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Description   |   Syllabus

The End of the Paradigm? Terror, Trump and the Testing of Human Rights
Bard College
Fall, 2017

Description
The End of the Paradigm?
Terror, Trump and the Testing of Human Rights
HR 236   Fall 2017   MW 10:10-11:30   Olin 203
Mark Danner

Since at least the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, and as far back as the Lieber Code during the Civil War, the United States has been a leader of the international human rights movement. In recent decades this leadership has gone hand in hand with national interest, which also meant building multilateral alliances in Europe and Asia and imposing with the help of American military power an open worldwide trading system. As these alliances and the trading system built upon them have come into question with the rise to power of Donald J. Trump, so too has American leadership in the promotion of human rights. In this class we will examine the history of US human rights policy, analyze its overlap -- and conflicts -- with US national security interests, and seek to understand the actions of the Trump Administration as it builds a new "America First" foreign policy.



Syllabus

Class Requirements This class will be a mixture of lectures and discussion, backed up by a large amount of reading. The most important requirements are that students

*Attend all class sessions
*Keep up with reading assignments
*Participate in discussions
*Complete the Midterm Examination
*Deliver one presentation to the class

A student’s record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the thoroughness of his or her preparation, will determine the success of our class and contribute the better part of the grade.


Schedule Note that classes will meet Monday and Wednesday mornings at 10:10 a.m. in Olin 203. 


Reading Our primary reading will draw largely from a number of books on human rights and US foreign policy. They are listed below. I strongly urge you to obtain these books in your own copies and in the edition specified, either from the school bookstore or from online suppliers, so that you will be able to highlight and annotate them.

Tracking the News A significant part of the class will be given over to tracking and discussing US foreign policy as it emerges out of the end of the first year of the Trump administration. Following these events closely in various publications, beginning with the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers and websites, is essential. Even if you are not a habitual newspaper reader, you must become one for this class.

Presentations Each student will make one presentation in class on a subject related to our assigned reading or discussion. The latitude on subject matter is quite broad. Use of multimedia and social media is strongly encouraged. 


Writing There will be an in-class midterm examination on October 11. The midterm will consist of short-answer questions and some essay questions. Depending on response to the reading there may be an occasional in-class quiz. Whether or not there will be a final examination will depend on the performance of the class in the judgment of the professor during the semester.
     To bolster the clarity and vigor of your English prose, I strongly suggest studying two works: George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language,” which can be readily found on the web, and Strunk and White’s little manual, The Elements of Style. 




Office Hours I will count on meeting with each of you individually at least once during the course of the term. We will make these appointments on an ad hoc basis. I am best reached via email, at mark@markdanner.com. My office is in Aspinwall 108. My writing, speaking and other information can be found at my website, markdanner.com.


Grading Students will be graded on their preparedness and their participation in class, the strength of their presentations and the quality of their written work, as follows:

Attendance          25 percent
Participation        25 percent
Midterm Exam    25 percent
Presentation       25 percent

To do well in this class a solid record of attendance is essential. 




Required Texts   



David Calleo, Follies of Power: America’s Unipolar Fantasy (Cambridge, 2009)

Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

Mark Danner, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War (S&S, 2016)

Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (St. Martin’s, 2016)

Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, 2016) 

Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steven Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin, 2017)

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015)

Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz, The Art of the Deal (Ballantine, 2015 [1987])

Donald J. Trump, Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again (Threshold, 2015)

Garry Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State (Penguin, 2011)



________________
Suggested Texts


Clapham, Andrew. Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, Oxford UP, 2007.

Alexander, Matthew, and John R. Bruning. How to Break a Terrorist: Inside U.S. Interrogators' Hunt for the Deadliest Man in Iraq. New York, Free Press, 2008.

Mackey, Chris, and Greg Miller. The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War against Al Qaeda. New York, Little, Brown, 2004.

Hunt, Lynn Avery. Inventing Human Rights: A History. New York, W.W. Norton, 2008.




Tentative Syllabus


September 4, 2017 – No Class.

September 6 – Introduction: What is “the paradigm”? A survey of US foreign policy since World War II. Realism and idealism. Democracy promotion and human rights. Trump and Isolationism, Neo-Mercantilism, Taftism. The ideology of “rollback.” A word about Korea.

September 11 – Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

September 13 – Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

September 18 – Garry Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State (Penguin, 2011)

September 20 – Garry Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern 
Presidency and the National Security State (Penguin, 2011) 


September 25 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015)


September 27 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015)


October 2 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015)

October 4 – Mark Danner, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War (S&S, 2016)

October 9 --  No Class (Fall Break).

October 11 – Midterm Examination. The exam, given in class at the usual place and time, will include ten to twenty short answers and four to six short essays, all of it based on the reading and on class discussion. 

October 16 – Mark Danner, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War (S&S, 2016)

October 18 – Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz, The Art of the Deal (Ballantine, 2015 [1987])

October 23 – Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz, The Art of the Deal (Ballantine, 2015 [1987])

October 25 – Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, 2016)

October 30 – Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, 2016)


November 1 – Richard Haas, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (Penguin, 2017)

November 6 – Richard Haas, A World in Disarray:American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (Penguin, 2017)

November 8 – Donald J. Trump, Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again (Threshold, 2015)


November 13 – Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steven Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin, 2017)

November 15 – Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steven Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin, 2017)

November 20 – Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (St. Martin’s, 2016)

November 22 -- Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (St. Martin’s, 2016)


November 27 – David Calleo, Follies of Power: America’s Unipolar Fantasy (Cambridge, 2009)


November 29 – David Calleo, Follies of Power: America’s Unipolar Fantasy (Cambridge, 2009)


December 4 – David Calleo, Follies of Power: America’s Unipolar Fantasy (Cambridge, 2009)

December 6 – -- Final Exam. This will be a combination of short answer questions and short essay questions, similar to the midterm, given in class. We will confirm sometime in late November.

December 11 – Conclusion. A summary of the themes of power and human rights, a look back at US foreign policy during the fall of 2017 and a consideration of the evolving phenomenon of Trumpism.



Annotated Syllabus

September 4, 2017 – No Class.

September 6 – Introduction: What is “the paradigm”? A survey of US foreign policy since World War II. Realism and idealism. Democracy promotion and human rights. Trump and Isolationism, Neo-Mercantilism, Taftism. The ideology of “rollback.” A word about Korea. Human rights as a propaganda method or a raison d’etre, the Trump era makes us question previous beliefs and tests American institutions. 

September 11 – Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)
Discussion regarding US foreign policy from the 40’s to the 80’s and how there seems to be a shift and how the US regards policies of containment. Establishment of organizations such as NATO which was supposed to keep American influence in Europe and keep the Soviets out, Pacific alliances with Japan and Korea which allow for the stationing of troops. Looking into how realism is opposed to idealism in certain instances, especially in the US, and how this follows the same argument of national security being opposed to human rights. 

September 13 – Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)
Discussing “The Massacre at El Mozote.” How could the El Mozote massacre have been denied abroad? And, how did the US benefit from denying the massacre? In terms of reporting the El Mozote massacre, many credible sources sacrificed gut instinct and emotion for the sake of credibility and did not really acknowledge the massacre. Debate in American congress where the democrats were wanting to cut off aid to El Salvador, and it was also in the interest of the Salvadoran guerrillas to prove the massacre had happened since they wanted the aid to stop.  

September 18 – Garry Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State (Penguin, 2011)

September 20 – Garry Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State (Penguin, 2011)
"The Declaration of Independence." US History, www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/.
"The Declaration of the Rights of Man." Yale Law School, avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rightsof.asp.
"Universal Declaration of Human Rights." United Nations, www.un.org/en/udhrbook/pdf/udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf.
Nuclear threats today: the nuclear triads (water based, water based, air based). Strategic weapons are those which can be delivered directly to target. 
Discussing “Bomb Power.” How the book, written under the Bush administration, views the Bomb as such a powerful tool of national and foreign policy. The powers of the Cold War seem to never really have been relinquished, and the US government has repeatedly used secrecy as a political tool rather than in the name of national security. 

Class Recording

September 25 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015) 
Trump, Donald J. Speech. United Nations, Sept. 2017, New York City.
Trump speech to the United Nations discussion, and how the three pillars were addressed in this speech (security, sovereignty, prosperity). Trump opposes sovereignty to human rights and this causes serious concern both nationally and internationally. The history of sovereignty, and how it goes back to 1648 and the treaty of Westphalia. Sovereignty is often given as a rationale for not interfering with another country.  The speech is a revolutionary declaratory speech, something that we have never seen before. Trump has branded the US as a realist nation.
Additionally, “Guantanamo Diary,” as a touching personal narrative. Introducing legal terms such as habeas corpus. Discussion about the nature of torture and what it means when it is no longer seen as something terrible which a government cannot undertake. Torture is the worst violation of human rights that happens in the United States. Ould Slahi is disillusioned with the US in his narrative. The Geneva convention of 1949 sets up the international agreed upon treatment of people during war. The US detainees at GTMO are called detainees so that they can circumvent the Geneva Convention which discusses the treatment of prisoners. Office for legal counsel in the US makes sure laws are being followed, and has defined torture as “pain equivalent to major organ failure or death.”

Class Recording
September 27 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015)
Mark Danner, "No Exit," New York Times Book Review, February 1, 2015.
US policies have shifted to the point where someone is now guilty until proven innocent, rather than vice versa. The US has consistently said that they detain for the sake of preventing new attacks rather than based on probably cause. Many times, detainees are not being released because no one wants the responsibility of releasing someone who will then act out, so one weighs the danger of the prisoner versus the incriminating evidence. Discussion about how today we seem to have a security theater which gives the illusion of security rather than actually making us safer. 

Class Recording

October 2 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015)
Mark Danner, "No Exit," New York Times Book Review, February 1, 2015.
Discussion regarding Trump’s policies and the US strategy regarding North Korea. Is there a strategy? To what extent are the tweets important? 
Torture in US prisons and abroad, how the US consistently uses “cruel and unusual punishment,” and bends laws to suit various legal definitions. We live in a state of exception which seems to have no end, and political administrations simply become complacent. 

Class Recording

October 4 – Mark Danner, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War (S&S, 2016)
"The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea." The New Yorker
The Korean conflict never really had an opportunity to end, and the current escalations of tensions are worsening over time, though no one seems to be taking actions. At what point must the threats become action in order for the US to remain credible. The US seems to be damaging its reputation above all. North Korea may also be misinterpreting US actions, though this is no fault of their own. When force is being used over diplomacy, and different signals are being sent to NK, it is difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is simply a threat. 
History of the NK and SK conflict and the establishment of the 38th parallel, indicating there really was no peace treaty, simply a ceasefire. 

Class Recording

October 9 --  No Class (Fall Break).

October 11 – Midterm Examination. The exam, given in class at the usual place and time, will include ten to twenty short answers and four to six short essays, all of it based on the reading and on class discussion. 

October 16 – Midterm exam discussion

Class Recording

October 18 – Mark Danner, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War (S&S, 2016)
Discussion about “Spiral” and the current increase in operational tempo, courtesy of Donald Trump. How was the state of exception continued? (extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation, secrecy, indefinite detention). Obama has also, despite all his great attributes, perpetrated this state of exception through subtle language and stepping around certain issues, as well as his consistent use of drones.  Of the last 72 years where America has been engaged in war(s) only ten of those years have been lived in relative peace. 
The US is now fighting “associates” of Al Qaeda, not understanding that their constant war is only breeding more terrorism, so the war is seemingly never ending. It is hard to stop this mode of thinking, as the rhetoric of withdrawing would make one believe that the war had been lost. 

October 23 – No Class

October 25 – Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz, The Art of the Deal (Ballantine, 2015 [1987])
Mayer, Jane. "Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All." The New Yorker
Discussion regarding Trump’s book, clearly demonstrating that he either cannot read or does not read. Article about his ghostwriter giving additional insight into his personality, and helps us understand that Trump’s second nature is lying and that he has a very short attention span. 
Discussion about the nature of taxation and Reagan era economics, where there was a huge tax cut for the right. Trump’s tax proposal is actually similar to this. George W Bush did something similar and it was a disaster, it created a huge deficit and a collapse in the economy.


October 30 – Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz, The Art of the Deal (Ballantine, 2015 [1987])
Trump and the press have a very special relationship, the press is actually a huge fan of Trump because he consistently gives them an interesting store. He is a sensationalist with an even bigger flair for the dramatic. Trump is successful insofar as he understands what the audience wants and knows how to cater to the desire of the audiences around him and skew their perception of him. 

November 1 – Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, 2016)
Discussion about Manafort and Gates indictment. Various facets of the case, and why the charges were brought about the way they were. Why did Mueller come after Manafort and Gates? Likely because they are supposed to be turning in other people, negotiating for shorter sentences and therefore implicating other officials (possibly higher level...TRUMP). How does impeachment work (and how does it work)?

November 6 – Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, 2016)
The Apprentice Presentation: an influence on the Trump campaign, a survival type show that showcases Trump as a person. 
Discussion of “Trump Revealed,” and the three phases of Trump. Beginning with the builder phase where his father bailed him out numerous times. The idea of a self made man is ridiculous. Secondly, the out of control phase where he deals with gambling and spends a LOT of money. Third is the branding phase, of which The Apprentice plays a big role where Trump sells his name and his brand. Trump believes he can buy everything with his name. 
November 8 – Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, 2016)
Trump Asia Trip discussion. There seems to be a freeze-freeze situation with North Korea, and Trump’s trip is supposed to help ease or change the situation. A possible outcome would be that NK would stop weaponizing or going to the ICBM stage and that America would stop testing in South Korea. The deals with NK could be made via China. On the other hand, China is worried about refugees coming into their country, and causing instability and problems. Trump is trying to convince China to act based on trade and economic incentives. 
“Trump Revealed” discussion mostly centered on MONEY: if one donates a lot of money, the politician is “in the pocket.” This is a tactic that Trump is very familiar with as he often donated to politicians and so he often spoke about the fact that he could not be bought and that the “elite” in Washington was corrupt because of this. 

November 13 – Richard Haas, A World in Disarray:American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (Penguin, 2017)
During the cold war the world was arguably NOT in disarray, precisely because there were two big competing ideologies and powers that were going head to head in confrontation. These two big powers kept their power through their spheres of influence, and they also had legitimacy. The US is often described as the keeper of the status quo, so when they deviate from the status quo (Paris agreement, trans pacific partnership), the world does descend into disarray. 

November 15 –Richard Haas, A World in Disarray:American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (Penguin, 2017)
Trump’s trip to Asia: APEC CEO speech where Trump, once again, proclaimed his “America First” policy. Trump believes his relationship with Asian nations is only due to him and his great character and charm. 
Rohingya presentation

November 20 – Donald J. Trump, Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again (Threshold, 2015)
Crippled America: Book sounds completely dictated and fake. Candidates running for president tend to write a campaign book in order to show who they are and outline their policies. Even so, Trump makes very little sense. Filled with puerile reasoning, childlike logic that obviously seems to have appealed and functioned. Character of the argument is non falsifiable: people mistake feeling for fact. Book is an argument against those with knowledge, therefore it appeals to those without knowledge (which is most people who are or choose to be uneducated). He is agreeing with people who are not knowledgeable and validating their opinions. 
Resentment is an incredibly important emotion in his campaign. Even democratic demonstrators at the rallies help, Trump needed someone to yell at. His enemies are a critical part of getting people to vote for him. 
Presentation on the trial of the massacre at El Mozote. 

Class Recording

November 22 --No Class

November 27 – Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steven Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin, 2017)
Donald Trump policy of  “America First!” Trump running against: elites (Hillary was the perfect embodiment of this), refugees, muslims, foreigners, the intelligentsia (people with expertise: scholars),  republicans (“draining the swamp”) etc. The rhetoric that the less you know the more you are convinced by the arguments of Donald Trump: it doesn't matter that things are true or not true because people believe him anyways. If you are dictating what is true or not, you are part of the “intelligentsia.” The logic is self confirming. 
Resentment, powerlessness and frustration towards the elite because people do not understand what is happening, and what deals are being brokered. Trump offering simple answers to very complex questions. 
Trump saying people are calling americans suckers and laughing at them, throwing over multilateral agreements because America is throwing away their own independence and resources for multilateral agreements. 
November 29 – Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steven Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin, 2017)
Erdbrink, Thomas. "Long Divided, Iran Unites Against Trump and Saudis in a Nationalist Fervor." The New York Times.
North Korean missile test: Trump’s bizarre response. In times of growing threat from the United States, when does America begin to lose face? North Korea continues to test as if nothing happens and the United States does not respond- What will be the consequence? (Future threats not taken seriously, American leaders tend not to threaten with nuclear weapons because they are unlikely to follow through and then the threat is dissipated). Why is the NK crisis not being treated the way the Cuban missile crisis was? The degree of interest in the news, or the obsession with the news, gives a skewed sense of the importance of these issues. 
“Norms forbidding such behavior were not inviolable,” (this was about the birther movement). Why does no scandal bring Trump down? In the polls, during the time of the apprentice show, Trump had good ratings with latinos and african americans. Trump was sort of like a cartoon character, not just a very white conservative (eg. Romney). Harping on the storyline of the “average worker” and the notion of manifest destiny. 
Not only did Trump win, but CLINTON lost. Bannon was both a strategist for Trump and an anti-Hillary fighter. Many of Hillary’s voters did not turn out because they were dismayed by her actions and the news which came out about her. 

December 4 – Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (St. Martin’s, 2016)
Why was Flynn pleading guilty? Likely because he is implicating someone higher up or has come to an agreement with the feds to testify. Mueller seems to be constructing an obstruction of justice charge. Mueller bringing charges that are unpardonable, federal charges (pardonable) with state charges (unpardonable). 
“The Field of Fight,” conspiracy theories, setting forward American foreign policy based on false information or incomplete information. Use of “radical islam” versus “terrorism,” Flynn uses the term radical islam. Goes back and forth between talking about radical islam and the islamic religion in general- He cannot see the distinction.(Flynn is upset that Obama won’t say the term “radical islam,” but what is this going to do?) Flynn sees anyone who doesn't vote republican as a “traitor.” Neo-conservative theory of the 80’s: all terrorists, though they seem different, are all backed by the Russians. Never ending obsession with Iran!!!!
Presentation of the use of drones 

December 6 – David Calleo, Follies of Power: America’s Unipolar Fantasy (Cambridge, 2009)
Trump deciding to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, disagreeing with European counterparts. Many presidents have said that they would move the embassy, Trump seems to actually be doing it. 
Similarities and differences between Trump and Bush: reliance on advisors, Bush not going against the party line, Bush acting as a leader for world preservation and proliferation of democracy. In both instances, the two presidents did things that went against the Europeans. 
Hegemonic power of the united states, has not been relinquished. Obsession with Iran and winning battles but not war (eg. Vietnam). United States setting up international economic system: because things are denominated in dollars, they can afford the enormous trade deficit: This is what allows the US to fund themselves and to run huge trade deficits (living way above its means without suffering from it). 

Class Recording

December 11 – Political Citizenship. Trump has brought many things to the white house, but America’s desire to “stomp” on the world and control things is not new. The Trump phenomenon is not new, it stems from history. Think of the future and what things will become: LOOK DEEPER! 

Class Recording

December 13 – Advising Day 



© 2018 Mark Danner