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Comparative Government

Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter Discusses New Shifts in US Diplomacy Play Episode Pause Episode Mute/Unmute Episode Rewind 10 Seconds 1x Fast Forward 30 seconds 00:00 / Subscribe Share RSS Feed Share Link Embed Download file | Play in new windowOn May 18, 2011 Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter delivered the inaugural Distinguished Fulbright Lecture in Oxford. The topic: The Turn: US Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2011. The key message I took away from the lecture was that during the Obama Presidency, US diplomatic missions have shifted their focus more towards societal actors. The nature of US diplomacy has expanded from acting almost exclusively on a government to government basis, to interacting with societal actors or even acting as a facilitator between societal actors in different countries. This change in diplomacy is part of the emergence of a new paradigm driving the US Foreign Policy post “9/11”. In this paradigm, separation gives way to interconnectedness, conflict to collaboration; and the sole …

Many commercial legacy media organizations around the Western world are having a hard time these days, still hit by the impact of the recession on their revenues, and struggling with the different structural adjustments they will have to make as they move from the relatively stable and platform-specific media markets of the mid-twentieth century to the increasingly convergent and overlapping media environment of the 21st century. Newspapers in particular, from national flagship titles over regional powerhouses to local weeklies, are often in trouble. Changes in the business of journalism have potentially profound consequences for our democracies, because private media like newspapers have employed many of the journalists who inform us all (and occasionally misinforms us) about what goes on in …

On March 13th, 2007, the Bank of England issued a new series of bank notes. On the £20 note Adam Smith, the Scottish founder of the discipline of economics, replaced the composer Edward Elgar. If portraits on bank notes tell us anything about the spirit of their time, this seems to be a case in point. Smith’s portrait seems appropriate for a period in which the optimism about efficient free markets had reached a peak. But the cliché of who Adam Smith is, and the 18th-century scholar whom one encounters when turning to his writings in their entirety, are at a considerable distance. Of course it would be foolish to deny that Smith was an economist, if only because defining …

While again hundred thousands of Egyptians show their defiance of the old regime at Cairo’s Tahrir Square and worker protests have broken out in several Egyptian cities, Washington and London still follow a pipe dream of a gradual transition from Hosni Mubarak to a more or less democratic, yet by all means secular new government. However, the web of Western diplomatic moves might turn into a Gordian knot as Egypt 2011 shows analogies to Tehran in 1978. Nations resemble Tolstoy’s families: every one is unhappy in its own way. And yet, when people’s harm escalates and they take matters in their own hands, the differences fade and clear patterns emerge. One such pattern stipulates that revolutions are rarely isolated instances …

Sounds unlikely.  Did Twitter? Nobody really seems to claim so, though Evgeny Morozov erroneously claims that Andrew Sullivan claims so, though Sullivan actually only raised the question and linked to Ethan Zuckerman, who … wait, back to the fax machine. I met Marc Plattner yesterday, who edits the Journal of Democracy and is a veteran of both academic and policy discussions around issues of democracy and democratization. He told me about how some people used to claim the fax machine “caused” (or at least played a large part in) the collapse of the Soviet Union. You can imagine all the arguments that could be marshalled. (“Between them, television, the fax machine and word of mouth have banished fear,” writes John …

Two seemingly unrelated events from last Sunday night: the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and Derren Brown’s The Heist was on TV in the UK. Let me tie them together. First, for those who aren’t familiar with Derren Brown, he is a brilliant magician, illusionist, hypnotist, and “mind reader”. If you watch his shows, you’ll see that he is a master of psychological techniques. On The Heist, the show that I watched last night, he did something quite extraordinary: he got three middle-class professionals to commit armed robbery– voluntarily. Well, a simulation of an armed robbery anyway. If you haven’t seen Derren Brown, you’re probably thinking that he used actors or accomplices. I don’t think that this was the case. They were …

The People’s Charter of 1848 contained six demands, then considered dangerously radical by both Whig and Tory governments. One of the six was: EQUAL CONSTITUENCIES, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of larger ones. The Chartists might have been surprised to find that it was a Conservative-dominated government which first tried to enact equal representation, in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010 (PVSCB in civil servantese). As I write, the controversial bill has passed the Commons, and is being considered by Their (unelected) Lordships, who have no scruples about amending bills on how to elect another house.  Oh well, that’s politics. Some political …

Following the ICJ ruling about the legality of Kosovo independence on July 22nd, Italy, Austria and Slovakia have argued that Serbia’s accession process should be accelerated to support pro European Serbian President Boris Tadic. On July 27th Iceland initiated its official negotiations, despite the erosion in the pro-EU camp in the aftermath of the Icesave case. Among the other candidate countries, Croatia is set to join in 2011, while Macedonia has not yet started the negotiations. Turkey, having several negotiating chapters blocked or vetoed,  has still no accession date, but the UK seems to strongly back its candidature, as PM David Cameron claimed in its visit to Ankara on July 27th.