Tag: US

Imperialism in the film Apocalypse Now

Imperialism enables a state or country to increase its sphere of influence by seizing control of foreign territories. The film Apocalypse Now, based on the story Heart of Darkness, was produced in 1979 during the Vietnam War era and explores the role imperialism played in US foreign policy. The film highlights the drawbacks of imperialism by revealing the atrocities committed by the US Military, allegedly, in the name of freedom. The most tragic aspect of the Vietnam War was the huge numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children. Indeed, the chemical warfare exercised by American troops in the form of deploying Agent Orange (napalm) for deforesting the region is a major disaster for the local population. As a result of contamination of these heavy toxins, a whole generation of children was born with deformities and genetic mutations. Hence those who are apologists for imperialism are on the side of the unjust.

Military intervention in Vietnam was a part of a . . . Read More

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How the US could have been more prepared for 9/11?

After going through the 9/11 Commission Report, please describe your thoughts on how the US could have been more prepared for 9/11, or if that was impossible, what is being done to change that.

The 9/11 terror strikes were the most gruesome to have taken place on American soil.  In the wake of the shocking event policy makers carried out a detailed analysis, the product of which is the 9/11 Commission Report.  The report pointed to how the attacks could have been anticipated and prevented with better application of intelligence gathered by the CIA.  It also highlighted structural and organizational deficiencies that hinder swift action when there is a possibility of a terrorist act.  It was based on the recommendations outlined in the report that the National Security Agency was created and endowed with substantial powers to act.

On the legislative side the USA PATRIOT Act was passed, which has proved controversial in the years since. The main objection to . . . Read More

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Ethical Responsibilities in Healthcare

It is a well known fact that the United States healthcare system is one of the most inefficient among the advanced economies.  Despite being the leading economic power, its ranks below Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden and Western European countries such as France, Britain and Germany in terms of costs incurred, health outcomes, etc.  This is a clear indication that the predominant role played by private business corporations (in the form of hospitals and insurance companies) has hampered our healthcare system from meeting its full potential.  In a well-functioning system, the private involvement will be limited to the extent that it brings efficiency and innovation to the system.  The lack of such checks on private ownership here in the United States has significantly reduced access to quality healthcare to many disadvantaged groups in the population.  For example, it is believed that close to 50 million Americans do not have any health insurance to fall back . . . Read More

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Q & A on Separation of Church and State

1- Define the concept of “separation of church and state”
Separation of Church and State is one of the governing principles under the Constitution of the United States, which forbids any interference of religion in affairs of the state. At the time of the inclusion of this provision in the American constitution, it was seen as a revolutionary and progressive policy to adopt.

2- Where did it originate? Is it the US constitution, what did Thomas Jefferson mean when he spoke of maintaining “a wall of separation between church and state?”
First coined by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to Danbury Baptists Association in 1802, the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear as such in the Constitution. But, in the First Amendment to the constitution, it is noted that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, which in spirit . . . Read More

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Anglo-US invasion of Iraq (2003): A study of sociological and political economic theories of news production

The invasion and occupation of Iraq since 2003 is a classic example of the power and effectiveness of propaganda campaigns.  For some people, subsequent revelations about the lack of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) might have come as a surprise.  But even before the invasion took place, many people across the world (including Americans) took part in mass protestations against what they sensed to be an illegitimate war carried out for unjust reasons.  This is a reflection of the general public disillusionment with the functioning of government institutions.  More importantly, it is an indication of the distrust of mainstream media sources and the information (misinformation) being generated by them.  Sadly, though, such expressions of disagreement and distrust only account for a politically aware minority, whilst a large majority of the population are subject to government propganda, orchestrated and implemented by major media institutions.  Indeed, the ruthlessness and . . . Read More

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Does Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed accurately describe life in real plantations as documented by historian Lerone Bennett?

Octavia Butler sets her novel, Wild Seed in the context of the transatlantic slave trade and US slavery. In the story, Doro gathers “his people” on farms and plantations along the eastern seaboard. In what ways are Doro’s fictional communities similar to the real plantations described by historian Lerone Bennett (chapter 4 of Before the Mayflower “Behind the Cotton Curtain”) and the ones Frederick Douglass discusses in his autobiography?

The novel Wild Seed written by Octavia Butler is set at a period when the peoples of the world are not yet completely civilized and people strongly believed in mysticism and magic.  One of the protagonists of the story, Doro; has telepathic and special powers that starts him off in a path of adventure and leads him to the old lady Anyanwu, whose age is stupendous by modern standards.  One could see such primitivism in the lives of black slaves in America as documented by Lerone Bennett and . . . Read More

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Overview of Orientalism by Edward Said

Orientalism as a geo-political and sociological concept has attracted much controversy.  It remains author Edward Said’s definitive work, alongside other titles such a The Question of Palestine and Covering Islam.  Orientalism as a scholarly work is the combined study and analysis of Oriental “philology, linguistics, ethnography, and the interpretation of culture through the discovery, recovery, compilation, and translation of Oriental texts”. (Windschuttle, 1999, p.30)  Having been born into a Palestinian Christian family that later migrated to the United States, Said had the unique advantage of experiencing different perspectives on the issue of Palestine-Israel conflict as well as broader Arabian politics.  His works on the subject of Middle East politics are informed by his first hand experiences at these places, as well as a careful study of preceding scholarship by Western intellectuals.  The primary criticism in his book Orientalism, as also seen in the . . . Read More

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The Case for Health Care Reform in the United States

1. What social contract for healthcare exists today? What should it be? 2. Our system (US) is based on public/private collaboration. What are the attributes of a well-functioning system? 3. What are the principles and values that should guide health care policy?

Medicare and Medicaid are two prominent healthcare programs that come under the purview of the Federal government (with some autonomy given to states) and are funded through taxpayer money.  Both these programs came into effect when Lyndon Johnson Administration made amendments to the Social Security Act in 1965.  The Medicare program is intended to cater to the healthcare needs of senior American citizens as well as disabled persons.  There are four main parts that constitute the program.  Part A and Part B cover hospital and medical insurance respectively; Part C offers flexibility whereas Part D covers cost of Prescription drugs.  The Medicaid program, on the other hand was created to take . . . Read More

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Alexander Hamilton’s role in establishing the US Treasury and laying the foundation for the American Economic System

Alexander Hamilton, alongside such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison is rightly considered as a founding father of the United States of America. In the second half of the eighteenth century, when British colonies in America entered a period of fervent political change, intellectuals such as Hamilton played pivotal roles in guiding and influencing this process. This essay will argue that Alexander Hamilton had indeed played a pivotal role in the establishment of U.S. Treasury and his ideas continue to influence economic policy even today.

Although lesser studied when compared to other Founding Fathers, Hamilton’s contribution in shaping the new American republic is substantial. For example,

“The most practical nation builder of the Founding Fathers, Hamilton (1755-1804) fought tirelessly for ratification of the Constitution, played a pivotal role in creating a centralized and powerful . . . Read More

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Shutter Island: A Review

Shutter Island is one of the most emotionally and intellectually engaging films to have come out in recent times. Directed by noted filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the film explores the potential depths of human psychology and the inevitable conflicts in human relationships. Although it wouldn’t rank as Scorsese’s best movie, it excels in so many departments that it is set to become a classic of the suspense/thriller/horror genre. The plot is centered on the characters of Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule (played in the film by Leonardo Di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo respectively). The Shutter island hosts Ashecliffe hospital, which is a mental asylum for the criminally inclined. The two lead characters, who serve the US military, get trapped in this secluded island due to hostile weather conditions. Their mission was to investigate the case of a missing inmate. But due to the enclosed circumstances in which they find themselves in, their mission objectives become entwined with . . . Read More

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