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Chicago in 13 Maps

By: Bryce Edwards - CC BY 2.0

Perhaps a blog that focuses on Pakistani politics isn’t the best place for this post. However, this is the only blog I write for, so here it goes… I really miss Chicago. I’m incredibly sad to leave Chicago for Washington DC after eight years. Chicago is a city of extremes. There are many downright awful things about Chicago: It has the ... Read More »

Some Initial Thoughts on Obama’s Counterterrorism Speech

By: sylvar - CC BY 2.0

Last week President Obama delivered a major speech on Counterterrorism at the National Defense University, hopefully marking a major shift in U.S. counterterrorism strategy. There were many things to like about Obama’s speech: a nuanced, less exaggerated description of the threat of terrorism to the United States, his calls to rein in U.S. drone strikes, close Guantanamo Bay and establish ... Read More »

Ordered to Kill, part 3 of 3: Who refuses to kill?

Photo credit:

In the first two parts of this series, I asked what type of soldier commits a mass killing. My last post emphasized the scary extent to which most people will conform to social pressure, including the pressure to kill innocents. Today, I want to ask what type of person will refuse orders to kill civilians. To see how soldiers answered ... Read More »

Ordered to Kill, Part 2 of 3: Why do they do it?


In my previous post, I asked what type of person commits a mass killing during wartime. I noted that a similar pattern occurred in many massacres: a minority of sadistic soldiers enthusiastically led the killing, another minority refused, while most reluctantly participated. I also argued that the most common explanations do not hold up to scrutiny – few soldiers can ... Read More »

Ordered to Kill, Part 1 of 3: What type of person commits an atrocity?

Photo from

On March 16, 1968, American helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson Jr. was flying over the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai when he noticed a ditch filled with bodies. He then watched in horror as a U.S. Army Captain shot an unarmed Vietnamese woman at close range. Thompson immediately landed his helicopter and confronted the Americans, “…these are human beings, unarmed ... Read More »

Self-Immolation as Political Protest: Powerful Beginning or a Tragic End?

Malcolm Browne, 1963

In June 1963, a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, committed suicide by lighting himself on fire to protest religious discrimination by the South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. Journalist David Halberstam, who witnessed the act, described his reaction as being “too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think.” When President ... Read More »

When could a conspiracy theory be true?

TimeOut Chicago

As Ahsan’s affirmative action hire for this blog, I know little about Pakistani politics, even less about football, and all I know about Younis Khan is that Farooq bares an unhealthy obsession with him. What’s more, I’m currently knee deep in historical research for my dissertation, so I’ll limit my occasional contributions to random musings on political/historical events that I ... Read More »