Friday, November 16, 2007

A Portrait of Guantánamo

Earlier this week, David Bowker and David Kaye published an excellent summary of what's been happening at Guantánamo over the course of the past six years. You can find their New York Times op-ed here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The New Litmus Test

Rosa Brooks makes the point today in her Los Angeles Times column that, as a political litmus test, torture is the new abortion. You can read her argument here.

Updating a Classic

Yesterday, Maureen Dowd provided the revised version of George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address--one that takes into account the new view of freedom and democracy necessitated by recent developments in Pakistan.

Here's a brief sample:

Original version:

In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Revised version:

In the long run, there is justice without freedom, and there can be human rights once the human rights activists have been thrown in the pokey.

The best line in the revised version:

Police tear-gassing lawyers is really just a foreign version of tort reform, which I support.

You can read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Elected" Leaders

"The List," a regular feature of Foreign Policy's excellent web site, this month includes six world leaders--five presidents and a prime minister--who have, on average, been in office over thirty years. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea is fifth on the list at twenty-eight years in power. Foreign Policy notes that Obiang is Africa's richest ruler with a net worth estimated at $600 million.

Corruption keeps Obiang in power. Oil makes him wealthy.

The Deadliest Year

More American troops have died in Iraq thus far in 2007 than in any previous year of the war. Since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 3,857 Americans have died in Iraq. Of that number, 854 military fatalities have occurred this year.

For details, see the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ideological Exclusion

In the early years of the Cold War, the United States adopted a policy of denying entry visas to foreign nationals on the basis of their political beliefs, a policy now known as ideological exclusion. As the nation recovered from the self-inflicted wounds associated with McCarthyism and the "Red Scare," the policy of ideological exclusion was abandoned.

Now, however, ideological exclusion is back. Indeed, to borrow a phrase, the United States seems to have transformed the war of ideas into a war against ideas. Using authority granted by the USA PATRIOT Act, the Department of Homeland Security has been denying entry to scholars whose views don't match those espoused by the Bush Administration. Tariq Ramadan, a distinguished Swiss scholar who was offered a tenured appointment at Notre Dame in 2004, has been barred from the U.S. Adam Habib, a South African scholar and critic of the war in Iraq, was denied entry when he got off the plane at JFK International Airport in October 2006 en route to meetings at Columbia University and the Social Science Research Council. Ramadan and Habib are not the only foreign nationals who have been affected by the policy of ideological exclusion, but they have become particularly prominent as a consequence of lawsuits filed by professional organizations (the American Academy of Religion on behalf of Ramadan and the American Sociological Association on behalf of Habib) against the Department of Homeland Security.

For more on ideological exclusion, see the information provided by the American Civil Liberties Union here. For information on some of those who have been kept from teaching or addressing professional audiences in the United States since 9/11, see this article in Academe, a publication of the American Association of University Professors.