Boldt Seminar, 2003: Peace, Violence, and Global Perspective
Participants: Ed Langerak, chair, <langerak>, 3494; Bob Entenmann, <entenman>, 3427; Jim Farrell, <farrellj>, 3143; Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb, <nordstrb>, 3137; Anant Rambachan, <rambacha>, 3081; Steve Reece, <reece>, 3378; Ed Santurri, <santurri>, 3084; Kris Thalhammer, <thalhamm>, 3528; Solveig Zempel, <zempel>, 3471.
Seminar e-mail alias: <bs03>.
Feb. 11: (Ed L) Handouts: Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New; “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”; Henry Rosemont,“Whose Democracy? Which Rights?”; David Little, et. al., “Human Rights and the World’s Religions”; Sissila Bok Common Values; Martha Nussbaum, Women and Development: The Capabilities Approach. (Discussion of Bok and Nussbaum will continue next meeting.) Recommended: Michael Ingatieff, “Human Rights: The Midlife Crisis.”
Feb. 13: (Ed L) Handouts: David Little, “The Nature and Basis of Human Rights; Richard Rorty, “Ethics Without Principles”; Bhikhu Parekh, “Non-ethnocentric universalism” (in Human Rights in Global Politics); Recommend: Thomas de Zengotita, “Common Ground.”
Report: The Glendon book gives the history of the debates in the late 40’s regarding the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including: (1)The inclusion of not only the “first generation” political rights (cf. our bill of rights), but also the “second generation” economic rights” (especially dear to the socialist countries), and even the “third generation” cultural rights (to maintain one’s cultural identity, etc.), (2) Whether the notion of individual political rights are a Western ideology, and (3) The extent to which peoples and nations can agree on a list of rights without agreeing on their philosophical or religious foundations. Most of the remaining essays discuss whether whatever “common ground” there might be can be found in basic needs, or universal capabilities, or natural law, or simply in feelings of solidarity, etc.
Feb. 18: (Ed S) John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, Parts I and II.
Feb. 20: (Ed S) Rawls, The Law of Peoples, Parts III and IV.
Report: Here we considered Rawls’ application of his theory of "justice as fairness" to
international relations. Among other things, we discussed whether his affirmation of "decent" hierarchical societies (as opposed to “rogue states”) is compatible with his larger commitments to liberal democratic principles, whether his defense of a "realistic utopia" is adequate to meet the objections of political realism, whether his grounding of "human rights" is philosophically sufficient, whether his refusal to demand radical redistributions of international wealth is consistent with his generally egalitarian principles articulated in earlier work (e.g., the difference principle), whether his interpretation and application of just-war theory is conceptually and normatively adequate, and whether his doctrine of "supreme emergency" (reconstructed from Michael Walzer) throws out the baby with the bath water. Discussion of the pedagogical use of Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” (a mental experiment in which people choose the basic rules of justice without knowing how the rules will affect them personally) revealed that it was used (and Rawls’ named mentioned) by Martin Sheen on the TV show “West Wing.” Much discussion of why President Bush (or, at least, David Letterman) doesn’t use more of our evocative academic jargon.
Feb. 25: (Ed L) Group Rights. Handouts: Will Kymlicka, “Three Forms of Group-Differentiated Citizenship in Canada”; Kok-Chor Tan, Toleration, Diversity, and Global Justice (note that the title page didn’t photocopy very well); Susan Moller Okin, “’Mistesses of Their Own Destiny’: Group Rights, Gender, and Realistic Rights of Exit.” Recommended: Alan Wolf, “Alien Nation.”
Report: The basic distinction is between rights that individuals have by virtue of membership in a group (such as the right of aboriginal peoples to some forms of self-government) and the rights that groups hold against individuals (such as the requirement that women in the group accept various patriarchal restrictions on education, arranged marriages, etc.). Can the former exist without the latter. Can some examples of the latter be accepted by liberal states as long as the individual has the “right of exit”? But is it realistic to think that individuals, especially women in patriarchal societies, have a substantive or genuine (as opposed to a purely formal) right of exit?
Just War, Pacifism, and Realism in Christian Perspective
Feb. 27: (Ed S) Handouts: Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society and An Interpretation of Christian Ethics; Theodore Koontz, “Christian Nonviolence: An Interpretation” (third essay in The Ethics of War and Peace, ed. Terry Nardin).
Mar. 4: (Ed S) James Turner Johnson, Morality and Contemporary Warfare, chaps 1-3. From Terry Nardin’s The Ethics of War and Peace, the articles by on the Jewish tradition.
Mar. 6: (Ed S) James Turner Johnson, Morality and Contemporary Warfare, chaps 4, 6-7; Michael Walzer, “War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition” and Aviezer Ravitzy, “Prohibited Wars in the Jewish Tradition” (from Nardin, ed. The Ethics of War and Peace).
Report: We first considered the implications of Reinhold Niebuhr's "Christian political realism" for the moral evaluation of coercion and violence in the political realm. For Niebuhr, the ethic of Jesus calls for self-sacrificial, nonresistance in response to injustice; this ethic, he insists, tragically must be left behind by morally responsible agents combating injustice in the political realm. Seminar participants disagreed on whether Niebuhrian realism reflected a prudent regard for consequences or an intolerable compromise of moral ideals. We also differed in evaluating his political "realism," which some took as an historically warranted, sober, assessment of the behavior of nations but which others took as a dour, cynical self-fulfilling prophecy that obscured the possibilities of moral achievement. We also considered one form of Christian pacifism advocated by Theodore Koontz, a disciple of John Yoder. Discussion focused on the degree to which absolute pacifism in its Christian expression depends on a doctrine of Providence that links the way of the Cross to the ultimate meaning of history (a doctrine that turns those who advocate careful criteria for justified violence into “functional atheists” who don’t have the faith to leave it up to God to “make history turn out right”). Next we focused on one important contemporary interpretation of just-war theory and its application in selected historical contexts. Along the way we identified and discussed the "just war" conditions for initiating a war (just cause, last resort, reasonable hope of success, proportionality, right intention or just goal, legitimate authority and formal declaration) and the conditions for waging a "just-war" (principally non-combatant immunity and proportionality). We considered the bearing of these principles on such issues as the morality of belligerent intervention in the affairs of another nation, the morality of bombing military targets while anticipating incidental civilian death (sometimes justified by the rule of double effect), and the use of lethal force in modern contexts where the distinction between combatancy and noncombatancy is not easily drawn. Along the way, we attended to the relevance of just-war theory for evaluating historical instances of belligerent engagement (e.g., Bosnia, Rwanda). (Also, the Iraqi war started about this time!) Throughout the discussion seminar participants debated the degree to which just-war theory affords a morally useful framework and the extent to which the theory has been or can be abused by offering ideological legitimations for wars motivated by self-interest. We also noted that high-minded expansions of the notion of “violence”(for example, by liberation theologians), to include structural, economic, and cultural violence, can more readily justify physical violence as a way to minimize over-all violence. Finally, we considered the moral tension between the values of justice and of reconciliation in the debate over war crime tribunals and retribution.
Mar. 11: (Anant R) Tessa Bartholomeusz, In Defense of Dharma: Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka”; Francis Clooney, “Pain But Not Harm: Some Classical Resources toward a Hindu Just War Theory.”
Mar. 13: (Anant R) Shashi Tharoor, Riot: A Love Story.
Mar. 18: (Anant R) Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Islam and the Theology of Power”; Abdulaziz Sachedina, “From Defensive to Offensive Warfare: The Use and Abuse of Jihad in the Muslim World”; Imam A. Rashied Omar, “Islam and Power”; Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Islam and the Question of Violence.”
Mar. 20: (Bruce N) Bassam Tibi, “War and Peace in Islam” and Sohail Hashmi,“Interpreting the Islamic Ethics of War and Peace” (from Nardin, ed. Ethics of War and Peace); James Turner Johnson,“Jihad and Just War” and chapter five of Morality and Contemporary Warfare.
Report: We considered why it is that Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism do not really have a pacifist tradition. (M. Ghandi interpreted the Bhagavad Gita more like a Jain, using the “do no harm” texts to trump all the others.) We compared and contrasted efforts in the above traditions, as well as in Buddhism, to develop something like a “just war” doctrine or, at least, a doctrine that does not reduce to a “holy war” mentality; this discussion distinguished different senses of “jihad.” The latter discussion included debate about whether the text of the Qur’an can be historically contextualized the way that many other sacred texts have been. We talked a lot about Hindu nationalism, as exemplified in the Bharatiya Janata Party that is politically in charge of India these days. This nationalism is both defended and criticized in the novel “Riot,” which we read at the same time as the news came out that archeologists are investigating the site at Adyodhya of the Muslim-Hindu conflict to see whether, in fact, a temple to Ram had preceded the Babri Mosque that rioters tore down in 1992 (and thereby precipitated ongoing riots that have cost thousands of lives). One of the most politically popular parts of the nationalists’ platform is the promise to replace a number of mosques with the Hindu temples that the Mogul, Muslim invaders may (or may not) have torn down in the 16th century.
April 1: (Kris T) Ervin Staub, The Roots of Evil, Parts I and IV and either Part II or one case study from III.
April 3: (Bruce N) Tone Bringa, “Averted Gaze: Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovinam 1992-95”; Alexander Hinton, “The Dark Side of Modernity: Toward an Anthopology of Genocide.”
April 8: (Bruce N) Amy Wilentz, Martyr’s Crossing.
Report: Staub’s book on the roots of evil, which provides a explanatory framework for the causes of genocide, raised a number of important issues: (1) The difference between explaining some of the causes of an evil, such as terrorism, and excusing or justifying it, a distinction lost in many debates about “why they hate us” (as well as debates about whether anyone should debate that). (2) Should a social scientist use the label “evil,” which seems to have a religious or metaphysical connotation and which, in any case, involves a moral judgement. It turns out that Staub doesn’t really like the term; it was insisted on by the publisher’s marketing department! (3) Is his framework so broad and flexible that it is compatible with anything that happens, and thereby is not falsifiable, and therefore is not real science? (4) Maybe it’s a framework that is meant to imply norms about how to prevent genocide or minimize violence, such as the point about how timely intervention by bystanders can be so much more effective than fence-sitting. We then discussed two articles from Alexander Hinton, ed., Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide (2002), one on the mid-1990's genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the other on how anthropologists approach and understand genocide. The first gave us an additional case study of genocide to consider in the light of Staub's study (with its focus on Germany, Cambodia, and Argentina), and (once again) reminded us that "ancient and irrational hatreds" are not a sufficient explanation of 20th century genocides. In fact, such an explanation is too often used as a way for bystander countries and organizations to justify a failure to intervene. The second article explores the ambivalence of anthropology as a discipline about grappling with the issue of genocide, but also suggests, as per the title ("The Dark Side of Modernity"), that genocide, rather than being a leftover from a less civilized past, is encouraged by some of the main trends and concepts of our modern era (such as the categorizing and "essentializing" of groups and cultures, the idea of progress, the "nation-state" and its logic of homogeneity, colonialism, "development", and some of the effects of "globalization"). Amy Wilentz' novel is an exploration of the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The story begins at an Israeli checkpoint, where a young Palestinian boy dies after he and his mother are delayed while trying to cross to an Israeli hospital during a border closing. The young Israeli officer in charge tries to come to terms with his responsibility, and he, the mother, and both Palestinian and Israeli officials struggle with the way in which the event threatens to become completely politicized. We disagreed about whether the Israeli officer acts out of moral growth and a certain idealism, or is simply guilt-stricken and perhaps self-destructive. But the novel helped us understand the everyday feel of a polarized situation like this one, and the difficulty of making moral decisions and acting on human empathy in a situation where every act has a political meaning. This point led to a discussion of whether its message was essentially apolitical, since the moments of authenticity for characters seemed to occur outside the realm of political engagement. In other words, was the novel cynical about political activity, suggesting that moral meaning is found by characters who opt out of or resist conventional political interactions? We also discussed whether a central figure—an Israeli political realist--was depicted altogether negatively or whether there was something empathic about the account of his sacrifice of moral principles for the sake of political effectiveness.
April 10: (Ed S and Steve R) Robert Kaplan, Warrior Politics. Melian dialogue, etc., from Thucydides
April 15: (Steve R) Jonathan Shay, Odysseus in America.
Report: We discussed Robert Kaplan's suggestion that a certain kind of imperial rule might afford the best hope for the protection of fundamental human rights. Some judged Kaplan an incurable ( and dangerous) Romantic; others thought he was an honest, hardheaded realist. Arguably the most contentious of our sessions. Some left vindicated, others exasperated. But in the end love reigned, and the community survived, thanks to the gracious intervention of the Supreme Being whose internal life knows no strife. "Odysseus in America" is the second recent book by psychologist Jonathan Shay on the topic of Vietnam War veterans. In the first, "Achilles in Vietnam," he attempted to shed some light on the pathology of Homeric heroes through his experience in counseling war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In "Odysseus in America" he turns to the traditional tale of heroic home-coming, seeing the various adventures of Odysseus' return through the prism of the experiences of returning Vietnam veterans. He reads the adventures in books 9-12 of the Odyssey as a metaphor for the pitfalls that confront all veterans as they try to become reintegrated into civilized society: inability to put down their guard (Laestrygonians, Scylla and Charybdis); reckless thrill-seeking (Cyclops); temptation to seek oblivion in alcohol and drugs (Lotus Eaters, Circe, Sirens); sexual dysfunction (Calypso, Circe); obsession for remembering the dead (Hades), and for reconstructing every detail of combat (Sirens); inability to trust anyone (Ithaca); and suicide (Aeolus). Religious and social rituals are critical to the healthy reintegration of combat veterans into civilized society. These were notoriously absent in the experience of most Vietnam veterans, leading, according to Shay, to an extraordinarily high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder -- even decades later.
April 17: (Solveig Z) John Lederach, Building Peace.
April 22: con’t. Handouts: Nini Anker, Borders; Mats Berdal and David Malone, eds., “Introduction” to Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars; Paul Collier, either “Doing Well our of War: An Economic Perspective” from Greed and Grievance or “Economic Agendas of Civil Wars.” Recommended: Andries Odendaal, “Conflict Prevention, Mediation, Resolution: The Role of NGO’S”; Hugh Miall, “Conflict Transformation: A Multi-Dimensional Task”; and Luc Reychler, “Field Diplomacy: A New Conflict Prevention Paradigm.”
Report: Lederach is a leading theorist as well as practitioner of peacebuilding and conflict management. In “Building Peace” he first gives a global overview of contemporary armed conflict and describes characteristics of deeply divided societies. Then he turns to describing a conceptual framework for building peace, using examples from his own and others' work. The framework he describes goes beyond traditional statist diplomacy, and focuses on reconciliation, promotion of justice, and the restoration and rebuilding of relationships. Since conflict develops in a progression of stages, Lederach argues that peacebuilding must be an ongoing process of interdependent roles, functions, and activities, using sociocultural as well as socioeconomic resources. He shows as well the need to create a dynamic, conflict-responsive peacebuilding structure. Lederach's work is an attempt to respond to the nature of contemporary conflict with both innovation and realism; the book is conceptual in nature, but it has a distinctly practical orientation. The play, “Borders” by Norwegian pacifist, feminist, and radical author Nini Roll was first published and performed at the National Theatre in Oslo in 1921. It was translated into English and performed by the St. Olaf College Theater in conjunction with the Peace Prize Forum in 1999. The play depicts the hypocrisy of governments and of individuals, and shows how a few people can remain true to their core beliefs. It challenges us to think about the radical message of Christianity, the message of love, and the implication of that message for our behavior in times of crisis. It criticizes the organized church for forgetting this message in time of war, collapsing the category of “just war” into that of “holy war.” The articles from “Greed and Grievance” come from a major conference on "Economic Agendas in Civil Wars" held in London in 1999. This conference and resulting publication is the first in a series sponsored by the International Peace Academy focusing on issues and policy implications of economic issues related to civil conflict. The articles in this volume address the economic motivations spurring political violence, an area of scholarship that has been relatively neglected in favor of a focus on the political dimensions. The scholars seek to identify the economic and social factors underlying civil wars, as well as the economic incentives and disincentives for international actors seeking to restore peace (or seeking to prevent peace). Paul Collier discusses the risk factors for civil war, contending that such conflicts are not driven so much by political aims (though these may be used for propaganda purposes) as by powerful economic motives and agendas. Collier describes how economic agendas predispose countries to internal conflict, how these economic agendas may serve to prevent conflict resolution, and how sometimes international actors are influenced by economic factors to promote conflict or prevent peaceful resolution. War is very destructive, causing poverty and misery to many, but can simultaneously be very profitable to some. The three recommended articles are useful follow-ups to the Lederach book. They describe various means of conflict resolution and conflict management techniques and systems from several different perspectives. The authors are all involved with institutions that focus on peacebuilding and conflict management in different areas of the world.
April 24: Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, pp1-88; Manfred Steger, “Five Central Claims of Globalism” from Globalism: the New Market Ideology; bookguide to Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization; and Chris Lehmann, “A Globalized Tinderbox.”
April 29: Cynthia Enloe, “Blue Jeans and Bankers”; George Brenkert, “Marketing, the Ethics of Consumption, and Less-Developed Countries”; and two chapters on shopping malls.
May 1: Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, pp180-252; and Jan Aart Scholte, “Humane Global Futures” from Globalization: A Critical Introduction.
Report: We discussed Stiglitz’s pessimism about how the International Monetary Fund’s rigid application of the “Washington consensus” (free-market fundamentalism) does more harm than good to developing countries, and also discussed a number of rebuttals from various websites (an excellent site for globalization debates is http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/index.jsp ). The other articles discussed the impact of globalization on shoppers and ordinary folks, and also alternatives to or modifications of simplistic free-market thinking. The discussions raised issues about the responsibility of relatively affluent peoples toward “sweat shop” workers and others who are struggling. Graphic portrayals of “ecological footprints” relative to lifestyles are sobering, even guilt and shame inducing, and raise the issue of how and whether we can increase the 15% of Americans who are downshifting consumption levels to engage a different road to fulfillment (there’s solid empirical evidence that the correlation between wealth and happiness ceases being positive after a surprisingly low threshold).
May 6: (Robert Flaten, guest leader) Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families.
Report: We read the Gourevitch book before hearing from Bob Flaten, who it turns out, knew a number of the people described in the book. Bob's input greatly enriched our understanding of the book as well as of the conflict in Rwanda. In this truly gripping book, Gourevitch combines stories told by individual Rwandans as well as explanations of the political situation that led to the genocide, and reveals the sorry role the international community played in the situation. This book reminded us to regard media interpretation of far off events with great skepticism.
May 8: (Bob E): Sarah Tobias, “Toward a Feminist Ethic of War and Peace” from The Ethics of War and Peace, ed. Terry Nardin; Norani Othman, “Grounding Human Rights Arguments in Non-Western Culture: Shari’a and the Citizen Rights of Women in a Modern Islamic State,” from The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights, eds. Joanne Bauer and Daniel Bell; and Ann Crittenden, “ The Truly Invisible Hand,” from The Price of Motherhood.
Report: Crittenden‚s chapter generated the most discussion. She points out that women’s contributions to the
economy are understated in most statistical measurements (e.g. gross domestic product) because they are not done in exchange for money; thus housework and child rearing are not recognized as economic activity.
Tobias responds to Jean Elshtain‚s assertion that “there is no separate feminist tradition of war and peace.” In fact there are a number of feminist approaches. Tobias describes two approaches --the radical feminist approach to war (Andrea Dworkin and Mary Daly, for example), who argue that war is, essentially, organized violence against women, and the “ethic of care” (e.g. Sara Ruddick) that uses the model of motherhood as a basis for pacifism. Some in the group argued that however appealing the ethic of care may be, the inequality and authority inherent in the mother-child relationship is not an appropriate model for international relations. We briefly discussed Othman‚s article, which examines attempts to protect women’s rights and political participation within Islam, and underscores the problems of contextualizing the Qu’ran and Shari’a.
Conclusions, Curriculum, etc.
May 13: (Ed L)
Report: We discussed the above summaries, and also commented on how the seminar will affect our teaching and scholarship. Many of us will revise current courses to reflect both the topics and readings of the seminar. The supervisor’s course for this fall’s Global Semester will be heavily influenced by it, and down the line an EIN course will be developed that will overlap the seminar and will be aimed at students who take terms abroad. This effort will be one response to the concern for more integration of on-campus and off-campus educational experiences.
One participant provided this poem, which will serve as a fitting conclusion:
The Mad Farmer's Love Song, by Wendell Berry
O when the world's at peace
and every one is free,
then will I go down unto my love.
O and I may go down
several times before that.
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