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. …

Obama at Hiroshima

President Obama’s impending visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park completes a process long in the works and fundamental to his foreign policy agenda. Close observers noticed Ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s visit last year and Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit last month.

With the political waters tested and seemingly ready, the president will leave the mid-May G-7 summit meeting in Ise-Shima to complete a journey of enormous consequence.

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Rising Fences: Migrants, Borders, and a New Frontier for Ethics

What will 2015 be remembered for? The image that comes to mind is “rising fences.” If we took a satellite photo of the planet, that would be the story; fences going up everywhere.

The wars and political chaos of the past year created a massive wave of truly desperate people. The wave is global in scale. Europe has borne the brunt. But the United States, Canada, Australia and many other nations are not immune.

What is the response? What should be the response?

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Democracy as Myth and Fact

Myths give meaning to our lives. They are stories created to explain the human condition—creation, death, heroism, dignity, pain, pride, and suffering. There is an elevating character to myths. Gods and humans share the stage. One cannot come to Greece without feeling inspired by the ancient classical myths that shape so much of our culture and society.

And yet there is also an instrumental aspect of myths. As the French sociologist Roland Barthes put it, myths are often created by the powerful to serve their own interests, almost always at the expense of the weak.

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