Go On! “Power, Publics and the US in the World”: annual meeting of Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

trunksGo On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

mary► The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Historians – SHAFR for short – will hold its annual meeting June 22-24, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia. It’s a special event not least because this year the organization’s headed by IntLawGrrl Mary L. Dudziak, an Emory Law professor who joined other plenary speakers at IntLawGrrls birthday conference last week (above). Dudziak will give the SHAFR Presidential Lecture at this annual meeting. Other program highlights will include: a keynote lecture by Columbia Professor Mae Ngai, an immigration historian; and a plenary panel entitled “Can Law Constrain War? Lessons from History,” featuring IntLawGrrls contributor and Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks, Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Professor Helen M. shafKinsella, and Yale Law Professor John Fabian Witt. Details and registration here.

Flashback to pre-Iowa 2008: “Why this IntLawGrrl’s for Obama for President”

With the President delivering his final State of the Union address as I write these lines, I couldn’t help but have a look at my own very early endorsement of and pledge to work for (as a member of his campaign’s Human Rights Policy Committee) then-Senator Barack Obama. It holds up pretty well 8 years later, even if not everything turned out as, well, hoped. Here, once again, is my Jan. 3, 2008, IntLawGrrls post:

(An Iowa Caucus Day item) Soon after the 2d inauguration of George W. Bush, whose Presidency already had been marked by abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, by the folly of the Iraq invasion, and by the failure to incapacitate Osama bin Laden, I began to prepare for the next election cycle.
My road to 2008 began on the freeway, listening to politicians read aloud the books in which they endeavored to tell their own stories in their own words. My Life, the memoir by Bush’s immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton, filled in some details about a man who in the 1990s had dominated current events. In Living History his wife, Hillary Clinton, read her precise account of those same times. The works left me appreciative yet disengaged.
Then, on a colleague’s recommendation, I listened to Barack Obama read Dreams from My Father, the “story of race and inheritance” he’d written a decade earlier. The last thing I expected to discover were things in common. And yet here was someone who’d also moved about as a child, been raised at times by grandparents. Who’d also witnessed Harold Washington’s milestone mayoral election while working in Chicago — who’d worked a few years before moving on to law school, then to law teaching. Whose family ties put him in close contact with newcomers to America and with relatives overseas. (Yesterday, in the Voice of America interview here, Obama urged political rivals in Kenya, his father’s homeland, to “address peacefully the controversies that divide them.”) A progressive Illinoisan who preferred consensus to conflict.
His campaign’s followed lines sketched in Dreams and detailed in his 2d book, The Audacity of Hope. The operative word remains “hope” — discussed by means not of doe-eyed promises of the impossible, but of substantive policy prescriptions. There’s a focus on building a movement, one that underscores the significance of a fact seldom studied despite the reams of copy written about Obama: This is someone whose sensibilities were shaped by years of organizing poor people in job-starved communities, a real world experience that all politicians could use but few have. The campaign’s unabashed reaching across the aisle, moreover, comes as a relief to all exhausted by the pitched political battles of the recent past.
And then there’s Obama’s foreign policy.
This is a candidate who fears not to speak with favor of the United Nations and other international bodies. Who speaks of the essential need for the United States not simply to demand from its allies, but rather to earn from them, respect and assistance. Who understands “security” to mean more than military might. A candidate who persists in a plan to meet personally with world leaders of all political persuasion, to cut in on diplomatic dances of avoidance that sometimes extend distance between cultures.
Not least is Obama’s denunciation of Guantánamo and all it stands for: indefinitedetention for purposes of interrogation, abandonment of habeas corpus, cruelty and torture. It’s unequivocal and delivered to all audiences.
Aiding Obama are scores of foreign policy experts and international lawyers. They include many noted and respected women, among them: Pulitzer Prizewinning Harvard ProfessorSamantha Power; Patricia Wald, former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District ofColumbia Circuit and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and Dr. Susan E. Rice, formerly assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs.
It may seem odd that someone who’s spent nearly a year blogging the achievements of the world’s women leaders is working for this candidate. Would I welcome as President a woman who’s made her own way, who stands on her own feet, who promises to bring the best to the job? Certainly. I’ll embrace that candidate, when she emerges.
Now, though, this IntLawGrrl’s honored to be doing her wee bit for Barack Obama, the human who pushes people to “Change the World.”

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Foreign Life Valuation

How should wexlerU.S. policymakers value foreign lives?  The University of Illinois Law Review Online recently published a symposium issue exploring a variety of perspectives on this question.  The pieces respond to Valuing Foreign Lives, published last year by IntLawGrrl Lesley Wexler (pictured right) and her colleague Arden Rowell (pictured below). That article offers a theoretical framework to guide government officials in determining when and how to value foreign lives in domestic policymaking.  It tees up several policy puzzles that this symposium begins to address, bringing together different disciplinary approaches and case studies.  Foregrounding the state’s potential duties and obligations to foreigners, philosopher Colleen Murphy explores three moral questions involved in valuing foreign lives.  Law professor Jonathan Masur enters the discussion from the other side, focusing on foreign individuals’ accountability to other states, and offering rationales that favor a less transparent and more ad hoc approach.  Yours truly presents immigration law as a case study that highlights some of the challenges of foreign life valuation.  Both psychologist Paul Slovic and law professor Lesley Wexler explore humanitarian interventions and the impact of the psychological bias known as the prominence effect oardenn foreign life valuation in this context.  Slovic looks to psychological studies to test the power of this effect in foreign life valuation and offers countering techniques.  Wexler uses the case study of the United States’ Atrocity Review Board to examine the interaction of international and domestic legal institutions with foreign valuation practices and psychological biases, again offering prescriptions to address the prominence effect.  Law professor David Dana expands the scope of the discussion beyond life valuation to protection of communities and cultures, and explores the role of psychological biases in directing policy decisions.  He suggests studies of domestic preferences as a first step to reallocating resources more appropriately.  Law professor Arden Rowell ties together the strands of the discussion on guidance and challenges for studying foreign life valuation, arguing that the current atheoretic and opaque approach is problematic.