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. …

Saddam’s Pistol, and Yours

In the current debate over gun regulation a simple point is being missed. Every citizen has the right to a gun. But shouldn’t every man, woman, and child also have the right not to have a gun and expect to live in a safe and secure environment?

The road to new legislation on guns is uncertain because political leadership on this issue takes place in alternate ethical universes.

read more

Peace: What Is It Good For?

A speech given as part of Yale Law School’s Global Consitutionalism Seminar 2012, convening on the occasion of the Centennial of Carnegie Corporation, New York, and of the Peace Palace, The Hague, and celebrating Andrew Carnegie’s vision of international justice. The four-day event was held at the Peace Palace in The Hague from 29 August–1 September 2012.  

“There are few names more deserving of close association with the word “peace” than Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie alone had the vision and resources to invest in the first global institution devoted to the pursuit of peace. And those of you who know his life story know how hard he worked to lobby, cajole, nag, and flatter Kaisers, kings, prime ministers, and presidents to make his dream a reality.”

read more

The Last Protestant?

The 2012 presidential election is surprising in one important respect.

Protestants of various sects dominated national leadership until John F. Kennedy broke the barrier in 1960. Yet today there is only one Protestant in the highest offices of American politics: Barack Hussein Obama.

For the first time ever there are no Protestant justices on the Supreme Court. The Court consists of six Roman Catholics and three Jews. The head of the Judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts, is Roman Catholic. The leaders of the Legislature are Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Roman Catholic, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Mormon.

read more