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Commentary :: Politics
Clinton, Obama and the New Era of American Empire
20 Aug 2014
Clinton did not hesitate to defend what she referred to as the “ugly” aspects of the Cold War—but did not name the nations in which the US had intervened, frequently to uphold or install brutal regimes which were reliably anti-Communist.
to read Norman Birnbaum's article published on August 19, 2014, click on

That the end of the Cold War did not initiate a universal reign of peace and prosperity was attributed by Clinton to the irredeemable nature of nations and peoples unfortunate enough not to share in the destiny of the US. Clinton singled out Putin and Russia as especially flawed, pronounced Israel morally and politically exemplary, and was patronizing of Europe, skeptical of the possibility of agreement with Iran and remarkably silent on Asia—-except for praise for Prime Minister Abe for efforts to increase the share of women in the Japanese work force. One might have thought Abe’s deference to Japanese nationalism of some interest to her. After all, she is not the first graduate of Wellesley College in the vicinity of Boston to be interested in world politics. She was preceded by someone from the Sen family, later Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.

President Obama, in recent statements like the interview with Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, has taken a very different approach. He explicitly rejects the view that the US , however large its potential for influence, can impose its views on the world. He insists that there are many problems which do not respond to military solutions. Nations and peoples bear responsibility for overcoming their own divisions. The US has quite enough to do within its own borders, and indeed in failing to solve its own problems would become its own greatest adversary. His words are devoid of the triumphalism of Clinton’s unoriginal version of American exceptionalism. No President since Kennedy (in the 1963 speech calling for an end to the Cold War) has so emphatically defied the conventional thought of the American foreign policy elite—which accounts for their relentless denigration of our remarkably intelligent President. He has indeed made his own some of the worst traditions of the foreign policy apparatus and the domestic security state —especially in surveillance of the citizenry in violation of our constitutional rights, and covert operations abroad forbidden by our own laws and international law. Perhaps he has been influenced by Kennedy’s fate. A journey of ten thousand miles does begin with a single step, and he has at least taken more than one of these.

Clinton’s views are a return to the dogmatism that made her as schoolgirl an enthusiast for the angry provincialism of the prophet of contemporary Republican imperialism, Senator Goldwater.
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Our world is redefined by Thomas Piketty
21 Aug 2014
We live in a world redefined by Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz. Wealth is more a problem than an incentive. Inequality hurts, Joseph Stiglitz told the Senate. The financial sector must be shriveled while the public sector expands.

Prejudice can be overcome as a stepping stone to the "event of understanding," the fusion of horizons (Hans Georg Gadamer). Jobs in education cost 1/10 what jobs in a chemical dye or capital intensive industry cost. We discover stories in ourselves instead of gazing at the stories of office buildings. Lessons from the 2007 financial crisis include learning from North Dakota and its state bank. Lessons from NAFTA include resisting privatization and deregulation (

Civil society resists the Citizen United decision with hundreds of communities protesting that corporations are not persons and money is not speech. Warren Buffet should pay more taxes than his secretary. Here is a link to a foreword to "Enough is Enough" pointing us to a sustainable world: