Humans, Smoking, Health Behavior, Military Medicine, Human Rights, Health Policy, Military Personnel, United States, Smoking Prevention, Strategic, Defence & Security Studies, Public Health and Health Services, Human Movement and Sports Sciences, Strategic, and Defence & Security Studies
The Institute of Medicine recently called for a tobacco-free military, citing evidence that high rates of tobacco use harm readiness and create enormous costs for the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. The pro-tobacco activities of the tobacco industry and others, sometimes supported by military authorities even when prohibited by policy, have created a culture highly hospitable to smoking. Through qualitative secondary analysis of data from interviews and focus groups, this article explores the reasons enlisted personnel and their supervisors, installation tobacco control managers, and service policy leaders give for why tobacco control policy change "cannot" effectively be achieved. Three primary reasons were given: policies would impinge on the "right to smoke," policies would be unenforceable and lead to disciplinary breakdown, and the rights of civilian workers on military installations precluded policy enforcement. Yet evidence suggests that these reasons are not only invalid, but inconsistent with military policies addressing other threats to the health of personnel. This pervasive tobacco "exceptionalism" is a significant barrier to achieving a tobacco-free military. The military, Congress, and the President should re-evaluate the "can'ts" that have prevented effective action, and act to regulate and eventually abolish tobacco use in the armed forces.
History, International relations, Amnesty International, Amnesty International USA, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and International League for the Rights of Man
Using archival collections and published primary sources, this dissertation offers a bottom-up, social historical perspective on how several international human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the United States during the Cold War--the International League for the Rights of Man, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Americas Watch and Helsinki Watch--formed a transnational advocacy network that exposed abuses and shamed governments into ending them. It finds that a small circle of rooted cosmopolitans--a term used by Sidney Tarrow to describe "outsiders inside/insiders outside"--was responsible for the emergence of a movement during the mid-1970s that was centered in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The activists profiled here were not the powerful, but neither were they the powerless. They tended to be highly-educated professionals who were drawn into activism after their moral sensibilities had been greatly offended. The emotional connections that formed between activists and victims thus arose within the historical context of intensifying market relations in this contemporary era of globalization. But why the spectacle of distant suffering drove some people to devote themselves to advancing the cause of human rights can be answered only in deeply personal terms. Biography is crucial to understanding how this transformation occurred for them: religious beliefs, a long-held cultural interest, a friend who experienced political repression and symbolized the plight of an entire country, previous work on domestic civil liberties, or their own victimization. Their worldview was based on a far-reaching conception of one's ethical responsibilities. As Kwame Anthony Appiah has argued, lives are given value by the identities that shape them--the philosophical basis of a cosmopolitanism that is premised upon "kindness to strangers." Activists proceeded in a similar path from an abstract notion of the rights-bearing individual to immersing themselves in the lived experiences of prisoners, dissidents, and other persecuted individuals they may have never actually met in person. Lacking the authority of state actors, activists had to act as moral entrepreneurs. Their social value was providing elites with information. The researchers who gathered the material for the reports published by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch became experts who were called to testify before Congress. Journalists quoted their findings to counter or corroborate the official version of events. NGOs also developed legal expertise that they used to expand the reach of international human rights law. As this subfield became more widely taught at law schools, some of which established programs dedicated to it, a generation of lawyer-activists took the international human rights movement in a new, more litigious direction. Publicity was just as important. It was easier to mobilize public opinion against repressive governments if the victims were well known; even better if activists became part of the story. By reaffirming their accuracy and objectivity, activists could gain the trust of reliable donors, philanthropic foundations, wealthy benefactors, and celebrities, all of whom became important sources of income that enabled their NGOs to expand during the last three decades of the twentieth century.
Sociology, Culture, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Latin America, and Political Sociology
My dissertation examines the relationship between law and society by analyzing the implementation of U.S. human rights legislation. In the 1970s, the U.S. Congress, reflecting the growing international consensus that human rights were a matter of international policy, legislated that respect for human rights be considered in all foreign aid decisions. A central feature of this legislation stipulated that aid should not go to countries “engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Subsequently, many have concluded that the United States has inconsistently applied this legislation, especially in United States-Latin America relations. These researchers have studied human rights as a self-evident concept, obscuring the fact that policy advocates—those with a vested interest in defining human rights and their violation and the United States’ response—imbue the concept with of human rights with meaning through policy debates. This dissertation takes a different approach, studying what I call the politics of meaning-making: the process by which policy advocates define and contest the meaning of these phenomena. In order to develop this approach, I examine two cases testing the United States’ commitment to promoting respect for human rights abroad: the ‘dirty war’ in Argentina (1976-1983) and the civil war in El Salvador (1980-1992). The similar scope and severity of human rights violations in both cases provides for a powerful comparison. Based upon a content analysis of 160 U.S. Congressional hearings—summing to more than 35,000 pages of documents, I find that policy advocates assessed each society’s supposed capacity for self-governance and leveraged their own analysis to develop a plan of restoring respect for human rights in Argentina and of establishing respect for human rights in El Salvador. The distinction between restoring and establishing respect for human rights is important because each had significant social consequences for all of the nations involved, both during and after these conflicts officially ended. This analysis served as a foundation for both how policy advocates framed human rights violations perpetrated during each conflict, and how they measured progress towards curbing human rights abuses. I trace the logics and resources policy advocates used to respond to each specific case of human rights violations abroad. My analysis offers a new way to understand the United States’ response to human rights violations through a unique lens. Moreover, my research points to the importance of examining the boundaries between crime and human rights violations. How and by whom these boundaries are drawn and redrawn, impacted all of the societies studied, and continues to have a contemporary impact on local, national, and global levels.
Bracero Program, guest workers, comprehensive immigration reform, undocumented immigrants, unskilled labor supply and demand, absolute and relative deprivation, criminalization, amnesty, human rights, political conflict, fear, and xenophobia
Closing keynote to the Scribani International Conference in Madrid, and European premiere of the documentary “Harvest of Loneliness,” a critical reexamination of the bilateral US-Mexico contract labor program instituted in 1942 ostensibly to meet temporary labor shortages in the U.S. during World War II. But the program did not end when the war ended in 1945; at the behest of the corporate growers, it kept being extended by the U.S. Congress until 1964, becoming the largest such “guest worker” program of its kind to date — and one of the largest mass movements of workers in history. The program was presented to the public via newscasts, newspapers, journals and government publications as an ideal program that uplifted the economy of Mexico and satisfied the need for workers in the United States. The reality was much different. The Bracero Program was implemented to ensure accessible, cheap, controlled and disposable labor with little regard for the adverse and irreversible impact it had on Mexican families. During its 22 years no agricultural labor union succeeded in organizing or carrying out a strike — it was not until the end of the Bracero Program, which cut off of the supply of Mexican workers, that saw the emergence of the United Farm Workers. Still, after the Bracero Program ended formally in 1964 it was de facto maintained informally by growing streams of undocumented immigrant labor, leading to the present moment. Practically all of Mexico has been affected: fewer than 4% of Mexico’s 2,443 municipalities have no migrants living and working in the U.S. Mexican-born immigrants in the U.S. today number nearly 12 million; over half of them are undocumented. In the U.S. the political vacuum left by the failure of the federal government to pass “comprehensive immigration reform” — given the irreconcilable conflict between those who sought “enforcement” solutions to the presence of millions of migrant workers (from their criminalization and deportation to fencing the southern border) to those who sought to forge paths to their eventual legalization and integration (denigrated as “amnesty” by opponents) — has been filled by hundreds of attempts by state and local governments to assume federal immigration control functions in a growing climate of fear and enforced opprobrium. Yet it is not an American problem but a worldwide issue of vast consequence that will grow in magnitude in the years to come. In looking to the future it is wise to reexamine the experience and lessons of the past — especially given Europe’s parallel needs for manual laborers. These new braceros have been dubbed “outcasts of modernity,” “irregular” labor migrants, “illegal aliens” — terms which describe an unequal master status affecting every aspect of the life of a subclass of people without rights. They are products of a globalized political and economic system that creates illegality by displacing people and then denying them equal rights to do what they have to do to survive: move to find work. As migration pressures continue to mount as a result of global inequality, so will fear of the foreigner — the xenophobia of what has been called a “society of contempt.”