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Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing

1 July 2015
... for assassination carried out by drones. And despite having written academic papers backing a powerful and restrictive War Powers Act, he made the legal case for the Obama administration’s right to make war on Libya without bothering to get congressional approval. Koh, who has now returned to teaching human rights ...
11 October 2012
... degree of order was effectively restored to it by intelligent nationalist movements which, once in power, promoted a ‘national Islam’, the better to subject religion to raison d’état and curb its more dangerous and sectarian enthusiasms. During the Cold War, both the Western powers and the Soviet Union had an interest ...

Imperial Graveyard

Samuel Moyn: Richard Holbrooke

6 February 2020
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century 
by George Packer.
Cape, 592 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 1 910702 92 5
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... any genuine achievement than for the ideals he represented – above all the notion that American power could be made indistinguishable from the exercise of American virtue.Holbrooke’s admirers see him as the figure who helped America recover from the Vietnam War and embrace its mission as the ‘indispensable nation’ of the post-Cold War global order. He ...

Looking Away

Stephen Holmes: Questions of Intervention

14 November 2002
A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide 
by Samantha Power.
Basic Books, 640 pp., £21.99, January 2002, 0 465 06150 8
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War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals 
by David Halberstam.
Bloomsbury, 540 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 7475 5946 5
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... of the Republican Party (Brent Scowcroft, James Baker) rather than from the Democrats or the Left? Samantha Power and David Halberstam did not set out to solve this riddle, but they have unintentionally provided an important part of the answer. Power was motivated to study the history of disappointing US responses to ...
2 August 2018
The World as It Is: Inside the Obama White House 
by Ben Rhodes.
Bodley Head, 450 pp., £20, June 2018, 978 1 84792 517 6
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... team can dominate its opponents and its skilful play will take away from theirs. In golf you are powerless to control what your opponents do. You can only do your best and play the ball where it lies. Golfer or basketballer? It is striking that when the calamity arrives that threatens to undo everything he has achieved Obama can’t decide which way to ...


Corey Robin: Careerism and Hannah Arendt

4 January 2007
Why Arendt Matters 
by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl.
Yale, 232 pp., £14.99, October 2006, 0 300 12044 3
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Hannah Arendt: The Jewish Writings 
edited by Jerome Kohn and Ron Feldman.
Schocken, 640 pp., $35, January 2007, 978 0 8052 4238 6
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Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil 
by Hannah Arendt.
Penguin, 336 pp., £10.99, December 2006, 0 14 303988 1
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... of Totalitarianism, published in 1951 and reissued by Schocken in 2004 with an introduction by Samantha Power. Divided into three parts – ‘Anti-Semitism’, ‘Imperialism’ and ‘Totalitarianism’ – the book was composed at two different times and evinces two conflicting impulses. Arendt wrote the first two sections in the early to ...

The World’s Most Important Spectator

David Bromwich: Obama’s World

2 July 2014
... the ‘all of the above’ energy policy, which included, with ecumenical indifference, nuclear power, deep-sea drilling, Arctic drilling, and fracking. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, had been governor of Kansas and a loyal supporter of Obama, but was quite untested as a large-scale administrator before she was handed the ...

Whose sarin?

Seymour M. Hersh

19 December 2013
... every minute of every day since these events happened … on doing everything possible within our power to nail down the facts.’ The administration’s tone had hardened by 27 August, when Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, told reporters – without providing any specific information – that any suggestions that the Syrian government was not ...

After Egypt

Adam Shatz

19 February 2011
... century. The fate of Egypt’s revolution – brought to a pause by the military’s seizure of power on 11 February, after Mubarak’s non-resignation address to his ‘children’ – remains uncertain. Mubarak is gone, but the streets have been mostly cleared of protesters and the army has filled the vacuum: chastened, yet still in ...


David Bromwich: President-Speak

10 April 2008
... is a tricky word: their parents are almost always in it) look forward to careers of power and are subsidised in college by well-funded journals and paid summer internships at prestigious think tanks. The undergraduates I spoke to were interested in political ideas, and I was offering a contrast anyone could have worked up from two easily ...


David Bromwich: Putin to the Rescue

26 September 2013
... attack, and then asked Congress to authorise the use of force under wide discretion: he would be empowered to act in any way he deemed necessary to ‘respond to’, ‘deter’ and ‘degrade’ the military and defensive capabilities of the Syrian government. These are all words without a settled meaning, and they were chosen for that reason. To an amazing ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed

5 February 2015
Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... more inclusive, the boundaries of permissible debate were narrowing. Critiques of concentrated power, imperial or plutocratic, became less common. Indeed, the preoccupation with racial and gender identity has hollowed out political language, the void filled by an apparently apolitical alternative – the neoliberal discourse of antiseptic intervention ...

The Mask It Wears

Pankaj Mishra: The Wrong Human Rights

21 June 2018
The People v. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It 
by Yascha Mounk.
Harvard, 400 pp., £21.95, March 2018, 978 0 674 97682 5
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Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World 
by Samuel Moyn.
Harvard, 277 pp., £21.95, April 2018, 978 0 674 73756 3
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... cast the United States as uniquely virtuous’, but having Trump in the ‘cockpit of American power’ will reveal ‘just how terrifyingly normal a nation we are, with our populist jingoism and hawkish foreign policy’. The bipartisan support for the president’s bombing campaigns shows that little has changed in this respect, however. As Trump ordered ...


Yun Sheng: Husband Shopping in Beijing

11 October 2018
... unattainable for many. In ten or fifteen years’ time, when the one-child generation ascends to power, the leadership of China is likely to reflect the gender balance of my university cohort. Education matters here. The present party leadership has no particular reason at the moment to object to female power. President Xi ...

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