Inaugural Ellsberg Lecture: The Human Toll of America’s Air Wars

Presented by the UMass Amherst Department of History in collaboration with the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy
2022 International Reporting named contributor Azmat Khan reporting in Kanadhar. (

In recent American wars, the United States traded many of its troops on the ground for an arsenal of aircraft, high flying drones, and precision weapons, often directed by controllers thousands of miles away. Successive U.S. administrations have boasted America's air wars are the "most precise" in the history of warfare, replete with pledges of transparency and accountability. Investigative reporter and 2022 International Reporting named contributor Azmat Khan set out to test those claims on the ground in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, and within confidential troves of documents she obtained through years-long lawsuits against the Department of Defense. In this lecture, Khan will detail the culmination of her findings and the pattern of impunity within this new way of war. 

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg will deliver introductory remarks by video. A public Q&A moderated by historian and Ellsberg Initiative director Christian G. Appy will follow.

This is the first annual Ellsberg Lecture, co-sponsored this year by the Feinberg Series and the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy. The Ellsberg Initiative was inspired by the acquisition of the papers of Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, by the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives at UMass. The Initiative’s mission is to promote public awareness, scholarship, and activism on the overlapping causes that define Ellsberg’s legacy: peace, anti-imperialism, democracy, truth-telling, nuclear disarmament, and social and environmental justice.

-- from the event page


The panel will be held at the UMass Amherst Student Union Ballroom on November 15 at 7:00 p.m. EST. In-person and Zoom attendees are welcome. Register here.