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Blood in the Sand

Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy

Stephen Bronner

Publication Year: 2005

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, clouds of ash blackened the skies over New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania. In the wake of the destruction, the United States seemingly entered a new era marked by radical changes in the nation’s discourse and in the policies of the Bush administration. With the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and saber rattling elsewhere, America’s global war on terror began to take shape. Lofty rhetoric about expanding democracy and defending freedom filled the halls of elite power and dominated mainstream media coverage of American politics. Blood in the Sand offers both an incisive analysis and a confrontational critique of America’s recent international pursuits and its dominant political culture. Stephen Eric Bronner challenges the notion that everything changed in the aftermath of 9/11. He shows instead how a criminal act served to legitimize political manipulation and invigorate traditional nationalistic enthusiasms for militarism and imperial expansion. Employing his own experiences in the Middle East, Bronner acknowledges—but refuses to overstate—recent progressive developments in the region. He criticizes the neo-conservative penchant for unilateral military aggression and debunks the dubious notion of fostering democracy at gunpoint. While Bronner analyzes authoritarian repression, human rights violations, shrinking civil liberties, and severe socioeconomic inequalities, Blood in the Sand is neither a narrow political diatribe nor a futile exercise in anti-American negativism. The author honors America by condemning the betrayal of the nation’s finest ideals by so many of those who, hypocritically or naively, invoke those ideals the most. Bronner sheds new light on those who insist on publicly waving the flag while privately subverting that for which it stands. Blood in the Sand sounds a clarion call for revitalizing the American polity and reshaping foreign policy along democratic lines. Committed to a political renewal, Bronner urges the American people to recall what is best about their national heritage and the genuine beacon of hope it might offer other countries and other cultures.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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pp. vii

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Introduction: The Legacy of 9/11— Chronicles of a Dark Time

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pp. 1-14

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the day on which the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were attacked by Islamic terrorists, commentators from virtually every media outlet concurred in the belief that “everything...

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1. Gandhi's Voice: Nonviolence and the Violence of Our Times

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pp. 15-25

Upon first seeing the image of Gandhi, I received an early taste of racism, Eurocentrism, and cheap cynicism. I remember the cartoon of the mahatma, the great soul, from when I was a child. The Disney Corporation used to depict him as a grotesque,...

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2. Us and Them: Reflections on Afghanistan, Terrorism, and the Axis of Evil

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pp. 26-37

The State of the Union address offers every president the chance to identify his accomplishments, laud the condition of the country under his reign, and offer a vision for the future. In his speech of January 30, 2002, George W. Bush focused on...

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3. Baghdad Memories

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pp. 38-48

We arrived in the middle of the night, smuggled into Iraq via the Jordanian city of Amman, and the cameras were already waiting. So were the president of Baghdad University, his entourage, some bodyguards, a few agents of the regime, and the organizers...

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4. American Landscape: Lies, Fears, and the Distortion of Democracy

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pp. 49-59

Lying has always been part of politics. Traditionally, however, the lie was seen as a necessary evil that those in power should keep from their subjects. Even totalitarians tried to hide the brutal truths on which their regimes rested. This disparity gave...

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5. States of Despair: History, Politics, and the Struggle for Palestine

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pp. 60-81

Hope is said to have a bitter taste. Nowhere is that more true than in the Middle East, where the possibilities for peace have been squandered and the longings for justice have grown ever more burdensome over the last half century. Worry over the treatment of Arabs by Jews stretches back to the last century over...

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6. Anatomy of a Disaster: Class War, Iraq, and the Contours of American Foreign Policy

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pp. 82-101

There was a new game in town after President Bush declared: “Mission accomplished!” The political establishment decided it was time to forget the lies and blunders associated with the Iraqi war. Europe was ready to reaffirm its bonds with the United States, the...

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7. Dub'ya's Fellow Travelers: Left Intellectuals and Mr. Bush’s War

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pp. 102-118

What are “fellow travelers”? Once upon a time, during the 1920s and 1930s, the epithet referred to left-wing intellectuals who, though not members of the Communist Party, were sympathetic to its political project. No preening right-winger or...

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8. Constructing Neoconservatism

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pp. 119-139

Neoconservatism has become a code word for reactionary thinking in our time and a badge of unity for those in the Bush administration advocating a new imperialist foreign policy, an assault on the welfare state, and a return to “family values.” Its members are directly culpable for the disintegration of American-...

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9. It Happened Here: The Bush Sweep, the Left, and the American Future

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pp. 140-159

Political commentary is always replete with exaggerations; it fits the need of the culture industry. Even great thinkers like Karl Marx and Theodor Adorno tended to take the experience of a crucial historical moment and extrapolate its most dramatic implications into the future; it’s a natural inclination. But the-...

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Epilogue: Democracy, Foreign Policy, and War

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pp. 160-184

September 11 was initially thought to have radically transformed politics. Old categories and ways of thinking about foreign policy seemingly lost their relevance. It became fashionable to speak of a “clash of civilizations,” and suddenly, new forms of violence...


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pp. 185-192


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pp. 193-207

E-ISBN-13: 9780813171685
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813123677

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2005