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Domestic concerns


To the editor:

New Yorkers have concerns about crime, the migrant crisis, affordable housing and the economy. Such troubles can’t be understood without examining the structures and institutions that create and shape these issues, as well as shape our daily lives. The relationship between individuals and institutions also applies to military and foreign policy. Most New Yorkers, if they give it much thought, support President Joe Biden’s policies in dealing with China, Russia and the Ukraine war. To what extent are they aware of the causes and possible consequences of these policies? 

One way city residents can understand the structural issues of war and peace would be to examine Biden’s 2022 “U.S. National Security Strategy.” Russia and China are described as “autocracies” who make the world “safe for aggression and repression.” The U.S., it is claimed, makes the world safe for democracy by upholding the “rules-based international order,” a term that merits some thought. 

Another way is to ask if Putin’s Ukraine invasion and war crimes have become, as Leon Panetta said, a “proxy war with Russia.” How will this affect our decision about when to attempt negotiations for ending such a horrific war? If there is endless and costly escalation (a nuclear exchange cannot be dismissed), how much revenue will be cut by Washington in city and state aid?

Finally, with no congressional opposition, has the United States become a National Security State that drives our foreign and military policies? The country has many national security agencies, 251 military interventions since 1991 and a large military-industrial complex. Our 2023 defense budget of $858 billion is greater than the next nine countries combined, and we are the leading seller of arms.

How concerned should New Yorkers be not only about these developments and their ramifications, but also about what academics Soss and Weaver call the “second face of the state”? They point out that there are “activities of governing institutions and officials that exercise social control and encompass various modes of coercion, containment, repression, surveillance, regulation, predation, discipline and violence.” 

Howard Elterman


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