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Critical Interpretation of Contemporary American History - Essay Example

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Since the end of the World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, America has gained a reputation of the global political, economic and military center in opposition to the Western world and Asia. During the second half of the XX century, the United States has claimed to seek peace and stability…
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Critical Interpretation of Contemporary American History
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Download file to see previous pages In the book The Sorrows of Empire Johnson claims that increasing militarization of society and global political power of the USA limits ideas of democracy and liberty established by the US Constitution. The same ideas are expressed by Sundhaussen (1998) and Welch (2004) who state that militarization of society bring the American nation more 'sorrows and grievances' then security and peace. Among them are internal cleavage, economic stress, and external pressure. The means of military power is often identical to the means of assuming power in the first place. Following Sundhaussen (1998): "The military is by its very nature a potential threat to democracy, but in well-established democracies civilian supremacy has generally been maintained, though there are dangers of excessive military influence" (329). According to Johnson (2004), since 2001 the USA government has increased military spending and increased its military presence abroad. Furthermore, just as the original conspiracy to seize power had civilian adherents, the coup that presages a return to civilian rule is instigated by an alliance of military and civilian elements. Johnson compares modern American Empire with the Roman Empire which had a great influence on the western world and its historical development. For instance, "Bush and his administration have worked zealously to expand the powers of the presidency at the expense of the other branches of government" (23).
The development of military empire is a part of the American history which goes back to the 1950s-1960s. In stark contrast to the Carter Administration, the Reagan Administration has been remarkably consistent in its foreign policy agenda and its attempts to follow through on campaign pledges. It has sponsored the country's largest ever military buildup. It has generated the highest level of tension in U.S. Soviet relations since the 1962 missile crisis, resulting, for several years, in a hiatus in communication at virtually all levels on virtually all issues (Aylett and DeMarco 98-99). It has reinforced the various intelligence agencies, expanding both surveillance and paramilitary capabilities, reinstating the practice of surveillance of U.S. citizens at home and abroad, treating any agency of government and any private organization or profession as legitimate "cover," and introducing new measures to protect secrecy and punish whistleblowers the Reagan Administration has escalated U.S. military involvement in Central American conflicts continuously, mindless of overwhelming popular opposition to its policies at home and in allied countries of Europe and Latin America; mindless of multiple opportunities for negotiation and compromise; and mindless, finally, of the certainty of ignominious failure (Aylett and DeMarco 101).
While it is clear that security interests have always loomed large in the shaping of U.S. policy, it is less clear how such interests are defined and limited. The concept of security is eminently elastic. Johnson (2004) underlines that "the paradoxical effect of this grand strategy is that it may prove more radically disruptive of world order than anything the terrorists of September 11, 2001 could have hoped to achieve on their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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