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Edward Ashbee

The president is by far the most visible public representative of the American government. His powers are such that in the 1960s some observers talked about the imperial presidency. After the 2016 presidential election, when the incoming president seemed ready to act upon impulse, commentators were again speaking about what they saw as the president’s unchecked power. However, presidential authority does not go unchallenged and, in practice, the White House is subject to an array of curbs. Indeed, there

in US politics today (fourth edition)
Justin A. Joyce

Recounting the failures of the United States to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting on the parade of mendacity that has encapsulated the 45th presidency, and interpreting Baldwin’s call to be responsible to our children, Justin A. Joyce introduces the sixth volume of James Baldwin Review.

James Baldwin Review
Rape and Marriage in Go Tell It on the Mountain
Porter Nenon

To consider how James Baldwin resisted racialized notions of sexuality in his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, I employ a number of black feminist critics—including Saidiya Hartman, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, and Patricia Hill Collins—to analyze three under-studied minor characters: Deborah, Esther, and Richard. Those three characters are best understood as figures of heterosexual nonconformity who articulate sophisticated and important critiques of rape and marriage in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Baldwin thus wrote subversive theories of race and sexuality into the margins of the novel, making its style inextricable from its politics. Baldwin’s use of marginal voices was a deft and intentional artistic choice that was emancipatory for his characters and that remains enduringly relevant to American sexual politics. In this particularly polarizing transition from the Obama era to the Donald J. Trump presidency, I revisit Baldwin’s ability to subtly translate political ideas across fault lines like race, nationality, and sex.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin in Conversation with Fritz J. Raddatz (1978)
Gianna Zocco

This is the first English-language publication of an interview with James Baldwin conducted by the German writer, editor, and journalist Fritz J. Raddatz in 1978 at Baldwin’s house in St. Paul-de-Vence. In the same year, it was published in German in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, as well as in a book of Raddatz’s conversations with international writers, and—in Italian translation—in the newspaper La Repubblica. The interview covers various topics characteristic of Baldwin’s interests at the time—among them his thoughts about Jimmy Carter’s presidency, his reasons for planning to return to the United States, his disillusionment after the series of murders of black civil rights activists in the 1960s and 1970s, and the role of love and sexuality in his literary writings. A special emphasis lies on the discussion of possible parallels between Nazi Germany and U.S. racism, with Baldwin most prominently likening the whole city of New York to a concentration camp. Due to copyright reasons, this reprint is based on an English translation of the edited version published in German. A one-hour tape recording of the original English conversation between Raddatz and Baldwin is accessible at the German literary archive in Marbach.

James Baldwin Review
Editor’s Introduction
Juliano Fiori

once authored, not because of his own idiosyncratic way of doing politics but because of the strategic realignment that his presidency represents. According to Trump, his administration’s security strategy is guided by ‘principled realism’. The apparent incoherence of his foreign policy is as indicative of what this entails as his specific interactions with other governments. With every diplomatic encounter imagined as a stand-alone opportunity to strike a winning ‘deal’, the norms-based, multilateral system of global governance becomes

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
An Interview with Celso Amorim, Former Brazilian Foreign Minister
Juliano Fiori

foreign minister’. In 2010, Fareed Zakaria wrote in The Washington Post : ‘Today [Brazil] is a stable democracy with impressive fiscal management, a roaring economy and a wildly popular president. Its foreign policy reflects this confidence and a desire to break free of its older constraints.’ Now, less than a decade later, weeks before a general election, Brazilian democracy is not at all stable, the country is experiencing one of its worst ever economic crises, the current presidency has a 3 per cent approval rating and there isn’t a foreign policy

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Focus on Community Engagement
Frédéric Le Marcis, Luisa Enria, Sharon Abramowitz, Almudena-Mari Saez, and Sylvain Landry B. Faye

Conté presidency (1958–80) – direct evidence of the violence of the state and its disregard for the population ( McGovern, 2013 ). The current Guinean extractive economy, a ‘liberal extractivist regime that primarily benefits external actors’ ( Knierzinger, 2014 : 4), has led ordinary Guineans to feel that a corrupt political elite defends only its own interests and those of foreign companies. And where people can only witness what they understand

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Series: Politics Today
Author: Edward Ashbee

The book introduces the principles underpinning the US Constitution and, on the basis of this, surveys core federal institutions: Congress, the presidency, and the US Supreme Court and lower courts. The different chapters outline the defining features of each and introduce some of the core scholarly debates about their powers and performance. The book also considers processes of political participation through elections, parties, and organised interests. It looks, in particular, at the changing nature of voting behaviour, the reasons why electoral turnout levels are comparatively low, and the different reasons why Donald Trump secured the presidency in the 2016 contest. It also considers the character of the party system and claims that organised interests, particularly groups representing those at the highest ends of the income and wealth scales, play a disproportionate role in the US system. The book thereby offers a guide to debates about the democratic ‘health’ of the contemporary US. The final chapter places the study of US politics in a comparative and theoretical context. It suggests that comparative approaches are essential if political developments and processes are to be fully understood. It then considers the value of employing theoretical frameworks in the study of politics and explores the ways in which structural theories, approaches drawing upon representations of political culture, and rational choice perspectives can explain political outcomes.

Substance, symbols, and hope
Author: Andra Gillespie

The election of Barack Obama was a milestone in US history with tremendous symbolic importance for the black community. But was this symbolism backed up by substance? Did ordinary black people really benefit under the first black president?

This is the question that Andra Gillespie sets out to answer in Race and the Obama Administration. Using a variety of methodological techniques—from content analysis of executive orders to comparisons of key indicators, such as homeownership and employment rates under Clinton, Bush, and Obama— the book charts the progress of black causes and provides valuable perspective on the limitations of presidential power in addressing issues of racial inequality. Gillespie uses public opinion data to investigate the purported disconnect between Obama’s performance and his consistently high ratings among black voters, asking how far the symbolic power of the first black family in the White House was able to compensate for the compromises of political office.

Scholarly but accessible, Race and the Obama Administration will be of interest to students and lecturers in US politics and race studies, as well as to general readers who want to better understand the situation of the black community in the US today and the prospects for its improvement.

Abstract only
Bush and Rumsfeld in Iraq

Beneath the violence of the U.S. war in Iraq was a subterranean conflict between President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, rooted in their different beliefs and leadership styles. Bush was prepared to pay a high cost in American lives, treasure, and prestige to win. Rumsfeld favored turning the war over to the Iraqis, and was comfortable with the risk that Iraq would disintegrate into chaos. Only after Bush removed Rumsfeld in late 2006 did he bring U.S. strategy into line with his goals, sending additional troops to Iraq and committing to continued U.S. involvement. Bush abandoned Rumsfeld’s withdrawal approach, predicated upon the beliefs that “it's the Iraqis’ country,” and “we have to take our hand off the bicycle seat.”

In Leaders in Conflict, Stephen Benedict Dyson shows that Bush and Rumsfeld thought about international politics, and about leadership, in divergent ways. The president embraced binary thinking, was visceral in his commitment to the war, and had a strong belief that the U.S. both could and should shape events in Iraq. The secretary saw the world as complex, and was skeptical of the extent of U.S. influence over events and of the moral imperative to stay involved.

The book is based upon more than two dozen interviews with administration insiders, and appeals to those interested in the U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. presidency, leadership and wartime decision making.