"The Judge and the General": A Discussion of the Film

Elizabeth Farnsworth and Mark Danner discuss Farnsworth's film about the Chilean judge who investigated Augusto Pinochet; Herbst Theater, San Francisco.

March 04, 2009

On Ideology and Its Delusions: Mark Danner Debates Bernard Henri-Lévy

A debate with Mark Danner and Bernard Henry-Lévy, moderated by Caroline Weber. The Festival of New French Writing, New York University, New York. 

February 27, 2009

Words in a Time of War: Department of Rhetoric Commencement

Commencement address given to graduates of the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, published by

The Rhetoric-Major President

By Scott Horton

We're at peak commencement season right now, and so far we've paused in this column to note several speeches by administration figures — Cheney's disgraceful speech at West Point, Gates's noble address to the midshipmen in Annapolis. But from all the texts I have seen, one commencement address really stands out for its immediacy and importance. It was delivered a few days ago by a former Harper's writer, Mark Danner, at the University of California in Berkeley, and it's called "Words in a Time of War." Danner labels President Bush as the first "Rhetoric-Major President," and he deconstructs the Bush presidency's use of cheap political rhetoric to obscure reality. Here's a snippet, in which Danner reflects on the same fairly obscure (but very consequential) document on which I will have some words to say in the upcoming July issue of Harper's:

It was the assumption of this so-called preponderance that lay behind the philosophy of power enunciated by Bush's Brain and that led to an attitude toward international law and alliances that is, in my view, quite unprecedented in American history. That radical attitude is brilliantly encapsulated in a single sentence drawn from the National Security Strategy of the United States of 2003: "Our strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes and terrorism." Let me repeat that little troika of "weapons of the weak": international fora (meaning the United Nations and like institutions), judicial processes (meaning courts, domestic and international), and…. terrorism. This strange gathering, put forward by the government of the United States, stems from the idea that power is, in fact, everything. In such a world, courts - indeed, law itself - can only limit the power of the most powerful state. Wielding preponderant power, what need has it for law? The latter must be, by definition, a weapon of the weak. The most powerful state, after all, makes reality.

Now, of course, the Bush rhetoric is imploding all about him, pointing to the risk a politician takes when he pursues inflammatory rhetoric dangerously at odds with reality. Bush believed that his words and America's military power had the power to craft a new reality, but in this he was like the sorcerer's apprentice of that famous poem by Goethe, who has now unleashed forces he cannot control ("Die ich rief, die Geister,/Werd ich nun nicht los.")

Danner's remarks appear today in an abbreviated form in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times but it's best to read the whole text—crafted as a commencement address to the Rhetoric Department, but its proper audience is our entire nation.

May 10, 2007

Dirty Wars: Readings Against Torture, Arbitrary Detention, Kidnapping, and Rendition

The PEN World Voices Festival, Joe's Pub, New York; readings by Mark Danner, Nadine Gordimer, Breyten Bretenbach, Francine Prose, Rose Styron, and others

Tags: PEN | Torture | Readings

April 26, 2007

Living with Literature: From Reading The Iliad to Covering Iraq

Mark Danner interviewed by Muriel "Aggie" Murch, "Living with Literature" radio program, KWMR 90.5 FM, Point Reyes, CA.

April 20, 2007

The Politics of the Forever War: Terror, Rights, and George Bush's State of Exception

The 2006 Remarque Lecture by Mark Danner, the Remarque Institute, New York University

November 14, 2006

Into the Light of Day: Torture, Human Rights, and Bush's State of Exception

Lecture by Mark Danner; Jeremy Waldron and Scott Horton, respondents; "Theology, International Law, and Torture" Conference, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

January 13, 2006

Covering the Iraq War: The 'Media Strategy' of the Insurgents

Mark Danner interviewed by Brooke Gladstone
"On the Media" radio program, NPR

October 28, 2005

The Torture Question: A "Frontline" Special Report

Documentary by Michael Kirk, featuring Mark Danner, John Yoo, Michael Scheuer, Janis Karpinksi, Michael Ratner, et al.

October 18, 2005

The Right to Torture, the Right Not to Be: Danner vs. Yoo

Mark Danner debates John Yoo and Tom Farer, moderated by Harry Kreisler. Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley.

May 02, 2005

Gonzales Grilled on Role in Torture at Confirmation Hearings

Mark Danner on Democracy Now! with
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez
Pacifica Radio Network

January 07, 2005

Alberto Gonzales' Role in Torture Memos Like "Mafia Lawyer Whose Job it is to Help the Don Stay Out of Jail"

Mark Danner on Democracy Now! with
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez
Pacifica Radio Network

Tags: Interviews

January 06, 2005

Torture and Truth

Mark Danner interviewed by Dave Gilson,

December 07, 2004

Report From Baghdad: Mark Danner and David Gelber

Mark Danner interviewed by David Gelber of CBS Sixty Minutes at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

November 11, 2003

American Imperialism and Iraq: A Conversation Between Mark Danner and James Chace

Mark Danner in conversation with author James Chace, published in Spring 2004 issue of the Bardian, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

September 30, 2003

How Should We Use Our Power?: Iraq and the War on Terror

Mark Danner debates Leon Wieseltier at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA; broadcast on CBS News Sunday Morning

March 05, 2003

Empire State Building: Is America Becoming an Empire?

Mark Danner debates Niall Ferguson, on "Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson", PBS

February 28, 2003

Danner vs. Hitchens: "How Should We Use Our Power? Iraq and the War on Terror"

Mark Danner debates Christopher Hitchens, The Goldman Forum on the Press and Foreign Affairs, at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley

January 28, 2003

Setting the Agenda? The New York Times and America's View of the World

Mark Danner in conversation with Howell Raines, New York Times executive editor, and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher, and Dean Orville Schell, The Goldman Forum on the Press and Foreign Affairs, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley

November 18, 2002

War and Genocide in Kosovo: A Look at the Present Conflict

Mark Danner speaks at the World Affairs Council of Northern California, San Francisco

May 05, 1999

Ideas and Leadership in US Foreign Policy: Conversations with History

Mark Danner interviewed by Harry Kreisler, of U.C. Berkeley's International and Area Studies Department

May 03, 1999

Editing the New York Review of Books: A Conversation with Robert B. Silvers

Mark Danner in conversation with Robert Silvers, North Gate Hall Library, UC Berkeley

April 28, 1999

America and the World: Elections in El Salvador

Mark Danner in conversation with Alvaro De Soto, U.N. Secretary General's Advisor on Latin American Affairs, moderated by Richard Hottelet, America and the World, National Public Radio

May 28, 1994

Cutting Through the Fabric of Lies: On El Mozote

Mark Danner interviewed by John Nichols, The Capital Times, Madison, WI

May 06, 1994

Turmoil in Haiti

Mark Danner in conversation with Jocelyn McCalla, Thomas Carothers and Charles Kernaghan, The Charlie Rose Show, PBS, New York

May 04, 1994

America and the World: Haiti, its Military Dictators, and the Hope of Democracy

Mark Danner interviewed by Richard Hottelet, America and the World, National Public Radio

Tags: NPR | Interviews | Haiti

December 03, 1993

Central America, The US and Clinton's Trade Initiative

Cable News Network Interview with President Bill Clinton, Mark Danner, Rep. Robert Torricelli, Former President Jimmy Carter, and Bernard Aronson

December 01, 1993

© 2022 Mark Danner