finished Obama’s book – still thinking about great nations

Here are a couple of quotes from the last third of the book I found significant:

“The United States won the Cold War not simply because it outgunned the Soviet Union but because American Values held sway in the court of international public opinion, which included those who lived within the communist regimes.” (p. 307)

About a visit to a Ukrainian weapons disposal factory…
“…our group entered another building, where women wearing surgical masks stood at a table removing hexogen -a military-grade explosive- from various munitions and placing it into bags. In another room, I happened upon a pair of men in their undershirts, smoking next to a wheezing old boiler, flicking their ashes into an open gutter filled with orange-tinted water. One of your team called me over and showed me a yellowing poster taped to the wall. It was a relic of the Afgan war [1980s], we were told: instructions on how to hide explosives in toys, to be left in villages and carried home by unsuspecting children.
A testament, I thought, to the madness of men.
A record of how empires destroy themselves.” (p.314)

then he ends the book this way…
“And in that place, I think about America and those who built it. This nation’s founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations it imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams.
It is a process I wish to be a part of.
My heart is filled with love for this country.” (pp.361-2)

I may comment later…

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