El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Posts Tagged ‘America

Don’t Hate Me ’cause I’m American (if you must hate me hate me because I am me)

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A few years ago I cut an article out of The News, the Mexico City English language daily newspaper. I like The News, it disappeared for awhile and is now back in a little different style. It must have been a slow news day back then because they published the article under the heading SOUNDOFF, which translates, roughly, to SHOOTYOURMOUTHOFF. The article was written by an American student studying in Canada. It has the headline; “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m American” I added the subtitle because I’m a smart arse. You could tell he was a college student because he actually included the sentence: “Yet I am constantly castigated by your presumptuous and quotidian fulmination.”  Man, dey sure must talk funny up dere in Canada, ay?

After securely saving this article for more than four years, I recently found it folded up and tucked into a pocket in an old notebook. I’d like to share it with you today for several reasons, not the least of which is that I assume the author has finished college by now and has a real job somewhere reading dictionaries. I should add the disclaimer that I don’t have anything against this guy because he is an American. Although technically, Canadians, Mexicans and even Hugo Chavez may be considered Americans, too, since they all live in the Western Hemisphere which is composed of the continents referred to as “the Americas”. But I don’t want to quibble (I have been waiting for the opportunity to use the word “quibble” ever since I started reading the dictionary!) The New York Times style book claims that the terms “American”, “America” and the “United States” refer, in general usage, to the “United States of America”. I know that some ultra-nationalist Mexicans don’t like to hear that because their country is officially called “The United States of Mexico” (but trust me, no one gets the two nations confused) and, surprisingly, at least to me, there was, at one time, an entity called the “United States of Central America”. (But I think that last one only existed for about 30 minutes, before there were several revolutions, probably precipitated by those damn Canadians.)

The author claims to be “a rather identifiable American” although in his picture he kind of looks like a French guy and he has a very French name, let’s just call him “J. P.”. He was attending classes at a University in western Canada, which may explain why Canucks “hated” him so much–the only people Canadians “hate” more than Americans are the French. It’s like a double whammy, a French guy from the U.S! But I digress….

So I am just going to present the original article in its entirety (really, I should say, as it was originally published in The News, as I have to presume it was edited somewhat, at least I hope it was. I doubt that   J. P.  will ever see this but if he does he is welcome to offer any additional material he may feel is pertinent). The text of the article will be in red, since, for all I know, the Canadians may be Communist sympathizers, too.  Of course I reserve the right to add any smart arse comments of my own, (in black), otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

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The Limits Of Power by Andrew J. Bacevich

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I was in San Miguel last week for a few days and a good friend lent me a new book, The Limits of Power, it is sub-titled, The End of American Exceptionalism. I have just started to read it, but just the notes on the inside of the book jacket are worth reading and thinking about. I have some ideas I will add after I finish the book, but I want to share the notes because this is important and becoming more important everyday.

Bacevich is an acclaimed historian and a former military officer, he issues “a call for a pragmatic confrontation with the nation’s problems”. The book was published in 2008.

The Limits of Power identifies a profound triple crisis facing America today: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; the nation’s involvment in endless wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe for the body politic. These pressing problems threaten us all, Republicans and Democrats. If the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism.

“Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the multiple illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion of claims of American exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving the use of force; and a conviction that, at the end of the day, the books will  have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide a common ground for dealing with America’s urgent problems.”

Although the book was published this year it serves to remind us how rapidly things can change in our world today. The book is part of The American Empire Project, and the publishers suggest that, for more information and a list of forthcoming titles, you may visit: http://www.americanempireproject.com

Written by El Fomentador

November 23, 2008 at 5:17 am