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Archive for June, 2008

Rwandan Genocide

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Chapter 8 of Gourevitch’s, “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families”

Interview with Phillip Gourevitch

Responses to Gourevitch Interview

Ebert Review of Hotel Rwanda

Questions for Hotel Rwanda

Vietnam Four Options Assignment

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

A couple of notes before you get started:

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Make time to do this assignment well. Read everything and think about what you are reading.
  • You will have been provided with the necessary background information in a class lecture. You may access this lecture on the website should you so desire.
  • Page numbers below refer to those on the PDF file (as opposed to the numbers on the document itself).

The assignment:

  1. Carefully take the survey on page 133.
  2. Compare and contrast the two cartoons on page 38. In the process, examine the statement that each is making.
  3. Study each of the four options presented. For EACH of the four options:
    1. In a succinct paragraph summarize the option using 2-3 relevant quotes to support your summary.
    2. Summarize the statement of the accompanying cartoon in 1-2 sentences.
    3. Briefly list 2-3 strengths AND 2-3 weaknesses of this option.
  4. Typed Essay. You are an advisor to LBJ. Using your knowledge of the four options presented, write a strongly-worded one-page letter to LBJ explaining precisely what you feel he should advocate in the current state of affairs. Use evidence from the documents. Choose your words wisely.
  5. Be prepared to take a clear stand in an extensive class debate.

Here is the reading packet (please be patient as it might take some time to open)

Why Parties and Elections in Authoritarian Regimes?

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Although parties and elections are thought of as defining features of democracy, most authoritarian governments also rely on political parties and hold elections.Theories of democratic politics see elections as the means by which citizens hold politicians accountable for the quality of governance.Citizens may have insufficient information to monitor politicians closely and, in any event, must choose on infrequent occasions among packages of policy promises (parties) that may not reflect their own views or interests very well, but they can at a minimum oust incompetent, unsuccessful, or simply unpopular leaders in routine low-cost ways.Citizens in authoritarian regimes only rarely have this option.Authoritarian elections do not choose government leaders or the set of policies that the government will follow.Generally speaking, citizens cannot throw the bums out.Changes in leadership and policy choices are decided upon by elite actors such as military officers and high-level party officials, not citizens.Nevertheless, a substantial majority of authoritarian governments holds elections, devotes substantial resources to its support party, and spends heavily on pre-election political campaigns.

These observations raise several questions.If party formation is not motivated by the need to compete effectively in order to win elections, as standard democratic theories of parties claim, why are they created and maintainedIf elections do not choose leaders and, indirectly, policies, what function do they perform?

Read more

Since I cannot rightfully ask you to read all 30 pages of this analysis, your task is to read the first five pages, carefully skim the rest and analyze the tables at the end. Then you must type a one page essay, single-spaced essay which responds to Geddes’ research question (in bold above). Bring your essay to class.

Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Wolin writes, “Our thesis is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively ‘strong democracy’ instead of a ‘failed’ one.” His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. “Democracy,” he writes, “is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs.” It depends on the existence of a demos — “a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office.” Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution.

Read on

On Civic Engagement & Civil Society

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

The Center for Civil Society, What is Civil Society?

AP Comp Gov Guru Ken Wedding on Civil Society

Walter Lippmann from The Phantom Public

Reading Response for Above Documents

Pro-Con Primary Source Documents: U.S. Intervention in WWI

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Five Primary Sources For and Against U.S. Intervention in WWI

WWI Intervention Reading Response

Genocide in Sudan?

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Nelson Kasfir tires to respond to his research question:

“In causing civilian atrocities on such a massive scale, has the Sudanese government adopted a policy of cultural annihilation, or has it decided to crush a rebellion to protect its dominance?”

Sudan’s Darfur: Is It Genocide?

Response Sheet

Opposing Perspectives: The Impact of the Collapse of the USSR on the Global Balance of Power

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

The Breakup of the USSR Makes the US the Leader of the World (Elliot Abrams)

The Breakup of the USSR Signals the End of US World Leadership (Zoltan Grossman)

Write a 1-2 page, single-spaced position paper which adheres to the following:

I. Short Intro with a Thesis (specific, complex and refutable)

II.  Summarize the ideas of the author with whom you do NOT concur and explain why his ideas are disagreeable (clearly demonstrate that you have read and understood this author’s ideas). Do not feel compelled to disagree with this author entirely as there surely is some truth to his argument.

III.  Summarize the ideas of the author with whom you DO concur and explain how his ideas are superior to the other author (clearly demonstrate that you have read and understood this author’s ideas).

IV. Conclude by restating your thesis and exploring the significance thereof.

Please bear in mind that your goal is to illustrate that you have read BOTH documents and that you have thought about them. Be prepared for a healthy debate in class.

Opposing Perspectives on Reagan’s Role in the Dissolution of the USSR

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Reagan’s Presidency DID cause the collapse of the USSR (Edwin Meese III)

Reagan’s Presidency did NOT cause the collapse of the USSR (Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry)

Write a 1-2 page, single-spaced position paper which adheres to the following:

I. Short Intro with a Thesis (specific, complex and refutable)

II. Summarize the ideas of the author with whom you do NOT concur and explain why his ideas are disagreeable (clearly demonstrate that you have read and understood this author’s ideas). Do not feel compelled to disagree with this author entirely as there surely is some truth to his argument.

III. Summarize the ideas of the author with whom you DO concur and explain how his ideas are superior to the other author (clearly demonstrate that you have read and understood this author’s ideas).

IV. Conclude by restating your thesis and exploring the significance thereof.

Please bear in mind that your goal is to illustrate that you have read BOTH documents and that you have thought about them. Be prepared for a healthy debate in class.

Readings on the Functions and Dysfunctions of Political Parties

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Richard Hofstadter (1916 – 1970) was an American historian and public intellectual. Hofstadter, the DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University, became the “iconic historian of postwar liberal consensus”, largely because of his emphasis on ideas and political culture rather than the day-to-day doings of politicians. Among his most important works is The American Political Tradition (1948). Below is Chapter One of this critically acclaimed work.

Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr.(1917 –  2007) was an American historian, social critic, and public intellectual. Much of Schlesinger’s work explored the history of 20th-century American liberalism. In particular, his work focused on leaders such as Harry Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. Schlesinger served as special assistant and “court historian” to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of the Kennedy Administration, from the 1960 presidential campaign to the president’s state funeral, titled A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, which won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Three Readings on the Functions and Dysfunctions of Political Parties

Response Sheet

 

 

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