Wed September 5, 2012
"Police Training and Nation-Building in the American Century"
Our guest on this edition of StudioTulsa is Jeremy Kuzmarov, the Jay P. Walker Assistant Professor of History here at The University of Tulsa, whose new book is "Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation-Building in the American Century." From our country's conquest of the Philippines and Haiti at the turn of the 20th century through our various Cold War interventions and the so-called "war on terror" --- as well as our recent efforts, to cite more current events, to build-up local police/security/law-and-order forces during protracted stays in both Iraq and Afghanistan --- police training has been valued by the U.S. military as an effective means of suppressing radical and nationalist movements. Such training can often preclude the need for more direct (or else larger) U.S. military intervention, of course, but it can also backfire at times, thereby fostering resistance, violence, or instability in the most delicate or sensitive of regions. As one reviewer of Kuzmarov's book has noted at the BookPleasures.com site: "Listen to a debate on any aspect of United States foreign policy and sooner or later you’ll likely hear one of the participants haul up the old chestnut about America being 'the policeman of the world.' That rather glib critique masks a larger, more sinister, and more complex set of factors than is readily apparent to the listener --- or, often, to the speaker. . . . The idea of being the 'world’s policeman' is a concept so fraught with historical and ideological baggage that it would take a book to clarify what's really meant by such a banal-yet-earnest-seeming characterization. And that book is Jeremy Kuzmarov's 'Modernizing Repression.' . . . When Henry Kissinger once famously quipped, 'A country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security,' he was articulating a point of view that has long held sway among many Western leaders. Kuzmarov's book might not tip the balance in favor of a more just and morally consistent world, but it's at least a thumb on the scale, and worthy of every reader's time and careful consideration."