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The United States of Amnesia: US Foreign Policy and the Recurrence of Innocence

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Philpott


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This article interrogates the ways in which the United States of America ‘forgets’ the consequences and effects of its foreign policy in the making of its identity. In particular, the article argues such forgetting enables the United States government to frame its interventions in world affairs as innocent and morally driven. The literature on collective memory and the forgetting that enables the production of such memory informs one element of the argument. To illustrate the argument that remembering and forgetting are complex, voluntary and at times mendacious, three films from the amnesia genre are analysed to provide insights into the kind of American identity forged in the acts of remembering and forgetting. The article concludes with the observation that the processes of forgetting past action when framing the context of new interventions makes the United States of America a dangerous force in global affairs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Philpott S, Mutimer D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cambridge Review of International Affairs

Year: 2009

Volume: 22

Issue: 2

Pages: 301-317

ISSN (print): 0955-7571

ISSN (electronic): 1474-449X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09557570902882109


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