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HKS in the News May 31, 2012

1. Does US need another imperial president like Lyndon Johnson? (Glaeser) The Boston Globe

2. Unapologetic serial blunderers run public policy (Walt) Foreign Policy Magazine

3. Election season requires listening, not just talking (Kayyem) The Boston Globe

4. Vietnam Scandal to Boost State Firm Disclosure (Pincus) Bloomberg News

5. Father And Son Reunited 30 Years After Massacre In Guatemala WBUR


Does US need another imperial president like Lyndon Johnson?

The Boston Globe

May 31

Commentary by: Edward Glaeser, Taubman Center, Rappaport Institute

Topic: The American presidency

Were cozy ties between Texas legislators and Halliburton's corporate predecessor Brown and Root responsible for the passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act? The new fourth volume of Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson series lays out how the 36th president used his influence, often in elaborate ways, to get Congress to pass major legislation. It also raises an obvious question: Do we need a similarly imperial president to solve today's intractable problems?

America faces not just a fiscal morass, but also an education deficit that threatens our future well-being. In these times, could we use another LBJ? …

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Unapologetic serial blunderers run public policy

Foreign Policy Magazine

May 30

Commentary by: Stephen Walt, Belfer Center

Topic: Admitting mistakes in politics

Why don't policymakers admit when they're wrong?

A couple of weeks ago, psychiatrist Robert Spitzer made the news by writing a short but sincere apology to the gay community for his earlier support of "reparative therapy" intended to "cure" homosexuality. He now regards the 2003 experiments that seemed to show success for this "treatment" were irredeemably flawed, and he regrets any role he might have played in reinforcing anti-gay stereotypes. Good for him.

Spitzer's recantation got me thinking: Why do we so rarely see foreign policy mavens offer similar apologies for obvious screw-ups? None of us is infallible, but powerful people sometimes make colossal blunders that lead to enormous human suffering. When that happens, it really does merit a mea culpa from those responsible. Yet with a few exceptions, I can't think of very many politicians, pundits or government officials who have openly acknowledged their errors and apologized for them. …

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Election season requires listening, not just talking

The Boston Globe

May 31

Commentary by: Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Center

Topic: The presidential campaign

The campaign has really, honestly, finally started between President Obama and Mitt Romney. While there will be lots of talk in the next few months about the economy and social issues, foreign policy will continue to engender debates. The refrains - how to deal with the likes of Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, or Russia - will pit the White House against Romney's eclectic team, whose foreign policy suggestions amount to the ABO doctrine (Anything but Obama). Each side will monologue, dialogue, and even mosh-pit about the challenges facing our nation's security.

It will be interesting, all this talk, but world affairs are much more complicated and even inspiring than just hearing ourselves speak endlessly. What we have to do is listen harder. The future of China is a perfect example. Forget Obama and Romney and who has the better policy toward the superpower to the East. A dissident and architect reminded us this week that it isn't always about us. …

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Vietnam Scandal to Boost State Firm Disclosure

Bloomberg News

May 31

Quoted: Jonathan Pincus, Ash Center

Topic: New financial regulations for state-owned companies in Vietnam

Vietnam’s state-owned companies, accounting for a third of the economy, are set to begin publishing audited earnings as the government boosts oversight and reassures investors after losses and corruption scandals. …

“It would be great if the government could begin to impose discipline on these firms, through transparency and forcing them to announce to the world exactly how they make their money,” said Jonathan Pincus, a Ho Chi Minh City-based economist at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Vietnam program. “The public tolerance for very risky speculation in the state sector is zero at this point.” …

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Father And Son Reunited 30 Years After Massacre In Guatemala

WBUR

May 31

Cited: The Carr Center event: What Happened At Dos Erres?

In Framingham, a father and son reunited this week after 30 years are getting to know each other.

In the 1980s, the Guatemalan military massacred tens of thousands of their own people. In 1982, they wiped out the entire village of Dos Erres. Tranquilino Castaneda survived because he was out of town the day the soldiers showed up. Until recently, he believed his pregnant wife and their nine children were all killed in the massacre. But his son, Oscar Ramirez, was saved.

Three decades later, Oscar led his father, Tranquilino, down the stairs at the Kennedy School of Government Wednesday night. Until last year, neither knew the other existed. Wednesday’s conference at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy brought together father and son and some of the people who, over the years, were instrumental in bringing them back together. …

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This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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