Robert Farley

Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and TAPPED.

Recent Articles


HUMANITARIAN. I think Yglesias goes too easy on Eric Posner's Washington Post op-ed attack on humanitarian intervention. Posner invokes Somalia, Kosovo, and Iraq as evidence that "experience shows that humanitarian war is an oxymoron." This can fairly be argued of Iraq 2003, but I'm unaware of any compelling evidence that the intervention in Somalia in 1992-3 failed to increase living standards for Somalis, at least for as long as the United Nations forces stayed. Certainly, the intervention failed to establish a state or resolve the problems of Somalia in the long term, but this is a different thing than saying it failed. The success of an intervention must be measured against the likely course of events in the absence of action, not in reference to whether it permanently solves a problem. In the case of Kosovo, Posner's argument is even weaker. Posner writes "the Kosovo intervention, although regarded as a success in some quarters, has cost billions of dollars, required a seven-year...


DOUBLE-EDGED EXECUTIVE. John Quiggan makes a point that should be obvious to conservative supporters of enhanced executive power, especially as regards combatting terrorism: So, for those who support the bill, it might be useful to consider the standard thought experiment recommended to all who support dictatorial powers for a leader on their own side. Think about what the other side might do with these powers. For concreteness, suppose Hillary Clinton is elected in 2008 with a Democratic majority in Congress, and appoints someone like Janet Reno as her Attorney-General, and that some rightwing extremist takes a potshot at her. Suppose that the unsuccessful terrorist turns out to have drifted widely through the organisations that Clinton famously called the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, ranging from organisations with a track record of association with terrorism, like Operation Rescue and the militia movement, to those of the mainstream right, not engaged in violence, but prone to the...


HUMAN DIGNITY. Three weeks ago, President Bush pointed out that Article III of the Geneva Conventions prohibits "outrages against human dignity", a term that he found too imprecise to guide detainee policy. As Rodger Payne notes, the Bush administration has felt free to use the term "human dignity" in other contexts without feeling a need for clarification. In the National Security Strategy of the United States , Section IIA: The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States Government will work to advance human dignity in word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals. President Bush also made use of the term "human dignity" in his UN speech of September 21, 2004, suggesting that a belief in human dignity led to a...