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The American State and the Obama Presidency: A Preliminary Discussion

Desmond King

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I characterize American State power as the expression of a “shock and awe” strategy, that is, the style of making dramatic policy pronouncements which centralise efforts and concentrate bureaucratic resources. Shock and awe,’ refers to the capacity of American state leaders to employ its sovereign power and ample resources determinedly to a particular end. This capacity rebuffs the notion of the United States as a weak state. It describes how powerful the centralized exercise of (civilian and military) bureaucratic authority bent on a single purpose has become in the US state. The state is the executive – the bureaucratic departments and agencies including the military controlled under presidential authority. Shock and awe is a strategy which presidents seek to employ definitively to address a crisis at home or abroad. It is distinctly American because of the constraints – including constitutional, political and electoral – under which the executive pursues policy and responds to crises.

Keywords: American state, executive, Obama, shock and awe, Tea Party


Bibliographie: King, Desmond: The American State and the Obama Presidency: A Preliminary Discussion, dms – der moderne staat – Zeitschrift für Public Policy, Recht und Management, 2-2011, S. 269-282.