POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE GUARDIAN
Watkin uses the word "schizophrenic" in an entirely wrong way.
His way of using it - a split mind or personality - is very old and reflects understanding of many decades ago. You find it in movies of the 1940s.
The fine American historian, Page Smith, used the word this way in his massive history of the United States, but in his case it is forgivable since he wrote decades ago.
Nevertheless, Page Smith had a point. America is a highly divided nation in its attitudes and intentions.
Any observant person spending some time there soon sees it, free and easy attitudes next to anal-retentive attitudes. Supposedly open and carefree, but in fact in many matters the most bureaucratic nation on earth.
Try applying for a visa, try filling out your taxes, try getting a mortgage (unbelievable stacks of forms), or consider all the police-state spying that is not new with 9/11 (it's only gotten worse).
The myth of a sunny California attitude melts with your first confrontation with the often brutal police in the U.S. (cited by Amnesty and others). There are some real thugs as guards at the border, and it is hard to imagine the quality of some of the folks guarding the world's largest per capita prison population in the "land of the free."
You have fundamentalist morons searching Harry Potter for witchcraft next to nuclear-armed fleets. There was a years-long boycott of Procter and Gamble over its "stars and moon" logo, a charming symbol taken as proof of witchcraft by millions in America.
No one can have a treaty with the US without one side or the other challenging its legality. In plain terms, as with the North American Free Trade Agreement, the US frequently signs a treaty and then high-handedly violates it.
The power in the national government is spread in such a way that no one outside can tell who is really in charge of anything. It very much resembles the current situation in Iran's government.