Five Uneasy Pieces

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Overview

Americans pride themselves on being an ethical people. They go to church, quote the Bible, erect statues, and discuss morality with abandon. They also trust their government to do the right thing when it comes to delivering legal justice and conducting foreign policy. Trouble is, American foreign policy has yielded some pretty spectacular ethical lapses, and (as 9/11 starkly demonstrated) the world is beginning to notice. Here, Mark Gibney lays out some of the most egregious insults the U.S. has visited upon international law, economic justice, and human rights in recent times. He covers everything from multinational corporations, the first Persian Gulf war, and Guantanamo Bay to American refugee policy, foreign aid, and global environmental degradation. Through all these examples, he exposes the discrepancy between the guise of ethical policy motivation and the reality of situational international ethics—or worse. He shows us how we practice "easy ethics" in an uneasy world, and how it is beginning to catch up with us. Part I concludes with a gallop through the alphabet of countries where the U.S. has engaged in nefarious legal behavior and supported brutal dictatorships—everywhere from Argentina to Zaire. Part II offers a cautious "coda of hope" in exploring recent trends toward public political apology and forgiveness, new U.S. policies toward AIDS in Africa, and renewed civic commitment flowing out of the tragedy of 9/11. Only when the exercise of American ethics becomes as muscular as our use of military force will the United States become the ethical superpower it projects itself to be. And only then will the concert of nations join us in the harmonization of global governance.

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Editorial Reviews

Political Studies Review
A clear well-written book that deserves the attention of serious scholars.
Choice
Gibney offers an intriguing book sure to raise eyebrows. Recommended.
Bonny Ibhawoh
This book marks a bold and unpretentious contribution to the discourse on ethics, not only within the context of American law and foreign policy, but also in relation to the wider discourse on contemporary international affairs. Readers will find it refreshing, enlightening, and engaging.
Daniel Warner
Mark Gibney has written a passionate plea for the United States' society to take ethically responsible positions outside its borders. Skillfully combining common sense with concrete examples and written in a most readable style, Gibney shows that U.S. policies abroad too often contradict the domestic agenda and how Americans perceive themselves. He optimistically sees the beginning of a transformation in the classical distinction between 'us' and 'them' and this book should make an important contribution toward a more consistent ethical standard of behavior by the American people throughout the world.
Hurst Hannum
Since 9/11, both international law and American values have been undermined by the reactions of the Bush administration and others to that tragic event. Defining and combating 'terrorism' seems increasingly to depend on one's own political persuasion, and unilateral coercion rather than multilateral consensus has become the order of the day. Mark Gibney offers a welcome critique of ethics in American foreign policy that should spark more meaningful debate on the extent to which the views and values of the rest of the world should matter to future American policymakers.
Sigrun I. Skogly
In current international relations there is a perceived choice of 'good vs. evil.' The 'good' acts ethically, the 'evil' unethically. Mark Gibney challenges this notion, questions why the world 'hates America,' and argues convincingly that the U.S. administration and the American people behave far less ethically in their international conduct than what is commonly appreciated. He insightfully questions whether there is one acceptable conduct at home—another abroad. A timely, thought-provoking, and honest contribution to current debate.
CHOICE
Gibney offers an intriguing book sure to raise eyebrows. Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742535886
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Gibney is professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Introduction: Ethics In (and out of) American Life Part 3 I Five Uneasy Pieces Chapter 4 1 Law, Ethics, and the Overseas Operations of U. S. Multinational Corporations Chapter 5 2 Confining our Constitution Chapter 6 3 A Case Called Koohi: American Ethical and Legal Standards in the Realm of "Foreign Affairs" Chapter 7 4 American Refugee Policy and the Pretense of Morality Chapter 8 5 American Ethics: "Easy" Does It Part 9 II Coda of Hope? Chapter 10 6 Facing Our Past Chapter 11 7 Our Brother's Keeper Chapter 12 Conclusion

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