War: The More We Spend on It, the More We Get

My latest op-ed, “War: The More We Spend on It, the More We Get,” appeared on this morning. In it, I write: “President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates’ $534 billion defense budget proposal is aimed at building a “21st-century military,” that is, a military designed to fight asymmetrical “small wars,” conduct anti-terrorism operations, and battle insurgencies. It shuffles a significant number of pieces around the chessboard, to be sure, but like its predecessors, it is an enormous waste of resources and wealth.

For many in Chicago, driving is a necessity, not a luxury

My most recent op-ed, “For us, Mr. Daley, driving to work is a necessity, not a vice” (registration required) was published today on and will appear in this week’s issue of Crain’s Chicago Business. You can find the article here as well as reprinted below: — For us, Mr. Daley, driving to work is a necessity, not a vice Ryan McCarl It is exceedingly difficult for many commuters living on the North Side to find free parking after they return from work.

Out of Range: The ethics of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

My latest op-ed, “Out of Range,” appeared in this morning’s edition of In it, I explore the ethical dilemma of the U.S.’s ongoing campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan. This is shaping up to be one of the hottest contemporary debates in foreign policy circles. I write: “Technology and wealth have made it possible for the U.S. to exercise decisive military power anywhere in the world. But our technology and our wealth often outrun our wisdom, our prudence, and our moral sensibilities.

Why we must remember Iraq

“The Next Forgotten War,” an op-ed of mine, was published on this morning; check it out here.  In it, I argue that we must keep the memory of the Iraq War, and the individuals caught up in its maelstroms, alive: “As Iraq recedes from the headlines and slips from the public’s mind to make room for the next ‘crisis,’ we have a responsibility to give some thought to the two million Iraqi refugees displaced by the war and the tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed or maimed as a consequence of the war.

2008 Reading Recommendations

Happy New Year! At the end of each of the past three years, I’ve written a post listing the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in order to bring these books to the attention of others. My lists from 2007 and 2006 are available here and here. As usual, I’ve put the titles of the five books most important to me this year in bold, and I’ve linked each book to its Amazon.

The Nuclear Peace and its Consequences for China's Rise

I just put the finishing touches on my M.A. thesis, bringing one of the most stressful months of my life to a satisfying close. 10,181 words, 45 pages, three entirely different drafts, and an ungodly amount of writing and revision. I am happy with the finished product and will turn it in tomorrow morning, then post a link to it online. My faculty advisor was John Mearsheimer, the best professor I’ve had at the U of C and one of the most influential international relations scholars in America.

2007 book recommendations

The following list includes the books I’ve read this year that I enjoyed the most and that had the biggest effect on me. I give the highest recommendation to all of them, and I’ve bolded the top five. Akhmatova, Selected Poems Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun de Bary, Sources of Japanese Tradition Frye, The Educated Imagination Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics

Belief isn't for the unimaginative; let kids see 'The Golden Compass'

The following editorial was published in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer: I was thrilled to learn that The Golden Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, was going to be released as a movie on Friday. I read the trilogy first in middle school and again in high school, and it was my favorite story for a long time. It is filled with imagination and erudition, and it is a significant cut above the vast majority of works aimed at young adults.

Quotes from Thomas Merton and John Steinbeck

Living is more than submission: it is creation. To live is to create one’s own world as a scene of personal happiness. -Thomas Merton, “The Street is For Celebration” Celebration is the beginning of confidence, therefore of power. -Thomas Merton, “The Street is For Celebration” The next passage in my journey is a love affair. I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love, and it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.

More wisdom from Czeslaw Milosz

From An Appeal

In you, as in me, there is a hidden certainty That soon you will rise, in undiminished light, And be real, strong, free from what restrained you.

From Notes He felt thankful, so he couldn’t not believe in God. From A Poetic State Every minute the spectacle of the world astonishes me; it is so comic that I cannot understand how literature could expect to cope with it.