Ethics matter. This is not only the tag line for the Carnegie Council. It is also the proposition of my work. Many writers take up ethical issues. But few have the vantage point of the Carnegie Council — a place where leaders from around the world come to share ideas, reflect on their experiences, and engage in public conversation.
Posted here are lectures, articles, and reviews reflecting my engagement with the Council’s activities. If there is a pattern, one might say it is opportunistic, seeking to add the ethical dimension to debates ongoing. One might also see a thread of realism. In my view, power and ethics are inseparable and are best considered together. …
The war on terrorism began with moral clarity and a widely accepted road map for immediate action. For eighteen months there was strong international consensus on three issues: global condemnation of terrorist tactics, relentless pursuit of the al-Qaeda network, and the need for regime change in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. All of this changed on March 19, 2003, with the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom—a dramatic new turn in the new war.
Over a year ago, President Bush and his foreign policy team took office determined to carve out a path different from their predecessors. Emphasizing core national interests over humanitarian concerns and nation building, they would stay focused on managing relations with key countries such as Russia, China, and Mexico.
But with the launching of the war on terrorism, the Bush administration has abandoned its rhetoric of arch-realism for one of robust moralism. President Bush explains the anti-terrorism offensive as good versus evil.
There seems to be a great desire for what some people have called “moral accounting” at the end of the 20th century. For example, the Canadian government has reached a settlement with aboriginal peoples in Canada; Japan has apologized for atrocities in World War II, particularly to Korea; and the fledgling democracies and post-conflict societies—South Africa, Guatemala, Argentina, and so on—are all wrestling with the concept of reconciliation.