Stephen Holmes

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

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.

Free-Marketeering: Naomi Klein

Stephen Holmes, 8 May 2008

The anti-globalisation movement suffered a dizzying setback on 9/11. Symbolic gatecrashing into the well-guarded meeting places of the super-rich suddenly seemed a much more sinister activity than before. Busting up branches of Starbucks and other Seattle-style antics became anathema in an atmosphere of injured and vindictive patriotism. But Naomi Klein, the combative theorist and publicist of anti-globalisation, was not about to accept such guilt by association.

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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