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U.S. Politics & Policy

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This book is a passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not. Arguing that post-9/11 legislation and foreign policy severed the executive branch from the will of the people, Elaine Scarry in Rule of Law, Misrule of Men offers a fierce defense of the people’s role as guarantor of our democracy. She begins with the groundswell of local resistance to the 2001 Patriot Act, when hundreds of towns, cities, and counties passed resolutions refusing compliance with the information-gathering the act demanded, showing that citizens can take action against laws that undermine the rights of citizens and noncitizens alike. Scarry, once described in the New York Times Sunday Magazine as “known for her unflinching investigations of war, torture, and pain,” then turns to the conduct of the Iraqi occupation, arguing that the Bush administration led the country onto treacherous moral terrain, violating the Geneva Conventions and the armed forces’ own most fundamental standards. She warns of the damage done to democracy when military personnel must choose between their own codes of warfare and the illegal orders of their civilian superiors. If our military leaders uphold the rule of law when civilian leaders do not, might we come to prefer them? Finally, reviewing what we know now about the Bush administration’s crimes, Scarry insists that prosecution--whether local, national, or international--is essential to restoring the rule of law, and she shows how a brave town in Vermont has taken up the challenge.Throughout the book, Scarry finds hope in moments where citizens withheld their consent to grievous crimes, finding creative ways to stand by their patriotism.

Beyond Gridlock

The "golden era" of American environmental lawmaking, between 1964 and 1980, saw twenty-two pieces of major environmental legislation (including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act) passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed into law by presidents of both parties. But since then environmental issues have divided the parties and engendered bitter interest-group politics, with most new proposals blocked by legislative gridlock. In this book, Christopher McGrory Klyza and David Sousa argue that this long-standing legislative stalemate at the national level has forced environmental policymaking onto other pathways, both inside and outside government. Despite the congressional impasse, they write, environmental policymaking today is vibrant and complex—although the results fall short of what is needed in the years ahead.

Klyza and Sousa identify and analyze five alternative policy paths, which they illustrate with case studies: "appropriations politics" in Congress; executive authority, including the rulemaking process; the role of the courts, whose role in environmental policymaking has grown in the era of legislative gridlock; “next-generation” collaborative experiments (which, the authors argue, should be seen as an important approach but not a panacea); and policymaking at the state level. Their comprehensive analysis of the state of environmental policymaking since 1990 shows that, although legislative gridlock is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon, the nation continues to move in the direction favored by environmentalists, largely because of the policy legacies of the 1960s and 1970s that have created an enduring 'green state" rooted in statutes, bureaucratic routines, and public expectations.

Much educational research today is focused on assessing reforms that are intended to create equal opportunity for all students. Many current policies aim at concentrating extra resources on the disadvantaged. The state-of-the-art research in Schools and the Equal Opportunity Problem suggests, however, that even sizeable differential spending on the disadvantaged will not yield an equality of results. In this CESifo volume, leading scholars from the United States and Europe use the tools of economics to assess the outcome of efforts to solve education’s equal opportunity problem in a range of countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Italy.The evidence shows some routes for advancement--testing with high performance standards, for example, and well-designed school choice--but also raises considerable doubts about whether many current school policies are effective in dramatically altering the opportunity structure. The evidence presented also calls into question the idea that causal peer effects are very strong. The contributors examine such topics as the link between education and parental income, the problematic past research on peer effects, tracking, the distribution of educational outcomes, human capital policy aimed at disadvantaged students, and private/public school choice.The research suggests that achieving universal primary and secondary education is both urgently needed and feasible. Will the international community commit the necessary economic, human, and political resources? The challenge, say the editors, is "as inspiring and formidable . . . as any extraterrestrial adventures--and far more likely to enrich and improve life on earth."

The revelations of prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib and more recently at Guantánamo were shocking to most Americans. And those who condemned the treatment of prisoners abroad have focused on U.S. military procedures and abuses of executive powers in the war on terror, or, more specifically, on the now-famous White House legal counsel memos on the acceptable limits of torture. But in The Story of Cruel and Unusual, Colin Dayan argues that anyone who has followed U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment would recognize the prisoners' treatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo as a natural extension of the language of our courts and practices in U.S. prisons. In fact, it was no coincidence that White House legal counsel referred to a series of Supreme Court decisions in the 1980s and 1990s in making its case for torture.Dayan traces the roots of "acceptable" torture to slave codes of the nineteenth century that deeply embedded the dehumanization of the incarcerated in our legal system. Although the Eighth Amendment was interpreted generously during the prisoners' rights movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, this period of judicial concern was an anomaly. Over the last thirty years, Supreme Court decisions have once again dismantled Eighth Amendment protections and rendered such words as "cruel" and "inhuman" meaningless when applied to conditions of confinement and treatment during detention. Prisoners' actual pain and suffering have been explained away in a rhetorical haze--with rationalizations, for example, that measure cruelty not by the pain or suffering inflicted, but by the intent of the person who inflicted it. The Story of Cruel and Unusual is a stunningly original work of legal scholarship, and a searing indictment of the U.S. penal system.

Dilemmas of US Diplomacy and Intelligence Analysis, 1945-1990

The United States continues to proclaim its support for democracy and its opposition to tyranny, but American presidents often have supported dictators who have allied themselves with the United States. This book illustrates the chronic dilemmas inherent in US dealings with dictators under conditions of uncertainty and moral ambiguity.

Dealing with Dictators offers in-depth analysis of six cases: the United States and China, 1945-1948; UN intervention in the Congo, 1960-1965; the overthrow of the Shah of Iran; US relations with the Somoza regime in Nicaragua; the fall of Marcos in the Philippines; and US policy toward Iraq, 1988-1990. The authors' fascinating and revealing accounts shed new light on critical episodes in US foreign policy and provide a basis for understanding the dilemmas that US decision makers confronted. The chapters do not focus on whether US leaders made the "right" or "wrong" decisions, but instead seek to deepen our understanding of how uncertainty permeated the process and whether decision makers and their aides asked the right questions. This approach makes the book invaluable to scholars and students of government and history, and to readers interested in the general subject of how intelligence analysis interacts with policymaking.

BCSIA Studies in International Security

The use of the Web in U.S. political campaigns has developed dramatically over the course of the last several election seasons. In Web Campaigning, Kirsten Foot and Steven Schneider examine the evolution of campaigns' Web practices, based on hundreds of campaign Web sites produced by a range of political actors during the U.S. elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004. Their developmental analyses of how and why campaign organizations create specific online structures illuminates the reciprocal relationship between these production practices and the structures of both the campaign organization and the electoral arena. This practice-based approach and the focus on campaigns as Web producers make the book a significant methodological and theoretical contribution to both science and technology studies and political communication scholarship.Foot and Schneider explore the inherent tension between the desire of campaigns to maintain control over messages and resources and the generally decentralizing dynamic of Web-based communication. They analyze specific strategies by which campaigns mitigate this, examining the ways that the production techniques, coproducing Web content, online-offline convergence, and linking to other Web sites mediate the practices of informing, involving, connecting, and mobilizing supporters. Their conclusions about the past decade's trajectory of Web campaigning point the way to a political theory of technology and a technologically grounded theory of electoral politics.A digital installation available on the web illustrates core concepts discussed in the text of the book with examples drawn from archived campaign Web sites. Users have the opportunity to search these concepts in the context of fully operational campaign sites, recreating the Web experience of users during the election periods covered in the book.

When the Bush administration's faith-based initiative was introduced in 2001 as the next stage of the "war on poverty," it provoked a flurry of protest for violating the church-state divide. Most critics didn't ask whether it could work. God and the Welfare State is the first book to trace the ideas behind George W. Bush's faith-based initiative from their roots in Catholic natural law theory and Dutch Calvinism to an American think tank, the Center for Public Justice. Comparing Bush's plan with the ways the same ideas have played out in Christian Democratic welfare policies in Europe, the author is skeptical that it will be an effective new way to fight poverty. But he takes the animating ideas very seriously, as they go to the heart of the relationship among religion, government, and social welfare. In the end Daly argues that these ideaswhich are now entrenched in federal and state politicsare a truly radical departure from American traditions of governance. Although Bush's initiative roughly overlaps with more conventional conservative efforts to strengthen private power in economic life, it promises an unprecedented shift in the balance of power between secular and religious approaches to social problems and suggests a broader template for "faith-based governance," in which the state would have a much more limited role in social policy.

Are We Making the Grade?

Americans today are increasingly concerned about the state of the environment. Polls show that a remarkable 63 percent would roll back recent tax cuts to finance environmental protection and that fully 95 percent want environmental education included in the public school curriculum. America's Environmental Report Card offers answers to some of our most pressing environmental questions, providing a timely reminder of what we need to accomplish to achieve a sustainable environment. It lays out the scientific facts about water and air pollution, energy, global warming, and the ozone layer in a lively, conversational style, enhanced by illustrations, and charts a course of action for protecting the environment.America's Environmental Report Card focuses on the environmental issues that polls show are most important to Americans today. It looks at water pollution and the safety of the water supply (20 percent of Americans refuse to drink tap water, at least partly because they doubt its safety), the dangers of floods (increased by the clearing of forests for farms and timber), the leaching of garbage buried in landfills, and pesticide runoff in irrigation waters from agriculture. It examines the ways we generate energy and the resulting global warming, air pollution (much of the 2,500 gallons of air we inhale each day contains exhaust fumes, lead, and asbestos), and ozone depletion and its relationship to skin cancer, and offers a detailed account of nuclear energy production and the radioactive waste it generates. Most important, it outlines ways to deal with these problems -- workable and reasonable solutions that individuals, industry, and government can effect without unreasonable hardship, solutions that map the course to a sustainable future.

Alphabet City Magazine 10
Edited by John Knechtel

What is the condition of the suspect in a post-9/11 world? Do perpetual detention, ubiquitous surveillance cameras, and the legal apparatus of the USA Patriot Act target suspects accurately or generate suspicion indiscriminately? Suspect, the latest in a series from Alphabet City and the first in its new format of topical book-length magazines, gathers hard evidence about the fate of the suspect in a culture of suspicion with contributions from writers, artists, and filmmakers.

Their testimony takes a multiplicity of forms and formats. Among them: A 24-page color comic by graphic novelist Joey Dubuc asks the reader to make narrative choices in a web of surveillance, suspicion, and fear. Harper's contributor Mark Kingwell observes that while suspicion tries to isolate the suspect, in fact we are all the suspect. Slavoj Zizek reflects on the new cultural status of the suspect after Abu Ghraib. Philosopher George Bragues argues that even as the United Nations looks for ways to discipline "suspect nations," it simply cannot succeed under current international conditions. Alphabet City editor John Knechtel interviews Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, about the legal and political strategies of the Bush administration. Sylwia Chrostowska describes what happens, in the the 1970 Italian film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, when a corrupt official investigates himself. Screenwriter Timothy Stock and illustrator Warren Heise create a documentary in comic form about Critical Ensemble artist Steve Kurtz, charged under the bioterrorism provisions of the Patriot Act. Novelist Camilla Gibb portrays, in "Things Collapse," the terrifying effects of a "separating sickness" of unknown origin, which perhaps exists only in the fears of the population it strikes. And novelist Diana Fitzgerald Bryden follows her character Rafa Ahmed, a PFLP hijacker from the 1970s, as, many years later, she is to appear at a peace conference. Filmmaker Patricia Rozema, director of Mansfield Park and other films, contributes a 16-page film-in-a-book, "Suspect." Suspect is a non-partisan handbook on the mechanisms and machinations of suspicion for the twenty-first century national security state.

Since September 11, 2001, much has been said about the difficult balancing act between freedom and security, but few have made specific proposals for how to strike that balance. As the scandals over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the "torture memos" written by legal officials in the Bush administration show, without clear rules in place, things can very easily go very wrong.

With this challenge in mind, Philip Heymann and Juliette Kayyem, directors of Harvard's Long-Term Legal Strategy Project for Preserving Security and Democratic Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, take a detailed look at how to handle these competing concerns. Taking into account both the national security viewpoint and the democratic freedoms viewpoint, Heymann and Kayyem consulted experts from across the political spectrum—including Rand Beers, Robert McNamara, and Michael Chertoff (since named Secretary of Homeland Security)—about the thorniest and most profound legal challenges of this new era. Heymann and Kayyem offer specific recommendations for dealing with such questions as whether assassination is ever acceptable, when coercion can be used in interrogation, and when detention is allowable. They emphasize that drawing clear rules to guide government conduct protects the innocent from unreasonable government intrusion and prevents government agents from being made scapegoats later if things go wrong. Their recommendations will be of great interest to legal scholars, legislators, policy professionals, and concerned citizens.

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