ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unravelling of the US Military

Newspapers describe the US army as facing one of the greatest recruiting challenges in its history, despite the enormous incentives now being offered to join the military. A study commissioned by the army found that resistance to recruitment was due to popular objection to the war in Iraq, the casualties and media coverage of the torture at Abu Ghraib. Solutions include a bill that was introduced in the Senate but that has not yet been voted on: offering legal status and eligibility for citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants residing in the US. The nightmare of war is offered as the prelude to the ?American dream?.

South Asian Events of 1971

Recently released US state department documents of 1971 present a detailed micro view of the events of a year which saw the creation of Bangladesh with the partition of Pakistan, India's emergence as a regional power and the US opening to China. Seeing the trees up close forms a useful counterpoint to structural analysis, but the state department evidence tends to overemphasise individual and personality factors. We need multiple sources of accounts of the events of 1971 which can help reconstruct the historical record of that crucial period.

The Wal-Mart Story

Nothing more epitomises the American ideal of 'corporate bigness' than the retail giant Wal-Mart. Yet its critics reveal their political naivete when they limit their criticism to instances of Wal-Mart's exploitation and iniquitous employee policies, while leaving untouched the entire political ideology of bigness that has made American society the most consumerist on earth.

Lingering Shadows

The 60th anniversary commemorating the end of the second world war in Europe was recently observed, yet there has been little introspection of the dangers the war unleashed; the threats that still persist, in more virulent a form. The nuclear race between the two original superpowers that began towards the end of the war continues unabated. But the post-cold war world is now a more vulnerable one, as several more countries continue to build on and develop their own nuclear stockpiles.

Ferment in the US Backyard

Across Latin America, countries and governments are asserting in many ways their autonomy from the US. This is part of a larger process of ferment in the region. Driven by massive increases in inequality, a visible and potentially explosive social crisis, the rise of new globally-conscious elites, and the growing political dissensus about neo-liberalism as a long-run strategy of economic development, a new social compact is being shaped in Latin America.

Witch Hunts in the Academy

One element of the present dominant conservative consensus in America is aimed at rescuing the university from the nay-sayers, radicals, communists and relativists who are alleged to have taken over the American university and subverted its charter of academic freedom. There is already a movement afoot to create a 'student bill of rights' and Florida has introduced a legislation that would give students the right to sue professors who persistently introduce 'controversial matter' into the classroom.

America's Time and Place

The neo-conservative project of an expanding role for the US in world affairs is in trouble. Few countries are enthusiastic about a pre-eminent role for the US and at home scepticism about the government's approach is growing.

New Histories of Cold War

A number of 'Cold War History' projects now underway in the US and elsewhere open up the possibility of re-evaluating key moments in the diplomatic history of this period as well as providing a better understanding of relations between key figures and institutions.

Torture: An American Success Story

Part of the extraordinary success of the US democracy resides in the fact that its political rituals preclude any real possibility of the emergence of dissent and are designed to reinforce conformity and consensus. The singular fact remains that well over 95 per cent of all presidential nominees to cabinet-level positions in the course of American history have been confirmed by the senate, and Alberto Gonzales's confirmation as attorney general was a foregone conclusion. In many other countries, the disclosures that have taken place about Gonzales' approving the use of torture might not have been at all possible. But is it not more scandalous that, knowing all that the American public does know about Gonzales and his ilk, it should make no difference. Torture now joins the never-ending list of American success stories.

States of Insecurity

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the United States is an irretrievably changed nation. Its relations with the rest of the world are defined solely in terms of its own security and strategic self-interest. South Asia, for the US, is a region of 'geopolitical significance'. While relations between the Bush administration and the governments of India and Pakistan veer between caution and an enforced bonhomie, the south Asian diaspora in the US, still small compared to other ethnic communities, is today among the richest and most influential in that country. Emigration to the US, first a trickle in the initial decades of the 20th century, rose to a flood by the late 1960s and 1970s. At present, apart from Silicon Valley, US citizens of south Asian origin are prominent in academia, administration and business. 'Letter from America', a column that we inaugurate with this issue, will be in the nature of an occasional colloquium, where, from their unique vantage point as insiders, writers and academics based in the US present a perspective of that country as well as of the others in the two continents that constitute the Americas. In an attempt that will also highlight aspects largely missed by the wider south Asian media, the hope also is, in some manner, to build an understanding between peoples of the two regions. In the first column, Zia Mian describes the fearsome ring of security that is today a characteristic of present day Washington DC, capital of the world's most powerful nation.

The Detroit Riots

The Detroit Riots Nathan Glazer EVERYONE feels that the Detroit riots of the week of July 23 mark a turning point

The Economy and Vietnam

LETTER FROM AMERICA The Economy and Vietnam IF IT were not for the fact that the United States is a nation of almost unlimited wealth and tremendous economic capacity, the current war in Vietnam would have almost destroyed the economy. As it is, severe strains are showing, and there is not any question that the war will have substantial economic and political implications in the United States. The war is currently costing about $12 billion per year, or more than $1 billion a month. Thus far, the Johnson Administration has not substantially raised taxes and the Government has had to go in for deficit spending to a substantial degree. Now, a tax increase seems in the offing, and the Johnson Administration is planning to curtail most domestic spending programmes in order to adequately finance the Vietnam war.

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