Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier, who teaches politics at Occidental College, is the author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

Recent Articles

Jim Baker's War

The war in Iraq may be a disaster for George W. Bush, but for James Baker III it has become an opportunity to seal his reputation as a statesman rather than a political fixer, which is how he's spent much of his career. Baker is already getting kudos as a skilled diplomat who engineered a "bipartisan consensus" -- the highest honor that can be bestowed by the political punditry -- among the 10-member blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group, laying the groundwork for a possible U.S. withdrawal from an unpopular war.

As a nation, we seem to be suffering from short-term memory loss. After all, if it weren't for James Baker, we wouldn't be in Iraq in the first place.

Trying Times

The capture of Saddam Hussein may have implications beyond giving President George W. Bush a modest ratings boost. It raises questions about whether the U.S. government can guarantee (or even wants to give) a fair trial to a one-time collaborator. As was true with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Suharto of Indonesia and a score of others, Hussein used state power to commit criminal acts. And like his fellow dictators, Saddam Hussein, the human-rights abuser, enjoyed decisive support from Washington -- while he was useful.

Foot Fault

Phil Knight, Nike's founder and CEO, just lost a major court battle over his company's allegedly misleading ads about conditions in its overseas factories. Then Nike agreed to pay a $1.5 million settlement to what the media called a "worker rights" group that monitors sweatshops. So how did Knight and Nike escape more or less unscathed from the entire episode?

Presidential Legacy

President George W. Bush was an affirmative-action beneficiary, at Yale University and then at
Harvard Business School. Now he wants the University of Michigan to end its
policy of considering applicants' race, among other factors, in
admitting students. According to Bush, this approach "amounts to a
quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students based on
their race."

The Campus Anti-Sweatshop Movement

Each year of the past five, the annual survey of national freshman attitudes conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles has hit a new record low with students who say it is important to keep up with political affairs. At 26 percent this year, it was down from 58 percent when the survey was first done in 1966.

—Boston Globe, February 15, 1999

From: Arne David Ekstrom

To: [United Students Against Sweatshops listserve]

Date: Thursday, April 29, 1999