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Unita Hama International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar it Community Radio Radio De La Comunidad Pros len KA, 1,14.1.14,0 A%vers itu For A .Ltu.rc!-I, IJi Diverse cito P.O. Box 2116 Austin, TX 78768-2116 Visit us on the [email protected] are they really to have any use beyond stump speech rhetoric delivered to fellowship hall potlucks? Only the most bloodthirsty hawks could possibly disagree with Hart’s tactfully abstracted theories, which essentially amount to an intellectual backrub. Election years, it’s worth noting, have a funny way of bringing these “grand strategies” out of the woodwork. I spent much of the summer reading the likes of Walter Russell Mead, Michael Ignatieff, and Jonathan Schell”grand strategy” writvisions of what an ideal geo-political world would look like. Hart’s work falls squarely into this genre but, in so doing, it also inevitably comes under suspicion for making it look as if the author is trying to insinuate his way into a presidential advisory position should November see a regime change. In its scope and suspected motive, The Fourth Power is, in the end, a string of misfires. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t occasionally hit a few prime targets. Hart’s analysis is most compelling when he stresses the connection between sound domestic policies and a responsible foreign policy. His discussion of oil, for example, both exemplifies this strength while further suggesting how his book might have been more effective had it developed a single, emblematic issue rather than compiling a catalogue of quixotic proposals. Working from the enlightened premise that ” [p] rosperity and justice at home are directly connected to America’s ability to achieve its international purposes,” he chides our consumer-based economy for its “dependence on foreign energy?’ An obvious point, of course, but what Hart then does that’s interesting is place this dependence in the context of national security, claiming that ” [w] e are using our military, that is to say young Americans, as the guarantor of our wasteful lifestyle… this is our energy policy, and it’s immoral.” It’d be nice to hear more. But, while this connection certainly bears fleshing out \(especially a proposed solution Hart resorts to his own pat version of American exceptionalism to bring the conversation to an abrupt halt: Properly informed… the American people will adopt this project with the same patriotic vigor and national unity they have exhibited with every national challenge in our history. Two problems with this last commentand they’re problems that typify Hart’s featherweight analysis. First, never before have Americans been as informed as we’ve beenor at least never have we had the opportunity to be so. With 24-hour news, the sprawling blog-o-sphere, and news clips and stories archived and easily available online, we have few excuses not to be on top of the news. Nevertheless, as Louis Menand reminds us in a recent New Yorker article, voters are more swayed by designer political images \(as in that obnoxious “W” plastered across In its scope and suspected motive, The Fourth Power is, in the end, a misfire. they are by “the issues.” A more pressing concern, however, has to do with Hart’s casual resort to our supposed “patriotic vigor and national unity?’ His ultimate faith that Americans will be great and adopt his warm suggestions rests on a naive acceptance of a myth that even the Founding Fathers, for all their rhetorical indulgence, were wise enough to reject: virtue. Hart reduces each and every one of America’s political problems to quirks that can be ironed out with the resumption of the “the classical republican qualities of civic virtue and citizen duty?’ He does so, however, without understanding that the Constitution of the United States, for one, assumed that citizens would instinctively behave according to virtue’s less romantic opposite: self-interest. But, of course, there’s nothing terribly exceptional about self-interest, Hart will have plenty of time on his hands to revisit the dons, pick up another degree, and take another look at the myths he’d be much better off avoiding. James E. McWilliams lives in Austin. 10/8/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27