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Past Podcast: War, 2009

Wired for War: Everything You Wanted to Know about Robots and War, but Were Afraid to Ask... Afraid to Ask... Afraid to Ask...

Speaker: Singer, Peter
Lecture by Peter Singer, director, 21st Century Defense Initiative, The Brookings Institution An amazing revolution is taking place on the battlefield, starting to change not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself. This upheaval is already afoot--remote-controlled planes carry out air strikes into Pakistan, while the number of unmanned systems on the ground in Iraq has gone from zero to 12,000 over the last five years. In his lecture, Peter Singer suggests that this is only the start. The latest prototypes are not only faster, but also smarter, ranging in size from planes with wings the length of a football field to tiny drones the size of an insect. What happens as science fiction becomes battefield reality? How must we respond? Peter W. Singer is Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. As leading expert on changes in 21st century warfare he has written for major media, including The Boston Glob, New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, and Foreign Affairs. Dr. Singer's most recent book, Wired for War (2009), examines the implications of new technologies for war and politics. He also wrote Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (2003) and Children at War (2005). Dr. Singer received his BA from Princeton University and his PhD in Government from Harvard University.

The Goldstone Report on the Gaza War - Between International Law and Politics

Speaker: Biletzki, Anat
Anat Biletzki Professor of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University Albert Schweitzer Visiting Professor, Quinnipiac University The Goldstone Report (Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict) was commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza. After three months of investigation it was published as an official document in the context of international humanitarian law and international human rights law; it was received, however, as a political manifesto. The ensuing citations of its highlights, explications of its content, commendations of its daring, admonitions against its conclusions, denials of its empirical results and analysis, and accusations of its biases merit a critical assessment. Professor Biletzki's point is not to evaluate its factual and legal substance - though that may serve as necessary background - but rather to appraise the subsequent discussion as a political conversation. Professor Biletzki is the Albert Schweitzer Visiting Professor in Political Science at Quinnipiac University.

Rape Trauma, Combat Trauma, and the Making of PTSD: Feminist Fiction in the 1970's

Speaker: Bachner, Sally
Throughout the 1970s veterans, activists, and psychiatrists were hard at work getting the disorder that came to be called PTSD included in the upcoming edition of the DSM-III. During the same period, feminists were building a successful anti-rape movement that crucially insisted that rape is a form of violence. Professor Bachner will propose that while both of these groups sought to bring suffering--of combat veterans and rape victims, respectively--into speech, many feminist novelists of this period instead turn to the figure of the soldier to figure rape as unspeakable. PTSD functions in these texts as a technology for figuring what was intially conceived of as suppressed speech about violence against women as a putatively "unspeakable" trauma. Sally Bachner is Assistant Professor of English at Wesleyan. She is currently completing a book on violence in contemporary American fiction: "The Prestige of Violence: American Fiction, 1962-2002" traces the emerging representations of violence as prelinguistic, held to be authentic and inviolable. Professor Bachner is author of a number of chapters and essays on modern fiction. Professor Bachner received her BA from Reed College and her PhD in English Literature from Princeton.

War and the Nation

Speaker: Rutland, Peter
Historically, war has been constitutive of national identity. To the extent that inter-state wars are becoming less common, does this signal the demise of nationalism as a basis for civic identity? The provisional answer is no. Or at least, it depends. Arguably, globalization brings heterogeneity, not homogeneity. So nationalism may be strengthening in some parts of the world as it is waning in others. In his lecture, Professor Rutland suggests that this is a potential recipe for confusion, since different parts of the world are working within different mental frameworks. There is an asymmetry between the assumptions behind the interventions of "post-national" powers like the United States and the European Union and countries that are still in a pre-modern or modern or modern nationalism mode, from China to Iraq. Professor Rutland will be asking, How can post-war nations find ways to coexist with war-making nations? How can nations still searching for their national cohesion, such as Russia, be helped to come up with an identity that transcends war? Peter Rutland is Professor of Government at Wesleyan University.

War in Flanders in 1127-28

Speaker: Rider, Jeff
Lecture by Jeff Rider, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Wesleyan University

Fascism and the Sacred: Sites of Inquiry After (or Along with) Trauma

Speaker: Lacapra, Dominick

Justice from the Victim's Perspective

Speaker: Herman, Judith
In the course of their recovery, victims of violent crimes confront the most basic questions about the meaning of justice: How can the truth be made known? How should offenders be held accountable? What is appropriate punishment? How could the harm be repaired? How can victims and offenders go on living in the same community? Is reconciliation possible? For victims of tyrannical political regimes, as well as victims of sexual and domestic violence, such questions are particularly complicated, because the crimes are often so widespread and so often socially condoned. The standard procedures of criminal law are poorly designed to provide a remedy for these crimes. However, the procedures of restorative justice also fall short, because the emphasis on reconciliation places an undue burden on victims and creates pressure for premature forgiveness, even in the absence of apology or restitution. Dr. Herman's lecture, based primarily on the testimony of victims and victim advocates, will focus on the question of what justice might look like if victims were the protagonists, rather than peripheral actors, in the dialectic of criminal law.

Paradoxes of International Justice

Speaker: Moon, Donald J.
After WW II European colonial empires were disbanded and virtually all of the world's territory came to be politically organized into territorially distinct sovereign states. At the same time, there has been a growing concern throughout the world with idea of international or global justice, manifested in part in the emergence of an international doctrine of human rights. These developments stand in tension to each other, as emerging international standards are increasingly used to justify various forms of intervention in the domestic affairs of supposedly sovereign states and even to redefine the meaning of "sovereignty" itself. Ironically, interventions to protect human rights can often undercut the very rights invoked to justify the interventions in the first place. In his lecture, Professor Moon explores some paradoxes to which the commitment to international justice seems to give rise, with an eye to assessing the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention.

Thinking Beyond War

Speaker: Wilson, Isaiah III
Why was there a deliberate plan to fight the war in Iraq but none to win the peace? This question, which has caused such confusion and consternation among the American public and been the subject of much political wrangling over the past few years, is the focus of Lt. Col. Isaiah Wilson's lecture. Wilson locates a flaw in the government's definition of when, how, and for what reasons the United States intervenes abroad. It is a paradox in the American way of peace and war, he proposes, that harkens back to America's war loss in Vietnam and continues to this day to haunt U.S. intervention policy, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond. His exploration of this paradox calls for new organizational and operational approaches to America's intervention policy. In challenging current western societal military lexicon and doctrine, Wilson offers new hope and practical solutions to overcome the paradox.

Re-thinking Feminism's Sex Wars: Theorizing Male Violence in the Age of Regan

Speaker: Potter, Claire
Radical feminist struggles over sexuality generated what have come to be seen as the "feminist sex wars" of the 1970s and 1980s. Professor Claire Potter examines the theoretical, ethical and historical dimensions of these wars, asking in particular how the sex wars and the political history of the Reagan era might be made relevant to, and illuminate, each other. Professor Potter argues that critical questions about the nature of violence in the late Cold War United States - the legacy of the Vietnam War, the emergence or capture of radical anti- war activists like Jane Alpert, and the disappearance of boundaries between the military and society -- are also critical concerns for a history of radical feminism. Her lecture focuses on activists whose paths to feminism came through the peace and civil rights movements, and not through women's liberation.

Rethinking Violence, September 14, 2009

Speaker: Cavarero, Adriana
We need a global theory of violence, one that reconceptualises its lexicon as the current human practices of massacre turn defenceless people into exemplary targets of destruction. Terms like "War" and "Terrorism", faithful to traditional nomenclature, persist in observing the various devastating scenarios from the perspective of the regular or irregular warrior. The geopolitical realm, however, has changed. Defenceless victims, vulnerable people, and civilians butchered at random are the ordinary protagonists here. Professor Cavarero proposes that the newly coined category of "Horrorism" aims at interrogating the Zeitgeist from their point of view.

The Military Normal and the Human Terrain of Warfare, September 21, 2009

Speaker: Lutz, Catherine
Militarization remains a relatively minor concept in the academy, while war, peace, and torture are everyday terms of some pedagogy and some hallway conversation. This is both sign and challenge to the normalization of a huge military in the United States, that is, history's largest military budget and most extensive military-industrial-media-educational complex. Professor Lutz discusses how the bio-evolutionary notion that "security is the highest need of any organism" and other cultural premises form some of the foundation stones for everyday discussions of the idea of America and its military. These notions are especially illuminated by looking at those premises in two extreme contexts, including the massive military buildup currently underway in the US territory of Guam and the drive to revivify counterinsurgency theory and practice in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blood and Soil: Genocide in World History, October 5, 2009

Speaker: Kiernan, Ben
This illustrated lecture, examines the ideologies behind outbreaks of mass violence from the classical era to the present, focusing on worldwide colonial exterminations from the Caribbean to Korea, and twentieth-century case studies including the Nazi Holocaust and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Professor Kiernan identifies connections, patterns, and recurring features that often gave early warning of the catastrophe to come: racism or religious prejudice, territorial expansionism, and cults of antiquity and agrarianism. A range of historical evidence thus offers telltale signs for predicting and preventing future genocides.

Gone Nuclear: War, Disaster, and the Contemporary Imagination, October 19, 2009

Speaker: Torgovnick, Marianna
The imagination of atomic or nuclear disaster haunts the United States and has been a persistent motif in American novels and films, especially as concerns New York. Referencing historical, fictional, and filmic representations, Professor Torgovnick will uncover the changing terms of such representations over the decades and their implications for the aesthetic, ethical, and political imagination. What does it mean that the bombings of World War II rather rarely figure in such works? What is the persistent lure of destruction? And what does it have to do with New York? The lecture will be illustrated by film clips and examples, some of them today quite rare.

We Have Been Here: Visions of Internment in The Moriyuki Shimada Scrapbook, November 02, 2009

Speaker: Chambers-Letson, Joshua
During World War Two, a series of legal performatives labored to legitimize the exclusion and incarceration of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans. A corresponding public relations campaign relied upon visual imagery in film, photography, and propaganda to define the Japanese American body as the limit point to national belonging and a threat to national security. Despite bans on photography by internees, a significant number of the incarcerated smuggled equipment into the camps, documenting the range of the life worlds exceeding the boundaries of the bared wire. In this talk, Professor Chambers-Letson argues that the photographic scrapbook of internee Moriyuki Shimada is a type of performing object, affirming affective particularity against the visual, social, and juridical exclusion of Japanese America; modeling alternative modes of social and civic belonging; and documenting the technologies of subjection that occurred within America's concentration camps.

Before Trauma: Doppelgangers and Psychological Violence in Yumeno Kyusaku's "Dogura Magura" (1935), November 09, 2009

Speaker: Nakamura, Miri
In post-1945 Japan, the concept of trauma has become inseparable from its experience in the Pacific War, whether it describes Japan itself as a victim, shattered by the destructions of the atomic bombs, or its colonial subjects, speaking up about the atrocities committed by the Japanese military force. In fact, trauma has become the dominant narrative to describe the nation's defeat, and this prevalence is often never questioned. But what came before trauma? Were there any other forms of narrating war in Japan? When exactly did war come to occupy the psychological space? In her lecture, Professor Nakamura considers these questions by looking back at the so-called "prewar" era of Japan and examining the anti-war literature of the detective fiction writer Yumeno Kyusaku together with early psychological studies on the effect of war.

Why Civil Resistance Works: Nonviolent Resistance as an Alternative to Armed Insurgency, November 23, 2009

Speaker: Chenoweth, Erica
Insurgents have triumphed in the Algerian war of independence, the Chinese Revolution, and the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan, among other cases. These victories have convinced many observers that violent insurgency is likely to succeed. Moreover, insurgents often claim that they turn to violence as a last resort, having exhausted all other methods of seeking redress for their grievances. Professor Chenoweth's lecture challenges both claims, arguing that nonviolent resistance has actually been more effective in the 20th century than violent resistance. She presents a new data set, which provides robust statistical evidence of the strategic superiority of nonviolent resistance, even in cases where the opponent regime is brutal. The research implies that violent resistance is seldom necessary, as many insurgents claim. Rather, civil resistance can be an effective substitute for insurgency in civil wars.

Mourning War: A Story of Love and Greed in British America, December 7, 2009

Speaker: Swinehart, Kirk
Why would indigenous peoples ally themselves with an empire fashionably demonized as a colonizing oppressor? It's a divisive question, and it continues to haunt those who live in Britain's former imperial outposts, from Calcutta to Nairobi. Of course there were always practical reasons to fight alongside the British. But there were also intimate ones that defy easy categorization. Few military policies in the history of the British Empire incited greater outrage than George III's deployment of Indian warriors against rebelling colonists during the American Revolution. And few martial alliances depended so visibly and heavily on the influence of a single family the biracial dynasty of Sir William Johnson, an Irish imigri and adopted Mohawk who emerged as one of the eighteenth century's most colorful and divisive political figures. In his lecture, Professor Swinehart suggests how the remarkable story of Johnson's ill-fated clan contains a larger story about elusive forces that would bring indigenous peoples into British service well into the twentieth century.