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William Pfaff argues against American utopianism
in foreign policy--a form of "manifest destiny" not limited to the Bush administration. The Bush administration defends its pursuit of this unlikely goal ["ending tyranny in the world"] by means of internationally illegal, unilateralist, and preemptive attacks on other countries, accompanied by arbitrary imprisonments and the practice of torture, and by making the claim that the United States possesses an exceptional status among nations that confers upon it special international responsibilities, and exceptional privileges in meeting those responsibilities. ... Other American leaders before George Bush have made the same claim in matters of less moment. It is something like a national heresy to suggest that the United States does not have a unique moral status and role to play in the history of nations, and therefore in the affairs of the contemporary world. In fact it does not.
Pfaff has been a columnist for the International Herald-Tribune, based in Paris, for the last 25 years. His website
includes an archive
of past columns. Previously
posted by russilwvong
on Jan 31, 2007 -
"Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear."
He is one
's great novelists
, but you don't expect Philip Roth
to be barreling up the best-seller list with a book that hasn't even been published yet
. And yet "The Plot Against America
" is in the top 3 at amazon.com
It spins a what-if scenario
in which the isolationist and anti-Semitic hero Charles Lindbergh
runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats F.D.R.
"Keep America Out of the Jewish War", reads a button worn by Lindbergh supporters rallying at Madison Square Garden. And so he does: he signs nonaggression pacts
with Germany and Japan that will keep America at peace while the rest of the world burns. The Lindbergh administration hatches a nice plan to prod assimilation of the Jews. Innocuously called Just Folks, it's a relocation program for urban Jews, administered by an Office of American Absorption fronted by an obliging and pompous rabbi of radio celebrity. The teenage Roth character is shipped off to a Kentucky tobacco farm, to finally live among Christians.
is about American Fascism
, but while Roth is no fan of President Bush ("a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one"), he points out that he conceived this book (LATimes registration: sparklebottom/sparklebottom)
in December 2000, and that it would be "a mistake" to read it "as a roman à clef to the present moment in America." (more inside)
posted by matteo
on Sep 28, 2004 -
"The people of Dogville are proud, hypocritical and never more dangerous than when they are convinced of the righteousness of their actions" (NYT link)
"The movie is, of course, an attack on America
—its innocence, its conformity, its savagery—though von Trier is interested not in the life of this country (he’s never been here) but in the ways he can exploit European disdain for it." (The New Yorker). Lars Von Trier's
new movie, Dogville
, is under attack from critics who consider it anti-American. Von Trier, of course, has never been to the US but he counters that he knows more about U.S. culture through modern media than, say, the makers of "Casablanca' knew about Morocco.
Kafka hadn't been to Amerika either
Should non US-ian artists leave America alone if they've never been there? Von Trier says that "in my own country, I'm considered anti-Danish
- again, that's more about politics than issues of nationality."
posted by matteo
on Mar 22, 2004 -
Isolationist information and international ignorance
-- Whenever I visited my sister in Hong Kong over the past five years, I was always impressed with how much I didn't know about what was going on in the world. This link is a commentary on the feedback to an interview with a CNN Afganistan correspondent who said something similar, and got lambasted for it. Maybe if something good comes out of 9/11, it'll be a shift from celebrity news to real news. Ignorance can be dangerous.
posted by fpatrick
on Sep 24, 2001 -