Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Krasner Appointed Director of Policy Planning for the State Department

Professor Stephen Krasner, of Stanford's Poli-Sci Dept, has been appointed the new Director of Policy Planning for the State Department. Prof. Krasner is a well-respected scholar of international relations (his most recent book is Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy and an excerpt is published here) who will bring even more academic credibility to the post than usual, which has traditionally been held by the egghead-types like George Kennan and Paul Wolfowitz. The purpose of the job appears to be to develop "big-think" approaches to foreign policy like "containment" and "regime change." Of course, whether anyone listens to the Director of Policy Planning is an open question and depends on the particular administration.

Krasner is not associated with any particular ideological group. He is certainly not, in any sense, a card-carrying neocon (whatever that might mean). His primary qualification for the job, in addition to his obvious and impeccable academic ones, appears to be that he is a former colleague and friend of Secretary of State Rice. Within the world of IR, he is best classified as a "realist" but one who has engaged the other IR schools in a way that has earned their respect. What might a realist perspective say about international institutions and international law? In an interview, Krasner reveals his thoughts about the ICC and international justice (emphasis added):

One problem with the ICC is that you have no democratic accountability. But the deepest problem with the ICC and with other efforts, like universal jurisdiction, is that international politics is not something that you can deal with adequately using judicial reasoning. Judicial reasoning has to be based essentially on absolute rules, or at least more or less on absolute rules. It has to be deontological or Kantian. You have to have a set of rules and you have to honor the rules. You don't want the judge or a jury saying, "If I convict this guy, his family members or his gang members are going to be mad, so they're going to go out and shoot ten other people." No system of justice domestically that works well can work in that way. But in the international level, that kind of thinking is utterly irresponsible, because the critical issue at the international level is how you can maintain order, ideally have justice, and save lives. That requires utilitarian thinking. It requires thinking about the greatest good for the greatest number. I do not think there is any escape from this.


Anonymous RAZ said...

Professor Krasner seems like an excellent choice. I agree that any court whose decisions are politically motivated will hardly be dispensing "justice" as a matter of course. Also, it takes more than a clear set of rules/standards to have an effective judiciary; it also takes a mechanism that can enforce the judgments of the court.

2/16/2005 5:23 PM  
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