Imperial Agent Turned Anti-War Advocate: A Conversation with Lyle Jeremy Rubin

Imperial Agent Turned Anti-War Advocate: A Conversation with Lyle Jeremy Rubin
from Ep. 127 of The Un-Diplomatic Podcast

I had a really rich, personal conversation with Lyle Jeremy Rubin that I'm excited to share. He has a memoir just out, Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body: A Marine's Unbecoming, and man did it bring up some shit from my past and his.

Even before I found out about the book, I had wanted to get Lyle on the podcast because I knew of him as a fellow former military intelligence guy (he served in the Marines) who moved left and became an anti-war advocate--an anti-imperialist in the true sense. But the memoir reveals so much more than that.

It recounts his journey from being an AIPAC-supporting neoconservative insecure about his manhood (his words!) to an Afghanistan-deploying "warfighter," slowly souring on not just the war but the entire ideological scaffolding that funnels people into it. Eventually, he comes out the other side as a socialist war critic and public intellectual. It was all fascinating to read and talk about in its own right, but also because his trajectory parallels my own in a lot of ways (though I was never a political conservative and had never supported the Iraq War).

It all brought me back to the military life--the grinding routines, the culture of dehumanizing violence and patriarchy, the obsession with masculinity and penises. But also the comaraderie and community that gave me a sense of purpose for a while.

Anyway, it's worth listening to/watching. All the relevant links below.

Full Episode Audio:

From the show notes for this episode:

Lyle Jeremy Rubin joins the podcast to talk about his new memoir "Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body: A Marine's Unbecoming." Lyle and Van discuss the way that hypocrisy radicalizes people, the trouble with imperialism, the psychosexual insecurities mixed into military life, how personal violence affects foreign policy, the Karate Kid, the paradoxically traumatizing lack of combat on the front lines of war, and much more.
Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body:
Guest Website:
Buy Me a Coffee:
Aime Cesaire, Discourses on Colonialism:é-Césaire/dp/1583670254
William James, "The Moral Equivalent of War":
Nikhil Pal Singh, Black is a Country:
Nikhil Pal Singh, Race and America's Long War:
Christopher Lasch, The True and Only Heaven: