Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Her latest book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World, was published in February. (August 2008)

The Democrats & National Security

Since the Vietnam War the Republican Party has developed a reputation for having a superior approach to national security. Americans have long trusted the views of Democrats on the environment, the economy, education, and health care, but national security is the one matter about which Republicans have maintained what political scientists call “issue ownership.”

Partly, this is for particular historical reasons. President Eisenhower initiated US involvement in Vietnam, and President Nixon escalated the war in 1969 and kept US troops on the ground in a manifestly unwinnable mission until 1975. But John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were tagged as the primary culprits. President Carter was widely seen as having bungled the Iran hostage rescue mission and having responded ineffectually to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Although he substantially increased US military spending, he was never forgiven for his claim that Americans had “an inordinate fear of communism.”

A Hero of Our Time

In most wars it is images and artifacts that emerge to shape our memory of events. The recent Iraq war may be remembered less for the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue than for the pile of naked bodies in the Abu Ghraib prison. The Bosnia war gave us the stick …

The Lesson of Hannah Arendt

Origins Hannah Arendt dated her awakening to February 27, 1933, the day the Reichstag burned down. From the moment Adolf Hitler began using the fire as a pretext to suspend civil liberties and crush dissent, Arendt said, “I felt responsible.”[^1] She took responsibility for observing the inhuman uses of power …

Rwanda: The Two Faces of Justice

Eight years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the extermination of 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus, Rwandan survivors and Western diplomats vowed publicly, “Justice will be done.” But no country or international institution had ever processed 800,000 murder cases before, and the pledge would prove far easier to make …

Genocide and America

Over the course of the last century, the United States has made modest progress in its responses to genocide, the deliberate destruction of ethnic, national, or religious groups. The persistence and proliferation of dissenters within the US government and human rights advocates outside it have made a policy of silence …