Blood in the Sand

Blood in the Sand: Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy

Stephen Eric Bronner
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 216
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    Blood in the Sand
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7168-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: The Legacy of 9/11—Chronicles of a Dark Time
    (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 has changed.” Few doubted that this event had ripped the fabric of history. Many suggested that the post–September 11 world would prove less innocent, more serious, and more reflective and that significant changes would mark the economic, political, and cultural life of the United States. Insofar as 9/11 created the belief that America was vulnerable to outside attack, that...

  5. 1 Gandhi’s Voice: Nonviolence and the Violence of Our Times
    (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, spindly creature with huge glasses and a loincloth looking something like a light brown octopus. Only later, when I entered my teenage years, did I read the short biographyGandhi: His Life and Message for the World(1954) by Louis Fischer, which gave me a sense of his true stature: the beatings he withstood, the imprisonments...

  6. 2 Us and Them: Reflections on Afghanistan, Terrorism, and the Axis of Evil
    (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 the need for a drastic military buildup and a new doctrine for fighting terrorism in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by the al Qaeda terrorist network. It would become, arguably, the most important speech of his first term. The picture was painted of a nation at risk since September...

  7. 3 Baghdad Memories
    (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 of what would become four days of activities in the land of Ali Baba. Half asleep in an empty airport lounge with postmodern arches, some of us talked among ourselves, and others talked with any reporter willing to listen. More than thirty of us constituted U.S. Academicians against War, an independent group of intellectuals from twenty-eight universities...

  8. 4 American Landscape: Lies, Fears, and the Distortion of Democracy
    (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 critics and reformers their sense of purpose: to illuminate for citizens the difference between the way the world appeared and the way it actually functioned. Following the proclamation of victory in the Iraqi war, however, that sense of purpose became imperiled, along with the trust necessary for maintaining a democratic discourse. The Bush administration boldly proclaimed the legitimacy...

  9. 5 States of Despair: History, Politics, and the Struggle for Palestine
    (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 a host of modern Jewish intellectuals, including Hannah Arendt, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, and Gershom Scholem, among others. But their cautionary warnings were ignored, if not derided, by the Jewish mainstream. It is ironic, since these thinkers implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, anticipated that the...

  10. 6 Anatomy of a Disaster: Class War, Iraq, and the Contours of American Foreign Policy
    (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 United Nations was trying to placate the superpower, and smaller nations were desperately trying to make a deal. The angry demonstrations of the past, the loss of “the street,” no longer seemed relevant. It was time to “get on with the job” of securing the peace. June 30, 2005, has passed, however, and American troops are still...

  11. 7 Dub’ya’s Fellow Travelers: Left Intellectuals and Mr. Bush’s War
    (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 proud moderate will ever let anyone on the Left forget how writers such as Lion Feuchtwanger, Romain Rolland, Lincoln Steffens, and Beatrice and Sidney Webb traipsed off into darkest Russia, went on gracious NKVD-guided tours of the glorious Soviet future, and rhapsodized that, so far as they could see, it worked. Indeed, no one should forget this profoundly pathetic episode. True, many inquisitive...

  12. 8 Constructing Neoconservatism
    (pp. 119-139)

    Neoconservatismhas 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 prestige abroad, the erosion of a huge budget surplus, and the debasement of democracy at home. Iraq has turned into a disaster, and much of the American citizenry has been revolted by the arrogance, lies, and incompetence of leading neoconservatives within the administration. But their agenda remains fixed; the...

  13. 9 It Happened Here: The Bush Sweep, the Left, and the American Future
    (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 victory of George W. Bush in the presidential election of 2004 is pregnant with the most ominous economic, political, and ideological developments. The onus does not simply fall on “capital” in an election that cost nearly $4 billion and in which roughly the same amount of cash was spent on both...

  14. Epilogue: Democracy, Foreign Policy, and War
    (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 were apparently acceptable. Terrorism undertaken by suicide bombers, or what Ulrich Beck termed the “individualization of war,” was thought to have supplanted battles between armies. Concrete interests, many believed, had given way before apocalyptic visions. The enemy was no longer a state but self-appointed representatives of a transnational movement inspired by fanatical religious beliefs. With the tragic deaths of 3,000 innocent...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 185-192)
  16. Index
    (pp. 193-207)