The book offers a comprehensive account of how the world evolved to its
present state in which humans now exercise a powerful, in many cases
dominant, influence for global environmental change. It outlines the
history that led to this position of dominance, in particular the role
played by our increasing reliance on fossil sources of energy, on coal,
oil and natural gas, and the problems that we are now forced to confront
as a result of this history. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere is greater now than at any time over at least the past
650,000 years with prospects to increase over the next few decades to
levels not seen since dinosaurs roamed the Earth 65 million years ago.
Comparable changes are evident also for methane and nitrous oxide and
for a variety of other constituents of the atmosphere including species
such as the ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons for which there are no
natural analogues. Increases in the concentrations of so-called
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are responsible for important changes
in global and regional climate with consequences for the future of
global society which, though difficult to predict in detail, are
potentially catastrophic for a world poorly equipped to cope. Changes
of climate in the past were repetitively responsible for the demise of
important civilizations. These changes, however, were generally natural
in origin in contrast to the changes now underway for which humans are
directly responsible. The challenge is to transition to a new energy
economy in which fossil fuels will play a much smaller role. We need as a
matter of urgency to cut back on emissions of climate altering gases
such as carbon dioxide while at the same time reducing our dependence on
unreliable, potentially disruptive, though currently indispensable,
sources of energy such as oil, the lifeblood of the global
transportation system. The book concludes with a discussion of options
for a more sustainable energy future, highlighting the potential for
contributions from wind, sun, biomass, geothermal and nuclear,
supplanting currently unsustainable reliance on coal, oil and natural
This Article examines the conflict-management role conferred
upon the law within Western liberal democracies in the context of cultural
tensions involving religious minorities. The Article finds that a threatened
hegemonic Christian identity and secular illiberal sentiments disguised in
liberal narratives often motivated legislative and judicial actions curtailing
the freedom of religious minorities in leading liberal democracies. Based
on these findings, this Article challenges the shortcomings of existing liberal
scholarship to account for the potential bias presented in the liberal
preference to facilitate cultural conflicts through legal means. Yet, the Article
suggests that law’s limitations as a neutral vehicle in conflict resolution
does not necessarily counteract its ability to manage conflicts. The
continued attractiveness of law as the principal conflict-resolution device
in liberal democracies springs from its political nature, namely the recognition
that shifts in political power could translate into legal change.
Analogies will be drawn in the coming weeks between the recent popular uprisings, most notably in Egypt, and the events beginning in 1989 and continuing into the early 1990s that brought democracy to much of the former Eastern bloc. In what is known as the third wave of democratisation (the first being in the early 1800s and the second being after the second world war), the Solidarity movement in Poland informed the peaceful transitions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the transition to democracy in Hungary and the reunification of Germany.
It is no stretch to say that the political leadership and leaders of the opposition movements learned from one another throughout the tumult of the 1980s and into the 1990s. Much as social media today has been touted as a spur to democratic movements in the Middle East, pirate radio bombarded the Eastern bloc with information about democratic successes in other countries, as well as the ominous alternative posed by Tiananmen Square. But while the wave following the fall of the Berlin Wall created a period of unprecedented security across the European continent, the current wave of uprisings could create a corridor of failed states stretching from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the frontiers of Europe in southern Turkey.
The "fourth wave" narrative goes something like this: just as a host of communist dictators—Jaruzelski in Poland, Honecker in Germany and Németh in Hungary—were swept away by the third wave, the fall of Bakiev in Kyrgyzstan and Ben Ali in Tunisia and the uncertain perches of Mubarak in Egypt and Saleh in Yemen signal a new wave of democratisation. The continuing crisis in Egypt, Saleh's announcement that he will not seek re-election, the reshuffling of the Jordanian cabinet and whispers of protest in Syria contain the promise of a "1989 moment" throughout the greater Middle East.
But important differences between recent events and the third wave are already apparent. In the third wave, Romania was the only country that experienced a violent transition to democracy. Things look different this time around, in great part because today's nondemocratic leaders took their own lessons from the third wave. Instead of tanks and troops, and top-down repression a la Tiananmen Square the new oppressors of democratisation are the Basij, the "pro-government protesters," the plainclothes security personnel, the agents provocateurs inciting violence and instability.
As the iron curtain began to fall in Europe, leaders such as Honecker and Jaruzelski weighed the costs of violent repression on the stability of their regimes, essentially deciding between increased authoritarianism and liberalisation. If there truly is a "new wave", it is characterised by a group of regimes that have learned to pass the decision between power and stability on to the protestors by creating environments of insecurity and fostering the conditions for state failure through tactics such as throwing open the prison doors and sponsoring thugs engaged in street violence. The opposition movements are left to decide whether to continue to press for their ideal outcome while the apparatus of governance teeters closer to collapse, or to negotiate with the regime while facing the potential erosion of the movement's credibility.
Further complicating this "new wave" is the role political Islam plays in western security circles. The transition of Soviet bloc states into the democratic fold was seen and understood as a victory against an ideological enemy: the vast USSR. The third wave delegitimated the Soviet style of governance as the massive bureaucratic state crumbled under increasing pressure for political liberalisation, both internally and externally. In the "new wave", things are different. In the eyes of the west, the crowds are as likely to be its ideological enemies as are the regimes in power—autocracy in the presidential palace is balanced by the spectre of radical Islam in the streets. Whether these fears are well grounded remains to be seen, but western states look to the electoral successes of Hamas and Hezbollah as establishing a worrying precedent in the region.
And for all the democratising potential of social media, today's improved analogue to Radio Free Europe, its powers are particularised and circumscribed. While it is true that social media have increased the capacity of the population to hold autocrats more accountable, they cannot solve pressing problems such as blocked social mobility and sky-high unemployment rates. Even if today's movements manage to oust dictators and move toward free and fair elections, the frustrations and grievances of the populations supporting the movements will not necessarily be addressed. Such a development might lead to further disillusionment inside the protest movements—and this time with democracy.
The characteristics of this "new wave" matter for reasons that go beyond the potential satisfaction of seeing democracy flourish in new spots on the globe. Where in the past authoritarian leaders clamped down on their populations, snuffing democracy but maintaining security, there seems to be an emerging trend of authoritarian leaders letting their states collapse like poorly built houses of cards, with no guarantee of democracy or security.
While it is possible that the Egyptian uprising may result in a Turkish-style democratic state, a corridor of state failure from Kinshasa to Beirut is also not an unlikely outcome. That such stakes are now in play only underscores the necessity of re-examining the west's historical role in supporting the type of personalistic dictatorships that are now under siege, and the familiar cultural arguments that these states have never been democratic—and lack the capacity ever to be become democratic.
Co-author Wilder Bullard is a research assistant at the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia.
In his new book The Future of Power, Joseph
S. Nye Jr. analyses the changing nature of power in the 21st century as
upheavals man-made and environmental alter the global terrain and as
both state and non-state entities jostle for dominance. Nye is a
proponent of “smart power,” a term he coined in 2004 to describe the
strategic combination of coercion and persuasion.Nye, a former assistant secretary of defense,
is a professor and former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of
Government. His other books include Soft Power: The Means to Success in
World Politics and The Powers to Lead. He spoke from his home in
Boston.Q. Has the term “smart power” been corrupted over time?A. The
term has been picked up by the Obama administration and used by Hillary
Clinton to describe US foreign policy. But it is the older term “soft
power” that is more often corrupted when it’s mistakenly used to
describe anything that is not military power. More correctly, it refers
to the ability to get what you want through attraction and persuasion.
The Chinese president, for example, declared in 2007 that China needed
to increase its soft power, and they have invested billions of dollars
to that end.Q. Are you saying that smart power is soft power backed up by hard power?A. I
think of smart power as the ability to combine hard and soft power.
There may be situations in which you don’t want any hard power, and
there may be others where soft power is not effective; stopping North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program, for example.Q. Does it require an underlying belief in American dominance?A. Soft
power and smart power are both available to any size country, not just
the US or China. But the US, when it lives up to its values, probably
has more soft power than a small country and certainly has more hard
power. Our leadership resides in our ability to create the right
combinations in the right circumstances.Q. You use the term “values.’’ But don’t you characterize smart power as morally neutral?A. Well,
smart power is neutral in the sense that it can be used by bad states
as well as good states. But it does depend in part on values which are
more often the sources of soft power. Ironically, Osama bin Laden had
soft power when he inspired people to fly into the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon. They did so because they believed in bin Laden’s
values. In that sense values matter. They can, however, be used as
instruments by bad as well as good people.Q. Do you have a moral position that you edited out of this book?A. I try to write as
an analyst when I argue that there is something to be said for soft
power as a more ethical means. For example, even if I have bad ends and
want to steal your money, I can use hard power — shoot you and take your
money — or soft power — persuade you that I’m a guru and that you
should give me your money. In the first case you don’t have anything to
say about it, in the second case you do. If one believes in the value of
individual autonomy and choice, as I do, soft power allows more of that
individual autonomy even if the overall action is a bad one.Q. Your strategy has been called the friendly face of American imperialism. How do you respond to that?A. That
criticism is often made by people who don’t understand the theory.
Other countries besides the US can use soft power therefore it’s not an
apology for the US or an instrument of American imperialism. In this
book I try to describe the role of military, economic and soft power in
an information age and to persuade people that we need to think in a
more sophisticated way about what power means whether it be American,
Chinese, or otherwise.Q. With all that you’ve seen, do you find it hard to write a phrase such as “winning hearts and minds” without irony?A. There
is a risk of trivializing ideas. “Winning hearts and minds” has been
around since the Vietnam War. On the other hand, when one tries to
understand General Petraeus’s counterinsurgency doctrine (and whether
he’ll succeed or not we don’t know) it is interesting to note that what
he is trying to do is save civilian lives. The idea is not to kill as
many people as possible but to win the minds of those who form the sea
in which the insurgents swim. The insight is an important one and has a
long standing in history.Q. Do you see the uprising in Tunisia and now in Egypt as a test case of US commitment to smart power?A. Smart
power in this current case will require US foreign policy to align with
the aspirations of people seeking democracy while at the same time not
creating chaos in the region which would undercut our support for Israel
and our efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Smart power
would aim to accomplish both a human rights democracy agenda as well as a
more traditional agenda.Q. Do you see that happening?A. I’m always hopeful.
What do the recent events in Egypt mean for the US? The answer is a lot more complicated than it might seem. Egypt is important to the US for a number of reasons. Topping the list is oil, and the flow of oil, for which the Suez Canal is an important transit conduit. There is no reason to believe that a successor to the Mubarak government would interrupt the flow of oil, but you could imagine events in the area that could interrupt the flow, and we’re seeing this concern reflected in the markets.
There is also the concern that what is happening in Egypt is contagious, and that it could lead to instability in other, seemingly analogous states—the most important of which is Saudi Arabia. There are regions in which the governments seem very sclerotic, the people running them seem old, the youth vote seems large, and the number of educated citizens who don’t seem adequately challenged seems to be growing. Such elements characterize quite a number of states in the region, including those that are important to the US for various reasons.
Egypt has been a major ally of the US when it comes to relations with Israel, where the resulting peace, though cold, has created a stable border, and is thus considered one of the great achievements of the last many decades. In the role of counterterrorism, Egypt has been a significant and cooperative ally on questions about Hamas, al-Qaida, or Hezbollah.
Finally, with respect to governance, Egypt is dealing with an autocratic regime that significantly restricts the political rights of the population. This has been a problem for the US, as it directly conflicts with American objectives and rhetoric. Nevertheless, such issues are of a lesser concern in the hierarchy of interests, as things like oil attract greater attention.
I suspect that peaceful relations between Egypt and Israel would be sustained. A new Egyptian government of any stripe will have so much to do that it will not want to take on any additional problems. On the other hand, Egypt’s current mix finds organized groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood’s recent statements have been more internationally acceptable, but traditionally they have had quite strong and different views with respect to Israel. As you can imagine, if a Muslim Brotherhood group emerges after whatever process of transition Egypt undergoes, such a group might maintain a contrary view.
The best way to think about the issue is to consider alternative futures. One possibility is that Mubarak and the current regime will survive. I’d say this is very unlikely, though, with only about a five to ten percent chance of happening.
A second possibility is that a transitional process will take place, resulting in an emerging democratic government. I’d say that this second alternative is the most hopeful, but not the most likely scenario.
Another scenario features a tumultuous process in which a more or less participatory and democratic system emerges. If this scenario were to play out, I would bet on the most organized groups emerging as leaders. In this case, the most organized group is the military, which means that we would see the emergence of a military-dominated regime with a civilian face. That would be a good outcome as far as the US is concerned. A variation of that scenario is the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood could step up to take control of the government, an outcome that would present its own opportunities and risks.
The key idea that we should take away from this is that future developments are uncertain, and that it is entirely possible to describe an outcome that looks more like Iran —though I don’t think such an outcome is likely. Think about Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris until the Iranian revolution, Lenin going home to Russia in a single-carriage train. True, those situations weren’t exactly like the one happening now, but history reminds us that outcomes are often quite different from the ones people anticipate—and that looking at the aspirations that have spurred a revolution is hardly a good way to predict what the outcomes will actually be.
Hosni Mubarak’s promise this week to initiate constitutional reform in
Egypt and then step down at the end of his presidential term in
September did little to mollify the anger of the demonstrators
protesting his rule. Many protesters seemed to agree with the assessment of the opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei that it was “a trick” intended to buy time. With the regime-sponsored ugliness
now engulfing Tahrir Square, demands for Mr. Mubarak’s immediate
resignation have grown only more urgent, and the risk of a violent
conclusion appears to have grown.
But there may still be a chance to effect the “orderly transition” that
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for. Paradoxically,
it requires that Mr. Mubarak stay on, but only for a short time, to
initiate the election of an entirely new Parliament that could then
amend all the power out of the presidency or even abolish it.
This would no doubt disappoint those who want to put Mr. Mubarak on the
next plane to Saudi Arabia, but there are two risks associated with his
leaving so abruptly. The first is that the demonstrations might diminish
or dissipate, leaving Mr. ElBaradei and his coalition trying to
negotiate with the military or Vice President Omar Suleiman without the
force of the crowds behind them.
The second risk stems from the Egyptian Constitution, which gives the
power to dissolve Parliament and call new elections only to an elected
president. Mr. Mubarak’s successor, as an acting president, would be
specifically prohibited from getting the parliamentary elections under
way. A new Parliament is crucial to democratic reform, because only
Parliament has the power to defang the Egyptian presidency, stripping it
of its dictatorial powers through constitutional amendment. The current
Parliament — bought and paid for by Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic
Party — is not fit for that task.
Egypt’s next scheduled presidential election is only months away. If the
Constitution isn’t amended before it is held, the notorious Article 76,
which makes it difficult for independents like Mr. ElBaradei to get on
the ballot, will still be in place. More important, the new president
would have the same imperial powers Mr. Mubarak has had — the very
powers that the Egyptian public wants taken away.
The constitutionally sanctioned timeline would be this: Mr. Mubarak
dissolves Parliament, forcing a new election within 60 days
(international observers would be required to make sure the election is
fair). Once the new Parliament is seated, Mr. Mubarak resigns, and an
acting president, probably the new Parliament’s speaker, takes charge
until a new president is elected. The new Parliament would work around
the clock to amend the Constitution in ways that would put Mr. Suleiman
or any would-be strongman out of a job. The final step is a national
referendum on the amendments.
For American policymakers, the most frightening possibility is that the
Muslim Brotherhood would sweep the parliamentary elections and institute
a constitution based on Islamic holy law. This is unlikely. The
political momentum in Egypt is not with the Islamists. Moreover, the
Brotherhood’s members have never sought to compete for a majority of
seats in Parliament, and during the current protests have impressed
people across the Egyptian political spectrum with their
self-effacement. Brotherhood adherents know that a victory for them
could be used by the military as an excuse to short-circuit the birth of
democracy in Egypt.
A likelier outcome is that the Islamists would join a coalition slate of
candidates, becoming part of an ideologically diverse Parliament. The
greater danger now is that Mr. Mubarak would corrupt the electoral
process by unleashing the same thugs who are now attacking the peaceful
protesters of Tahrir Square.
One might wonder why, at this moment of change and tumult, anyone would
talk about amending a constitution that everyone recognizes as a
deformed confection of a corrupt regime. But by working with even a
flawed constitution, the opposition would be helping to entrench and
deepen a constitutionalist principle that has been steadily eroded. And
with its built-in deadlines, the constitutional route also makes it
harder for the military to draw out the transition and consolidate its
For any of this to happen, Mr. Mubarak must remain briefly in office,
and he must agree to the changes as an answer to his people’s legitimate
cry for democracy. The demand that can make him comply must come from
It has often been said in recent days that the United States can do
nothing to affect the progress of democracy in Egypt, but the military’s
dependence on American money and matériel suggests that this is untrue.
The more the United States can make clear that continued military
support depends on how the Egyptian Army conducts itself during this
transition, the more likely the military is to play midwife to
Much could go wrong, but finding an orderly way to get not just Mr.
Mubarak but also the armed forces out of political life should be a more
important priority than ensuring that Islamists don’t hijack the
revolution. All that is required of us is to remind ourselves that
democracy in Egypt, or any other part of the world, is not something we
The seeds of Mary Lewis’
fascination with France were planted early. Her father spent a few
years there as a young man, working in the offices of the Marshall Plan,
so she grew up hearing a steady stream of stories about that country.
“I had never been out of North America,” said the newly tenured
professor of history, “but when my father would talk about France’s
history, it sparked an interest that is still with me.”The geopolitically tense Reagan administration years were her
political coming-of-age, and the native Californian went to college
wanting to understand the Cold War, studying international relations
when she attended the University of California, Davis. She spent her junior year abroad in France, becoming increasingly interested in the diversity of its society.The final seed that would eventually bear Lewis’ intellectual fruit
was planted during a political science class she took upon her return
from studying abroad. It was November 1989, the month the Berlin Wall
fell.“We were discussing the theory of mutually assured destruction,” she
said. “A young man raised his hand and asked the professor, ‘Can we talk
about Berlin?’ The professor was completely thrown. The real world was
confronting his theoretical model, and he didn’t know what to do.”Lewis remembers the professor dismissing the question by telling the student to read The New York Times. That, she said, was the moment she knew she wanted to study history.“At that point, history had suddenly caught up to political science,”
she said. “I realized you really needed history to understand
politics.”After graduating from the University of California, Davis, and before beginning a Ph.D. program in history at New York University, Lewis spent two years working for the U.S. Department of Education in its Office for Civil Rights, an experience she said greatly affected how she studies and thinks about history today.“I learned a lot about bureaucracy and the layers of bureaucracy,”
she said. “If I wrote a letter, it would go through six different levels
of editing and end up with someone else’s signature on it.”“I got a sense of how policy and decisions are layered. It helped me become the kind of historian that I am today.”Lewis’ improbable interest in bureaucracy informed her first book, “The Boundaries of the Republic: Migrant Rights and the Limits of Universalism in France, 1918-1940”
(Stanford University Press, 2007), recently translated into French as
“Les Frontières de la République” (Éditions Agone, 2010). The book
demonstrates how local actions — far removed from Parisian edicts —
redefined the boundaries between French citizens and outsiders in the
early decades of the 20th century. By focusing on the limits of
legislation in a pluralistic society, the book challenges the common
vision of France as a highly centralized nation.“We tend to think of France as a centralized country with uniform
rights decreed in Paris,” Lewis said. “But the actions of immigrants
themselves in the provinces, by forcing officials to recognize that they
were going to stay in the country, instigated an expansion of those
rights. In a sense, today’s diverse French society is a product of that
history.”Today, Lewis’ studies are intersecting anew with current events: She
is working on a book about Tunisia, using the case of the little-studied
French protectorate there to study how imperial rivalry affected French
colonial governance from the 1880s to the 1930s. Pent-up public unrest
in the North African country exploded and brought down its government
last month.“Having researched my forthcoming book there, I was surprised that
the protests would lead so suddenly to a change in regime,” she said of
Tunisia’s overthrow of its president. “It’s a police state. People have
conditioned themselves to be very guarded in conversation when speaking
about politics because they know they’re being watched, so the fact
that they would have the nerve to protest as they did is remarkable.”Lewis is also planning a new research project on intercolonial movement by studying colonial passports.“We think of these societies as being hermetically sealed, because we
tend to study them from an imperialist point of view, but in fact
people were on the move, and we can see challenges to imperial control
based on these varied movements.”One of Lewis’ favorite parts of working at Harvard is interacting with students.“They make you think,” she said. “Even if you’ve taught a class
before, you’ll get something new out of it because of the student
participation. This is positive feedback on a whole other level.”
In my favorite spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, there
is a memorable scene that sums up the world economy today. Blondie
(Clint Eastwood) and Tuco (Eli Wallach) have finally found the cemetery
where they know the gold is buried. Trouble is, they’re in a vast Civil
War graveyard, and they don’t know where to find the loot. Eastwood
looks at his gun, looks at Wallach, and utters the immortal line: “In
this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded
guns … and those who dig.”
In the post-crisis economic order, there are likewise two kinds of
economies. Those with vast accumulations of assets, including sovereign
wealth funds (currently in excess of $4 trillion) and hard-currency
reserves ($5.5 trillion for emerging markets alone), are the ones with
loaded guns. The economies with huge public debts, by contrast, are the
ones that have to dig. The question is, just how will they dig their way
The U.S. needs to do exactly what it would if it were a severely indebted company: sell off assets to balance its books.
There are three different arguments against such asset sales. The first
concerns national security. When Dubai Ports World bought the shipping
company P&O in 2006—which would have given it control of facilities
in a number of U.S. ports—the deal was killed in Congress in a fit of
post-9/11 paranoia. The second argument is usually made by unions:
private or foreign owners will be tougher on American workers than good
old Uncle Sam. Finally, there’s the chauvinism that surfaced back in the
1980s when the Japanese were snapping up properties like Pebble Beach.
How could the United States let its national treasures—the family
silver—fall into the hands of inscrutable Asian rivals?
Such arguments were never very strong. Now, in the midst of the biggest
crisis of American public finance since the Civil War, they simply
At the end of the American Revolution, sixty thousand Americans loyal to
the British cause fled the United States and became refugees throughout
the British Empire. This groundbreaking book offers the first global
history of the loyalist exodus to Canada, the Caribbean, Sierra Leone,
India, and beyond. Following extraordinary journeys like the one of
Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother from Georgia, who led her growing
family to Britain, Jamaica, and Canada, questing for a home; black
loyalists such as David George, who escaped from slavery in Virginia and
went on to found Baptist congregations in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone;
and Mohawk Indian leader Joseph Brant, who tried to find autonomy for
his people in Ontario, Liberty’s Exiles challenges conventional
understandings about the founding of the United States and the shaping
of the postrevolutionary world. Based on original research on four
continents, this book is at once an intimate narrative history and a
provocative new analysis—a story about the past that helps us think
about migration, tolerance, and liberty in the world today.
“The statesman can only wait and listen until he
hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump
up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all.” Thus Otto von Bismarck,
the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped
Europe’s balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.Last week, for the second time in his presidency,
Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic
opportunity … and missed it completely.In Bismarck’s case it was not so much God’s coattails he caught
as the revolutionary wave of mid-19th-century German nationalism. And
he did more than catch it; he managed to surf it in a direction of his
own choosing. The wave Obama just missed—again—is the revolutionary wave
of Middle Eastern democracy. It has surged through the region twice
since he was elected: once in Iran in the summer of 2009, the second
time right across North Africa, from Tunisia all the way down the Red
Sea to Yemen. But the swell has been biggest in Egypt, the Middle East’s
most populous country.In each case, the president faced stark
alternatives. He could try to catch the wave, Bismarck style, by lending
his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a
direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and
let the forces of reaction prevail. In the case of Iran, he did
nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the
demonstrations. This time around, in Egypt, it was worse. He did
both—some days exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave,
other days drawing back and recommending an “orderly transition.”The result has been a foreign-policy debacle. The
president has alienated everybody: not only Mubarak’s cronies in the
military, but also the youthful crowds in the streets of Cairo. Whoever
ultimately wins, Obama loses. And the alienation doesn’t end there.
America’s two closest friends in the region—Israel and Saudi Arabia—are
both disgusted. The Saudis, who dread all manifestations of revolution,
are appalled at Washington’s failure to resolutely prop up Mubarak. The
Israelis, meanwhile, are dismayed by the administration’s apparent
cluelessness.Last week, while other commentators ran around
Cairo’s Tahrir Square, hyperventilating about what they saw as an Arab
1989, I flew to Tel Aviv for the annual Herzliya security conference.
The consensus among the assembled experts on the Middle East? A colossal
failure of American foreign policy.This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was
the predictable consequence of the Obama administration’s lack of any
kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few
veterans of U.S. foreign policy making have long worried. The president
himself is not wholly to blame. Although cosmopolitan by both birth and
upbringing, Obama was an unusually parochial politician prior to his
election, judging by his scant public pronouncements on foreign-policy
issues.Yet no president can be
expected to be omniscient. That is what advisers are for. The real
responsibility for the current strategic vacuum lies not with Obama
himself, but with the National Security Council, and in particular with
the man who ran it until last October: retired Gen. James L. Jones. I
suspected at the time of his appointment that General Jones was a poor
choice. A big, bluff Marine, he once astonished me by recommending that
Turkish troops might lend the United States support in Iraq. He seemed
mildly surprised when I suggested the Iraqis might resent such a
reminder of centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule.The best national-security advisers have combined
deep knowledge of international relations with an ability to play the
Machiavellian Beltway game, which means competing for the president’s
ear against the other would-be players in the policymaking process: not
only the defense secretary but also the secretary of state and the head
of the Central Intelligence Agency. No one has ever done this better
than Henry Kissinger. But the crucial thing about Kissinger as
national-security adviser was not the speed with which he learned the
dark arts of interdepartmental turf warfare. It was the skill with which
he, in partnership with Richard Nixon, forged a grand strategy for the
United States at a time of alarming geopolitical instability.The essence of that strategy was, first, to
prioritize (for example, détente with the Soviets before human-rights
issues within the U.S.S.R.) and then to exert pressure by deliberately
linking key issues. In their hardest task—salvaging peace with honor in
Indochina by preserving the independence of South Vietnam—Nixon and
Kissinger ultimately could not succeed. But in the Middle East they were
able to eject the Soviets from a position of influence and turn Egypt
from a threat into a malleable ally. And their overtures to China
exploited the divisions within the Communist bloc, helping to set
Beijing on an epoch-making new course of economic openness.The contrast between the foreign policy of the
Nixon-Ford years and that of President Jimmy Carter is a stark reminder
of how easily foreign policy can founder when there is a failure of
strategic thinking. The Iranian Revolution of 1979, which took the
Carter administration wholly by surprise, was a catastrophe far greater
than the loss of South Vietnam.Remind you of anything? “This is what happens when you get caught by surprise,” an anonymous American official told The New York Times
last week. “We’ve had endless strategy sessions for the past two years
on Mideast peace, on containing Iran. And how many of them factored in
the possibility that Egypt moves from stability to turmoil? None.”I can think of no more damning indictment of the
administration’s strategic thinking than this: it never once considered a
scenario in which Mubarak faced a popular revolt. Yet the very essence
of rigorous strategic thinking is to devise such a scenario and to think
through the best responses to them, preferably two or three moves ahead
of actual or potential adversaries. It is only by doing these
things—ranking priorities and gaming scenarios—that a coherent foreign
policy can be made. The Israelis have been hard at work doing this. All
the president and his NSC team seem to have done is to draft
touchy-feely speeches like the one he delivered in Cairo early in his
presidency.These were his words back in June 2009:America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.
Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice
and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.Those lines will come back to haunt Obama if, as
cannot be ruled out, the ultimate beneficiary of his bungling in Egypt
is the Muslim Brotherhood, which remains by far the best organized
opposition force in the country—and wholly committed to the restoration
of the caliphate and the strict application of Sharia. Would such an
outcome advance “tolerance and the dignity of all human beings” in
Egypt? Somehow, I don’t think so.Grand strategy is all about the necessity of
choice. Today, it means choosing between a daunting list of objectives:
to resist the spread of radical Islam, to limit Iran’s ambition to
become dominant in the Middle East, to contain the rise of China as an
economic rival, to guard against a Russian “reconquista” of Eastern
Europe—and so on. The defining characteristic of Obama’s foreign policy
has been not just a failure to prioritize, but also a failure to
recognize the need to do so. A succession of speeches saying, in
essence, “I am not George W. Bush” is no substitute for a strategy.Bismarck knew how to choose. He understood that
riding the nationalist wave would enable Prussia to become the dominant
force in Germany, but that thereafter the No. 1 objective must be to
keep France and Russia from uniting against his new Reich. When asked
for his opinion about colonizing Africa, Bismarck famously replied: “My
map of Africa lies in Europe. Here lies Russia and here lies France, and
we are in the middle. That is my map of Africa.”Tragically, no one knows where Barack Obama’s map
of the Middle East is. At best, it is in the heartland states of
America, where the fate of his presidency will be decided next year,
just as Jimmy Carter’s was back in 1980.At worst, he has no map at all.
What is it about those robes? They are only flimsy bits of wools,
enlivened in a few cases by some very European lace at the collar. Yet
the moment our Supreme Court justices put them on, a segment of the
concerned public imagines that they have become priests consecrated to
the sacred order of the Constitution.
Recently, Justice Antonin Scalia has been criticized for meeting with a
group of (gulp) conservative members of Congress and accused of participating in an event
organized by the conservative billionaire Charles Koch. Justice
Clarence Thomas has been excoriated because his wife, Virginia, last
year took a leading role in organizing Liberty Central, a Tea Party
offshoot that received anonymous, First Amendment-protected donations
(she has since stepped down). He also belatedly amended 13 years’ worth
of disclosure reports to include details of his wife’s employment.
Justices are required to disclose their income sources and those of
their spouses. But the core of the criticisms against Justices Thomas
and Scalia has nothing to do with judicial ethics. The attack is driven
by the imagined ideal of the cloistered monk-justice, innocent of
worldly vanities, free of political connections and guided only by the
gem-like flame of inward conscience.
It was not ever thus. John Marshall, undoubtedly the greatest chief
justice ever, spent his first month on the court as the secretary of
state of the United States. That’s right, the chief justice and the
secretary of state were the same person — an arrangement permitted by
the Constitution, which only prohibits members of Congress from holding
other offices. Marshall’s most famous decision — Marbury v. Madison,
which established the principle of judicial review — arose from
Marshall’s own failure as secretary of state to deliver the obscure
William Marbury his commission as justice of the peace in the waning
hours of the Adams administration. No one cared.
The political activities of the justices increased over time. Charles
Evans Hughes, who would later become another great chief justice,
resigned from his first stint as associate justice on June 10, 1916, to
run for the presidency on the Republican ticket. Although this
represented a separation from his judicial role, the Republican
convention had begun at the Chicago Coliseum on June 7; Hughes did not
resign until the nomination was in the bag.
In 1948, Americans for Democratic Action tried to draft Justice William
O. Douglas as a Democratic presidential candidate. In their political
literature, they used excerpts from his Supreme Court opinions, which
(his colleagues noted privately) sounded suspiciously like stump
speeches. (In the end, he decided against a run.)
Equally important, in the pre-monastic age, justices often took on
politically charged government responsibilities when the world needed
them. Their experiences in public service not only helped the country,
but informed their subsequent jurisprudence.
Justice Robert Jackson, a valued player in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s
regular poker game (and a hero to many court observers today), took a
year away from the court to serve as the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, a
presidential appointment. Later, when the Supreme Court had to decide
whether German detainees convicted by United States war crimes tribunals
were entitled to habeas corpus rights, Jackson did not recuse himself.
Instead, he wrote the opinion in Johnson v. Eisentrager, the case that formed the precedent for the extension of habeas rights to the detainees at Guantánamo Bay.
Justice Owen Roberts was chosen by Roosevelt to head the commission
investigating the attack on Pearl Harbor. What he learned made him one
of only three justices to defy Roosevelt and dissent from the court’s shameful decision to uphold the wartime internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans who had been convicted of no crime at all.
The 1970s saw the beginning of a retreat by the justices from public
engagement with national affairs. Some of this was defensive. In 1969,
Justice Abe Fortas, one of Lyndon Johnson’s closest advisers on Vietnam
even while on the court, had to resign after revelations that he had
been on retainer to a financier under investigation for securities
violations. The next year, Gerald Ford, then the House minority leader,
sought unsuccessfully to impeach Douglas for taking money from a
Yet, probably the greater reason for the justices’ growing
circumspection by the early 1970s was that the Supreme Court was taking
its most active role ever in running the nation’s affairs: when the
court ruled against Richard Nixon in the Watergate tapes case, it
effectively forced a president from office. Empowered to break a
president (making one had to wait until Bush v. Gore in 2000), the
justices sought to deflect attention from the obvious fact that they
The disengagement from public life that followed has had real costs.
Isolated justices make isolated decisions. It is difficult to imagine
justices who drank regularly with presidents deciding that a lawsuit
against a sitting executive could go forward while he was in office, or
imagining that the suit would not take up much of the president’s time.
Yet that is precisely what the court did by a 9-to-0 vote in the 1997
case of Clinton v. Jones.
The court’s mistaken practical judgment opened the door to President
Bill Clinton’s testimony about Monica Lewinsky and the resulting
impeachment that preoccupied the government for more than two years as
Osama bin Laden laid his plans.
Today, even the justices’ minimal extrajudicial activities come in for
public condemnation — some of it suspiciously partisan. Does anyone
seriously think Justice Thomas would become more constitutionally
conservative (if that were somehow logically possible) as a result of
his wife’s political activism? It is true that Justice Thomas voted to
protect the anonymity of some corporate contributions in the Citizens United
case. But this vote reflected his long-established principles in favor
of corporate speech. The personal connection was nowhere near close
enough to demand recusal, any more than a justice who values her privacy
should be expected to recuse herself from a Fourth Amendment decision.
After all, Martin Ginsburg, a model of ethical rectitude until his death last year,
was for many years a partner in an important corporate law firm. But
surely no one believes that his career made his wife, Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, more positively inclined toward corporate interests on the
court than she would already be as a member in good standing of
America’s class of legal elites.
Justice Antonin Scalia, for his part, naturally spends time
with like-minded conservatives including Representative Michele
Bachmann and Charles Koch. But when the brilliant, garrulous Justice
Scalia hobnobs with fellow archconservatives, he is not being influenced
any more than is the brilliant, garrulous Justice Stephen Breyer when
he consorts with his numerous friends and former colleagues in the
liberal bastion of Cambridge, Mass.
A FEW years ago, many insisted that Justice Scalia should not sit in
judgment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s claims to enjoy executive
privilege, noting that the two had been on the same duck-hunting trip.
Justice Scalia memorably explained
that the two men had never shared the same blind. He could as easily
have pointed out that before President Harry Truman nationalized the
steel mills, he asked Chief Justice Fred Vinson, a poker buddy and close
friend, if the court would find the action constitutional. (Vinson
incorrectly said yes.)
The upshot is that the justices’ few and meager contacts with the real
world do little harm and perhaps occasionally some good. Justice Anthony
Kennedy makes an annual trip to Salzburg, Austria, to discuss ideas
with European and other global judges and intellectuals. This contact is
often invoked to explain why Justice Kennedy occasionally cites foreign
law (a taboo for Justice Scalia) and why his jurisprudence has been
relatively liberal on such matters as gay rights and Guantánamo.
It is absurd for conservatives to criticize the cosmopolitan forums
where judges from around the world compare notes. And it is absurd for
liberals to criticize the conservative justices for associating with
people who share or reinforce their views. The justices are human — and
the more we let them be human, the better job they will do. Let the
unthinkable be said! If the medieval vestments are making people think
the justices should be monks, then maybe, just maybe, we should to do
away with those robes.
Surveying three centuries of economic history, a Harvard professor argues for a leaner global system that puts national democracies front and center.From the mercantile monopolies of seventeenth-century empires to the modern-day authority of the WTO, IMF, and World Bank, the nations of the world have struggled to effectively harness globalization's promise. The economic narratives that underpinned these eras—the gold standard, the Bretton Woods regime, the "Washington Consensus"—brought great success and great failure. In this eloquent challenge to the reigning wisdom on globalization, Dani Rodrik offers a new narrative, one that embraces an ineluctable tension: we cannot simultaneously pursue democracy, national self-determination, and economic globalization. When the social arrangements of democracies inevitably clash with the international demands of globalization, national priorities should take precedence. Combining history with insight, humor with good-natured critique, Rodrik's case for a customizable globalization supported by a light frame of international rules shows the way to a balanced prosperity as we confront today's global challenges in trade, finance, and labor markets.
In the era of Kennedy and Khrushchev, power was expressed in terms of
nuclear missiles, industrial capacity, numbers of men under arms, and
tanks lined up ready to cross the plains of Eastern Europe. By 2010,
none of these factors confer power in the same way: industrial capacity
seems an almost Victorian virtue, and cyber threats are wielded by
non-state actors. Politics changed, and the nature of power—defined as
the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes you want—had changed
dramatically. Power is not static; its story is of shifts and
innovations, technologies and relationships.Joseph Nye is a
long-time analyst of power and a hands-on practitioner in government.
Many of his ideas have been at the heart of recent debates over the role
America should play in the world: his concept of "soft power" has been
adopted by leaders from Britain to China; "smart power” has been adopted
as the bumper-sticker for the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.
This book is the summation of his work, as relevant to general readers
as to foreign policy specialists. It is a vivid narrative that delves
behind the elusive faces of power to discover its enduring nature in the
This article evaluates the role of United Nations special rapporteurs through a systematic study of the perspectives of mandate-holders. Qualitative interviews with current and former rapporteurs and their assistants reveal that three central tensions inherent in the rapporteur’s task give the rapporteur room for individual experimentation. First, the tension between UN affiliation and independent status allows the rapporteur to determine his/her orientation toward the UN. Secondly, the tension between competing obligations to treat sovereign states as partners and as adversaries forces the rapporteur to develop innovative strategies to address national sovereignty. Thirdly, the tension between the universal scope of thematic mandates and the impossibility of realising that scope enables the rapporteur to travel between specific contexts and international norms. The unparalleled autonomy afforded by the position enables rapporteurs to define rights in real time, responding to situations as they unfold rather than after the fact. For that reason, any reform of the special procedures system should preserve the role’s unique features. Rather than expend political will on ambitious structural changes, reform advocates should focus on increasing funding, resources, and pressure on states to cooperate.
Joanna Naples-Mitchell is a former Undergraduate Associate (2009-2010).Download PDF
Lost in Transition tells the story of the “lost generation” that came of age in Japan's deep economic recession in the 1990s. The book argues that Japan is in the midst of profound changes that have had an especially strong impact on the young generation. The country's renowned “permanent employment system” has unraveled for young workers, only to be replaced by temporary and insecure forms of employment. The much-admired system of moving young people smoothly from school to work has frayed. The book argues that these changes in the very fabric of Japanese postwar institutions have loosened young people's attachment to school as the launching pad into the world of work and loosened their attachment to the workplace as a source of identity and security. The implications for the future of Japanese society—and the fault lines within it—loom large.
This study identifies how country differences on a key cultural dimension—egalitarianism— influence international investment flows. A society’s cultural orientation toward egalitarianism is manifested by intolerance for abuses of market and political power and a desire for protecting less powerful actors. We show egalitarianism to be based on exogenous factors including social fractionalization, dominant religion circa 1900, and war experience from the 19th century. We find a robust influence of egalitarianism distance on cross-national flows of bond and equity issuances, syndicated loans, and mergers and acquisitions. An informal cultural institution largely determined a century or more ago, egalitarianism exercises its effect on international investment via an associated set of consistent contemporary policy choices. But even after controlling for these associated policy choices, egalitarianism continues to exercise a direct effect on cross-border investment flows, likely through its direct influence on managers’ daily business conduct.
Scholars in science and technology studies (STS) have recently been called upon to advise governments on the design of procedures for public engagement. Any such instrumental function should be carried out consistently with STS’s interpretive and normative obligations as a social science discipline. This article illustrates how such threefold integration can be achieved by reviewing current US participatory politics against a seventy-year backdrop of tacit constitutional developments in governing science and technology. Two broad cycles of constitutional adjustment are discerned: the first enlarging the scope of state action as well as public participation, with liberalized rules of access and sympathetic judicial review; the second cutting back on the role of the state, fostering the rise of an academic-industrial complex for technology transfer, and privatizing value debates through increasing delegation to professional ethicists. New rules for public engagement in the United Sates should take account of these historical developments and seek to counteract some of the anti-democratic tendencies observable in recent decades.