‘Righteous fury’: A Maggie Valley man is on a quest to hold Putin accountable, and it’s not his first rodeo

At the end of every dictator’s reign, every time a warlord has been held to account, its due to the work of people who seek justice without pause or fatigue.

The messiest story you can have: A Western perspective on the war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine may seem a million miles away, but one doesn’t have to travel halfway across the world to find the Western perspective on it. A small group of scholars from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee — some with roots in the war-torn region — are using their experience and academic skillsets to help educate the public about a complicated, confusing conflict that is already beginning to have global implications.

Finding light in the darkness: A conversation with Jane Ferguson

In the realm of foreign journalism, few correspondents are as fearless and compassionate as Jane Ferguson.

A long night, lots to think about

Last night was one of those nights. That means today I’m running on caffeine instead of sleep. Normal bedtime, three or four hours of hard slumber, then wide awake, a stampede of thoughts, worries, ideas and plans racing around my head. Sometimes, like on this night, I give in to the insomnia and just roll over on my back and wait for the stream-of-consciousness parade to come to an end and hopefully get some more shut-eye. 

Connecting the human ties that bind

It is mind-boggling that in the year 2022 a barbaric, nonsensical war rages in Ukraine. It’s an example that no matter how evolved we are or how technologically advanced we become, the wickedness of one human can impact the world and destroy precious lives. 

A new generation’s Saigon moment

By William Hite • Guest Columnist

“You have all the watches, but we have all the time.” — Taliban adage 

It’s official; Afghanistan is lost, overrun by the Taliban in eight days. As I sat watching and listening, I grew angrier and angrier. This is my generation’s Saigon moment. I’m not ex-military or a foreign service officer, but as a concerned citizen I follow our foreign policy closely and have followed the war in Afghanistan since its inception in 2001. What I’ve seen in the last several days is nothing short of a tragedy. 

You don’t turn your back on friends

By Hannah McLeod • Guest Columnist

The raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was possible because of our military presence (the brave men and women who serve), allies in the region and intelligence agencies. The president of the respected Council on Foreign Relations said on Sunday, “The irony of the successful operation against al-Baghdadi is that it could not have happened without U.S. forces on the ground that have been pulled out, help from Syrian Kurds who have been betrayed, and support of a U.S. intelligence community that has so often been disparaged.” It is true that Donald Trump has pulled troops from Syria in a hasty decision that occurred without forethought, abandoned our Kurdish allies, and regularly criticizes and undermines the work of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Trump often criticizes these agencies as part of his “deep state” conspiracy. 

Writing to heal the wounds of war

June 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of The Smoky Mountain News. At the party celebrating this landmark in the paper’s history, Tom Baker introduced himself to me. Tom is the author of The Hawk and the Dove, historical fiction covering military conflicts from the time of the Vikings to the Vietnam War. As Tom, his wife, and I visited, they told me about a writing therapy program for veterans, particularly those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Never give up: Franklin native survived years of torture in Vietnam POW camp

Just west of the town of Franklin, along a winding back road heading into the mountains surrounding Wayah Bald, sits a picturesque old farmhouse across the street from a babbling stream. Sitting on the porch of that farmhouse one recent afternoon, gazing out over the free-flowing, peaceful waters, is Tom McNish.

The next war must not happen

By Stephen Wall • Guest Columnist

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded 1,500 feet over Hiroshima. Only 1.5 percent of the 60-plus pounds of uranium 235 actually underwent nuclear fission, but the blast was the equivalent of 15 thousand tons of TNT. About 70,000 people, mostly civilians, were incinerated almost instantaneously, and another 70,000 died in the following months. 

Currently the U.S. and Russia each have about 1,700 nuclear warheads on actual ready-to-launch status, aimed at each other’s homeland. A typical Russian missile carries six warheads, each with about 10 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb. So each of several hundred deployed Russian missiles has the destructive force of 60 Hiroshima bombs. Every American needs to think about what those numbers mean to them and their families.

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