Carroll discusses U.S. 'catastrophe'

Boston Globe columnist critiques U.S. foreign policy

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

James Carroll

Sakthi Kalaichandran

A REAL PAGE-TURNER. Esteemed author and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll discussed American foreign policy during his lecture at Western Tuesday.

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortal.”

James Carroll, an esteemed author and Boston Globe columnist, opened his Tuesday lecture at Conron Hall with this John F. Kennedy quote.

The lecture, “The Making of Catastrophe: Where the U.S. War in Iraq Comes From” was hosted by Professor Ron McDougall, an associate director from the Centre of American Studies at Western. Carroll’s presentation covered several controversial topics, including nuclear weapons, diplomacy and terrorism.

Backed by his knowledge of American and world history, Carroll critiqued the role of U.S. foreign policy in international warfare. He questioned why the Bush Administration continues using military force to solve conflicts.

According to Carroll, there’s more to America’s militant foreign policy than George W. Bush.

“The human agency of people in power is influenced by something less tangible,” he said. “It’s a current running below the surface of American life and American power. A flowing, moving, dynamic current.”

Carroll said several moments in U.S. history established this current.

The first he described occurred in January 1943 with “Operation Point Blank.” This was a joint effort of strategic bombing between Britain and the U.S. The first American attack on Germany occurred one week after the operation. The attack resulted in the bombing of urban population centres.

Carroll also cited the use of an atomic bomb in August 1945. The bomb killed more Japanese civilians than soldiers and continued the U.S. trend of military violence and civilian casualties, Carroll said.

However, while he highlighted many violent moments in history, Carroll also mentioned the diplomatic movements after November 1989. The Irish Peace Process, a peaceful revolution in the Philippines and the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa, were achieved through non-violence.

Though Carroll discussed many negative aspects of U.S. foreign policy, he offered hope for the future.

“The thing we need most now is a powerful national [U.S.] tradition of diplomacy,” he said. “The real use of non-military power drawing on economic and cultural power.”

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