Synopses & Reviews
This book is a passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not. Arguing that post-9/11 legislation and foreign policy severed the executive branch from the will of the people, Elaine Scarry in Rule of Law, Misrule of Men offers a fierce defense of the people's role as guarantor of our democracy. She begins with the groundswell of local resistance to the 2001 Patriot Act, when hundreds of towns, cities, and counties passed resolutions refusing compliance with the information-gathering the act demanded, showing that citizens can take action against laws that undermine the rights of citizens and noncitizens alike. Scarry, once described in the New York Times Sunday Magazine as "known for her unflinching investigations of war, torture, and pain," then turns to the conduct of the Iraqi occupation, arguing that the Bush administration led the country onto treacherous moral terrain, violating the Geneva Conventions and the armed forces' own most fundamental standards. She warns of the damage done to democracy when military personnel must choose between their own codes of warfare and the illegal orders of their civilian superiors. If our military leaders uphold the rule of law when civilian leaders do not, might we come to prefer them? Finally, reviewing what we know now about the Bush administration's crimes, Scarry insists that prosecution--whether local, national, or international--is essential to restoring the rule of law, and she shows how a brave town in Vermont has taken up the challenge.Throughout the book, Scarry finds hope in moments where citizens withheld their consent to grievous crimes, finding creative ways to stand by their patriotism.
"Harvard professor of aesthetics Scarry (The Body in Pain) develops a forceful condemnation of Bush-era government excesses while articulating a broad philosophy of governance and consent. Scarry makes a provocative case against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for conspiracy to murder American citizens, based on the willful misrepresentation of facts that led America's military into war. She examines how American soldiers, in turn, were led to practice not just torture but all manner of treachery and perfidy as defined by the Geneva and Hague Conventions and by the rules and standards of our own military, including attacks on hospitals, denial of medical treatment to prisoners, and inciting the assassination of enemy leaders. Scarry reserves her greatest indignation for how the Patriot Act has perverted the relationship between citizens and their government, eliminating privacy for citizens while shrouding the actions of their government in secrecy rendering hollow the citizenry's consent to be governed. A cogent and frightening reminder of what's at stake for us as a nation." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Excoriating and elegant, Elaine Scarry takes us to the big issues: why the rule of law matters, what went wrong, and what is needed to put it right." Philippe Sands, author of Lawless World and Torture Team, Professor of Law, University College London The MIT Press
"Some of the most trenchant and passionate analysis of the politics of democracy and terror in the United States. These essays are a searing call to conscience, an eloquent plea for justice, and a damning indictment of the Bush administration's response to 9/11." David Cole, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, coauthor of Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror The MIT Press
A passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not.
Arguing that post-9/11 legislation and foreign policy severed the executive branch from the will of the people, Scarry offers a fierce defense of the people's role as guarantor of democracy.
This book is a passionate call for citizen action to uphold the rule of law when government does not. Arguing that post-9/11 legislation and foreign policy severed the executive branch from the will of the people, Elaine Scarry in
About the Author
Elaine Scarry is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. She is the author of The Body in Pain, On Beauty and Being Just, and Who Defended the Country?