.

Americans are really, truly hungry for deep, lasting change.

Over the last decade many of us have realized that America’s politico-economic system does not work for regular people any more. Things once easily within reach of the middle class — owning a house; getting a college education; access to affordable, effective healthcare and childcare — increasingly seem impossible to attain. …

Kevin Morrow

Research historian, published writer/author, copy editor, photographer, world traveler. Oh yeah … I’m an archaeology fan, too.

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