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America as a new version of the Roman Empire

Posted on August 23rd, 2007 in Books,Culture by Robert Miller

In Cullen Murphy’s new book “Are We Rome:The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America,” he takes on a topic that is uppermost in the minds of many, certainly me. Have we, as a nation, the biggest empire since Rome, reached the zenith of our cultural dominion and are we headed for the same fate as the Roman Empire? Murphy has unique qualifications for writing this book. As the former Managing Editor of the Atlantic Monthly, for two decades, and currently the Editor at Large for Vanity Fair, he has a broad view of our political landscape. Then too, Murphy has had a lifelong obsession of sorts about the history of Rome and the Roman Empire. He fuses those two spring wells of knowledge and experience and then borrows heavily from historians whose help and insights he fully acknowledges. The result is a delightfully readable assessment of this prescient and timely topic. I must confess that I find this general subject riveting, as I am a full fledged member of the declinist club, those who believe that we are over-stretched and that we have been victimized by a series of hopelessly ideological leaders, who have placed us on a path that uses a permanent war footing for dealing with international problems, excessive military spending to stimulate our economy and an aggressive attitude in projecting our strength, at a time when the World needs to focus on non-militant issues like health, food distribution, pollution, deforestation and cultural development. I do not for a moment believe that the world is as dangerous a place as GW and Cheney want us to believe. But, back to the book.

Karl Rove gave toxicity to the Republican Party

Posted on August 20th, 2007 in Culture,Politics by Robert Miller

When an administration wants to announce a change in personnel, hoping to attract as little attention as possible, it’s done in August, when the nation is on vacation. So it was last week that Karl Rove, once famous and now infamous, announced his departure from the administration to as small an audience as possible as he prepares to whimper out of town. I noticed that no GOP politician gave any remarks about Rove, primarily because assessing the damage he did to the party is almost incalculable. Once touted as a political genius, almost everything wrong with Bush’s presidency has Karl Rove’s imprint on it. His objective was to win at all costs, no matter what lies he had to conjure up about someone. Anyone who disagreed with Bush’s policies were fair game even if it meant justifying torture and illegal acts of wiretapping and detaining prisoners against international treaties signed by the U.S.

More on Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack

Posted on August 15th, 2007 in Politics,War by Robert Miller

An op-ed piece in the New York Times a few weeks ago by Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack, both of the Brookings Institute, claimed to find evidence, in their recent trip to Iraq, that the “surge” had tipped the war to a winnable conflict, as if it was somehow just a military issue and nothing else. No one in the mainstream media challenged the credentials of these two and in fact their own claim, that they had credibility because they had been critics of the war, was given by them (and others, including Dick Cheney) to bolster their status and it was not seriously challenged, at least in the mainstream media. I sent out some early thoughts on this topic, aided by Frank Rich’s NYT column the following Sunday. But now there is evidence from the authors themselves that the op-ed piece was a complete sham and nothing less than shameful war hype. The most recent article on this sham op-ed piece was published in Salon by Glenn Greenwald who has authored a book “How would a Patriot Act?” and a new book “A Tragic Legacy” was just published by Random House.

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