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Ed Webb

Trump is making Americans see the U.S. the way the rest of the world already did - The ... - 0 views

  • The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie once observed that there are “two Americas” — one at home and one abroad. The first is the America of Hollywood, work-in-progress democracy, civil rights movements and Ellis Island. The second is the America of coups and occupations, military dictators and CIA plots, economic meddling and contempt for foreign cultures. The rest of the world knows both Americas. But as Shamsie has written, Americans don’t seem aware of the second one at all.

  • The rest of the world doesn’t figure much in U.S. lesson plans. A majority of states have phased out international geography from their middle school and high school curriculums; according to the most recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, from 2014 , three-quarters of eighth-graders place “below proficient” in the subject. And although many Americans know the major flash points in the nation’s international history — the Vietnam War and the Iran hostage crisis, interventions in Central America, the invasion of Iraq — few learn about the complexities of our relationships with so many other nations, especially the diplomatic, military and economic entanglements of the Cold War.
  • I remember the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine portrayed in my ’90s-era education as great international acts of charity, of which Turkey had been among the lucky recipients. But when I moved to Istanbul, Turks taught me about the more complicated aspects of the United States’ long relationship with their country: that thousands of U.S. soldiers had occupied Turkish soil in the 1950s, and how, throughout the darkest days of the Cold War, most Turks believed that the United States was manipulating their military and their citizens. I had come expecting Turks to be foreign to me. It turned out we were profoundly, tormentedly, related
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  • Thousands of Americans arrived in Athens as part of the Truman Doctrine, propping up an authoritarian regime against Greek communists and leftists and demanding that Greeks imitate the American way of life. From the late 1940s to the 1970s, American military personnel, diplomats and spies provided ample support to the Greek government as it tortured and persecuted its citizens. This history, our history, was part of them. I haven’t met any Americans for whom it was part of their identity — most never knew about it.
  • Holding onto an image of ourselves as freedom-loving individualists who determined our own fates and championed the same for others, Americans didn’t have any idea how far we’d strayed from this ideal in the eyes of the rest of the world. This appeared to be true everywhere I went: in Egypt, in Afghanistan and, perhaps most important, in Iran, where tens of thousands of Americans once worked in service of a brutal ruler.
  • the United States’ Cold War architects deliberately constructed an empire that concealed its existence through language. As critics such as Nils Gilman have chronicled, academics working for the U.S. government in the mid-century knew not to use the word “Westernization” to describe their economic or political interventions abroad, for fear they might be compared to their European imperialist predecessors.
  • Many Americans have long accepted this idea of our superiority and goodness as if it were a self-evident truth, not postwar propaganda created to justify imperial intervention. Without these beliefs, who would Americans be? That ours is the most successful and evolved country in the world is the basis of most Americans’ sense of reality. 
  • This kind of American exceptionalism is a product of 200 years of disconnection from our country’s acts around the world — a geographic, intellectual and emotional isolation
  • Trump may contradict everything many of us believe about ourselves, but the first question we might ask is whether what we believe is true.
Ed Webb

Brexit reinforces Britain's imperial amnesia - 0 views

  • leading Brexiters and advocates of “Global Britain” misunderstand the past — with dangerous consequences for the future. They speak warmly of returning to Britain’s historical vocation as a “great trading nation”, when it was actually a great imperial nation. That important distinction leads to overconfidence about the ease of re-creating a global trading destiny, in a world in which Britannia no longer rules the waves.
  • For a Martian historian, the most interesting thing about modern British history would surely be that the country built a massive global empire. But for the Brits themselves, shaping a national story that centres around the war against the Nazis — rather than the empire — makes psychological sense. It has allowed Britain to nurture a national self-image as champions of freedom and plucky underdogs (captured in the eternal popularity of the television programme Dad’s Army) rather than imperialist oppressors.
  • Victory in Europe was a moment of national triumph that cushioned the psychological blow of the loss of empire. All British opinion formers have 1945 stamped on their memory — the year that marked victory in Europe. Few would be able to tell you that 1947 was the year of the independence of India.
Ed Webb

The West is playing an old game with the minorities of the Orient | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • This is the big door through which we may penetrate into the affairs of the East …. In addition to the big door there is a smaller one. Syria, and the Christian population of Lebanon in particular, have the right to obtain from the Sultan, by virtue of a European intervention, guarantees, and in particular an administrative regulation, which may provide them with protection from the abuse they suffered under different rulers and that may secure Syria against sliding once more into chaos … We believe that it is the duty of the Christian powers, even their honour, to support this approach and push forward toward accomplishing a positive practical outcome
  • Guizot thought that obtaining the consent of Russia and Austria would neutralise Britain and make it less able to hinder the implementation of his project. Russia had been pursuing an expansionist approach within the Ottoman sphere of influence. It had close links with the Orthodox and Armenians of the Sultanate, who – and not the Catholics – constituted the majority of the Christians of the Orient.
  • he was seeking to establish an independent, or semi-independent, administrative status in the district of Jerusalem, which was at the time part of the Damascus governorate
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  • What is astonishing is that Guizot did not ask if the Christians of the Orient, who were scattered all over the Orient, would agree to emigrate from their historic homelands to live in such a European protectorate. He did not even ask if the Muslims, who were the majority of the inhabitants of the Jerusalem Province and who also sanctified the city, would accept his project.
  • The new entity would include the Christians of the East, foremost among them the Catholics of Lebanon, and would be placed under the protection of the European powers, particularly France, Russia and Austria
  • Reflecting the French Revolution’s legacy, and the spirit of state hegemony over its people, Guizot – throughout his long years in the Ministry of Education in the 1830s – endeavoured to spread public education across the country and establish at least one primary school in every community.

    In the meantime, the French colonial administration had started to secularise management and education in Algeria, which France had been occupying since 1830. If there is a degree of peculiarity in the Christian foreign policy of a secular and liberal minister, it is even more peculiar that Guizot was not a Catholic but a Protestant.

  • Guizot’s policy was not in any way religiously motivated. Nor was it Catholic. Guizot policy in essence was the policy of supporting minorities and using them to reinforce the status of the European powers in the confrontation with the majorities.
Ed Webb

Mitt Romney's Search for Simple Answers - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    Colonialism not mentioned explicitly. Bizarre, given the particular context of Gov Romney's remarks.
Ed Webb

Idiocy as WMD » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names - 0 views

  • The more oppressive a political system, then, the greater its assault on its subjects’ minds, for it’s not enough for any dictator, king or totalitarian system to oppress and exploit, but it must, and I mean must, make its people idiotic as well
  • whatever utility it may have for the disenfranchised and/or rebellious, the Web is most useful to our rulers. As Dmitry Orlov points out in a recent blog, the internet is a powerful surveillance tool for the state and, what’s more, it also keeps the masses distracted and pacified
  • Not content to kill and loot, America must do it to pulsating music; cool, orgasmic dancing; raunchy reality shows and violence-filled Hollywood blockbusters, and these are also meant for its victims, no less. In a 1997 article published by the US Army War College, Ralph Peters gushes about a “personally intrusive” and “lethal” cultural assault as a key tactic in the American quest for global supremacy. As information master, the American Empire will destroy its “information victims.” What’s more, “our victims volunteer” because they are unable to resist the seductiveness of American culture.
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  • these savages need to take webcast courses from us sophisticates when it comes to genocide, or ecocide, or any other kind of cides you can think of
  • Defending the empire, Ralph Peters cheerfully agrees, “The internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and community.”
  • many of us will cling even more fiercely to these illusions of knowledge, love, sex and community as we blunder forward. A breathing and tactile life will become even more alien, I’m afraid. Here and there, a band of unplugged weirdos, to be hunted down and exterminated, with their demise shown on TV as warning and entertainment
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    This is fun!
Ed Webb

What Gingrich Didn't Learn in Congo - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    In shocking news, Newt probably speaks and reads French.
Ed Webb

Niall Ferguson: How American Civilization Can Avoid Collapse - The Daily Beast - 0 views

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    Be sure to enjoy the readers' comments!
Ed Webb

Alaa Abd El Fattah, Egyptian activist, celebrates the US election results - 0 views

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    I don't expect we'll hear much of this perspective inside the US!
Ed Webb

LENIN'S TOMB: Why neoliberalism persists - 0 views

  • Finance has enjoyed hegemony in the past partially on account of its role in the British empire. Britain's overseas trading companies such as the East India Company or the Hudson Bay Company were based in the City of London, and it was the City's activities which financed the planters and traders. The capital's financial centre was the nexus between domestic producers and the colonies. Undoubtedly, finance has a similar role in today's imperialism, the mechanism by which surplus extracted in the 'periphery' is transferred to ruling classes in the 'metropole'. In fact, one of the reasons why the British government started to take a keen interest in consolidating the City's global role in the late 1960s was due to the loss of the colonies and the need to take on rising financial competitors, not least Wall Street.
  • The fact of the matter is that there often hasn't been enough profit to be had in productive investment, while high-risk speculation has consistently delivered, and will continue to do so as long as the public bails the bankers out at moments of crisis. Just how much neoliberalism has delivered is suggested by the fact that by 2006, two fifths of all corporate profits in the US were accumulated in the financial sector - more than double the ratio at the height of 'Reagonomics' two decades before.
Ed Webb

British Identity and the Legacy of Empire | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • the extent to which the legacy of the British Empire continues to influence contemporary politics and society has also been overlooked by most parties. Only the Conservatives have acknowledged it as a policy aspiration, promising in their manifesto that they will ‘strengthen the Commonwealth as a focus for promoting democratic values and development’. However, their intention to establish annual limits on non-EU migrants suggest that Conservative views towards the former empire continue to be infused with elements of colonialism – a confused message that encourages stronger Commonwealth bonds through the promotion of British values and aid whilst restricting of historic patterns of population exchange.
  • The Commonwealth provides stark evidence that imperial withdrawal in some former colonies was not controlled or bloodless and that the post-colonial legacy of the British Empire is far from entirely positive. Sustained efforts to re-evaluate the legacy of empire have proven slight, suggesting a post-empire myopia that can be somewhat attributed to the contentious nature of empire and its inheritance.
  • The extent to which the UK can be seen as a post-empire state must be questioned. For some, such as Robert Cooper, British foreign policy continues to be shaped by an ascription to ‘liberal imperialism’. Moreover, transnational constitutional ties endure, with the Monarch continuing as Head of State of sixteen states - of which the UK is but one – and fourteen British Overseas Territories. The Crown is represented in a number of differing ways within the political systems of the Commonwealth realms, providing a key constitutional role with significant—though often theoretical—powers which reflect the enduring legacy of the British parliamentary model of government. The presence of the Monarch on coins and stamps in various Commonwealth realms, and the continued prominence of other ‘banal’ symbols such as the Union Flag on some national flags, suggest the persistence of a more generous transnational Britishness.
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