There was a whole new civil-rights era, both for those whose skin color and for those whose love was long met by prejudice. The first iPhone was released during the campaign. We got our news from Facebook, debated consent, and took down Bill Cosby. Elon Musk built a spaceship to Mars. That is, how will millennials remember the era in which they were so casually mocked, even as they remade the world with social media and an easy openness about gender? History depends on who gets to tell the story, of course, and while we took care in our choice of storytellers, the perspectives here are by no means complete or unskewed.
The timeline, too — essentially a litany of events, some major and others telling but trivial — is painfully selective to us, and probably you. And it only goes so far — to the present, that is, when the president, like the rest of us, watches uneasily over the final weeks of a very unsettling campaign that even he describes as a referendum on his presidency and the profound cultural changes that came with it. We felt that as an opening proposal it was ambitious but needed, and that we would begin negotiations with the Republicans and they would show us things that they thought also needed to happen.
On the drive up to Capitol Hill to meet with the House Republican Caucus, John Boehner released a press statement saying that they were opposed to the stimulus. It was a calculation based on what turned out to be pretty smart politics but really bad for the country: If they cooperated with me, then that would validate our efforts.
If they were able to maintain uniform opposition to whatever I proposed, that would send a signal to the public of gridlock and dysfunction, and that would help them win seats in the midterm. They pursued that strategy with great discipline. Give me a sense of how you want to approach it. I get along well with John, and Mitch [McConnell] is a little bit more close to the vest. The conversations I have privately with Republicans are always very different than the public presentations that are made of them.
Even when their leadership wanted to cooperate, the tenor of the Republican base had shifted in a way that made it very difficult for them to cooperate without paying a price internally. Probably the best signifier of that was when Chicago had the bid for the Olympics and a committee had flown to Copenhagen to make their presentation. It was really strange. But at that point, Limbaugh had been much clearer about wanting to see me fail, and he had, I think, communicated that very clearly to his listeners.
Fox News coverage had already started to drift in that direction. By then, you realized that the attitudes that Sarah Palin had captured during the election were increasingly representative of the Republican-activist base. They may not have been representative of Republicans across the country, but John Boehner and Mitch McConnell had to worry about that mood. I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump.
I have very cordial relations with a lot of the Republican members. We can have really great conversations and arrive at a meeting of the minds on a range of policy issues. Breaking Bad begins with a crisis of health: a man is diagnosed with lung cancer. There would be little incentive for him to, say, try his hand at becoming a meth tycoon.
And this is his reward: a sad, painful end and a bankrupt legacy. It was born of a peculiar moment in American history when serious illness was too often closely followed by personal financial ruin. Eventually, that is the one that claimed him, even as the physical cancer resurfaced to finish the job. January of is when you really needed to have started those investigations. But if you think back to what was going on at that time, you can see why they think it would have been insane to do so. We had just put hundreds of billions of dollars into the banks to keep them from failing!
If it got out that the Department of Justice was now investigating those institutions, it could have been completely destabilizing, and you would have just undermined the entire bailout. Partly this might be because they think they got away with it. We now have a banking system full of convicted felons. In the end, what was TARP supposed to do? Restore lending and help homeowners. I remember senior Treasury officials yelling at me about this.
They said that if we were to ask the banks what they did with the money, then we would risk destroying the banking system. Do I blame Obama? I think it was born of a belief handed down from the titans of Wall Street: At the end of the day, the crisis was caused by a bunch of greedy homeowners, and they should hand the money over to the banks and it would all work out. And it did work out, for the banks. Illustration by Lauren Tamaki.
Nothing ages more quickly or brutally than a piece of entertainment that was revolutionary for its moment. The tart-tongued Kurt Hummel, played by actor Chris Colfer who astonishingly for TV was actually a teenager , was femme, high-voiced, fashion-obsessed, lonely, special. At least as significantly, Glee forced its largely non-gay, non-kid audience to confront the existence and the struggles of queer children in a sustained way.
In that, the show accomplished something television can do better than almost any other medium—it normalized a conversation. Savage understood that if one role of entertainment is to kick down a barrier, the job of activism is to make sure it never gets rebuilt. And in ten years, some of them will run for local, state, and national office.
The first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court did so in It would take another years for a woman to sit on that bench rather than stand before it. Even then, progress was fitful. But there was something antiquated, practically mutton-choppy, about that portrait. Then President Obama proposed, for the first time in history, that a Latina help interpret the legal cases that flummoxed everyone else. Also like Obama, she was raised by a single mother. If you can watch the two Sotomayors embrace with dry eyes, you are doing better than nearly everyone else in that room.
Obama explained that he had been in the market for empathy, a word that to some ears sounded, will always sound, dangerously like activism. That would be, on one occasion or another, The jury remains out on whether there is such a creature as female jurisprudence; surely justice should be no more gendered than a shapeless black gown. It has, however, been argued that women tend to reason more holistically and with an increased tolerance for gray. Whether or not they introduce more compromise into the courtroom, they necessarily introduce a different perspective.
Here is a disorienting thought: What if someone who has actually had an abortion were called on to rule on the legality of one? How many female justices would be sufficient? Nine, says Justice Ginsburg, noting that no one ever raised an eyebrow at the idea of nine men. LB : But it was also the first huge celebrity death to happen in the age of social media, or at least the age of Twitter. Frank Guan : In a lot of ways, the culture prefers the death of artists to their continuing to live. They run out of timely or groundbreaking material and the audience starts tuning out.
At some point, their fame eclipses their art, and then the only way to get the general audience to appreciate them anew is for them to die. LB : People seem to like the grieving process so much that even lesser celebrities get the same treatment. In a secular society, we want to guarantee that at least someone will have an afterlife. Also, death is a one-time-only thing. There were enormous changes. For example, General Motors had something like different job classifications that the union had. And we wiped all that stuff out. We basically gave back management the freedom to manage, to hire, to fire.
People stopped getting paid even when they were on layoff. The Pakistani government report later said he was a civilian. The dead numbered around Some were apparently Taliban members, but none were major leaders. And none were Mehsud. Roughly nine people were killed and another four wounded.
Their identities were never announced, though a Pakistani official said some of the dead had belonged to the Taliban. The commander died, along with at least four other inhabitants. As villagers recovered the bodies, CIA personnel dispatched their drones to the nearest town, anticipating that the funeral would be held the same afternoon. Hours later, officials in Virginia watched on TV screens as mourners chanted around the burial site and the missiles began to fall, three altogether.
In the end, dozens of bystanders were killed, perhaps as many as 86 — but not Mehsud. By one account, he was receiving an IV drip for his diabetes; by another, a woman was massaging his legs. CIA personnel, watching the video in real time, ordered a strike, and two Hellfire missiles from a Predator incinerated the house. His wife, father-in-law and mother-in-law, a lieutenant, and seven bodyguards were also killed in the blast. The hand-launched Raven surveillance drone, which flies at feet at 50 mph.
The ScanEagle , also for surveillance, flies higher, at up to 19, feet, at 90 mph. The RQ-7B Shadow , which operates at 18, feet at mph. The armed MQ-1 Predator , which can travel to about 25, feet and fly at mph. The armed MQ-9 Reaper , which flies at 30, feet at mph. A Taliban attack in Kabul kills 17 people and injures 83; Cuban officials complain the U. The next morning, he will learn he has won the Nobel Peace Prize. If I have to buy a pair of shoes, then I have to eat ramen noodles for dinner.
I still apply. Every day is a gamble with my health. Struggling builds character. But at the end of the process, you feel that your voice was heard. For the surge in Afghanistan, there was an enormous amount of pressure to make a decision. There were all kinds of numbers being floated around in the press, lots of unfortunate leaks. This might have been a day or two before the election, but the point is: There is no doubt that we did not stay on top of that the way we needed to. This underscored a failing in my first year, which was the sort of perverse faith in good policy leading to good politics.
Is the auto industry going to collapse? Will layoffs accelerate? It was better to go ahead and push through and then show that we had gotten something done that was really important to the American people. But I give Nancy and Harry and a whole lot of Democrats enormous credit. It was one of those moments where a lot of people did the right thing even though the politics of it were bad. For all its warts and all the mistakes that any political party makes — including catering to the interest groups that help get people elected — the truth is that the ACA vote showed that when people had to do something they thought was right even if it was not going to be helpful to their reelection, the majority of Democrats were willing to do it.
Certainly Nancy and Harry were willing to do it. One thing that I had to learn fairly early on in the process is that you have to have a plan B. But we had begun to look at what other paths might be possible. Once we knew it was possible, then it was really just a matter of working Congress. A year later, when the left got irritated with me because of budget negotiations, there was always this contrast between Obama and LBJ, who really worked Congress.
But I tell you, those two weeks, that was full LBJ. Every day we were working Democrats, because at this point there was no prospect of us getting any Republicans. Poll numbers were rotten, people were angry. Good-government reforms have hamstrung an administration, which I think is for the most part for the best.
The folks who I will always consider the real heroes of the ACA were the legislators, mostly younger and in swing districts, who had tough races and were just a great bunch of guys. Three thousand years ago, confronted with the mysteries of the universe, the Greeks invented a pantheon of gods and assigned each of them power over the sky and ocean, over love and intelligence. To explain the unexplainable is the realm of mythology.
So when America woke up to find that a black man from Planet Harvard with a Star Trek name was suddenly the president — the commander-in-chief! Thus the Obama Conspiracy Theory was born. Here are an even dozen:. The good news is the Obama-conspiracy period is unlikely to survive his presidency. As Obama leaves office, one of the more painful memories is the recollection of all that talk of the post-racial society he was supposed to usher in.
Now that was a real conspiracy theory. One small child wounded. Ah, damn. Oh, well. She needs to get evaced. We need your location, over. It was the first time where we learned how to work through that noise. Objectively, if you look back, we managed what was the largest environmental disaster in American history — at least on the continental United States — better than or as well as any administration ever has.
But in the midst of it there was this sense that things were completely out of control. The gap between the perception and the reality of what we were doing was stark. We were on top of this thing from the start. When it happened, we assigned all our best people from all our agencies to start working on it. What made it unique was that, to my chagrin and surprise, nobody had ever seen anything like this before. And we had to invent a way to solve it. It came in very handy that I had a Nobel Prize—winning physicist as my Energy secretary.
And he literally designed a little cap that essentially served as the specs for the construction of a mechanism to close the darn hole. But that took three months. What you realized was the degree to which [it mattered that the] camera down there is showing the plume of oil coming out.
We started having gallows humor about the pelican, that it seemed like they had one pelican that they showed over and over again, covered in oil. Staying focused and disciplined in moments where people — and certainly the press — are most likely to panic has overall served us well.
Our hard-won reputation for good management took a well-deserved blow. That was dropping your left and getting socked in the jaw. He likes to roll in style, comfort and convenience. His over-the-top idea in Paris that winter started as a limo timeshare service. I think his original pitch had me and him splitting the costs of a driver, a Mercedes S-Class, and a parking spot in a garage, so that I could use an iPhone app to get around San Francisco on-demand. Tech bro lolz! And btw thanks for introducing surge pricing after the Chelsea bombing the other week. On a recent visit to Toronto, I was lucky enough to stay part of the week in a townhouse chosen through Airbnb, a quirky number in a surprising neighborhood that opened up the city in a way that three days at the DoubleTree by Hilton conspicuously failed to do.
Viewed through the lightest imaginative scrim we use to turn the quotidian into a kind of ongoing romantic-dramatic narrative, interactions with the so-called sharing economy have added value to my life in ways I never expected. The prevailing and largely correct narrative is about the isolation and dislocation wrought by the smartphone and social media, but societal trends inevitably provoke strong countertrends.
The explosion of DIY handcrafting of everything from beer to chocolate to butchering to the crap you find on Etsy likely would not have happened but as a back-to-the-farm reaction to the alienation of digital-only life. Likewise, the sharing economy has begun to allow us to grow back the connective social tissue that social media tore asunder. And the shift from communal work spaces like those offered by WeWork to communal, hostel-style living is already under way.
He was signing as a free agent with a team filled with really good friends, rather than the one that had criminally underpaid him and refused to sign any decent players to surround him with. Strange as it is to say, their careers ran in parallel. Before Obama gave his career-catapulting speech at the Democratic National Convention, reporter and later Obama biographer David Mendell asked if he was ready for his big moment.
Obama smiled wide, Mendell later wrote. I got some game. But at the time, LeBron was a year-old, still just a month out of his rookie season, figuring his way around a league that eyed the young phenom and all his hype warily. After all, if a skinny black kid with an awkward jumper could make it all the way to the White House, what else is possible?
Is that too strong a word for you? BS : Reform would be to say that it is bad public policy when six financial institutions have assets equivalent to 57 percent of the GDP of the United States. That would be reform. In fact, the major banks are larger today than they were before Dodd-Frank. FF : Okay, you like Obama.
BS : This country is a lot better as a result of Obama, and he had to do that against fierce opposition. On the other hand, to my mind, the great issue of our time is the movement toward oligarchy. And that means the power of Wall Street, the power of corporate America, the power of the billionaire class to own the politics of this country. So we have made progress, but the fundamental issue of taking on the one percent and the greed of the billionaire class, that has not occurred. Do you think that that misses the point? BS : The president appoints people. President Obama, in a big mistake, basically did what Republicans wanted and appointed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to chair a commission on the deficit crisis.
So that tells you something. Still, the bottom line is: Today in America, the economy is in much better shape than when Obama first came in. He deserves credit. More people have health insurance, poverty is down. On the other hand, the angst of the moment is that people see this country moving into an oligarchic form of society — where we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality where the political system is being bought by Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.
BS : Right. I think what the president had to do, which he chose not to do, is to make it clear that we have got to deal with the greed of the one percent of corporate America and Wall Street, that their practices cannot continue. That is an approach he has chosen not to take. In order to have real leverage going forward, he needed to scare the crap out of these guys on some level. BS : In , he ran one of the great campaigns in the history of the United States. Brilliant campaign. Did he mobilize the energy and the coalition that he put together into a powerful political force which would have helped him fight for the change that this country needed?
The answer is no. BS : Yeah, it is harder than you think to mobilize people. That is a true point. Did he do everything that he could have? I think the answer is no, he did not. Rather than making the Republicans an offer they could not refuse because millions of people were standing behind him, he chose to sit down with Republicans and negotiate. I think his politics are not the politics of taking on these people. Americans are addicted to hope. We think the world is infinitely malleable and that with enough pluck and elbow grease anything is possible. We believe that everything and everyone can be redeemed, that the movie will always end with the hero walking away from the wreckage or the town cheering.
We believe in conversions and getting a new life. We scoff at the ancient Stoic lesson that recognizing limits and living within them is the key to happiness. Limits are undemocratic, reality a construct. And tomorrow is another day. We bring the same attitude to politics. That and a very short memory.
We spend the next two years stewing and blaming Washington and the media, encouraged to do so by Washington and the media. And then, as the debates and primaries and conventions come round again, we forget all that and convince ourselves that this time the messiah really is coming.
We are a nation of children. Barack Obama understood the power of hope — he campaigned on it. Even Bill Clinton, who ran as the man from Hope, did not have the audacity to present himself as the man heading for Hope. It appears that Obama genuinely believed his own rhetoric. But once elected, Obama did what grown-up politicians do: He got to work. He learned and talked to experts; he read documents and stayed up late. He was responsible. For this, he was punished. He raised expectations he could not meet, which just infuriated the kids, who kept pouting until Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders offered them ice cream.
Even Shepard Fairey, the artist who designed his famous hope campaign poster, abandoned Obama for Sanders. When, he wonders, will they ever grow up? The answer is never. Because we treat bowing to reality as a punishable offense, we are stuck in this cycle. There is no exit. Once an anxious friend who read his stories asked him whether he thought there was any hope in the world at all.
Under the radar, they and their donor group poured money into races all over the country. Many of the ugly lies and slurs you see now were first trotted out in those midterm races. The single most important item the Koch network has obstructed is congressional action on climate change.
They and their allies represent the combined force of the fossil-fuel industry, and they have funded contrarian science that denies the reality of climate change. By spending strategically, they successfully killed efforts to put a price on carbon pollution — the so-called cap-and-trade bill — as well as many other efforts to help the country move toward alternative energy. The president told the New York Times recently that climate change is the most terrifying issue we face.
The story of the economy in the Obama years is in many ways a tale of loose money. Back in the grim autumn of , Chair Ben Bernanke took the most important weapon in his arsenal, the Fed-funds target rate, and slashed it all the way to zero — an unprecedented move and a clear signal of just how seriously he was taking the economic emergency. That move, along with three rounds of so-called quantitative easing, or QE, where the Fed pumped money into the financial markets by buying bonds, constituted the biggest and mightiest monetary-policy experiment ever undertaken: an unorthodox attempt by the Fed, along with other leading central banks, to prevent the collapse of the global economy.
There was one minuscule rate hike, of one-quarter of one percent, in December The effects of ZIRP and QE were wide-ranging and mostly felt in the prices of financial assets, like stocks, bonds, and real estate. For financial investors, the Obama years turned out exceptionally well. But really they have the central bank to thank, much more than the president. What if we had the singularity and nobody noticed? In , Barack Obama had been on the trail for weeks, using a BlackBerry like all the cool campaigners, when the new thing went on sale and throngs lined up for it.
The new thing had a silly name: iPhone. The iPhone was a phone the way the Trojan horse was a horse. At the Rio Olympics you could see people, having flown thousands of miles to be in the arena with the athletes, watching the action through their smartphones. As though they needed the mediating lens to make it real.
This device, this gadget — a billion have been made and we scarcely know what to call it. Contact lenses have been rumored; implants are only a matter of time. Silicon passes carbon in the life-form sweepstakes. You may consider this an apocalypse or an awakening, according to taste. Machinery that takes over our biological functions may serve us, like prosthetics, expanding and amplifying our humanity, but not everyone feels expanded or amplified. With every gain comes a loss — memory being the first to go. Amnesiacs with prosthetic memory. We become sidewalk zombies, downward facing, oblivious to our immediate fellows and the storefronts past which we glide.
We resemble wraiths. Still, the zombies are often smiling — evidently chatting or texting with invisible spirits who are, after all, just other humans. Before, the internet was just a place we visited. Now we seem to have moved in. That is the true purpose of the magic box. So, sure, call it a fancy phone. A mini-camera. An electronic commodity, a status object, a bit of bling. But in a short few years, it has changed what it means to be human. ADAM PLATT: Many things in Foodlandia, these days, have a political element to them, and if you want to emblazon a flag to be carried into battle, you could do worse than a bristly, semi-digestible bunch of locally grown kale.
AP: The idea of kale is much more powerful than kale itself. In short order it went from being discovered, to appreciated, to being something that was parodied. AS: The same thing happened to pork. Remember bacon peanut brittle? Bacon-fat cocktails? AP: Ahhh, bacon versus kale. The two great, competing forces of our time. AS: Do you think one gave way to the other? Bacon is the great symbol in the comfort-food, farm-fresh-dining movement, a kind of merry, unbridled pulchritude.
AS: But pork has an advantage: People like the way it tastes. All the bridesmaids have come to the fancy bridal shop to see Maya Rudolph try on wedding dresses. This should be a familiar scene: The bride emerges from the changing room and … This is the dress!
The friends clap. The mother cries. Everyone is a princess. Go ahead and twirl! But when the bride emerges in Bridesmaids, almost all of her friends have started to feel sick. Sweat coats their skin. Red splotches creep over their faces. It starts with a gag from Melissa McCarthy, followed by another gag. Then a gag that comes simultaneously with a tiny wet fart. We breathe a sigh of relief. Then sweet Ellie Kemper gags, and the sound effect is surprisingly nasty.
They look bad. They are embarrassed. How far is this going to go? Wendi McLendon-Covey wet-farts quietly, and the manager is horrified. Now we get another fart from Melissa. This one is deeper and darker. Kristen Wiig stares at Rose Byrne, as both women realize how serious this could be. Wendi tells everyone she has to get off the white carpet. She runs to the bathroom. The bridesmaids follow. This must be where it ends. Suddenly, we are in the bathroom, running alongside Wendi as she races for the toilet.
We barely have time to react, when Melissa runs in after her. The camera pans up fast to see her desperation. We are watching a war now. I need the toilet! It will be funny, and then it will be over. That is the limit of our imagination. We cut wide again to see the bathroom. Why are we in such a wide shot? Melissa knocks the Kleenexes and towels off the bathroom counter. And then … she starts to hike up her dress. This is the moment. Change for women in this country has come in many forms. Some change is big and loud and hard-won and can be put in writing.
Some change is as small and simple as a handshake. Melissa McCarthy starts to hike up her dress. She hoists her body up onto the sink. She is fully on top of the sink now. The kicker. The cherry on top. The camera cuts. We are above now. We look down from a safe perch as the release we have been anticipating and dreading begins.
A woman has just pooped in a sink. The revolution has begun. I think they both shared a belief in the art of the possible, and they both did not think compromise was a dirty word. When our cover was blown — a Wall Street Journal editorial came out saying that Boehner and Obama were working on this and attacking the whole premise — that was devastating. It resulted in Cantor being a part of the talks. Paul Ryan said if we do this deal, it will guarantee your reelection. If we agree with Barack Obama on spending and taxes, that takes away one of our big weapons. That conversation was quite illuminating.
Both parties like their daggers. That was the dance. There was a moment in time where they had the outlines of an agreement and we went off to fill in some additional details between the two staffs pursuant to a meeting that had occurred on a Sunday morning at the White House. We shipped them some paperwork Sunday night. Monday — nothing.
I literally probably had a couple hundred hours of private meetings at my home with them. One of the problems, though, is that old bad joke: What happens when the dog catches the bus? Well, they caught the bus in But we spent an awful lot of time in detailed, detailed discussions about how to deal with everything from the potential for a government shutdown in to the budget deal in to the fiscal cliff in and beyond.
Not a single thing leaked out of those discussions, and we went through the budget literally line by line — where would they be willing to raise revenue? Could they, for example, raise revenue by eliminating the tax cuts for small aircraft that are not taxed the same as commercial airlines? It got that detailed. We would shake hands and have a deal. Illustrations by Lauren Tamaki. And the very next year, I was one of the most hated men in America.
What I remember from my show is the fact that I did get an opportunity to warn people of what could be over the horizon. I was trying to teach them the history of our country and the Founding Fathers. They would be horrified by his policies and by everything he says. But because he has an R after his name, they suddenly accept it and hold him up as the great savior. And I was worried our country was hurtling toward a disastrous, self-inflicted economic crisis.
That morning, when it became clear the vote was going to be close, my husband, Mark, and I knew we needed to get to Washington quickly. I went straight from my rehabilitation appointment to the airport, and Mark was at our house in Houston packing our bags so he could meet us at the plane. That night, I remember seeing the Capitol for the first time since I was injured and feeling so grateful to be at work. I will never forget the reception I received on the floor of the House from my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats. And then, like I had so many times before, I voted.
After I resigned from Congress to continue my recovery, and Mark retired from the U. Navy and NASA, we hoped to have a second chance at service. We wondered what our path might be. The tragedy at Sandy Hook gave us the answer. There is a sea change happening in the movement to prevent gun tragedies. Groups like ours are finally helping to bring some balance back to the politics of this issue; no longer does the gun lobby have the playing field to itself.
I worked so hard to get my speech back, and honestly, talking to people who share my determination helped me find my words again. Best of all, I got back on my bike. Riding my bike once seemed like such a huge challenge. It seemed impossible. It was a nice tactic on their part—they set up a meeting in the Great Hall of the People with more press than I thought lived in China. All the financial reporters came too because Biden was going to get his comeuppance: Man, the United States was downgraded for the first time.
I walked in, and Hu was being very smart. He looked at me and said he thought America would come back and that they wanted to be able to help, but he wanted to be sure their investments in our Treasury bills were secure. I went and saw him in midst of that at the White House. We went down to the basketball court.
He went off on vacation shortly after that and he spent a lot of time thinking about how to come out of this and fight his way back. On September 17, , three years after the financial crisis and the dawn of the Great Recession, there was every reason to believe that public attention to bank fraud, massive foreclosures, executive wealth, and middle-class debt had come to an end — if it had ever really begun. While the city and the current owners bickered over who should eject the unwanted public, they built a library, a free canteen, a sleeping village, a drum corps, and a media center, and held a twice-daily town meeting to deliberate the running and political purpose of their Occupation.
It was, more or less, a working model of real democracy, steps from where the Bill of Rights had been adopted, in the heart of the financialized fake Manhattan that had paved democracy over. The sitting and talking of a few hundred, then many thousands, of people, in Manhattan and then at sites across the United States and Europe, for about two months accomplished several things. It pushed media, not very skillful with abstractions, to focus on long-known truths about the redistribution of wealth upward to the richest one percent.
Historians are obligated to use positive data: unemployment reports, foreclosure peaks, homicides eyewitnessed and livestreamed. But those of us who lived through it can insist on the importance of mood, of atmosphere, and of silence. There was the belief, at the election in and after, that even though Obama propped up the big banks in the Great Recession, he was going to save the rest of us, too. He would prosecute wrongdoers, at least, or halt foreclosures and fraud.
A three-year lag. And there was a belief in that Obama, in his second term, would now have the political safety to launch measures to save African-Americans specifically — to deliver the country from the era that threw people in jail for practically nothing and shot them for black skin and a justified fear of the cops. A two-year lag. Yet its curious effect was primarily to set the stage, through caution and blocked action, for an upsurge of genuine social movements that began from his absences.
Perhaps the old community organizer knew that for a real democracy, citizens must do things for themselves. That winter and going into , we began raising rounds pretty quickly. At one point, we were growing at new people every two weeks in the Chicago office. So you would come in and not only would your desk be gone, but that entire wall would be missing.
We did pranks for our own employees, just so they were excited to come to work every day. We got accustomed to things like that. You were wondering what fun, crazy things happened. Every day we would share by email different success stories of merchants whose businesses we had saved. I remember there was one about us saving a zoo, where this woman had a llama farm and she was going out of business. We put her on Groupon, and suddenly she was booked for six months. I would wake up ina cold sweat and think: Oh, maybe I have a cold. Oh my God, it was difficult for me to go into a crowd.
I isolated myself. After I left work I stayed in my condo. Total-shutdown mode. I was angry at everything. It could have been ants walking across my coffee table. I was angry because my dog Rocsi was wagging her tail. Of course I was angry that — why was I chosen to go back the second time? I mean, you got me in , then you sent me again in ? When I got home, I was back working in a hospital. For years, I thought I was doing well. I was still functioning as a mom. Then, in , my daughters were gone and I had nobody else to worry about.
Graduating from a liberal-arts college in meant finding yourself cast in a bleak comedy and realizing quickly that no one felt all that sorry for you.
She was also someone with an HBO series, as opposed to a self-involved intern with a half-finished manuscript. From the beginning, the volume of analysis the show generated threatened to overwhelm the show itself. What did Girls mean for millennials? Why was the cast on the first season so white, and so populated by the children of famous people? Dunham went through the ringer of creating pop culture in the era of social media as few others had before: Girls gave her a platform just as more people than ever could publicly question who got such platforms, and why, and how they used them.
She knew that daytime calls signaled an emergency. The worst one had come the previous year, when her sister told her ICE agents had placed their father in federal custody. Garcia was attending Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, when her father was marched out of her childhood home. But this call was different. Undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the United States as children could apply for Social Security numbers and work permits. Garcia qualified: Her parents had brought her to this country when she was 7 years old.
DACA transformed her into a premed student who could actually become a doctor. And those hundreds of thousands of immigrants are outnumbered by the approximately 2. The daughter is poised to join the U. The father was caught up in a policy that has expelled almost as many immigrants as the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations combined. At first, President Obama saw this as a necessary first step to immigration reform. He came to the attention of ICE agents after they combed through the personnel records at the carpet factory where he worked. He is required to periodically check in with ICE authorities, however, and had to wear an ankle bracelet for several months.
His deportation is still a live possibility. There were moments during the Obama years when the Garcias thought they might be able to come out of the shadows, just like their daughter. After the election, the administration pushed hard for immigration reform; it passed the Senate but never received a vote in the House. In , Obama tried to expand the DACA program to include undocumented parents of children who are citizens.
The Garcias would have qualified, because their youngest daughter was born in the U. The Supreme Court deadlocked on its constitutionality this past June. A man told me that he had a son with multiple sclerosis, and he and his wife were always worried that if something happened to them, and they no longer could use their health insurance to cover him, what would happen to their son?
And now they could rest easy. I also felt extremely privileged to have the opportunity to play this role in history. Some of the political folks in the White House were wary because it was in the spring of an election year — and their concern was that Obamacare could be parodied or tarred as just a big tax. But the president made a judgment back then that we ought to include an argument about the tax power, and he basically never looked back. When I became the solicitor general, I increased the focus and attention on the tax argument. It became a bigger part of our briefs. We argued it in more detail.
We added some important precedents into the analysis, and we just gave it more emphasis, more oomph, in the Supreme Court, than when it was in the lower courts. It took a lot of work to get it on the table, but eventually I did. It was an example of trying to craft legal arguments in the recognition that in order to prevail, we needed to secure the votes of one or more justices who were jurisprudentially conservative and who were skeptical about the broad exercise of federal-government power.
The border of West Virginia and Ohio is full Appalachia, deep football country. In the back of the car and at that party, they pushed a penis in her mouth, forced their fingers inside her, ripped off her shirt. And they took photos and videos of it all, which made their way from texts to Twitter and to Facebook and soon to the national media.
Hormones and alcohol and all that! The football team went undefeated last season. It was the same education agenda that had proliferated across the country since Undoubtedly, in the years that followed, the teachers have won the PR war. From Brooklyn to Baton Rouge, battalions of teachers and parents have since joined forces against so-called corporate school reform. Perhaps the only area of agreement among rural tea-partyers and gentrifying urban hipsters — both on their respective upswings in the s — is the venality of the Obama-backed Common Core standards.
If Obama lost public opinion, though, he and his supporters won the policy war. For all the red solidarity T-shirts, charter schools in urban areas continue to proliferate, traditional public schools continue to be closed, and standardized tests live on. The Common Core? Once upon a time, a willingness to look for love online was considered a sign of insanity or desperation.
But internet dating never really lost its stigma as a last recourse for loners and crazy perverts until it migrated from computers to phones and got rebranded as the kind of game you could play with friends at a bar. Sort of like Erotic Photo Hunt, but with the possibility of actual sex. We had armed him with a joke — it was his 20th anniversary, and he addressed Michelle — and it turns out Romney was expecting just such a line and had a really great comeback.
Obama looked like he was at a press conference. When we went down to Williamsburg, Virginia, for the next debate camp, he seemed really eager to engage in the prep. We had a decent first night. That was on Saturday. On Sunday night, [John] Kerry, playing Romney, got a little more aggressive and Obama a little less so; it looked very much like what we had seen in Denver. A few of us basically had an intervention the next morning, and he was very, very candid.
I have to prepare in a different way. After that conversation, he came back and just worked really hard, question by question. He did what he hates to do, which is to kind of script himself. And when we got up the next morning and we were getting ready to go, he had outlined 14 of the most likely questions on one sheet of paper, front and back, with his own notes of how he was going to handle it.
When we went to see him in his locker room before the second debate at Hofstra University, he was sitting, and on the table was this sheet of paper. Again, we knew within the first ten minutes that he was right. He just completely absorbed what he wanted to do, and he nailed it. It was really the first time that I worked closely with him that he experienced failure on a large stage. On the way to the third debate, when he was really very confident, he reflected on what happened in Denver and he said the hardest thing about it was traveling around after and seeing all these young volunteers who were keeping a stiff upper lip to encourage him.
In , no state allowed for the legal sale of weed. Now four do, and after November, another five could well join them. The number of states allowing medical marijuana has doubled, from 12 to So has the percentage of adults who say they smoke marijuana, from 7 to 13 percent, just in the last three years alone. In the early s, it was a tiny-minority position within a tiny minority. In the s, when support for gay marriage was a mere 27 percent, a Democratic president signed the Defense of Marriage Act.
When Obama became president, only two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, allowed same-sex couples to marry. But by , that had increased to five, including Iowa. By , it was By , it was 36 — and then, a year later, Over 60 percent of the country now supports marriage equality — and 40 percent of Republicans do. Why were these two issues different from all the others? Notably, Obama never openly campaigned for either.
He dismissed legalization of marijuana with a condescending chuckle in his reelection campaign. The Social Democratic and Labour Party SDLP , formed in out of several smaller parties, was also committed to a united Ireland, but foreswore the use of force and focused much of its attention on the civil and political rights of Catholics under British rule.
The SDLP believed that simply forcing the British out would not solve the problem — without the support of the unionist community, unification would simply continue the violent civil war albeit under Irish rather than British sovereignty. The party emphasized the necessity for the Republic of Ireland to play a formal role in decision-making for the North. The two parties and their charismatic leaders, Adams and John Hume, respectively were political rivals in the s, contesting local elections in the North.
Although Sinn Fein had some electoral success in its early efforts, its share of the nationalist vote fell throughout the s and early s, and, despite early fears, Sinn Fein was not successful in overtaking the SDLP until after the signing of the Agreement.
Analysts and historians have offered a number of complementary explanations for this crucial development. We both recognise that such a new agreement is only achievable and viable if it can earn and enjoy the allegiance of the different traditions on this island, by accommodating diversity and providing for national reconciliation. Most importantly, they led to the IRA ceasefire of Although this was not the first announced ceasefire, and although it did not last the Canary Wharf bombing brought it to an end , it was seen both then and subsequently as a decisive shift in the trajectory of the conflict.
The exact nature of the ties between the two groups was and remains hotly disputed, both in the lead-up to the Agreement and its implementation.
Led from the mids to the mids by James Molyneux, a strong figure who served as a member of parliament in Westminster, the UUP held uncompromising attitudes on the important issues facing Ulster: It opposed greater involvement and a greater voice for Catholics through power sharing in Ulster institutions including in the short-lived provincial parliament, created in , reforming the Royal Ulster Constabulary seen by many Catholics as a sectarian force , and giving the Republic of Ireland a role in Northern Ireland affairs.
Unionism had been excluded from the decision-making process since Throughout that period, direct rule [by the U. Policy decisions had been taken on a whole range of issues that were not in the interest of Unionism. Although Trimble had a long history in unionist politics, he was largely overshadowed by other prominent UUP leaders, both among unionist members of parliament and constituency figures.
His involvement in the Drumcree Orange Order parade in propelled his rise to the top, burnishing his apparently hardline unionist credentials by ostentatiously defying the British attempt to limit a Protestant parade through a Catholic neighborhood. The second leading party on the unionist side was the DUP, formed in the s. Led by the fiery Presbyterian minister, Reverend Ian Paisley, the DUP was even more rigid in rejecting any accommodation with either the nationalists in Northern Ireland especially through power sharing or with the Irish government in the South.
The DUP largely boycotted the peace negotiations, in part because it insisted on a complete and credible renunciation of violence and prior decommissioning before sitting down with any of the parties linked to paramilitaries republican or loyalist. Ironically, following the Agreement, the longest period of stable devolved government in Northern Ireland came during a time when the DUP shared power with Sinn Fein — Although the loyalists were, during the s and s, the most militant of the Protestant groups, they also suffered the most from the fighting — and their decision, much like that of the IRA, to turn from violence to political negotiations gave significant momentum to the peace process.
The first evidence of this new orientation emerged in the form of a split between the two principal loyalist groups, the Ulster Defense Association, which remained committed to violence, and the Ulster Volunteer Force, which began to advocate for negotiations.
Ultimately, both groups declared a ceasefire shortly after the IRA ceasefire of Aug. The Alliance was the only political party that sought votes from both the nationalist and unionist constituencies. Its leader, Lord John Alderdice, was an active participant in the all-party negotiation. These groups frequently complained that their representatives were excluded from key discussions, both formal and informal. It is hard to assess their specific impact on the signing of the Agreement. Individual clergy, notably one Catholic priest, Father Alec Reid, did at times play a significant role.
In , the British government proposed a new approach, the Sunningdale Agreement, returning most of the previous powers other than security to a reformed Northern Ireland Assembly, which would take decisions under a power-sharing arrangement between unionists and nationalists. Sunningdale also included a role for the Republic of Ireland in the form of North-South bodies designed to foster cooperation across the island.
Each of these elements were to feature prominently, 25 years later, in the Agreement. While Sunningdale was narrowly embraced by the UUP under its leader Brian Faulkner as well as by the SDLP , grass roots unionist opposition crushed the agreement and pushed Faulkner from his leadership role. Her hardline instincts were reinforced by the IRA attack on the Tory party conference in Brighton in which she narrowly escaped and a key advisor was killed.
Although her goal was to gain Irish support for a tougher crackdown on the IRA, her willingness to accept an Irish role in Northern Ireland affairs stunned unionists and helped fuel a sense that devolution regional self-government and power-sharing, rather than dependence on Westminster, was a more reliable means of protecting unionist interests. Major indisputably demonstrated considerable courage in engaging with his Irish counterparts and indirectly with the IRA.
The identities of the major political parties in the South were built on their approach to unification. Fine Gael was the heir of Michael Collins and the pro-Treaty forces, who acquiesced in the exclusion of the six northern countries from the Irish Free State. Although the centrality of the Northern Ireland issue came, over time, to define the two parties less and less, there remained a perception that Fianna Fail was more nationalist. This was reflected in the approach of Fianna Fail Taoiseach Charles Haughey and, later, Albert Reynolds who replaced Haughey in , who worked hard to get Sinn Fein into the peace process.
By contrast, Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton —97 took a tougher line on decommissioning that was much closer to the British view and was considered more sympathetic to the unionist view on the importance of consent. The tabling of this draft nearly caused the talks to collapse. On the one hand, the United States and the United Kingdom shared a strong political bond, with historic roots reinforced by the Cold War. These ties inclined Washington to defer to London on what the United Kingdom saw as a domestic conflict. Pulling in the opposite direction was a large and active Irish Catholic diaspora that sympathized with the plight of the Catholics in Northern Ireland.
The latter group had strong adherents in the U. Ted Kennedy but the executive branch largely prioritized U. Clinton had no prior involvement in the issue before taking office, but, in an unscripted moment during the presidential campaign, indicated his openness to granting a U. Clinton had been persuaded that it was more likely to achieve an IRA ceasefire by granting the visa without pre-condition, a judgment that seemed to be vindicated by the IRA ceasefire in August , although at the time Major was furious with Clinton.
First, there was an effort to promote economic development and investment in Northern Ireland to demonstrate the benefits peace could confer to both communities. The Peace Process The Formal Process During the early s, momentum began to build for launching a formal peace process for the first time since the failed Sunningdale conference of In an effort to break the stalemate, the two governments established an international body, chaired by Mitchell, to look into the decommissioning issue.
The report provided the British government a way out of the decommissioning stalemate, and the governments in London and Dublin announced that they would convene talks in June that would be open to all parties that accepted the Mitchell Principles but without a decommissioning pre-condition. They did insist that the IRA restore its ceasefire which the group had broken in February in order for Sinn Fein to participate, which happened in The process of selecting delegates was a complex formula based on elections to a Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue. Delegates to the negotiations were chosen by members of the forum in a way that ensured the negotiations would be dominated by the major parties but would also guarantee the participation of smaller parties, including those associated with the loyalist paramilitaries, as well as women, Labour, and the Alliance Party.
The hardline unionists the DUP and the United Kingdom Union Party walked out at the outset, in part, in protest of the selection of Mitchell to chair the negotiations. Mitchell believes that their absence gave the moderate UUP room to negotiate, and that, had they stayed, an agreement might not have been possible. The second strand was focused on relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and was chaired by Mitchell and Harri Holkeri, a former Finnish prime minister. Strand One had similar requirements, except the Irish government had no vote.
This was followed by a rash of sectarian killings, which threatened to derail the process. The choice of date was not entirely arbitrary, as the legislation that established the forum was due to expire in May All told, the formal talks lasted 21 months. The Informal Negotiations The formal peace process unfolded in parallel with a complex set of inter-related secret and informal negotiations. The Agreement and Its Aftermath The Agreement mirrored the three-strand approach of the negotiations. The Executive is run by the first minister and deputy first minister, jointly elected on a cross-community basis under the same rules for making key decisions in the Assembly.
The jurisdiction of the devolved government was initially based on areas previously within the scope of the Northern Ireland government departments but could be enlarged with the approval of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Agreement resolved the constitutional issues by enshrining the principle of consent: opening the prospect of unification with the South but only with the consent of a majority of the North. The Republic of Ireland agreed to amend its constitution to eliminate claims to sovereignty over the North,  while the British government repealed the Government of Ireland Act, which, in fact, provided a British veto over the status of Northern Ireland.
The Agreement protected the option of dual citizenship for residents of Northern Ireland, irrespective of whether, in the future, Northern Ireland remained in the United Kingdom or became part of Ireland. It additionally included human rights provisions that specifically addressed some of the major Catholic concerns, including the establishment of a Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. There were also hortatory provisions on issues such as economic development and linguistic diversity. The Agreement largely sidestepped several of the substantive issues underlying the conflict.
Although recognizing the importance of reconciliation and the need to address victims of violence, the Agreement established no mechanisms for this purpose. It deferred to subsequent decisions by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning on matters relating to the timing and modalities of decommissioning. Finally, the Agreement included no timetable for the withdrawal of British security forces and emergency powers.
The implementation of the Agreement has faced significant challenges over the past two decades. On the plus side, paramilitary violence has largely disappeared, though dissident groups remain a threat, and the British no longer play a direct security role. For an extended period following the Hillsborough Agreement , when the two communities finally agreed on important issues not addressed in the Agreement especially policing and criminal justice , the institutions were functioning reasonably well.
The Northern Ireland economy received a significant boost in the first decade following the Agreement, notably in lowered unemployment rates. But political scandal in led to institutional paralysis, which remains unresolved. Despite intensive discussions since the Agreement was signed, there is still no agreed mechanism to address historical legacy issues.
Brexit further complicates the prospects for the future. The DUP supported Brexit while a modest overall majority — 56 percent — opposed it. We are now in a position to take on the difficult question of judging the importance of three factors — circumstance, people, and process — in achieving the Agreement. There has been considerable debate about and attention given to the importance of individuals to the successful conclusion of the Agreement. Many of the participants themselves are quite explicit in crediting the efforts of individuals.
For example, in an article written after the signing of the Agreement, Trimble singled out Blair, Ahearn, and Mitchell for credit. But subsequent difficulties with implementing the Agreement raise questions about just how much trust was generated, and, therefore, how much it might have contributed to the Agreement in the first place. In that sense, both Adams and Trimble had the fortune of being at the right place at the right time to assume leadership. Similarly, those who would give the laurel to Blair and Ahearn can argue that they succeeded in achieving, in relatively short time, what Major and his various Irish counterparts failed to accomplish.
Yet, it is also possible to argue that what constrained Major, and what empowered Blair, was the size of the parliamentary majority — a fact that had little or nothing to do with their Northern Ireland policies. Similarly, it is difficult to see who within the IRA could have carried the day in favor of accepting the legitimacy of a reconstituted Northern Ireland Assembly and the unionist veto over Irish unification.
In other words, the structural forces may have been necessary, but alone they were insufficient to account for the fact that the Agreement happened when it did, in the precise shape that it took. Of course, all of the central actors faced considerable constraints on their freedom of action. For example, Trimble spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort dealing with internal dissension within his party, and on several occasions was forced to renegotiate after finding that he could not sell a proposed deal to them. Adams, too, emphasized the constraints he faced from other leaders and the rank and file.
Yet, two months later, Adams used his credibility with the IRA to persuade its Army Council not to reject publicly the Downing Street Declaration, issued just two months after the bombing. This argues strongly for the importance of individual choice. Perhaps the best way to characterize the role of agency is to say that circumstance dealt each of the major players a reasonably favorable hand which facilitated agreement, but that each played the hand quite skillfully.
It is certainly possible to imagine that others who might plausibly have been in their place — even those who shared the same basic approach to the conflict — might not have sealed the deal when it came about. At the same time, the very fact that the Agreement ultimately found implementation through a pact that featured Paisley as first minister is a reflection of the power of the forces pushing to end the fighting. Agency played an important role in the timing and precise terms of the Agreement, but arguably a much less significant one in the broader turn away from violence.
A similar analysis applies to assessing the role of process — both formal and informal — in ultimately reaching the Agreement. From the early days of the Troubles through the early s, both the British and Irish governments had pursued a different approach, seeking to marginalize the paramilitaries and limit the negotiations to the constitutional parties.
A related feature of the process that was instrumental was the sequencing — the willingness to move the process forward without a firm commitment to a permanent ceasefire and at least initial steps toward the paramilitary groups decommissioning their arms. The decision seems vindicated not only by the successful conclusion of the negotiations, but also by the subsequent IRA decommissioning and the relative low level of defection by dissatisfied members of the paramilitaries.
It is not hard to imagine that a deal done by the SDLP and the UUP alone might have met serious resistance from the IRA and the loyalists, though of course, the declining effectiveness of violence, apparent by the late s, might have tempered the scale and duration of the backlash. At the same time, the inclusion of such diverse perspectives had an impact on the content of the Agreement in two important respects. This reduced the risk of either party being outvoted and thus made the Agreement more palatable to their respective constituencies.
Second, the deep divisions even within the two camps led the parties to defer important decisions on key substantive issues ranging from the future of policing to the role of the North-South bodies, setting the stage for the predictable crises that followed. A number of commentators have focused on the role of civil society in bringing about the Agreement, both as an outside force pressing the parties and as formal participants in the negotiations.
Several commentators have focused on the formal role of civil society organizations in the process. Other features of the process seem less consequential. On the whole, the formal processes, especially the Stormont negotiations, played a very modest role at best. Even in private, the parties rarely engaged with each other directly. This accentuated the importance of the governments primarily the United Kingdom and Ireland, but, at critical moments, the United States as well and Mitchell as go-betweens. Much has been written about the role of Mitchell and his two colleagues as third-party mediators.
On the substance of the negotiations themselves, the three chairs played relatively modest roles compared with the British and Irish governments. Indeed, during the crucial final days of the negotiations, Mitchell reluctantly gave the parties a draft proposal on Strand Two, drafted by Blair and Ahearn, against his own judgment since he believed the provisions were anathema to unionists and would torpedo the negotiations.
Similarly, the availability of the de Chastelain commission as a third-party means of validating decommissioning was critical to its attainment. One area where the formal process arguably did make a difference was the use of deadlines, particularly to bring the negotiations to a conclusion.
It is equally important to understand when a conflict is not ripe for negotiation: It can be argued that the premature effort leading to the Sunningdale agreement in actually contributed to prolonging the conflict. Should this have been apparent to the British government at the time? One lesson of the Northern Ireland experience is that the secret channels developed in the late s and earlier s played a crucial role in providing the governments and the political parties themselves an opportunity to judge whether the circumstances were ripe for agreement before launching a speculative — and perhaps counterproductive — public negotiation.
There were risks involved in secret diplomacy. The desire to preserve secrecy led the governments perilously close to public dishonesty, which, when exposed, endangered their credibility. Nevertheless, the groundwork that this diplomacy laid ultimately reduced the risks that each side took by engaging in the process. These secret contacts allowed the key parties to explore the implications of flexibility and to adapt their positions without the risk of embarrassment if the gambits proved unsuccessful and the other side unforthcoming.
But it seems unlikely that stalemate by itself would have brought about the Agreement. The return to violence in the mids after the initial ceasefire declaration in , suggests that many in the IRA still considered violence or at least the threat of violence an important element of leverage in the negotiations. Similarly, some in the unionist community dissenters within the UUP as well as the DUP and United Kingdom were not convinced of the need to compromise.
Another feature of ripeness goes to the question of how the parties assess the impact of the passage of time on their chances of achieving their goals. The parties in this case reached an agreement because their assessments of time converged. The unionists believed that time was not on their side — that demographics and the politics of the United Kingdom were steadily eroding their leverage. So they accepted a power-sharing arrangement, which they had firmly rejected as a matter of principle for decades, and acquiesced in the idea that sovereignty might be transferred from the United Kingdom to the Republic by a popular vote.
In return, they got the Republic of Ireland to amend its constitution to repeal its claim of sovereignty over the six counties and secured a more limited form of North-South institutions. Trimble articulated this view in a speech shortly after the conclusion of the Agreement: A number of responses were possible to the changed situation [the Hume-Adams process leading Sinn Fein to pursue the political track]….
I remember a parliamentary colleague saying…we should revert to saying No all the time…. The important point that I draw from this, generally speaking, is that it is not enough to be passive, to adopt a tactic or an approach that consciously or deliberately leaves the decision in the hands of other people.
It is not always the way you like and you can never be certain exactly how it is going to work out. On the one hand, its leaders believed they had extracted most of what they could get from the use of violence. But they also perceived that by making key concessions e. This sense of ripeness helps explain why the terrorist attacks that plagued the peace process throughout the s the IRA Shankill Road bombing in and the subsequent loyalist revenge attacks or the Canary wharf and Manchester bombings in , for example did not derail the talks.
Once the parties had made the strategic decision to seek peace, violence actually seemed to have served as an impetus rather than a barrier to compromise. The Dayton Accords, which ended the Bosnian War, are instructive. It was at the moment that the Serb forces saw the tide of battle turn against them, but before the Bosnians and Croats had the means to defeat the Serbs on their own, that the United States had maximum leverage in bringing about an agreement. The Impact of Process on the Shape of the Outcome Many have held up the process leading to the Agreement as a model of successful conflict resolution.
Whether the process contributed to the success depends, of course, on the definition of success. There is little doubt that the Agreement has led to a decrease in intercommunal violence. Including the paramilitaries made it less likely that they would attack the process or the agreement that the process produced.
Equally important, it gave them a stake in taking on dissidents who wanted to challenge the Agreement. Although splinter groups persisted on both the republican and loyalist sides, their impact has been marginal. But this process decision has come at a cost. Because the process helped lead to a consociational agreement that protects the rights of the two communities but deferred tackling many of the underlying sources of conflict e.
In this respect, there are important resemblances to the way in which the Dayton process shaped the substance of the Dayton Accords, which ended the fighting in Bosnia.
Both processes included the hard men who had stoked the conflict, resulting in agreements that, in somewhat similar ways, froze sectarian identity in the framework of the settlement and thus perpetuated the underlying conflict. In both cases, hopes that the passage of time and public pressure would lead to an evolution of the political arrangements away from their sectarian roots have been disappointed. Of course, including former paramilitaries in peace negotiations does not guarantee this kind of result. In South Africa, the Africa National Congress party and the apartheid government created more unitary structures in their peace agreement, which included explicit elements of reconciliation.
Nonetheless, it seems fair to say that the shape of the peace process in South Africa contributed both to the success of the agreement and its limitations. The lessons of these cases are clear: Practitioners need to consider the potential long-term costs of a peace process that focuses primarily on the short-term goal of ending the fighting. But practitioners can help support the people who have both the inclination and the capacity to make the choices for peace. Of course, these kinds of efforts require finesse.
In Northern Ireland, there was considerable wariness about outside parties — whether from Dublin, London, or Washington — attempting to influence events in Ulster. In some cases, such outside involvement ended up raising suspicions, rather than enhancing the authority those outsiders sought to promote. Third Party Guarantors For the Agreement to work, it was critical for the unionists to believe that, whatever long-term risks they might run in terms of demographics, etc. But most recognized that the IRA might easily replace any arms it destroyed. More important was the unionist belief that, because the IRA had so strongly resisted decommissioning in the past, an agreement to decommission was a real sign of peaceful intent.
For that very reason, however, the IRA was unwilling to take even modest steps on decommissioning until the deal was complete. Only when Blair gave Trimble his personal assurance that he would eject Sinn Fein from the Northern Ireland Executive if the IRA failed to decommission a commitment reiterated by Clinton in the closing hours , did Trimble agree to go along. By the early s, the contours of the Agreement had emerged, but issues of sequencing proved a major obstacle to progress. Sinn Fein, in particular, insisted that it needed prior actions by the British and Irish governments to permit it to move forward.
The problem of sequencing in regards to decommissioning returned following the conclusion of the Agreement, when the question arose of whether decommissioning had to precede Sinn Fein taking its place in the Northern Ireland Executive. This impasse was again resolved in a review conducted by Mitchell, which led to the pre-condition being dropped. Or whether you hold them there and subject them to some examination to see whether their shoes are clean.
But even there Clinton risked causing complications in the U. Practitioners face strong pressure to impose pre-conditions to negotiations. They fear that entering into open-ended negotiations may be perceived as a sign of weakness and may subject them to domestic criticism for abandoning important red lines. It was crucial that the governments establish credibility that they would enforce the conditions after the Agreement was signed.
Practitioners can draw an important lesson from this on how to avoid the pre-condition trap. Substance The parties involved in the peace process made little effort to resolve the substantive issues that divided them. The constitutional and process issues that formed the heart of the Agreement largely involved broad issues of principles.
By contrast, the substantive concerns — policing, criminal justice, social welfare — were areas where the details were as important as the principles. For these kinds of issues, the parties chose to defer resolution by handing the problem to independent commissions for things like decommissioning and policing , to the Assembly on devolved issues , and to the British and Irish governments on non-devolved issues. The last minute snag on Strand Two illustrates the problem of dealing with detail. The Irish government and the nationalists wanted strong substantive commitments on the scope of North-South bodies, but in the end had to settle for broad language and hope that the specifics could be agreed to later.
Thus, practitioners face a choice in deciding whether to tackle detailed issues of substance similar to the issue of inclusivity — whether to seize a short-term gain e. Conclusion The Agreement came at a time of considerable post-Cold War optimism about the prospects for resolving long-standing political conflict, from the Middle East to the Balkans to Colombia. The passage of time has tempered those hopes, as many conflicts have proved resistant to settlement, and even those agreements that have remained intact have largely proved disappointing in bringing about true reconciliation.
The Agreement certainly falls into that category, but the brutal violence has not re-emerged. As the international community contemplates future peacemaking efforts, in Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, and beyond, the Northern Ireland peace process continues to offer important lessons to scholars and practitioners alike. Steinberg is professor of social science, international affairs, and law at Syracuse University and previously served as dean of the Maxwell School, from July until June , and dean of the Lyndon B.
His government service includes deputy secretary of state —11 , deputy national security advisor — and director of the State Department Policy Planning Staff — Ellings and Robert Sutter, eds. James Steinberg explores this question by examining the interaction between structural factors, the peace process, and efforts made by key individuals involved in the process. He also looks at what lessons this history holds for future peace negotiations. Of these, a little more than 1, were from the Catholic community in Northern Ireland, 1, from the Protestant community, and the rest around from outside Northern Ireland including British security forces.
Edward M. Kennedy, and, more substantively, as director of policy planning at the State Department — and deputy national security advisor to President Bill Clinton — Norton, I am grateful to RAND for its support of the initial research on this project. For a rich, first-hand account of the role of officials on the British side, see Graham Spencer, ed. Hennessey puts the Catholic percentage at about 33 percent at the time of partition.
In the most recent census, Catholics now make up 45 percent of the population, while Protestants make up 48 percent. Mallie and McKittrick, Endgame in Ireland , Their efforts were partially vindicated by the creation of the Republic in , which not only broke the formal ties to the United Kingdom but also included a constitutional claim, under Articles 2 and 3, to the counties of Northern Ireland.
The repeal of these provisions was central to unionist support for the Agreement. The perspectives of the loyalist parties are discussed in more detail below. That margin grew to around 10 to 12 percent in the late s and early s. Sinn Fein finally overtook the SDLP in local elections and in elections to Westminster in , in elections to the Stormont Assembly in , and in European elections in Moloney also notes the decline in the Sinn Fein vote compared with the SDLP beginning with the European Parliament elections and accelerated by the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement as well as the increasing effectiveness of British security operations and the electoral backlash stemming from a number of botched IRA operations.
The Enniskillen bombings, which led to the death of a number of non-combatants at a Remembrance Day event in was a particular turning point. Their affirmation of these principles is therefore quite compatible with their position. But then the IRA is not a participant in these talks. As noted above, it did appear to contemplate a political process that could lead to a united Ireland, as well as conceded a role for the South in Northern Ireland affairs. Thatcher justified the concessions in the Anglo-Irish Agreement as a way to gain Irish support for tougher security measures against the IRA.
Mitchell, Making Peace , Godson, Himself Alone , It robbed extreme Unionism of a cutting edge. Unionists most strongly objected to provisions that allowed the two governments to decide on the authority of a future North-South body, without the prior consent of a future Northern Ireland Assembly.
It was during the administration of an earlier Fine Gael prime minister, Garrett Fitzgerald, that Ireland first accepted the idea that unification should only come about with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, leading to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Moloney argues that the secret process dates back to indirect contacts between Adams and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Tom King in or Mitchell, Making Peace , — Another important secret channel was between the Irish and loyalist paramilitaries, fostered by a former unionist leader, Roy Magee.
It may well be that, unlike Trimble, Adams was guided by a masterplan. The process was like a precooked dinner whose basic menu had largely been decided long before most of the diners knew the meal was planned. Winfield was the psychological breakthrough. For this reason, counterfactual analysis is particularly useful. For a discussion of some of the considerations and difficulties, see Jack S.
The Historian and the Counterfactual. Roese, ed. Godson, David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism. Timothy J.
Kingdom of the Snark
White Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, , ix. The term was sometimes used to refer to the inclusion of the full range of stakeholders, including civil society, but was also used more narrowly, by Sinn Fein and the loyalists, to refer to the protagonists in the conflict. See for example, Timothy J. Broad inclusivity of civil society was valuable but it was the inclusion of the former paramilitaries that was crucial. This is an important difference between the Agreement and Sunningdale. As noted above, the ensuing crisis was only resolved when Ahearn agreed to walk back the draft and dilute the provisions opposed by the unionists.
EIGHT YEARS IN AMERICA
Paul C. Track two presented the best opportunities to do so. Maria Power, 38— What mattered most here was not neutrality but that third parties could offer something of value to the parties themselves. This more traditional understanding of the role of neutral actors in peace processes was illustrated by the creation of the Independent Commission on Policing, which produced a blue print for policing reform — something the parties themselves were unable to accomplish.
This was the first line of a referee report I received just last month for my latest book manuscript. There is probably no harder part of scholarly life than sending our work out for anonymous peer review. We pour our heart and soul into our work, nurturing, digging, re-shaping our articles and books until we believe they are perfect. As scholars, our arguments and research both reflect who we are and how we see the world.
While we are intellectuals and pretend we are completely objective, we understandably become deeply and personally attached to our work. Our articles and books are like our children — we love them fiercely and, at times, irrationally, often blind to the flaws that others see. This is what makes receiving negative reviews so unsettling, especially for the young scholar.
Stay in the business long enough, and you collect stories. Since I had based much of my argument on the papers of Carl Kaysen and was quite familiar with his handwriting, the review was not especially anonymous.
Melanie Hatfield - Home
The journal passed on the piece. At the Texas National Security Review , we have and will continue to think long and hard about how to encourage best practices in the review process. We have incorporated a number of measures, including paying our reviewers on a sliding scale depending upon how comprehensive the review is and how quickly it is returned.
This has made these reviews even more rigorous than the typical review. Believe me, I know. You may have noticed that I did not write an introduction for the last issue. You may have also noticed that an article of mine appeared in our pages. This generated a whole lot of discussion and concern in our journal — how would it look for a new journal to publish an article by the chair of the editorial board? To my not always pleasant surprise, we did. I can honestly say that my article went through the most rigorous review process I have ever experienced in over two decades of academic life.
There were four anonymous reviews, each well over two pages long, as well as intense internal review. All of the reviews were sharp and penetrating, with a raft of not always welcome suggestions, but one in particular was especially harsh. I confess I may not have handled the criticism in the most mature way. It was not my best moment, to say the least. Ryan Evans — who in addition to being the publisher is also one of my best friends — never blinked.
My piece, he stated calmly, would have to address all the criticisms if TNSR was to publish it. And no, I would never find out who had reviewed my piece. After putting the article aside for a few weeks, I swallowed my pride and went through the critiques line by line and made the changes. Ryan and his outstanding team of editors worked with me closely to improve the effort. The piece was much better for it. And I still have no idea who the reviewers were, though I am grateful for their extraordinary willingness to offer me honest criticism and helpful recommendations although reviewer number four would be an unlikely addition to my holiday card list, as petty as that may be!
I tell this story for a few reasons. First, the process of being evaluated and assessed never ends, no matter how long you stay in the academy. It is important for young people entering the academy to know this. Criticism hurts deeply and often feels unfair. To have your best work dismissed by an unknown, anonymous voice can be devastating.
The key is to remember that, no matter how unpleasant, the reviewer took the time to read your manuscript and take it seriously. Bear in mind, too, that just because an article is rejected does not mean it is wrong or the scholarship poor. As I think about my own work, it is often the pieces that were rejected once or twice and in one case, four times before being published that ended up being much better and more influential works than the pieces that sailed through review on a first pass.
While you should take criticism seriously, if you believe in your ideas, arguments, and evidence, and have pursued your quest with rigor, honesty, and integrity, then never give up. Keep plodding, never let the critics get you down, and keep improving and pressing. Do this and you will get published and your work will — eventually — be recognized.
The second reason I have related this story is because TNSR is new and is working to establish its reputation as the best venue for rigorous, innovative scholarship on the most pressing questions of strategy, statecraft, and international relations. We want to be accessible and engage the world beyond academics, to include policymakers, without sacrificing the highest standards of scholarship. It is very easy for a new journal to be seen as an outlet for insiders or close friends. The great journal International Security is often — and to my mind, quite unfairly — seen as an outlet reserved largely for scholars within a certain self-contained network in security studies.
It was very important to us that we implement the most demanding standards for review so that we could establish the highest scholarly credentials. My painful, if ultimately enormously helpful, experience with the TNSR review process convinced me we are doing well on this score. The third reason I mention this is that we all wonder about the efficacy and fairness of the current system. Is the double-blind, peer-reviewed process that has become the norm the best way to advance knowledge?
Is the current system too easily gamed, or does it encourage scholars — especially young thinkers at the height of their intellectual powers — to be risk-averse, to play small-ball, to write papers and books with the goal of getting through review, rather than expanding our understanding of the world? We all know the reasons we have the current system, but I think it is fair to ask whether it can be improved. Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein transformed our understanding of the world without it. Is double-blind peer review the worst way of evaluating scholarship, except all the others?
Or are there ways we can improve the system? We are willing to break current norms and practices if and when we find better ways of doing things. We encourage you to send us your thoughts. The benefits of anonymity are obvious, but so, too, are the pitfalls.
We live in an age where our social media culture often prizes snark over substance, the witty cut over the empathetic suggestion, the pithy phrase over deep reflection. When writing a review, try to imagine the scholar on the other side of the process, a person who has no doubt invested a good part of their heart, soul, and mind in the work you are reading. This is not a plea to go easy — quite the contrary.
At TNSR , we want our reviewers to bring their sharpest, most constructive insights, criticisms, and recommendations. Many reviewers, however, often forget the constructive part. That is how we become smarter. Does the article or book you are reviewing give us more purchase on a new question, new insight, even if the answer does not comport with how you understand the world? Will publication lead to energetic debate and discussion, even if you are somewhat skeptical of the claims? Does your review offer helpful advice, demonstrate empathy, and provide the author with guidance that can help them move their project forward?
Quite the contrary, in fact. Rest assured that the excellent scholarly contributions in this volume went through such a process, and that we at TNSR are committed to embracing the highest standards of scholarly review. What determines who wins and who loses? And what dynamics underpin how they unfold? Recent tensions between North Korea and the United States have exposed disagreement regarding these questions.
Different scholars offer interpretations of nuclear crises that appear to be at odds with each other. For some, the threat of nuclear use is generally so remote that nuclear-armed states can enter a crisis with little fear of it crossing the nuclear threshold. For others, nuclear escalation is highly plausible and the presence of nuclear weapons profoundly affects the way crises play out. Policymakers seeking to pursue their political goals within a nuclear crisis or reduce the risk of nuclear escalation will thus find little guidance in the existing scholarship.
We argue that different interpretations of nuclear crises are not — as they initially appear — mutually exclusive. Rather, nuclear crises have different dynamics depending on two variables: the incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved. Identifying these variables is not new: First-use incentives and crisis controllability are widely understood to be factors that affect how nuclear crises play out.
However, they have not previously been incorporated into a single framework that can shed light on the heterogeneity of nuclear crises. Variation across these two dimensions generates four models of nuclear escalation, which correspond to established ways of thinking about nuclear crises.
In specifying the various types of nuclear crisis more clearly and the dimensions that underpin them, we offer a way to unite divergent interpretations of nuclear crises within a broader framework. In doing so, our framework helps make sense of inconclusive empirical findings in the international relations literature.
For example, different studies have found nuclear weapons to have either no, limited, or substantial effects on the outcomes of crises. Finally, the framework provides analysts and policymakers with a tool to assess the relative dangers of potential future nuclear crises, the feasibility of signaling political interests or resolve within a crisis, and the advantages of nuclear superiority.
We first review the research on nuclear crises, highlighting tensions between existing studies. We then develop our framework, describing the two variables and four models of nuclear crisis and discussing the implications of each for the dynamics of this type of crisis. We demonstrate the utility of this framework by showing how it sheds light on the Kargil War between India and Pakistan, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Doklam crisis between India and China, and current tensions between the United States and North Korea. We conclude with implications for current and future research.
The destructive capacity of nuclear weapons casts a long shadow over all interstate crises, restricting the range of behaviors that states can reasonably engage in. For example, Kroenig argues that a state with nuclear superiority is more likely to achieve its goals in a nuclear crisis, while Todd Sechser and Matthew Fuhrmann conclude that nuclear weapons do not help states compel others to do what they want during crises.
Second, by seeking a single logic that explains nuclear crises, existing work downplays the variety among them. Models of Nuclear Crises In this section, we describe two variables that affect the ways in which nuclear crises unfold: the strength of incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis, and the degree to which the actors involved are able to control escalation of the crisis.
Incentives for first nuclear use and the degree of controllability are well understood to affect how a nuclear crisis plays out, however, they have not previously been incorporated into a single framework that sheds light on the diversity of nuclear crises. These models, in turn, correspond to prominent ways that scholars and analysts have thought about nuclear crises. The framework demonstrates that different models of nuclear crisis should be expected to operate under different circumstances. This insight holds important implications for how to understand existing scholarship on nuclear crises, as well as variation among these crises across time.
Table 1 summarizes the indicators of the variables that we examine in the case studies below. Each of these variables is itself the aggregation of other variables. Grouping them in this way, however, allows us to impose some conceptual order on the ways in which nuclear crises can vary, and thus begin to shed light on the diversity of this class of events. This variable asks whether the crisis is one in which either side would gain substantial advantages from using nuclear weapons first.
Such incentives may emerge in at least two distinct ways. First, the dynamics of a possible nuclear war may mean that first nuclear use could meaningfully affect the final outcome of the conflict. In particular, if there is a large disparity in capabilities between the nuclear forces of the participants in the crisis, there will be stronger incentives for both sides to use nuclear weapons first.
Second, nuclear first use may be threatened as part of the bargaining process within a crisis or war. However, they can only affect the dynamics of a crisis if they are perceived to exist by the leaders involved. If leaders do not perceive that first use could provide significant political advantages in a crisis or conflict, those incentives will not affect crisis dynamics. That is to say, crises in which either side has and perceives incentives for nuclear first use are coded as having incentives for first nuclear use. The second dimension is the extent to which a crisis is controllable by the actors participating in the crisis.
Controllability refers to the ability of leaders to make conscious and strategic decisions to determine the level of escalation in a given crisis. It is important to note that crisis controllability does not refer to the level of escalation that occurs. A crisis can escalate to and beyond the nuclear threshold in a controlled fashion, i.
Controllability instead refers to the process by which escalation occurs — to whatever level. These features are not intended to be an exhaustive list of factors contributing to crisis controllability, but rather a series of indicators that can be observed and that influence crisis controllability in important ways. First, different states have different command and control arrangements, which means that leaders exercise different levels of control over nuclear use.
Further, the ability to communicate is not simply institutional: For example, certain pairs of leaders may better understand or empathize with each other than others, improving crisis controllability. First, it might be objected that the two variables are not independent of each other. For example, one reason why a crisis might lack controllability is if there are incentives to use nuclear weapons first and battlefield commanders are therefore given pre-delegated authority to use nuclear weapons. These two dimensions are therefore appropriately considered separately because each exerts an independent effect on the character of nuclear crises.
As we discuss below, the stakes of the crisis can be incorporated within our framework. This is because we expect that states would be willing to enter different types of crises to protect different interests.