Gas victims, Halabja, Iran, March 16, 1988

A Given Definition of “Exceptional”: Chemical Warfare


WC read the recent, excellent New York Times feature on the experience of U.S. soldiers in Iraq who encountered the moldering remainders of Saddam Hussein’s chemical warfare munitions. And it set WC to wondering: large-scale manufacture of chemical weapons involves very difficult chemical syntheses. Likely beyond the capabilities of Iraq and Iran, although WC’s readers will recall…

An Anthem for Our Times?


WC has railed against the fervid jingoism of hyper-patriots like The Quitter, who claim the United States is “exceptional” and beyond criticism. But WC is equally offended by clods who can find nothing kinder to say about our country than “It sucks less.” . There’s a whole lot of room between claims of perfection and…

Exceptionally Expensive, Anyway


WC is deeply skeptical about the claim that the United States is “exceptional” in some magic way, and above reproach in all ways. The outrageously expensive cost of medical treatment would be one way in which the neocons claims of U.S. “exceptionalism” are only true in a bitterly ironic way. The International Federation of Health…

National Anthems


National anthems are one of the very odd aspects of modern culture. America’s national anthem is a bad poem by lawyer and very amateur poet Francis Scott Key called “The Defence of Ft. McHenry,” written in 1814. Key gave the poem to his brother-in-law, Judge Joseph H. Nicholson, who saw that the words fit the popular…