The American Empire

Instruction: fill in the blank with the first US Administration that comes to mind as you are reading the following passage:

The contemporary United States expresses the greatest of all paradoxes. It is at one and the same time a democracy — at any rate a pluralist open society — and an empire. No other country has ever been, or had, both things at once. Or not for long. And there must be some question about the durability of this present coexistence, too. Already spokesmen of the … Administration say plainly that their foreign and military policy is incompatible with the disloyalty and division that stem from a deliberative Congress and an inquisitive press. They laughably exaggerate the reflective capacity of the first and the adversary character of the second, but they have a point. If it is to have the least chance of success, their strategy calls for an imposed national unanimity, a well-cultivated awareness of “enemies within,” and a strong draft of amnesia.

If you had guessed George W. Bush, you could be forgiven for the mistake. The missing word was Reagan, the passage taken from Christopher Hitchens’ defense of Noam Chomsky, in his 1985 essay
The Chorus and Cassandra.

The passage is as relevant then as it is now – just like the following quote:

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
John Kerry, 1971

As Iraqis brave insurgent attacks to vote today, let us hope that, unlike the war in Indo-china that Kerry courageously denounced, the American mission in Iraq can still be salvaged. They owe the Iraqi people at least that much.


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