Day: June 13, 2013

The Challenges of Dissent: A Dissenter’s View

The commentary on Edward Snowden over the past several days and the various discussions on dissent, resignations, and whistleblowing have given me a lot to think about.  I’ll leave discussion of the merits of Snowden’s actions to Dan’s thread below.  Here I want to think about the process and pitfalls of whistleblowing and dissent.  Twenty years ago this summer I had my own moment in the spotlight for resigning from my position at the State Department in protest over American policy in Bosnia. My situation and experiences were quite different — I was a policy dissenter not really a whistleblower. My resignation — along with those of a few colleagues — generated widespread attention, but none of us disclosed government crimes per se and I was never under threat of legal action. Nonetheless, there are a few general observations on dissent and whistleblowing that may be worth some discussion:   dissent and whistleblowing are inevitable, they are unpredictable, and they are also relatively rare (for a much wider range of reasons than some have suggested).  I also am very uncomfortable labeling dissenters or whistleblowers as heroes, but, for reasons that are different from some of the other commentary out there. Continue reading


Does Snowden Pass the Test?

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m working through two competing concerns: (1) the legal and ethical obligations that come with holding a security clearance and (2) the ethical and moral obligation to bring deeply problematic government action to light. In comments elsewhere, I’ve put forth two examples of what I think are relatively straightforward kinds of cases:

  • Publicizing war crimes that the state is covering up; and
  • Indiscriminately dumping government diplomatic cables.

The first provides a justification for disclosing classified information, the second is completely without justification. Without in any way denying that the US government’s treatment of Bradley Manning has been horrific and outrageous, I think it is clear that Manning crossed the line when he downloaded every government cable he could get his hands on and turned them over to Julian Assange.

I probably shouldn’t have used Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker piece as an excuse to initiate discussion, because, well, it was a piece by Jeffrey Toobin. But, thankfully, Josh Marshall and Josh Barron have both written thoughtful pieces on these issues. Continue reading


Abenomics is Not more Dangerous than the North Korean Missile Program


I continue to be amazed at how the Korean government won’t admit that Japan’s revival is really good for democracy in Asia and the prevention of Chinese regional primacy. No less than the SK finance minister (pic) actually said Abenomics is more dangerous to SK than the NK missile program. Wait, what?? The worst totalitarianism in history gets a pass when the Bank of Japan prints a lot of cheap money? Come on. That’s unbelievably irresponsible. Are Korean officials so deeply bought by the chaebol that they actually have to say stuff like that? Honestly if Minister Hyun really believes that (I doubt that though, see below), he should probably resign. This is just an embarrassment.

Continue reading


Jarrod Hayes on “Bridging the Gap”

Across the GapEditor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Jarrod Hayes, who is is an assistant professor of International Relations at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research broadly focuses on the social construction of foreign and security policy. It deals with the International Policy Summer Institute, which has also received coverage at The Monkey Cage.

I have had the great pleasure and honor to attend the Bridging the Gap/International Policy Summer Institute hosted by (the very impressive) American University School of International Service.  The experience has been a rich one, with an amazing cohort and substantial depth and scope from the speakers.  Out of that depth and scope, a point really caught my attention.  A few of the speakers have anecdotally noted that policymakers often think using the concepts and logics of theory, but they are unaware that is what they are doing.  This is a really fascinating point, and potentially one of the ways that scholars might be able to ‘bridge the gap’ between academics an policymakers without writing explicitly policy oriented scholarship (although we should do that too).

Continue reading


Thursday Morning Linkage

There has been plenty of commentary on Edward Snowden (Nexon, Toobin, Roger Simon, interesting counterpoint from Jack Shafer here), but I’m a little bit amazed that important government secrets are entrusted to a 29 year old high school dropout who unilaterally gets the chance to decide what’s in the national interest. I respect the idea of whistleblowers, but something about the tone of interviews with this guy struck me as dime store political philosophy from the Wachowski brothers.

To the business at hand: here is your Thursday morning linkage! On the lighter side, cheetahs are effective hunters because of their capacity to turn. They can run up to 60 mph so let’s protect those big cats alive and in the wild.

In other news:

  • US-China summit yields agreement on effort to tackle potent greenhouse gas HFCs
  • Giving high risk people AIDS drugs — PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) — gets further support as a HIV prevention tool with drug addicts
  • Scary story on Indian generic firm Ranbaxy and fraud in its drug production Continue reading

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