Robert Koehler is a nationally recognized award-winning journalist, fiction writer and poet whose essays and columns have appeared in ...

Read full bio

Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler


Deep justice in Ferguson

August 21, 2014

Black 'hood, white cops. Get on the sidewalk!

  • Iraq and endless war

    August 14, 2014

    Our kills are clean and secular; theirs are messy and religious.

  • Hatred in the nuclear era

    August 7, 2014

    Before nuclear weapons, after nuclear weapons . . .

  • Water: Commodity or human right?

    July 31, 2014

    I'm thirsty. Indeed, I'm overwhelmed by thirst, thinking about those who lack access to clean water. I'm thirsty for a different world.

  • Never again to us: Israel's battle cry?

    July 24, 2014

    "Israel regrets every injury to civilians. I call on the residents of Gaza: Don't stay there. Hamas wants you to die, we want you to be safe."

  • The oxymoron of peace

    July 17, 2014

    "At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant."

  • Democracy: No longer for sale?

    July 10, 2014

    Ah, 1961. The year -- certain aspects of it, anyway -- are almost impossible to remember. "Whites only" bathrooms, for instance.

  • Going deep: Race and the third rail

    July 3, 2014

    Let's take a stroll along the third rail of American culture, shall we?

  • Watching the world destroy itself

    June 26, 2014

    The video opens with a few bars of adrenalin-pumping music. We see a topsy-turvy camera angle, sky, trees, darkness, then a staccato pop, pop, pop that blends rhythmically with the music, but of course it's gunfire, lots of gunfire, followed by a few urgent words in Arabic, then English. "Down here! Down here!"

  • Soul murder

    June 12, 2014

    All men are created equal. All chattel are insured.

  • Criminal wrongdoing and the CIA

    June 5, 2014

    Too often "the law" is nothing more than prejudice embedded in jargon.

  • Army of one

    May 29, 2014

    The world withheld love and he went to war. He was an army of one -- another army of one, laying out his plans in secret torment, plotting his "day of retribution."

  • The social immune system

    May 22, 2014

    Europe has a special worry about a broken, uncaring economy.

  • Money and morality, the parallel between energy and slavery

    May 15, 2014

    Step on the gas, step on a man . . .

  • The war to end all wars

    May 8, 2014

    "Peace, as we have seen, is not an order natural to mankind: it is artificial, intricate and highly volatile. All kinds of preconditions are necessary." -- Michael Howard, "The Invention of Peace"

  • Ten years on, ghost of Abu Ghraib still haunts us

    May 1, 2014

    Ten years ago, photos of the crucifixion -- and worse -- were released to the American public. The media still call it "the Abu Ghraib scandal," as though, oops, the awkward repercussions for Team Bush were the torture photos' primary horror.

  • Calling all pagans

    April 10, 2014

    Somewhere between these two quotes lies the future:

  • The high stakes of high-stakes testing

    April 3, 2014

    A mind is a terrible thing to test, especially a child's mind -- if, in so doing, you reduce it to a number and proceed to worship that number, ignoring the extraordinary complexity and near-infinite potential of what you have just tested.

  • Monsters in our midst

    March 27, 2014

    "It was loaded with meaning and death."

  • Make it hurt

    March 20, 2014

    "After Russia invaded Crimea, a senior American official vowed to 'make it hurt.' More than two weeks later, Moscow has given no sign that it feels any pain, and the challenge for President Obama is whether he is willing or able to inflict enough to change the Kremlin's calculus."

  • Poster city of abandonment

    March 13, 2014

    White flight, corporate flight . . .

  • Outing the deep state

    March 6, 2014

    There has always been a "deep state," as Mike Lofgren described it in a compelling essay recently published at -- a predatory consensus of money and political ideology that serves only its own endless growth and functions in pristine autonomy from any sort of democratic process -- but defining it begs an enormous question: Can we actually build a world that isn't run by its shadow interests?

  • Voices of pain and peace

    February 27, 2014

    No matter how bad it gets, we can look inside ourselves and find hope, possibility . . . the future. And when we find that, we know what it means to build peace.

  • Walk softly

    February 20, 2014

    "When you go to dig your fields, or make a pot from clay, you are disturbing the balance of things. When you walk, you are moving the air, breathing it in and out. Therefore you must make payments."

  • Asphyxiating education

    February 13, 2014

    "The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."

  • A bug on the windshield

    February 6, 2014

    The young guys were half a block ahead of us. Nothing was happening except that they were walking. A police car pulled up behind them, slowed to their pace, aimed a spotlight at them.

  • Abolishing war, resurrecting Fallujah

    January 30, 2014

    Iraq vet Ross Caputi's film opens with a fleeting synopsis of the American heartbreak -- and the bandage we tape across it.

  • Beyond our broken dreams

    January 23, 2014

    Every night gunshots lullaby me to sleep

  • Bereft of democracy

    January 16, 2014

    "(Chris) Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot," writes Chris Hedges of the reeling New Jersey governor. "He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth."

  • Cosmetic surgery

    January 9, 2014

    "In Iraq, al-Qaeda launched an offensive to take control of two cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, that U.S. troops sacrificed heavily to clear of terrorists between 2004 and 2008."

  • Beginner's mind

    January 2, 2014

    More and more, I'm softening to the idea of being a beginner and finding joy in doing something I've never done before, to the point where I'm on the stump for a shift in the vocabulary of beginning.

  • Values in shrink-wrap

    December 26, 2013

    Amid the love and ripped shrink-wrap plastic of Christmas, my 7-month-old great nephew, Joey, sat contentedly gumming the cardboard label on a stuffed pink elephant he'd been given -- his grin piercing the excesses of the season that lay crumpled all around him.

  • The code of shame

    December 19, 2013

    "I'm dying to know what it's like to love somebody -- to know what it feels like to be wanted." -- Art Corneau

  • Nuclear disarmament: Beyond Iran

    December 12, 2013

    Iran! So long our enemy-in-waiting, it's just asking for it, y'know?

  • Return of the golden calf

    December 5, 2013

    'Tis the season to feel rage and heartache about the economy.

  • Trivializing peace

    November 28, 2013

    What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.

  • 'How Long Will I Cry?' gives voice to cries in the wilderness

    November 21, 2013

    "The only premise of the book was to just go out and listen."

  • Reclaiming 'Chiraq'

    November 14, 2013

    I felt the music and the fire as the civil rights movement rose from its slumber.

  • Corralling the loners

    November 7, 2013

    Another crazed, furious loner shocks the world. This time I'm a little too close to the edge of the chaos.

  • Slicing the baby in two

    October 31, 2013

    "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong."

  • Making peace with war

    October 17, 2013

    What if we had politicians who believed in the abolition of war with as much passion as the Republican right believes in the abolition of taxes?

  • A rationality shutdown

    October 10, 2013

    In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down.

  • Hope flows from hollow water

    October 3, 2013

    The community was out of control -- the children, oh my goodness, the children, were sniffing gasoline and pretty much abandoning any pretense of a future -- and the social and criminal-justice systems were just adding to the problem. Nothing was working.

  • Cherry-picking evil

    September 12, 2013

    "Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them."

  • Stopping a war before it starts

    September 5, 2013

    Who's up for stopping a war?

  • 20,000 days

    August 29, 2013

    End of the workday -- the day itself is tired, a lost cause. Just go home and have a drink. Make it a double.

  • Reflections on a high school reunion

    August 22, 2013

    It's hard to lie about your age once you've told someone you've just been to your 50th high school reunion.