Jackson Browne – For America

The complexity of politics is comprehensively captured in this 1986 song, by Jackson Browne, known for his environmental activism. The narrator of the song clearly has always loved his country that is in his blood and bones, but having grown up, sees it’s not so “black and white.”

It’s not acceptable to blindly accept American exceptionalism – the term first coined by Alexis de Tocqueville, that the USA is tasked with bringing their version of liberal democracy to the rest of the world – because of what that requires. What that requires is more “Vietnams” when might is not right. That there is a price to pay for the parents that send their kids to war, since we know there will be more conflicts to come, and nothing resolved.

Quoting the Star Spangled banner, Browne is thinking hard about how he was politically socialized as a youth, into a reflexive, uncompromising support for his country’s foreign policy. Now, he sees this mindset is not all it’s cracked up to be. Browne was probably thinking of American involvement in Nicaragua and El Salvador, for this Reagan era song. But you may find it is equally relevant in more recent times with U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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One thought on “Jackson Browne – For America

  1. President Johnson had already appointed General William C. Westmoreland to succeed General Harkins as Commander of MACV in June 1964. Under Westmoreland, the expansion of American troop strength in South Vietnam took place. American forces rose from 16,000 during 1964 to more than 553,000 by 1969. With the U.S. decision to escalate its involvement, ANZUS Pact allies Australia and New Zealand agreed to contribute troops and matériel to the conflict. They were quickly joined by the Republic of Korea (second only to the Americans in troop strength), Thailand , and the Philippines . The U.S. paid for (through aid dollars) and logistically supplied all of the allied forces.

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