Welcome to Forever Wars, a journalistic experiment.
Whether the experiment succeeds or fails is in your hands. The mission of Forever Wars is to chronicle, investigate and interrogate the continuities, departures and permutations of the War on Terror.
Twice a week, Forever Wars publishes some combination of original reporting, critique, essay, and the exploration of relevant history. Ideally all four at the same time. It will scale up, across the entirety of the mutating War on Terror; scale down, to focus on specific developments that impact those mutations/continuities/departures; and zoom out, to examine the impact of the War on Terror on the continuing deterioration of American democracy. Sometimes Forever Wars will feel like a blog post. Other times it will feel like a magazine article. Many times it will feel like an adjunct to my book, Reign of Terror. (Please buy it, this is no time for dignity).
At all times, Forever Wars’ reporting is guided by an explicit point of view – specifically, a socialist perspective that demands the destruction of the War on Terror, U.S. global hegemony, and the American Exceptionalism that created and sustains them.
Forever Wars isn’t often responsive to what journalists call the “news cycle,” which isn’t anything other than the industry’s awful way of misrepresenting coverage decisions as some kind of unchallengeable tidal force. Sometimes it will, as events necessitate. But good journalism – you’ve probably heard this before – takes time to develop flavor.
Similarly, we’re not here for the Discourse. We're here to counterprogram the Discourse. Out there is the Discourse. In here we reckon with an awful and urgent reality. And sometimes we will also have some random off-topic posts because the same thing all the time is boring, and this particular thing all the time is debilitating.
Who are we?
I’m Spencer Ackerman, author of Reign of Terror: How The 9/11 Era Destabilized America And Produced Trump. I’ve reported on the War on Terror, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else, since 2002, for The New Republic, TPM, the defunct Washington Independent, Wired, The Guardian, and the Daily Beast (where I remain a contributing editor), as well as for an old blog of mine called Attackerman.
This story has taken me to Iraq and Afghanistan, where I’ve done both embedded and unembedded reporting; to Guantanamo Bay, one of the most awful places on earth located in one of the most beautiful; to ships, subs and military bases on multiple continents; to a police incommunicado-detention warehouse in Chicago that I exposed.
I’ve shared in the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism for the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations, a story that netted me several other awards; and won a National Magazine Award for exposing anti-Islam counterterrorism training at the FBI. I’ve gotten other hardware for feature reporting, too. The stories I tell you are ugly, but I try to tell them beautifully.
Forever Wars is edited by Sam Thielman, an excellent journalist of wide-rangingcuriosity. Since we hope to model best practices here at Forever Wars, Sam will have a byline, for the same reasons I will. Sam may also write for Forever Wars, in which case I’ll edit him and have the editorial byline. (Editline?)
The look and feel of Forever Wars is designed by Sam McPheeters. Sam was born in Ohio and raised in upstate New York. A published writer by age 12, Sam has written for The Chicago Reader, Criterion, and The Village Voice, and designed art for Vice, Epitaph Records, and Super Deluxe, among others. His latest book, Mutations; The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk (Rare Bird, 2020), was named one of GQ's Best Books to Read Right Now and the inaugural pick for the Pitchfork's Book Club.
Only if you subscribe – if you pay, to be blunt about it – can we make this endeavor sustainable.
The more of you who pay $5 per month, the more ambitious we can get – from litigating to force disclosure of critical government documents (the Freedom of Information Act is less a law than a legal sweepstakes) to reporting trips at home and abroad to expose the war.
Journalism shouldn’t be a for-profit enterprise – how can we tell people, as we truthfully do, that journalism is necessary for a free society and also tell people that they have to pay for it? – but the inescapable facts are that worthwhile journalism requires money, time and focus. Your subscriptions will not only make Forever Wars possible, they’ll subsidize comp subscriptions for those who can’t afford $5 per month, and you’ll get special offers for upcoming merchandise, too. Some posts will be just for you. You can also subscribe for a full year for $50 – two months free, as a thank-you for your vote of confidence – or you can become a founding member for $200, which will include free merch, and early notifications for events and appearances.
I hope you’ll subscribe. We’re at a dangerous moment in American history. We need rigor, precision, solidarity and courage to get ourselves through it. Or it really will be forever.