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  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a tour de force—a compelling and accessible read that presents an eloquent and convincing warning about the future of capitalism.* Capitalism, Piketty argues, suffers from an inherent tendency to generate an explosive spiral of increasing inequality of wealth and income. This inegalitarian dynamic of capitalism is not due to textbook failures of capitalist markets (for example, natural monopolies) or failures of economic institutions (such as the failure to regulate these monopolies), but to the way capitalism fundamentally works. Unless the spiral is controlled by far more progressive taxation than is now the norm, the political fallout could undermine the viability of the successful “social state” (p. 471) in the advanced economies, putting the democratic state itself at risk.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, France
  • Author: Stephen M. Walt
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Special Responsibilities: Global Problems and American Power, Mlada Bukovansky, Ian Clark, Robyn Eckersley, Richard Price, Christian Reus-Smit, and Nicholas Wheeler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 290 pp., $29.99 paper. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright famously described the United States as the “indispensable nation,” entitled to lead because it “sees further than others do.” She was one of the many government officials who believed their country had “special responsibilities,” and was therefore different in some way from other states. Such claims are sometimes made to rally domestic support for some costly international action; at other times they are used to exempt a great power from norms or constraints that weaker states are expected to follow.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: George R. Lucas, Jr.
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Whatever else one might say concerning the legality, morality, and prudence of his actions, Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, is right about the notion of publicity and informed consent, which together constitute the hallmark of democratic public policy. In order to be morally justifiable, any strategy or policy involving the body politic must be one to which it would voluntarily assent when fully informed about it. This, in essence, was Snowden's argument for leaking, in June 2013, the documents that revealed the massive NSA surveillance program: So long as there's broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there's a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision. . . . However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that's a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalization of "governing in the dark," where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Toni Erskine
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: "Coalition of the willing" is a phrase that we hear invoked with frequency-and often urgency-in world politics. Significantly, it is generally accompanied by claims to moral responsibility. (Such appeals recently bolstered calls to establish a coalition of the willing to intervene in Syria.) Yet the label commonly used to connote a temporary, purpose-driven, self-selected collection of states (and sometimes nonstate and intergovernmental actors) sits uneasily alongside these assertions of moral responsibility. This unease might be attributed to its association with a particular case. For some, the label was tainted when the United States led a "coalition of the willing" into Iraq in ostensible response to the threat of weapons of mass destruction: the actual willingness of all of those states initially announced as members is as contested as the legitimacy of the 2003 offensive, the ensuing protracted conflict, and the subsequent occupation. Nevertheless, the idea-and ideal-of a coalition of the willing has persisted beyond the infamy of that one iteration. The problem is, rather, that it is unclear how to speak coherently about assigning moral responsibilities-and apportioning blame-in relation to such ad hoc associations. Can coalitions of the willing be considered bearers of duties? Alternatively, should our calls to action-and our cries of condemnation in the wake of action that is stalled, ineffective, or deemed unjust-be directed toward their constituents? Or should our attention be redirected altogether, toward more formal, enduring and, arguably, legitimate organizations?
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: James W. Nickel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Like people born shortly after World War II, the international human rights movement recently had its sixty-fifth birthday. This could mean that retirement is at hand and that death will come in a few decades. After all, the formulations of human rights that activists, lawyers, and politicians use today mostly derive from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the world in 1948 was very different from our world today: the cold war was about to break out, communism was a strong and optimistic political force in an expansionist phase, and Western Europe was still recovering from the war. The struggle against entrenched racism and sexism had only just begun, decolonization was in its early stages, and Asia was still poor (Japan was under military reconstruction, and Mao's heavy-handed revolution in China was still in the future). Labor unions were strong in the industrialized world, and the movement of women into work outside the home and farm was in its early stages. Farming was less technological and usually on a smaller scale, the environmental movement had not yet flowered, and human-caused climate change was present but unrecognized. Personal computers and social networking were decades away, and Earth's human population was well under three billion.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Human Rights, Human Welfare, International Law, International Political Economy, Sovereignty, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Asia, United Nations
  • Author: Sir Richard Jolly
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: As of 2007 the world economy has been caught in the worst crisis since the 1930s. Yet after two years of only partly successful efforts to mobilize and coordinate global action of financial control and stimulus, ending with the G-20 meeting of March 2009, responsibility for corrective economic initiatives has essentially been left to individual countries, supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU). Moreover, such support has been usually conditional on countries following financial policies of tough austerity. The United States took some actions to stimulate its economy, but by many accounts these were insufficient. Most of Europe has not even attempted stimulus measures and has been in a period of economic stagnation, with falling real incomes among the poorest parts of the population. Although some signs of “recovery” have been heralded in 2013 and 2014, growth has mostly been measured from a lower base. There is little evidence of broad-based economic recovery, let alone improvements in the situation of the poor or even of the middle-income groups.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Asia
  • Author: James Bohman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: In Just Freedom, Philip Pettit undertakes significant revisions of some of his republican commitments. The book has many new and innovative ideas, but most of all this work sharpens Pettit's thinking on the role of democracy in republicanism, and on the often positive interaction between the two. Above all, it seems to me that Pettit's own account of basic freedoms has become broader and wider, and now includes a cosmopolitan conception of what we owe other human beings, whoever they are.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Stephen M. Gardiner
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: The Carnegie Council's work "is rooted in the premise that the incorporation of ethical concerns into discussions of international affairs will yield more effective policies both in the United States and abroad." In honor of the Council's centenary, we have been asked to (briefly) present our views on the ethical and policy issues posed by climate change, focusing on what people need to know that they probably do not already know, and what should be done. In that spirit, this essay argues that climate change poses a profound ethical challenge, that the ongoing evasion of this challenge produces ineffective policy, and, therefore, that a fundamental paradigm shift is needed. More specifically, I maintain that the climate problem is usually misdiagnosed as a traditional tragedy of the commons, that this obscures two deeper and distinctively ethical challenges (what I call the tyranny of the contemporary and the perfect moral storm), and that we should address these challenges head on, by calling for a global constitutional convention focused on future generations.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Russell Sanders
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Among Earth's millions of species, ours is the only one capable of rapidly changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and thereby endangering the whole web of life, from phytoplankton and corals to polar bears and pine trees, from hummingbirds to humans. We are also the only species capable of documenting this disruption, identifying its causes, and acting to counter it. Yet so far we have failed to act on the scale or with the urgency required to avert this unfolding disaster. Why are we failing? What keeps us from caring for the atmosphere as a shared, finite, and fragile envelope for life?
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Christian Enemark
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ethics & International Affairs
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: How should we conceptualize the use of missile-equipped uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs or "drones") in the U.S. "war on terror"? If violence of this kind is to be effectively restrained it is necessary first to establish an understanding of its nature. To this end, it is useful to focus on those theatres of the war where drones are the dominant platform for violence (such as in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia), rather than where they support primarily ground-based efforts (such as in Afghanistan and Iraq). The analysis in this article is presented in two parts. The first part considers whether drone strikes are better conceptualized as acts of war or of law enforcement. If it is difficult to conceptualize drone-based violence as acts of war, then such violence may not be captured by the traditional jus ad bellum (just resort to war) framework within just war theory. And if drone strikes do not constitute a law enforcement practice, the peacetime ethics of criminal justice may not apply either. One possible solution is to develop and apply a legitimization framework of jus ad vim (just resort to force) in which vim is "force short of war," although this depends upon the sustainability of a vim/bellum distinction.
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia