Wednesday, December 31, 2008

LAST OF THREE ARTICLES ON THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

This month the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. This revolution, and its bigger than life heroes and heroines, has been an inspiration to peoples from the Global South, and progressives, particularly youth, in developed countries. For all its flaws, the Cuban Revolution validates the slogan of international activists who chant: "Another World is Possible."

Happy 50th Anniversary Cuba!

(Below I insert a few commentaries I have written over the years on Cuba).

February 19, 2008

Reflections on the Cuban Revolution Today

Harry Targ

President Bush now travels through the African continent trumpeting the United States as a model for the peoples of the Global South. At the same time Fidel Castro steps down as Cuba’s chief of state stimulating reflections on the role of the Cuban revolution at home and abroad. Which country has had a more progressive impact on the historical development of the world?

Despite enormous changes and advances since the 1959 Cuban revolution, Cuba remains part of the Global South (what used to be referred to as “Third World” or “developing countries”), a world which has been shaped and distorted in its economics and politics for 400 years by the global capitalist system. Cuba, while in many ways a developed and even industrialized country, remains closer in economic profile and diplomatic standing and possibility to the nations of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America than the industrial capitalist countries of North America, Europe, and Japan

In the words of C. Wright Mills reflecting on the Cuban revolution at its outset, Cuba remains part of the “hungry bloc,” not in the sense of poverty and scarcity as he meant it-Cuba is part of the developed world in these terms- but in the sense of still struggling to achieve its right and capacity to define its own destiny. In fact, it could be argued that Cuba’s “hunger” for self-determination, its spirit of nationalism, is what drove the revolution in the nineteenth century, in the 1930s, in 1959 and still drives the revolution today.

The spirit of revolution links Cuba’s past to its present. There have been other continuities in Cuban history as well, particularly since 1959. The most obvious one has been the hatred and aggressive stance of the United States. The United States suspended formal diplomatic relations with the island nation before President Eisenhower left office, launched a full-scale economic blockade of Cuba in the Kennedy period, initiated a long-term program of subversion and sabotage of the islands economy and polity, and extended the blockade to pressure other countries to cut their ties to the island’s economy.

The hostile United States policy since the 1950s has been driven by the needs and hopes of capitalism; cold war fears of “communism;” the “realpolitic” philosophy which says that Cuba is within the U.S. sphere of influence; and the historically claimed right of the U.S. to control Cuba’s destiny enshrined in the Monroe Doctrine of the 1820s.

Despite this hostility, since 1959 there has been a high level of support for the revolution among Cubans because it provided substantial economic advances for the people and satisfied their thirst for self-determination. Consequently, even during the “special period” of the 1990s support, while declining, held because the revolution continued to represent the spirit of nationalism for the vast majority of the Cuban people.

Finally, a continuous element of the Cuban revolution has been change and a pragmatic spirit that addresses needs, possibilities, and dangers as they arise. Cuba has been one vast laboratory experiment in which new policies, priorities, and programs have been introduced to meet the exigencies of the moment. Alongside inevitable dogmatisms and bureaucratic resistances has been the willingness of Cubans to throw out the old, the unworkable, the threatened, and replace it with the new as history requires (shifting from fertilizer, pesticides, and hybrid seeds to organic agriculture for example). Over its long history the revolution ended foreign ownership of the Cuban economy. It created an egalitarian society. It provided health care, education, jobs, and a rich cultural life for most of its citizens.

At the most fundamental level, the revolution fulfilled all of the economic and social goals Fidel Castro articulated in his 1953 “History Will Absolve Me” speech. For most Cubans alive before 1959, there is no question that the revolution has been an outstanding success. This is true for their sons and daughters if one could compare what would have been their possibilities before 1959 with what they have achieved today. The revolution has worked.

And finally, in the great debate between the U.S. and Cuba as inspirations and models for most of the citizens of the globe, Fidel Castro might say again “History Will Absolve Me.”

Harry Targ teaches U.S. foreign policy and political economy at Purdue University. His book on Cuba is called Cuba and the USA: A New World Order?, International Publishers, 1992.
Cuban Revolution Survives Economic Crisis; Still a Challenge to Market Orthodoxy
by Harry Targ

Summer, 1999

The Cuban revolutionary government, challenged by the United States for forty years still survives in a post-cold war international system. The scruffy band of guerrilla fighters, led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, came to power in 1959, dethroning long-time dictator and U.S. client Fulgencia Batista.

From the beginning the United States engaged in sabotage, external attacks, an economic blockade, ending diplomatic relations, and prohibiting U.S. tourists from traveling to the island, all to undermine the regime and generate enough opposition to the Castro forces to overthrow it. Despite well publicized policy "changes" in recent weeks, the Clinton Administration is still committed to the overthrow of the Cuban revolution. But why?

THE POWER OF A GOOD EXAMPLE

Primarily, the Cuban political and economic system remains committed to its own brand of national autonomy and socialism. The Cuban state continues to provide free health care and education, a basic rationed diet of food to all Cubans, almost free housing, and free and low cost cultural attractions to all Cubans. Racism, and more recently sexism and homophobia, has been significantly reduced in Cuban society. And, even in the face of sabotage and covert operations against the island nation, political democratization at the local, regional, and national levels has been increasing.

Even while Cuba's articulated autonomous, communitarian, egalitarian, socialist principles are not fully achieved, the island nation 90 miles from the United States represents a challenge to what Clinton supporters call "market democracies." For the United States, all nations must cut back government programs, end supports for the disadvantaged, sell off profitable and efficient state-owned enterprises and "let the market" manage peoples’ lives. For the Cubans, "the magic of the marketplace" would mean giving up national autonomy to the 250 multinational corporations and banks that dominate the global economy, the end to free health services and education, and the dramatic shift in the distribution of the wealth of the country from the vast majority to tiny minorities (including Miami Cubans who would return to claim properties their families left over 40 years ago). In short Cuba remains an alternative model of social, political, and economic development for poor countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This the U.S. seeks to challenge.

CUBA SHIFTS FROM SURVIVAL TO REDEVELOPMENT

How is Cuba surviving the radical changes in the world and its own economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991? The collapse of the Socialist Bloc led to deep economic crisis for Cuba. Between 1991 and 1994, the Cuban gross domestic product declined by 35%, imports dropped by 75%, oil imports declined by half, and caloric intake dropped from roughly 2800 to 1735 per day. The impacts of the 40-year U.S. economic embargo in this context became all the more costly to Cuba (1997 estimates say the embargo cost the Cuban economy $800 billion just for that year alone).

The Cubans were forced to adapt to the collapse of socialism and the complete global capitulation to "marketplace" global capitalism. In 1994-95 a series of new laws were put in place to facilitate economic recovery. They included the legalization of the dollar in local transactions, shifting agriculture from state farms to agricultural cooperatives owned by groups of farmers, the opening of private agricultural markets for the sale of surplus produce, the legalization of small business enterprises run by families, and the legalization and expansion of foreign investment, particularly to encourage joint venture investments with foreign companies. (Only U.S. investors have been excluded, not by the Cuban government but by the United States government).
As to economic strategy, the Cubans committed themselves to rebuilding their tourist industry, expanding their innovative pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries for export, maintenance and enhancement of traditional exports such as nickel, sugar, tobacco, and citrus, increasing research and development of energy resources, and encouraging small enterprises as an alternative to the black market.

By 1998, Cuba had joint venture agreements with 340 foreign companies, oil and gas production had risen, tourism had earned upwards of $2 billion per year, and tourist and housing construction on the island had grown markedly.

The Cuban economy has made significant advances since the depths of the economic crisis in 1993-94 (caloric intake on a daily basis is up to 2,400 from the desperate 1,735 figure and the vital health and education systems survive even in weakened form) but life remains hard for most Cubans. Many must work two jobs. Those with access to dollars live easier lives than those that do not (maybe half the population) creating a modest but potentially destabilizing system of economic stratification.

Tourism has created boom times but also prostitution, ugly commercialism, overcrowding, and some unsavory cultural penetration by those from European, North American, and Latin American societies.

However, while Cuba has been forced to make significant changes in economic policy to relink with the capitalist global economy, it remains committed to the original goals of the revolution-healthy, well-fed, educated citizens- and sees the state as playing a significant role in maintaining and enhancing these goals. Hence, Cuba continues as a challenge to the dominant market orthodoxy that is sweeping the world and continues to the present, in word and deed, the vision of altruistic women and men of all races struggling together to achieve a better world for all.

BLOCKADING CUBA: WILL THE COLD WAR EVER END?

This month the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. This revolution, and its bigger than life heroes and heroines, has been an inspiration to peoples from the Global South, and progressives, particularly youth, in developed countries. For all its flaws, the Cuban Revolution validates the slogan of international activists who chant: "Another World is Possible." Happy 50th Anniversary Cuba!

Below I insert a few commentaries I have written over the years on Cuba.

BLOCKADING CUBA: WILL THE COLD WAR EVER END?
Harry R. Targ
Summer, 1994

When I was a small child my parents took me to Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle, Illinois. Three hundred years earlier, on a rock formation 125 feet above the Illinois River a community of Native Americans took refuge while being attacked by enemies from below. Fully surrounded, cut off from the outside world and its sustenance, they eventually died of hunger and thirst.

As I returned from my latest trip to Cuba in June, 1994, the image of a proud, defiant, and encircled people starved to death by a more powerful enemy flashed across my mind. I had traveled there as a member of a delegation of philosophers and social scientists attending an international conference at the University of Havana. It occurred to me that the metaphor of Starved Rock better represents the reality of relations between the United States and Cuba than more conventional metaphors given in the media. Since Cuba's social and political revolution in 1959, the media and the U.S. government have depicted American-Cuban relations as a battle between good and evil-between freedom and tyranny, democracy and dictatorship, communism and capitalism-the hallmark of the Cold War lens to the world. And now despite the end of the Cold War around the world, the actual policies of the United States toward Cuba remain the same, as if nothing had changed.

Despite the efforts of journalists and politicians to portray Cuba in Cold War terms, over the last decade scholars, peace activists, artists, health care professionals and others have traveled to Cuba if they could show they had a professional interest in doing so. Travelers to Cuba, along with scholars and journalists, included Cuban-Americans who had been allowed to return home to visit relatives. As a result of decisions made by President Clinton in August, these categories of people, including researchers, will be severely restricted in their travels to the island. A door which had been opening for research, and scholarly dialogue, such as my annual participation since 1990 in the meetings of North American and Cuban philosophers and Social Scientists, may be ended.

Those of us who have visited Cuba over the last several years have gained a clearer picture of the changes occurring there. Those changes, as well as the history of Cuban-American relations, suggest that U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba is misguided. For example, it is vital to remember that the Cuban economy and political system were shaped by 450 years of Spanish colonial rule, followed by 60 years of almost total United States control of Cuban economic and political life. Significant United States investments in the Cuban sugar industry began in the 1880s and expanded dramatically over the next 30 years. This was paralleled by the U.S. intervention in Cuba's war with Spain in the 1890s and the virtual U.S. military occupation of the island after the end of the so-called Spanish-American War. By the time of the revolution in Cuba in 1959, U.S. investors controlled 80 percent of Cuba's public utilities, 90 percent of its mines, 90 percent of its cattle ranches, 50 percent of its railways, and 40 percent of its sugar. Twenty-five percent of the deposits in its banks belonged to Americans. Also U.S. influence over Cuba's destiny was insured by agreements in the 1930s guaranteeing the American purchase of about 65 percent of Cuba's sugar crop. Finally, Americans owned Havana's lavish hotels and casinos. In short, by the time of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Cuba's economy depended on foreign-owned exports and a foreign owned tourist industry. Most importantly, the wealth accumulated from that economy was disproportionately distributed among small numbers of foreign investors and wealthy Cubans, leaving most of the population in poverty.

The inequitable economic system that had been created in the era of Spanish colonialism and reproduced later under U.S. control was maintained by a Cuban dictatorship supported by the United States. By the 1950s,powerlessness and poverty had created revolutionary ferment. Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro articulated goals of economic and political democracy, improved health care, better education and housing, and the diversification of an economy free from foreign control.

Throughout the eight U.S. administrations since the late 1950s (with only a modest reduction of tension during the Carter years), U.S. foreign policy has opposed the Cuban revolution. From the time of the first agrarian reform program in May 1959 that expropriated the very largest U.S. and Cuban landowners, the United States has supported the destabilization and overthrow of the Cuban regime. Although the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco when the Central Intelligence Agency planned invasion of Cuba with 1,400 dissident Cuban refugees was crushed in three days, the efforts to overthrow the revolutionary government continued. Before the Bay of Pigs the U.S. canceled sugar purchases, created an economic blockade of the island, and ended diplomatic recognition. Since the failed invasion the U.S. has pressured allies to end their ties to Cuba, supported subversion and assassination teams, funded various projects to destroy crops on the island, encouraged defections and the flow of refugees to the United States, supported at least 12,000 Cuban refugees in various covert and other anti-Cuban projects in Florida, and periodically has threatened the island with U.S. military assault. The United States low intensity war on Cuba gained another weapon when Congress voted to create Radio Marti in 1983 and TV Marti in 1990. These beam anti-Castro propaganda to the island. In 1992 Congress further tightened the economic blockade by passing the Torricelli Bill which restricts foreign corporations partially owned by U.S. multinational corporations from trading with Cuba.

Few in our country know that while the U.S. hostility forced Cuba to seek alliance with the former Soviet Union, the tiny island nation went to great lengths to establish its own international identity and to carry out economic programs at home that sometimes contradicted Soviet advise. For example, it was Cuba and not the Soviet Union that initiated support for the MPLA government of Angola in 1975. At home, Cuba for a time adopted policies based upon moral rather than material incentives towards work in the 1960s over the objections of Soviet advisers. In the 1980s the Cubans carried out economic policies of "rectification" that were defined as different from those of the Soviet Union. It is true that Cuba traded many of its agricultural commodities, such as sugar, tobacco, citrus products, medicines, and health services to the Soviet Union for oil, heavy machinery and other products not otherwise accessible to Cuba. In fact, before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European Bloc, Cuba carried out 85 percent of its trade with them. But it negotiated trade agreements, not handouts. The distinction is important because for thirty years U.S. administrations portrayed Cuba as a mere extension and tool of the Soviet Union. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, its chief trade partner, Cuba has initiated a variety of reforms to make up for its losses. It has committed itself to increase tourism to earn valuable and scarce foreign exchange; established joint ventures in this sector with investors from Spain, Great Britain, Canada, and other countries; passed new laws encouraging foreign investment; expanded its sophisticated government program of biotechnological research; and increased exports of new serums and medical equipment to a variety of countries. And despite the portrait in the U.S. media of a country isolated from the rest of the world, Cuba has expanded its trade ties with Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Further, it has enacted reforms allowing Cubans to use dollars to purchase scarce goods in newly established dollar stores, transformed state-run farms to agricultural cooperatives, and legalized the establishment of small privateenterprises. Debates about these changes have occurred on Cuban television and in thousands of workplaces around the country.

Even before the current economic crisis Cuba had initiated a variety of reforms to rekindle enthusiasm for the revolution and engage Cubans more directly in decisions affecting their lives. The program referred to as a campaign for "rectification," sought to increase worker participation in factory decisions, to get people within communities to construct new housing and public buildings with materials provided by the government, and to return defense to local militias. Central to the campaign has been efforts to involve young people and women more directly in politics.

Reforms have continued into the 1990s. Last year's election was changed to give Cubans more of a voice in the political process. In prior elections, people voted for representatives to municipal assemblies, which in turn selected the provisional assemblies that then selected national legislators. In the 1993 election, however, Cubans voted directly for candidates for the national legislative body. Eighty three per cent of the legislators selected are serving for the first time, including larger numbers than ever before of young people, women, and Cubans of color.

Evidence suggests that, despite Cuba's serious economic problems, most Cubans still support their government. At the time of the 1993 election, rightwing Cuban-American broadcasts from Miami urged Cubans to reject Castro's regime by not voting or by defacing their ballots. But more than 90 per cent of eligible voters did vote, and less than 10 per cent defaced their ballots or left them blank. Despite the fact that most U.S. media outlets never mentioned the Cuban elections, many scholars and researchers observing the election saw it as a referendum affirming the Cuban government. Even Cubans who blame the government for Cuba's economic hardships regard militantly right-wing Cuban Americans, such as Jorge Mas Canosa of the Cuban American National Foundation, who has been a close advisor on Cuban affairs to Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, as more of a threat than the economic crisis. Most Cubans on the island see the vocal Cuban Americans as political descendants of the former hated dictator Batista and his henchmen.

In sum, several of Cuba's economic difficulties are rooted in its history of colonial rule and then U.S. domination, economic embargo, and political and military hostility. But the Cuban revolution has survived, creating a humane regime for most of its population with particular successes in health care, education, housing, and science. Life expectancy and infant mortality rates are similar to the United States, the literacy rate is 97 per cent, one-third of the entire population is engaged in some kind of education, and there are eleven times more teachers now than before the revolution. While poor by many indicators, Cuba, compared to most Third World countries, stands out for its social and economic development and remains, even with its current difficulties, an inspiration for millions of peoples around the world.

The implications for U.S. policy seem clear: It is time for a change. Our policy of trying to starve the island is inhumane and out of touch with the desires of most Cubans, whom we claim to be trying to free. Our policies are irrational given the fact that the cold war that gave rise to them is over. Cuba is no longer allied with a superpower enemy of the United States. Cuba is reforming its economic and political system in line with changes occurring around the world. And, finally, most Cubans, fiercely nationalistic and proud of their revolution, reject what the Clinton Administration and its Cuban-American political allies offer them: a return to a pre-1959 era of poverty and powerlessness for the many.

It is time for the United States to begin negotiating the end of its economic blockade and to forge political, economic, cultural, and scientific connections with the island. It seems unlikely that U.S. policy will change, however, until the American public becomes more informed about the history of Cuban-American relations and the current state of affairs in Cuba. Those of us who have visited and studied Cuba must continue to speak out and need to be heard, for surely mutual isolation and hostility are unnatural for two countries just 90 miles apart.


Harry R. Targ is professor of political science at Purdue University. He is the author of Cuba and the USA: A New World Order? International Publishers, 1992.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Diary of a Heartland Radical: An Explanation

Diary of a Heartland Radical

Harry Targ

I am starting this blog because I am a writer, an academic, and a radical. Ever since my days in journalism school in the early 60s, I’ve had an “I.F. Stone complex,” named for that one-person independent and radical reporter who produced his own weekly newspaper. Over the years, this disease has been compounded by a developing set of complexes: “Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, and Studs Terkel complexes.”

These complexes are manifested in a variety of ways. They include compulsive desires to:
- write, short, clear, polemical pieces on the state of the world.
-marshal simple but compelling evidence to defend points of view.
-ground contemporary crises and political campaigns in their appropriate historical contexts.
-frame arguments and analyses around the centrality of class, race, and gender.
-emphasize an anti-imperialist outlook.
-include references to musical and textual inspirations from the cultural left
-be read.

These complexes also are driven by the idea that geography and local culture matter to politics and struggles around class, race, and gender. My real and metaphorical “heartland” is physically flat populated by plain folks, rural and urban; filled with tiny farms, huge factories in the fields, and dense cities with communities of people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. My heartland has a radical history that goes back to the underground railroad; Haymarket martyrs in the struggle for the eight-hour day; packinghouse, auto, electronics workers demanding their rights to form unions; anti-war movements initiated on big mid-western university campuses; and more recently an exuberant progressive campaign to elect the first African American mayor in Chicago. The heartland produced proletarian literature, socialist poetry, peoples photographers and painters, and museums of African American and Latino paintings and crafts. This heartland has its political history, style of political struggle, ideological currents, forms of organization, and political possibilities.

Do we need another blogger motivated by an exalted sense of the worthiness of his text, his written style, his theoretical development? Clearly not. Do we need more to read? Of course not. Is there a need for a “heartland” perspective on socialist possibilities? Probably. Does this “Heartland Radical” need to write about the economic and political crises of our time and the movements that can bring about radical change today and tomorrow? Yes.

Maybe in the end what a few students have told me at the end of classes I have taught over the years hold true in this diary: “I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I appreciate getting an alternative point of view.”

Harry Targ
West Lafayette, Indiana

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Letter to Barack Obama

A Letter to Barack Obama,

From Harry Targ

When I was growing up in the 1950s I did not have much exposure to politics. The virulent anti-communism of that day did not make much sense to me but I did not have context, experience, or information to begin to understand where it came from and why it excited. Also, I did not have a sense of why United States foreign policy was the way it was. Statements by politicians and pundits left me cold.

I began to study political science, history, and journalism in the late 50s in college, political science in graduate school in the 1960s, and I gradually was drawn into the anti-war movement of the 1960s. Since I did not have political mentors: family or friends to explain the rapidly changing world, I relied on analysts who accidentally came to my attention. Three shaped my thinking about the world then. They still have much to offer as we begin to think of a new foreign and domestic policy for the United States.

The first intellectual mentor of mine was the German émigré scholar, Hans Morgenthau who taught international relations at the University of Chicago. He wrote an international relations textbook called Politics Among Nations which went through at least a dozen editions. In it Morgenthau introduced certain ideas about human motivation. He thought power and greed were the most important. In addition, he claimed that nation-states personified these drives which had their roots in human nature. International relations, he said, like all politics was the struggle for power. His ancestral mentors were Thomas Hobbes who wrote that the state of nations was the state of nature and Machiavelli, who endorsed the view that the world was one of avarice. Machiavelli advised leaders to be sly as foxes and aggressive as lions.

I soon became disenchanted with this Morgenthau “theory of political realism.” But one element of his analysis continued to make sense to me. That is, he convincingly asserted that nations and their leaders who make claims about how they are acting in the world because of high moral principles are lying. They are using these moral sounding arguments to trick their own citizens into following brutal and inhumane policies so that the nation and its leaders can acquire more wealth and power. Even the United States, the argument suggested, acted for reasons of greed and avarice in the world and not for higher purpose. This turned out to be a radical idea in the 1950s.

Some years later, I discovered William Appleman William’s book, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. For me, Williams added eye-opening insights. First, the pattern of United States intervention in the world was not the result of error, accident, naïveté, or the fault of Republicans or Democrats. In fact, any honest reading of the history of United States foreign policy would suggest that the country embraced a pattern of interventions of one sort or another ever since the founding of the nation. This is so whether we reflect on the over 200 military actions of the United States in other countries since 1789; or the massacre of ten million native peoples; or the taking of half of Mexican territory from that country in the 1840s; or the 30 interventions in Latin American and the Caribbean between 1898 and 1932; or the overthrows of Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, Lumumba in the Congo, Allende in Chile, or any number of other similar cases.

Second, this pattern of interventions, Williams suggested, was based on economic interests. He said there was a connection between the needs of capitalism for resources, cheap labor, investment opportunities, and customers for American goods and the pattern of United States interventionism. However, Williams differed from some of those students of diplomacy who were inspired by his insights in one major regard. Williams wrote that policy makers believed that capitalism and democracy could only survive if the United States remained an imperial state. Williams never said, as others did, that expansion was a structural necessity of capitalism. He just argued that most decision makers believed it to be the case.

Finally, many studying social science in the early 1960s were exposed to C. Wright Mills, not because our teachers were impressed with his analysis but rather to bury what seemed to be a compelling hypothesis; that there existed a “power elite” that ruled America. The Power Elite that shaped my early thinking about the world. This book accumulated data to suggest that their was an elite at the apex of our most powerful institutions: government, corporations, and the military. Those that dominated these three critical institutions in post World War II America circulated from one to another; serving in the corporate sector, the government, and/or the military.

For Mills United States foreign and domestic policy was largely defined by this power elite who ruled in their interests and not in the interests of the public at large. The Mills analysis was inspired by his own Texas populist roots. The elite were not a “class” in the economic sense only, but persons who by virtue of their institutional position represented the interests of their institutions. As American populists always claimed, elite interests were not necessarily the interests of the people.

I think of these old books now as I reflect on the possibility of an election outcome in November, 2008 that can lead to significant change in the institutions and policies that have caused the people, at home and abroad, so much pain and suffering. I reflect on these books now not because I find their analyses adequate to understand the deeper structures of the global political economy and the role of the United States within it. Rather I think of the themes as I reflect on policy making in a new Obama administration.

First, United States foreign policy must no longer be based on messianic notions of our moral superiority. Foreign policy must be based on limited goals and values recognizing that our propensity for global crusading has cost the lives and treasures of our citizens as well as peoples all over the world.

Second, any new, and effective, United States foreign policy must reject imperial ambitions and goals. Our interventionist past must be rejected and replaced by a commitment to multilateral diplomacy to address the colossal issues of our time. While many supporters of the Obama candidacy will continue to debate whether turning away from empire is ultimately achievable in a capitalist global economy, in the short-run an Obama administration can reverse the historic drift toward empire.

Finally, what the Obama campaign has initiated, mobilizing the people, must continue. It must be sustained over the months and years ahead. As Mills suggested, the antidote to rule by elites includes an animated and vigorous public actively engaged in the political process. Today this means demanding that public institutions and policies be shaped by people of all classes, races, genders, ages, ethnicities, and political perspectives.

I think these themes, gleaned from Morgenthau, Williams, and Mills, can inform the presidency of Barack Obama.