Line in the Sand details the dramatic transformation of the western US-Mexico border from its creation at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 to the emergence of the modern boundary line in the first decades of the twentieth century. In this sweeping narrative, Rachel St. John explores how this boundary changed from a mere line on a map to a clearly marked and heavily regulated divide between the United States and Mexico. Focusing on the desert border to the west of the Rio Grande, this book explains the origins of the modern border and places the line at the center of a transnational history of expanding capitalism and state power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Moving across local, regional, and national scales, St. John shows how government officials, Native American raiders, ranchers, railroad builders, miners, investors, immigrants, and smugglers contributed to the rise of state power on the border and developed strategies to navigate the increasingly regulated landscape. Over the border's history, the US and Mexican states gradually developed an expanding array of official laws, ad hoc arrangements, government agents, and physical barriers that did not close the line, but made it a flexible barrier that restricted the movement of some people, goods, and animals without impeding others. By the 1930s, their efforts had created the foundations of the modern border control apparatus.
Drawing on extensive research in US and Mexican archives, Line in the Sand weaves together a transnational history of how an undistinguished strip of land became the significant and symbolic space of state power and national definition that we know today.
In recent decades Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) emerged into an en vogue investment philosophy. Originating from religious and moral considerations, SRI evolved in the wake of socio-political deficiencies and corporate social conduct. In the global rise of financial social conscientiousness, differing national legislations and regulatory traditions have led to various SRI practices, which are harmonized by the United Nations (UN). Building on the historic advancement of Financial Social Responsibility in the wake of socio-ethical deficiencies, this paper highlights the future potential of SRI in the aftermath of the 2008/09 World Financial Crisis as a means to avert economic market downfalls. During the current financial market reform, additional micro- and macro-research on financial social conduct could foster the idea of Financial Social Responsibility and aid a successful implementation of SRI.
Julia Puaschunder is a faculty associate at the Center for the Environment at Harvard University. Download PDF
Latin America experienced an unprecedented wave of left-leaning governments between 1998 and 2010. This volume examines the causes of this leftward turn and the consequences it carries for the region in the twenty-first century.
The Resurgence of the Latin American Left asks three central questions: Why have left-wing parties and candidates flourished in Latin America? How have these leftist parties governed, particularly in terms of social and economic policy? What effects has the rise of the Left had on democracy and development in the region? The book addresses these questions through two sections. The first looks at several major themes regarding the contemporary Latin American Left, including whether Latin American public opinion actually shifted leftward in the 2000s, why the Left won in some countries but not in others, and how the left turn has affected market economies, social welfare, popular participation in politics, and citizenship rights. The second section examines social and economic policy and regime trajectories in eight cases: those of leftist governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as that of a historically populist party that governed on the right in Peru.
Featuring a new typology of Left parties in Latin America, an original framework for identifying and categorizing variation among these governments, and contributions from prominent and influential scholars of Latin American politics, this historical-institutional approach to understanding the region's left turn—and variation within it—is the most comprehensive explanation to date on the topic.
Over the past quarter century, researchers have successfully explored
the inner workings of the physical and biological sciences using a
variety of social and historical lenses. Inspired by these advances, the
contributors to Social Knowledge in the Making turn their
attention to the social sciences, broadly construed. The result is the
first comprehensive effort to study and understand the day-to-day
activities involved in the creation of social-scientific and related
forms of knowledge about the social world.
The essays collected here tackle a range of previously unexplored
questions about the practices involved in the production, assessment,
and use of diverse forms of social knowledge. A stellar cast of
multidisciplinary scholars addresses topics such as the changing
practices of historical research, anthropological data collection,
library usage, peer review, and institutional review boards. Turning to
the world beyond the academy, other essays focus on global banks, survey
research organizations, and national security and economic policy
makers. Social Knowledge in the Making is a landmark volume for a
new field of inquiry, and the bold new research agenda it proposes will
be welcomed in the social science, the humanities, and a broad range of
This study assesses the relationship between political partisanship and attitudes and behavior with respect to the Swine Flu crisis of 2009 in general, and the US mass vaccination program in particular. I argue that even seemingly non-partisan political issues like public health are increasingly characterized by partisan polarization in public attitudes, and that such polarization is in part attributable, at least in part, to the breakdown of the information commons that characterized the American mass media from roughly the 1950s until the early 1990s. In its place has arisen an increasingly fragmented and niche-oriented media marketplace in which individuals are better able to limit their information exposure to attitudes and opinions that reinforce, rather than challenge, their preexisting beliefs. I test my argument against a variety of data sources, including opinion surveys and state level Swine Flu vaccination rate data.
Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP11-010, January 2011. Download PDF
Barack Obama became US president, one of his top foreign policy
priorities was to improve relations with China. Yet on the eve of
President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington, US-China relations are
worse, rather than better.
Administration officials feel their efforts to reach out to China have been rebuffed.
Ironically, in 2007, President Hu Jintao had told the 17th
Congress of the Communist Party that China needed to invest more in its
soft, or attractive, power.
From the point of view of a country that was making enormous strides in economic and military power, this was a smart strategy.
By accompanying the rise of its hard economic and military
power with efforts to make itself more attractive, China aimed to reduce
the fear and tendencies to balance Chinese power that might otherwise
grow among its neighbours.
But China's performance has been just the opposite, and China has had a bad year and a half in foreign policy.
For years, China had followed the advice of Deng Xiaoping to keep a low profile.
However, with its successful economic recovery from the
recession, China passed Japan as the world's second largest economy, and
America's slow recovery led many Chinese to mistakenly conclude that
the United States was in decline.
Given such beliefs, and with rising nationalism in China as it
prepares for the transition of power to the fifth generation of leaders
in 2012, many in China pressed for a more assertive foreign policy.
In 2009, China was justly proud of its success in managing to
emerge from the world recession with a high 10% rate of economic
But many Chinese believed that this represented a shift in
the world balance of power, and that China should be less deferential to
other countries, including the US.
Chinese scholars began writing about the decline of the US. One dated the year 2000 as the peak of American power.
"People are now looking down on the West, from leadership
circles, to academia, to everyday folks," said Professor Kang Xiaoguang
of Renmin University.
This Chinese view is seriously
mistaken and China is unlikely to equal American economic, military or
soft power for decades to come.
Nonetheless, this over-confidence in power assessment
(combined with insecurity in domestic affairs) led to more assertive
Chinese foreign policy behaviour in the last two years.
China miscalculated by deviating from the smart strategy of a
rising power and violating the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping who advised that
China should proceed cautiously and "skilfully keep a low profile".
But perceptions matter, even when they are wrong. China's new attitudes alienated the Obama administration.
China stage-managed President Obama's trip to Beijing in
November 2009 in a heavy-handed way; it over-reacted to Obama's meeting
with the Dalai Lama, and the administration's long-expected and
relatively modest arms sales to Taiwan.
When asked why they reacted so strongly to things they had
accepted in the past, some Chinese responded, "because we were weaker
Obama administration officials began to believe that efforts
at co-operation or conciliation would be interpreted by the Chinese as
proof that the US was in decline.
Alienation and irritation
China's new assertiveness affected its relations with other countries as well.
Its policies in the South China Sea created fear among the
Asean nations; and its over-reaction to Japan's actions after a ship
collision near the Senkaku Islands put an end to the Democratic Party of
Japan's hopes for a closer relationship with China. Instead, the Kan
administration reaffirmed the American alliance.
Beijing alienated South Korea by failing to criticise North
Korea's shelling of a South Korean island; irritated India over border
and passport issues; and embarrassed itself in Europe and elsewhere by
over-reacting to the Nobel Peace Prize granted to the jailed dissident
How will these issues play out in the coming year?
It is likely that China's leaders will draw back somewhat from the overly assertive posture that has proven so costly.
President Hu Jintao's stated desire to co-operate on
terrorism, non-proliferation and clean energy will help to lead to a
reduction of tensions, but powerful domestic interest groups in the
export industries and in the People's Liberation Army will limit
economic or naval co-operation.
And most important, given the nationalism that one sees on
the blogosphere in China, it will be difficult for Chinese top leaders
to change their policies too dramatically.
Mr Hu's state visit will help improve matters, but the
relationship will remain difficult as long as the Chinese suffer from
hubris based on a mistaken belief in American decline.
We exploit variation in U.S. gubernatorial term limits across states and time to empirically estimate two separate effects of elections on government performance. Holding tenure in office constant, differences in performance by reelection- eligible and term-limited incumbents identify an accountability effect: reelection-eligible governors have greater incentives to exert costly effort on behalf of voters. Holding term-limit status constant, differences in performance by incumbents in different terms identify a competence effect: later-term incumbents are more likely to be competent both because they have survived reelection and because they have experience in office. We show that economic growth is higher and taxes, spending, and borrowing costs are lower under reelection-eligible incumbents than under term-limited incumbents (accountability), and under reelected incumbents than under first-term incumbents (competence), all else equal. In addition to improving our understanding of the role of elections in representative democracy, these findings resolve an empirical puzzle about the disappearance of the effect of term limits on gubernatorial performance over time.
Is the Greek crisis an isolated case or the first of a series of future failing developed states? The Greek financial crisis is not on the front page of the Financial Times anymore, but it is far from over. The financial crisis did not manifest itself in Greece alone. Ireland has also sought an equally large EU-IMF rescue plan. Portugal and Spain have been under the microscope of the media and credit rating institutions. Such other instances in the Eurozone’s periphery have repercussions for the currency as a whole as well as for the EU (Straubhaar, 2010). Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are members of the Eurozone area, which means that they share the same currency with economic giants such as Germany and France.
Today's wide economic gap between the postindustrial countries of the West and the poorer countries of the third world is not new. Fifty years ago, the world economic order - two hundred years in the making - was already characterized by a vast difference in per capita income between rich and poor countries and by the fact that poor countries exported commodities (agricultural or mineral products) while rich countries exported manufactured products. In Trade and Poverty, leading economic historian Jeffrey G. Williamson traces the great divergence between the third world and the West to this nexus of trade, commodity specialization, and poverty.
Analyzing the role of specialization, de-industrialization, and commodity price volatility with econometrics and case studies of India, Ottoman Turkey, and Mexico, Williamson demonstrates why the close correlation between trade and poverty emerged. Globalization and the great divergence were causally related, and thus the rise of globalization over the past two centuries helps account for the income gap between rich and poor countries today.
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
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
Q. Has the term “smart power” been corrupted over time?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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
“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
“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
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
“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