Stephen Holmes

Stephen Holmes is Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law at NYU.

Radical Mismatch: Cold War Liberalism

Stephen Holmes, 4 April 2024

Samuel Moyn​ didn’t begin his career as a crusading left-wing critic of liberalism. His earliest writings were on 20th-century French intellectual history: erudite studies of Emmanuel Levinas, Pierre Clastres, Claude Lefort, Pierre Vidal-Naquet. But he always had an interest in foreign policy as actually practised and in 1999, while still a graduate student, he interned at...

How the World Works: Alan Greenspan

Stephen Holmes, 22 May 2014

Among​ the once celebrated triumphs of Alan Greenspan’s eighteen and a half years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, three stand out. First, he responded nimbly and forcefully to a series of dangerous crashes (from Black Monday in October 1987 to the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000), injecting liquidity to calm the markets and arguably fending off recession. Second, along with...

‘It is not a function of not trying to take people to Guantánamo,’ the US attorney general, Eric Holder, told a Senate subcommittee on 6 June as he struggled to defend President Obama’s targeted killing programme. His ungainly syntax betrayed his acute embarrassment. He is not the only government spokesman who finds it difficult to answer questions about America’s loosing of drones onto the world. A central thesis of Mark Mazzetti’s book is that the CIA and the Pentagon have opted to hunt and kill suspected enemies in order to avoid extra-legal tactics.

How to characterise the Putin regime, a now shaken and besieged ruling group sometimes said to be the richest in the history of the world? ‘Soft authoritarianism’, ‘hybrid regime’, ‘managed democracy’: the labels reveal less about Russia than about the inability of commentators to loosen the Cold War’s lingering hold on their thinking. Luke Harding was the Guardian correspondent in Russia between 2007 and 2011 who last February was turned back at Domodedovo Airport and told that his presence in the country was no longer welcome.

Salute! ‘Bomb Power’

Stephen Holmes, 8 April 2010

President Ahmadinejad may hope that Bomb Power will quell domestic turmoil, establish Iran’s regional pre-eminence and deter US plotting for regime change; Obama, on the other hand, benefits from it not at all and he certainly isn’t being saluted by America’s superpatriots as the nation’s commander in chief. In fact, the authority to launch a nuclear strike has been of little use to American presidents, starting with Truman in Korea. And in the age of counterinsurgency, America’s strategy of nuclear deterrence has never seemed more like a useless relic.

By the Roots

Jeremy Waldron, 9 February 1995

‘The day will come, and perhaps it is not far off, when John Locke will be universally placed among those writers who have perpetrated the most evil among men.’ If Locke has a...

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