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The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role
     

The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role

by Caleb Stewart Rossiter
 

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In 1784 Benjamin Franklin advocated choosing the industrious, home-loving wild turkey rather than the thieving, wide-ranging bald eagle as the symbol of the United States. Franklin lost that debate, and since then advocates of cooperation as America's global role have been similarly losing their struggle with advocates of U.S. domination. The author recounts that

Overview

In 1784 Benjamin Franklin advocated choosing the industrious, home-loving wild turkey rather than the thieving, wide-ranging bald eagle as the symbol of the United States. Franklin lost that debate, and since then advocates of cooperation as America's global role have been similarly losing their struggle with advocates of U.S. domination. The author recounts that struggle, with particular emphasis on the past 30 years, which he spent working in and around Congress with groups opposed to U.S. support for repressive, yet "friendly" regimes. He then proposes electoral reforms and a revolution in Americans' attitudes that would place our values rather than corporate and strategic interests at the core of our global purpose.

The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role is about not just the effects but the making of U.S. foreign policy. It shows how advocates of basing U.S. relations on progress toward democracy must struggle in Washington with advocates of support for repressive regimes in return for economic benefits such as trade, investment, and mineral resources and military benefits such as access to their territory for U.S. armed and covert forces. By arguing that the outcome of this struggle is determined by the average citizen's position, the book makes readers participants rather than observers. By arguing that a "cultural pump" constantly promotes a vision of American domination as a positive force in the world, it encourages readers to analyze the day-to-day effect of this vision on their own perceptions.

The author tells the story of how US politics became mired in the assumption of domination it offers a way for advocates of a foreign policy of cooperation to change that assumption. That is the real issue.

This book features inside tales and colorful characters but also provides the clear themes and historical context needed for a high school or college text on U.S. policy after World War II toward the colonized, and then post-colonial, countries.

Franklin lost that debate, and since then advocates of cooperation as America's global role have been similarly losing their struggle with advocates of U.S. domination. The author recounts that struggle, with particular emphasis on the past 30 years, which he spent working in and around Congress with groups opposed to U.S. support for repressive, yet "friendly" regimes. He then proposes electoral reforms and a revolution in Americans' attitudes that would place our values rather than corporate and strategic interests at the core of our global purpose.

The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role is about not just the effects but the making of U.S. foreign policy. It shows how advocates of basing U.S. relations on progress toward democracy must struggle in Washington with advocates of support for repressive regimes in return for economic benefits such as trade, investment, and mineral resources and military benefits such as access to their territory for U.S. armed and covert forces. By arguing that the outcome of this struggle is determined by the average citizen's position, the book makes readers participants rather than observers. By arguing that a "cultural pump" constantly promotes a vision of American domination as a positive force in the world, it encourages readers to analyze the day-to-day effect of this vision on their own perceptions.

The author tells the story of how US politics became mired in the assumption of domination it offers a way for advocates of a foreign policy of cooperation to change that assumption. That is the real issue.

This book features inside tales and colorful characters but also provides the clear themes and historical context needed for a high school or college text on U.S. policy after World War II toward the colonized, and then post-colonial, countries.

Editorial Reviews

Foreign Policy In Focus
How high can a Turkey fly?

In the debate over the imperative of changing America's global role, the author's Hard Eagles are unapologetic expansionists, Soft Eagles decry the damage to the US's international standing caused by ill-advised military adventures, while Turkeys categorically reject the logic of exceptionalism. The book explores how Turkeys can outfly Eagles... - Peter Certo, "Review: The Turkey and the Eagle" (Washington, DC: November 17, 2010)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780875867984
Publisher:
Algora Publishing
Publication date:
09/01/2010
Pages:
340
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

This book tells the story of how US politics became mired in the assumption of domination, and it offers a way for advocates of a foreign policy of cooperation to change that assumption. That is the real issue....

Would America be an eagle or a turkey in its relations with others? Would it Sharp and Rob (as Benjamin Franklin asked), or would it mind its own Farm Yard? Would America be, as many of its founders advocated, a new kind of nation not just in its popular form of government and its religious tolerance, but also in having a foreign policy in which right made might, and neighborly collaboration replaced the interference and intervention practiced by European monarchs? As one can tell by looking on the back of the dollar bill, Franklin lost the symbolic struggle over the eagle and the turkey. He also soon fell behind in the real struggle over foreign policy. Calls for acceptance of the rights of Native American nations and neighboring governments were brushed aside by the political and economic mainstream as unacceptable weakness. The belligerent expansion of the government's zone of control continued under such imperious claims as god-given exceptionalism, racial superiority, the Monroe Doctrine, and Manifest Destiny....

There were strong and coherent arguments for self-restraint made in case after case by highly-respected commentators, including Franklin's own denunciation of slavery, Chief Justice Marshall's unenforceable rejection of Cherokee removal, and Congressman Abraham Lincoln's oration against invading Mexico. None, however, seemed able to deflect the American flood that kept surging toward the western shining sea. Individual acts of local aggression by settlers escalated into land grabs by the states they formed, and finally into federal military enforcement of large-scale rail, mining, and ranching claims that drove Indian nations onto reservations. At each step, convenient moral arguments were adopted to justify the taking of labor and land: slavery was a benefit to child-like Africans, civilization was a benefit to savage Indians, and American rule was a benefit to misguided Mexicans. Such logical contortions are, of course, not unique in the history of expanding powers. The Roman sweep into barbaric Europe under Caesar, the Muslim sweep across North Africa under the banner of Muhammed, the simultaneous sweeps at the start of the 19th century of Napoleon Bonaparte and his conscripted armies across Europe, Uthman don Fodio and his Fulani Jihad across west Africa, and Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) and his Scottish regiments across central India — each employed a well-reasoned message that was firmly believed by the fighting men and the folks on the home front, a message of altruism and reform. Indeed, it would be difficult to find an expansion in history that was not justified on moral grounds by those doing the expanding.

What People are Saying About This

Bill Delahunt
Americans and citizens of other countries who want to know how US foreign policy really gets made should dig into this book. As an insider in Congress with an outsider's perspective — a Turkey among the Soft Eagles, in the book's terms — Dr. Rossiter takes us from the Founding to our latest challenges, perfectly capturing the enduring tension between the restraint and respect for others inherent in our democratic Republic and the expansion and misalliance inherent in our self-awarded sense of exceptionalism. (Congressman Bill Delahunt)
Edie Wilkie
Even during our toughest day-to-day battles in Congress in the 1980s and 1990s, as we had to settle for that famous 'half a loaf' to block new nuclear weapons and reduce US support for repressive regimes, Caleb Rossiter always had a vision of the world as it should be. In this book he uses both his Congressional and his academic experience to define the core conflicts within U.S. foreign policy, and offers a broad range of proposals to address them. This high-energy, high-intensity work challenges each one of us to rethink our nation's motivations and priorities for these perilous times. (Edie Wilkie, former Executive Director, congressional Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus)
Kai Bird
Caleb Rossiter is fearless. He names the names and writes as an insider/outsider in his account of the inner workings of Washington's foreign policy establishment. It is a sobering tale of roads not taken. (Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and most recently the author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978.)

Meet the Author

For 40 years Dr. Caleb Stewart Rossiter has been an advocate for a US policy of cooperation rather than domination toward formerly colonized countries.

An activist against the Vietnam War in his teens, he earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University with a dissertation analyzing the decision-making process of the US foreign aid bureaucracy in Southern Africa during efforts to settle the civil war in Rhodesia.

He moved to Washington, DC, in 1980 to work for the Center for International Policy, the congressional Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, and Demilitarization for Democracy on such causes as ending US-backed wars in Central America, the anti-apartheid act, the "no arms for dictators" arms trade code of conduct, and the campaign to ban anti-personnel landmines. He has also been a professor at Cornell University and American University, teaching courses on African history and politics, US policy toward Africa, the US military budget, and the use of statistics in international affairs such as climate and economic modeling. From 2007 to 2009 he served as counselor to the chairman of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he was involved in planning and holding hearings, drafting and pursuing legislation, and writing reports and speeches on topics such as the impact on US interests of the decline in America's reputation, US undergraduate scholarships for low-income foreign students, US relations with non-democratic countries in Africa, the US-Iraq security agreement, torture and extra-legal rendition, and congressional authority to approve combat. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of International Affairs at American University and an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

In addition to dozens of articles in newspapers such as The Washington Post and journals such as the SAIS Review, Prof. Rossiter has authored or co-authored several major reports on foreign policy, arms control, and democracy.

Dr. Rossiter published two books prior to this one, on the purposes and uses of American foreign aid in Africa, and on the citizens' movement against the Vietnam War.

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