Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Stop! Don't unlock that cage


Stateside With Rosalea: Stop! Don't unlock that cage

By Rosalea Barker

Next week, I will be the same age the United States presidency was when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and it got me to wondering why that office has become so powerful in world politics in so short a time - just 214 years. (Yes, I really am that old!)

One of the reasons is Napoleon Bonaparte. He doubled the size of the US in 1803 by selling Jefferson's government the land west of the Mississippi for a pittance. The Louisiana Purchase extended from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to British North America. If you're looking for a great holiday this year, you might consider visiting the bicentennial celebrations, details at www.louisianapurchase2003.com.

Then came annexation of Texas, and the Mexican War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended it in 1848. The treaty confirmed US claims to Texas and set its boundary at the Rio Grande. Mexico also agreed to cede to the United States present-day California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. Toss in the Gadsden Purchase and the later inclusion of the territories in the northwest, and you've pretty much got what's now known as the "lower 48" (states) in place by the 1870s.

That's only 130 years ago. So what's made this nation so powerful? Resources, for one thing. The United States is the world’s fourth largest country in area, and it's rich in raw materials. It's also the third largest country in population so it has the physical and intellectual capacity to put those natural resources to good (or bad) use. These things are obvious.

What's not so obvious is the extent to which non-US physical and intellectual capacity has played a role in making this country the military power that it is today. For example, it's so common to hear an Australian accent when some scientific expert is being interviewed on the radio here that you would think Australia was the 51st state. Nor is it unusual to hear Russians, people from Middle Eastern or Asian nations, or Europeans, Latin Americans, and Africans.

Science advances because of collaboration. US industry is built on the work of students and teachers who travel the world to work in different research institutions - sometimes foreigners in the US; sometimes US citizens in foreign countries - and most of them feel their first duty is to science. If they're working on projects that could be used to develop weapons, then they justify that as being for defence. Their research grants here in the US aren't coming from the Department of Offence, after all.

So, this nation is militarily powerful because it has participated in one of the great privileges of being a world citizen - the peaceful exchange of knowledge and ideas. Yet its agenda as a world citizen is being driven by a group of people with a narrow world view, as if the only people who live here are the descendants of the first settlers. Essential to preserving that narrow view, is the power of the presidency and the cabinet that he or she appoints.

So long as there is a threat of war and terrorism there is little chance for a change to the political system here in the US because people won't want to risk it. Just right now it feels like we're watching the high wire act in some three ring circus that's going to go on and on forever. Our necks are getting tired and we're getting bored. Let's hope the Bush administration doesn't notice, or they'll feel obliged to let some lions and tigers loose.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news