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 Fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” So begins Isaiah Berlin’s essay, “The Hedgehog and Fox.”
One year after September 11, 2001, in the midst of a still evolving “war on terrorism,” it is important to ask: Are we all hedgehogs now? Do we see the world as it relates to this on big idea, the fight against global terror? The possibility of more terrorist attacks looms so large that it inevitably dominates our thoughts—particularly when terrorists themselves are threatening to use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons on civilian targets.
The day after the Moore, Oklahoma tornado of 2013, a single image dominated media coverage: a photo of the two-foot thick concrete and steel bank vault of the Tinker Federal Credit Union. The vault was the only thing left standing on a flattened city block. Twenty-two people had miraculously walked out of the vault alive and unharmed after taking refuge amidst the deposit boxes. Just down the road, 24 others had perished, including seven children in the Plaza Towers Elementary School.
The white paper released in February 2013 detailing the Obama administration’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killings has stirred plenty of controversy. Questions about the policy came up again during the Senate confirmation hearing for John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee for CIA director.
White House spokesman Jay Carney has defended the drone memo, asserting: “These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.” But rather than closing the debate, that statement frames the three essential questions Americans should be asking about U.S. drone policy.