The Decline and Fall of the United States?

Sometimes when we think of the United States, we need to think of the Soviet Union. In the U.S., of course, most of us are quite unaccustomed to thinking of the U.S. in those terms. Our history is largely a story of “manifest destiny,” a blessing of the Christian god to expand our territory, as we expanded westward, as we came eventually to be a world hegemon; and of “a shining light upon a hill,” the notion that the U.S. political and economic system is a model for others—such a presumption is fundamental to rationalizing the conquest and colonization of others, as we insist we are bringing improvement to their lives[1]—as we are in Afghanistan, in part, we say, to uphold women’s rights,[2] as we were in Iraq, in part, we say, to bring democracy.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Durham, NC: Duke University, 2003); Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1994).
  2. [2]Dan Roberts and Emma Graham-Harrison, “US to join direct peace talks in Qatar with Taliban over Afghanistan’s future,” Guardian, June 18, 2013,; Alissa J. Rubin, “For Afghan Woman, Justice Runs Into Unforgiving Wall of Custom,” New York Times, December 1, 2011,; Matthew Rosenberg and Alissa J. Rubin, “Taliban Step Toward Afghan Peace Talks Is Hailed by U.S.,” New York Times, June 18, 2013,; Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Military Goes Online to Rebut Extremists’ Messages,” New York Times, November 17, 2011,
  3. [3]Tom Engelhardt, “All the World’s a Stage (for Us),” TomDispatch, March 25, 2010,,_all_the_world%27s_a_stage_(for_us)/; Ralph Z. Hallow, “Newt Gingrich sees major Mideast mistakes, rethinks his neocon views on intervention,” Washington Times, August 4, 2013,; Raed Jarrar and Antonia Juhasz, “Oil Grab in Iraq,” Foreign Policy In Focus, February 22, 2007,

The Greater Evil

“The real problem is we may have gotten ourselves in a position where we can’t budge on a clean CR [continuing resolution] and they can’t budge on Obamacare,” Rep. Mike Simpson said in a Roll Call article. “I don’t think closing down the government is a good strategy for us.”[1] That may be so, and it certainly appears to be the case that the “hard-core group of about two dozen or so of the most conservative House members who stand in the way of a middle path for [Speaker John] Boehner” are an obstacle to an agreement to resume normal—if in these days in which the intellectual zombie of austerity continues to hold sway in policy making, there is such a thing as “normal”—government funding.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Matt Fuller, “Republican Centrists Plot Revolt to End Government Shutdown,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, October 2, 2013,
  2. [2]Paul Krugman, “How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled,” New York Review of Books, June 6, 2013,; Paul Krugman, “The Depressed Economy Is All About Austerity,” New York Times, September 24, 2013,; Matthew O’Brien, “Who is Defending Austerity Now?” Atlantic, April 22, 2013,; Jonathan Weisman and Ashley Parker, “Staunch Group of Republicans Outflanks House Leaders,” New York Times, October 1, 2013,