U.S Foreign Relations




Too many catastrophes: The end of empathy?

The fundamental question of whether our capacity for empathy is diminishing remains, and the answers are not clear.

Upon those answers the future of the human rights movement, and indeed international law probating war crimes and crimes against humanity, may ultimately depend.


The Media: Debates on Afghanistan are as if it were in another time, on another planet

30 years ago, perhaps, the United States still had a foreign policy elite which led public opinion on complicated foreign policy issues, about which the average American was ignorant and didn’t have a clue.
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So, in this media environment, where there are few editors and producers capable of finding and using the best expert opinion from the foreign policy elite–people who really know what they are talking about–it is not surprising that so much discussion focuses on interviews or discussions with individuals with no deep foreign policy expertise on Afghanistan.
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The battle was never about whether the U.S. would win the war against the Taliban. It was always about whether the Afghan people would win their struggle for a civilized, and democratic, future. 70,000 Afghan soldiers, over the years, gave up their lives in pursuit of that goal.

But the United States lacked what has been called ” strategic patience”.

Joe Biden was right about one thing. The victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan was due to a failure of government leadership and the lack of a will to fight.

But the failure of government leadership and the lack of a will to fight were, most decisively, not those of Afghanistan, but rather those of the United States.

In one of the great ironies of history, Joe Biden and America, in 2021, have dealt a great body blow to Afghan dreams and aspirations for a civilized and even a democratic future.







Equity or Equality of Opportunity

If race is used as a criterion for selection, in allocating not only opportunities but also results, how long will it be before those from other races not so favored will rise up in rebellion? What assurance do we have that their rebellion will be constrained by the Constitution and the rule of law?

Maybe it is not the pursuit of excellence or meritocracy per se that is responsible for the racial and social inequities thar exist in society, but a combination of historical, economic, cultural and social forces that have produced the complex reality in which we currently live.

Viewed from this broader perspective, Sandel’s analysis appears to,be unduly reductionistic, the product of too much theory and philosophy and insufficient attention to the concrete realities in which people actually live.

Now, George F. Will, a highly respected and insightful conservative columnist for the Washington Post, has written a powerful critique of Sandel’s book and the whole attack on excellence–as an overriding policy goal for society and universities to follow in allocating not only opportunities but also results, i.e., jobs, power, and other social rewards.

Democrats would do well to listen carefully to Will’s arguments.