Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

April 10th, 2012

Democracy, diplomacy, and religious freedom

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Over at Foreign Affairs, Andrew Preston has written an article exploring the paradox of religion in U.S. foreign policy.

September 9th, 2011

9/11 chronomania

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Under its congressional mandate to “examine and report upon the facts and causes relating to the terrorist attacks…[and] make a full and complete accounting of the[ir] circumstances,” the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission Report, begins with a narrative timeline. In the simple past, in a voice devoid of interiority but rich in temporal data, the Report tracks movement in time and space.

August 29th, 2011

Democracy under exception

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I agree with Kahn (and with Schmitt) about the fact that political theory should leave room for decision and exception. But to me, the main question is: to what extent? Are there no principles that admit no exception? When I read Kahn, as when I read Schmitt, I don’t seem to encounter any such principles—anything like what Habermas thematized in Law and Morality as “indisponibility,” that is, rights that are not at the disposal of the sovereign. Can the sovereign decide that torture is a legitimate practice? The answer, to me, should be no without exception.

July 11th, 2011

The geopolitical imperative?

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Ritualistic evocations of “America” . . . and the deep-seated sense that somehow the United States is sacrosanct space—war, by definition, taking place elsewhere—are ways of being toward the world that mask an overwhelming desire, sometimes ferocious, to avoid all sacrifices: professionalized (class-based) military, ridiculously low taxes (especially for high earners), lax popular engagement, minimal obligations, a dislike for central authority bordering on hatred. The “exception” was extended into the 1950s by means of the Cold War (which was in fact the intention), but the last time the sacrifice was generally accepted was indeed the last: Vietnam. From then on, the geopolitical imperative has looked different. Accepting the globalism of the U.S. in one form or another is one thing; sacrificing for it is an altogether different one. Sovereignty, the right to decide on the exception, has thus typically resided in the geopolitical imperative, and it has been experienced on the outside. Few foreigners make any mistake about the importance of U.S. geopolitics and the “right” that it seems to embody.

February 22nd, 2010

From Bush to Obama, the faith-based initiative is still all politics

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Late last week, the Brookings Institute convened a day-long conference marking the tenth anniversary of the faith-based initiative. Josh DuBois, current head of the new White House Faith and Neighborhood Council, kicked off the conference by discussing the latest White House efforts and arguing that these would mark a new kind of faith-based initiative. However, while he stressed the differences between the Bush and Obama White House efforts, there has been little actual evidence of these differences.

June 8th, 2009

The primacy of practice

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Here’s an “old thing” which relates, I think, to President Obama and the debate about civil religion—the primacy of practice. Usually in presidential inaugurations, civil religion is framed largely as a watered-down Judeo-Christian consensus, covering over the rough edges of existing differences in theology and custom. George W. Bush’s Inaugural Addresses stand out for their sectarian evangelical Christian tone, which rightly sparked a chorus of dissident voices. But this past January we saw a president in his Inaugural Address openly and honestly wrestling with the nation’s diversity—a “patchwork,” as he described it, “of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.” Non-believers? Their inclusion in the same breath with religious communities, especially on civil religion’s holiest of days, unsettled some, inspired others. Clearly, Obama would like to defuse this tension. More than just carefully chosen words, his was a performative act aimed at uniting believers and non-believers in a common citizenship.

January 22nd, 2009

Waking up to still being a faith-based nation

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The Bush administration has widely been assumed to have significantly favored evangelical Christian perspectives and organizations in its policies. A corollary of that assumption has been that regime change would return us to our natural secular condition. Preliminary evidence suggests that the first is indeed the case (although the changes had been initiated during the Clinton administration) and that the second is unlikely. […]

November 7th, 2008

An internationalist president

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In the Muslim world, as in Europe and much of the world, Obama is welcomed as an internationalist president.

October 14th, 2008

Welcome to the faith-based economy

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Last week as I listened, along with many other Americans and others around the world, to President Bush’s most recent effort to reassure us about the current economic meltdown I had a “Road to Damascus” moment.  It happened as I heard Bush repeat the word “faith”. […]

April 22nd, 2008

Bush, Benedict, and freedom as God’s gift

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“During their meeting, the Holy Father and the President discussed a number of topics of common interest to the Holy See and the United States of America, including moral and religious considerations to which both parties are committed…” The United States committed to “moral and religious considerations”? Considerations shared with a particular religious organization, the Roman Catholic Church? This was news, or seemed to be. […]