U.S. Foreign Policy: February 2008 Archives
Dreamland, a 2005 documentary about the war in
Iraqis have been arrested and locked up without charge or trial. They have been beaten, tortured, raped, and killed by their ostensible protectors--U.S. soldiers and contractors--very few of whom have faced serious consequences for their actions.
What few procedural guarantees exist for noncitizens in the
I recently read two remarkable books, and I’d like to talk
about them both, in separate posts. The
first is What is the What: The Autobiography
of Valentino Achak Deng, the story of one of
Each of these books revived for me an experience I used to have commonly as a child, but much less frequently in adulthood. I would pick up a book and not be able to focus on anything else until I had finished it. I would read on the bus to school, under my desk [clarifying: the book, not me] during class, and often during lunch break. Late at night I would sneak to my bedroom doorway to read by the light in the hall, which was ostensibly left on to comfort my siblings and I from nighttime terrors. On Saturdays, I would shut myself in the bathroom for hours to read and avoid my chores. On Sundays, I resented the three hours that church took away from my books. As an adult, I read primarily nonfiction, and much more slowly given the multiplying demands on my time, and I thought maybe I had lost that childhood compulsion completely. But with each of these books, the hunger to continue the story continued until I had read both of them in the same week. This I find a little strange, considering that either one could be the most depressing book I have ever read.
Francis Fukuyama recently reviewed Samantha Power's new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. From the review:
From the review:
In the wake of the
Iraqdebacle, the idea that strong countries like the should use their power to defend human rights or promote democracy around the world has become widely discredited. From an overmilitarized foreign policy, we are in danger of going to the opposite extreme, forgetting the lessons of the 1990s that hard power is sometimes needed to resolve political conflicts, and that we do not yet have an adequate set of international institutions to deploy it legitimately and effectively. United States
I take exception to one of the premises above. The
One lesson of the 1990s is that sovereign nations cannot be expected to act on their own to further the interests of noncitizens at some unquantifiable risk to their own interests. They simply won't do it absent a more formal institutional structure for using multilateral military force than now exists. Any political leadership that does make significant sacrifices for noncitizens at the expense of citizens will soon find itself out of a job if that country's democratic processes are functioning well, and rightly so, based on the existing parameters of sovereign government and international politics.