Posts tagged United States

Posted 3 years ago
We are, if the president is serious here, a nation that has narrowly constricted its marketable talents to the deployment of violence. We can’t manufacture much of anything, but we can kill you. We can’t fix our schools, or build adequate levees to protect a city like New Orleans from floodwaters. But we can kill you. We can’t reduce infant mortality to anywhere near the level of other industrialized nations with which we like to compare ourselves. But we can kill you. We can’t break the power of Wall Street bankers, or jail any of those bankers and money managers who helped orchestrate the global financial collapse. But we can kill you. We can’t protect LGBT youth from bullying in schools, or ensure equal opportunity for all in the labor market, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or any other factor. But we can kill you.
Posted 3 years ago

We're #1 -- Ten Depressing Ways America Is Exceptional

nosex:

Let me make it clear at the outset. I too believe in American exceptionalism, although I don’t think God has anything to do with it. But I suspect my perspective will find little favor among Republicans in general and Tea Party members in particular. For I believe that America is exceptional in the advantages we’ve had over other nations, not what we’ve done with those advantages.

Indeed, to me there are two American exceptionalisms. One is the exceptionally favorable circumstances the United States found itself in at its founding and over its first 200 years. The second is the exceptional way in which we have squandered those advantages, in the process creating a value system singularly antagonistic to the changes needed when those advantages disappeared.

Posted 3 years ago

Return of the Class Struggle

Thanks to the public employees of Wisconsin, thousands of whom have occupied the state capitol building for the past several days, the class struggle has returned to the United States. Of course, it never really left, but lately only one side has been fighting. Workers, their unions and liberals more generally have now rejoined the battle.

Posted 3 years ago

The invisible American welfare state
Suzanne Mettler’s piece in Perspectives on Politics (free access to PDF) has many fascinating arguments about the political consequences of public ignorance about the benefits that people receive from the state. But this table is jawdropping. It shows the percentage of people who (a) benefit from various programs, and (b) claim in response to a government survey that they ‘have not used a government social program.’
Mettler’s basic argument is that because the US welfare state is ‘submerged’ and sliced up among a variety of different programs, many of which operate indirectly rather than directly, it is mostly invisible to US citizens. This has obvious political consequences - ‘government social programs’ are equated to ‘welfare’ and stigmatized. The fact that nearly half of Social Security recipients do not believe that they have benefited from a government social program, and that the same is true of some 40% of G.I. Bill beneficiaries and Medicare recipients is a rather extraordinary one.

The invisible American welfare state

Suzanne Mettler’s piece in Perspectives on Politics (free access to PDF) has many fascinating arguments about the political consequences of public ignorance about the benefits that people receive from the state. But this table is jawdropping. It shows the percentage of people who (a) benefit from various programs, and (b) claim in response to a government survey that they ‘have not used a government social program.’

Mettler’s basic argument is that because the US welfare state is ‘submerged’ and sliced up among a variety of different programs, many of which operate indirectly rather than directly, it is mostly invisible to US citizens. This has obvious political consequences - ‘government social programs’ are equated to ‘welfare’ and stigmatized. The fact that nearly half of Social Security recipients do not believe that they have benefited from a government social program, and that the same is true of some 40% of G.I. Bill beneficiaries and Medicare recipients is a rather extraordinary one.

Posted 3 years ago

American Warships Heading to Egypt

"…I see no clear indication that the U.S. government has affirmatively decided to directly involve our military in Egypt. However, it is obvious that the government is at least planning for the possibility.”

Posted 3 years ago
It’s my belief, though, that American political violence is a direct legacy of the American Revolution, for the patriots’ victory in that conflict proved to the American people that violence could achieve a positive end: independence and the creation of a new nation. It is a troubling, but inescapable, bequest that stems from the fact that our nation was born in violence, and it derives from the reality that violence has ever since become not only the device of criminals, but also of government and those who disagree with the government. Public officials who condone the use of torture in recent times should, by rights, give pause when they try to condemn the actions of Jared L. Loughner, Timothy McVeigh or the Unabomber. But, typically, our public servants see no contradiction, no hypocrisy, in advocating extreme political violence against our alleged enemies around the globe while condemning political violence when it is aimed against the government — or, more precisely, against them. In other words, political violence is legitimate when the government commits it; but it is appalling when individuals commit it against the government or its representatives. Political violence committed by individuals is explained by marginalizing those perpetrators as crackpots. Political violence committed by the government is justified as guaranteeing national security.
Posted 3 years ago

Terrence Nowicki, Jr.

Posted 3 years ago
By his focus on how territory animates world politics, Stuart Elden demonstrates how far we are from the borderless world of popular fantasy. More specifically, in this deftly argued and richly empirical book, he shows how, in responding to 9/11 as an act of war, the U.S. government, through its association of al-Qaeda with the Afghan Taliban and in its preemptive invasion of Iraq, directly undermined the very territorial integrity norm that the terror of 9/11 was held to have violated. In this way, ‘terror’ sheds light on the continuing political importance of territory.

John Agnew

My geography professor just sent me a link to Stuart Elden’s work and I now feel compelled to read it.

Posted 4 years ago
Still, what is clearly illegal under international law and the NPT is not having a nuclear breakout capacity — as Iran stands accused not of possessing, but seeking to possess — but the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any States, as the non-proliferation treaty itself notes. That’s something to be remembered the next time a U.S. official declares all options are on the table when dealing with Iran, and contrasted with the Obama administration’s recently stated policy in its Nuclear Posture Review of maintaing the right to use nuclear weapons against those it deems in violation of the NPT (e.g. Iran).