Steven C. Roach – American Professor of International Relations

Steven C. Roach (born November 1, 1964) is an American professor of International Relations who writes on global ethics, the politics of international law, critical international theory, minority rights, and South Sudan’s politics. He is currently Director of Graduate Programs (Ph.D. MA, MLA. MALACS) at the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies at the University of South Florida.

Education and Career

Roach earned his doctorate from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 2002. He received his M.A from San Francisco State University in 1995 and his BA from Colgate University in 1987. From 2002 to 2005 he was appointed visiting professor at Colorado State University at Pueblo and a visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 2020, he served as the country expert of a USAID work team and its Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) assessment report of South Sudan. Professor Steven Roach is a member of several editorial and consultancy boards.

Ethical Values and Global Politics

A central focus of Roach’s work is the interaction of ethical values and political power. His recent work uses the relationship between decency and moral accountability to study the growing political pressures that threaten the liberal international order. In a 2016 interview with E-IR, he points out that the gap between humanitarian values and emotion has never been greater; that it is not simply the hostile emotions that explain right-wing populism, but liberalism’s detachment from these sentiments.

Politics of International Law

Roach is one the first political scientists to systematically explore the political forces shaping the International Criminal Court. His notion of political legalism functions as a pragmatic instrument to study how best to bring justice to the worst perpetrators of serious crimes. In an article published by Global Governance, he argues that the court cannot escape the effects of operating in an international system. It needs to confront this difficult and complex political reality of the ICC by devising new ways of thinking about its agency and by adopting the political strategies needed to balance the demand for global justice against the constraints of the international system.

 

Governance in South Sudan

 

Roach has conducted extensive field research in South Sudan and written on the many challenges of governance in South Sudan, Africa’s 54th state. His short essays have appeared in Foreign Affairs, African Arguments, and the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, and in 2019, he co-edited The Challenge of Governance in South Sudan. In 2017, he published an article in International Affairs, which argued that the unstable politics of accountability stems of South Sudan’s undeveloped institutions.

 

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How Early Christians Handled Their ‘COVID-19’

Those in the early church faced two life-threatening epidemics within its first 200 years.

Today, most of us sit confined in our homes, unsure of how widespread the COVID-19 virus is in our community, our country, or the world. I frequently open the app counting the global statistics and try to understand what life is like in places where the virus is creating unimaginable havoc.

Some have sarcastically dismissed the virus as being a political foil. Now such silliness is sobered by reality. Others try to spiritualize this pandemic, as if it is God’s punishment for our erring ways.

Today’s “New Normal”

We aren’t the first Christians to face a global pandemic. In fact, now is a good time to learn how we might deal with this world-being-shut-down crisis. Those in the early church faced two life-threatening epidemics within its first 200 years. The first was in 165 A.D., in which up to one-third of Roman citizens died, and the second was in 251 A.D.

My point in noting these early Christians is for one basic reason: that we will choose hope over confusion, humility over arrogance, empathy over self-interest, faith over fear. So that in recognizing our frail humanity, we will welcome the pervading presence and life of the Spirit to assert God’s will over our own distractions, providing us with a different way in which we view and make sense of what for too many is an existential reality.

Instead, let us see today and tomorrow through the prism of God’s grace and love.

Learning from the Early Christians

In these second and third-century catastrophes, Christians, who were then just a very small minority, exerted extraordinary impact on their societies. Facing headwinds of human devastation, they wasted no time, nor spared personal effort, to care for those struck down by those deadly …

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When I Was a Health Risk to Society

My radioactive body brought me shame. But I learned how to bring my fears to the Cross.

When I was radioactive, I carried a card in my wallet to explain why I set off alarms at the airport with my body. The card read, “Rachel Jones has undergone nuclear medical treatment.”

I keep the card in my wallet, even though I no longer need to show it at airports. I love the card and I hate it. I love it because it says I had nuclear treatment, which simply sounds awesome. I hate it because that awesome-sounding treatment didn’t give me the ability to fly or glow in the dark. I love it because not everyone gets to step through an airport scanner and explain to the TSA staff why their body is lighting up the screen and that makes me feel special. But I hate it because it means I have cancer, which also makes me feel special, but not in a good way.

I have thyroid cancer. I had a total thyroidectomy followed by radioactive iodine treatment, which meant the pill a nurse delivered inside a lead container and only touched with gloved hands and a pair of tongs, I put into my bare palm and then into my mouth and swallowed. There was nothing epic or momentous about the moment of swallowing the little pill, other than the Imagine Dragons song Radioactive, which echoed on endless repeat in my mind.

I took the pill, walked out of the hospital, drove home, retreated to the basement, and isolated myself for three days from all humans and animals, hoping that the cancer would die.

I was now a danger to society. As my body leaked radioactivity, I could damage someone else’s body simply by proximity. No touch, no shared space, no common utensils or toilets. Everything I touched needed to be scrubbed down, the space in which I breathed needed to be ventilated. No one could come within eight feet of me.

The COVID-19 …

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In Pandemic and in Health, I Make This Vow

Engaged Americans are grappling with foiled wedding plans. But Christian couples face unique moral challenges.

Sophia Lee thought she’d be heading to the altar next month. She had the dress, the rings, and two plane tickets for a honeymoon in Eastern Europe. Instead, she and her fiancé, David Hermann, are in a holding pattern. The couple is sheltering in place in Los Angeles, preparing to watch their April 25 wedding date come and go. Like fellow engaged couples the world over, their wedding plans have gone the way of the polite handshake—that is to say, up in smoke.

Back in mid-March when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first recommended people avoid gatherings of 10 or more, Lee and Hermann, both Christians, made the tough call to cancel their large wedding ceremony. Lee, a senior reporter for World magazine, had already known for a few weeks that her extended family from South Korea would probably be unable to make the trip. So she and Herrmann made the gut-wrenching decision to plan for a smaller wedding with just their local pastor.

They figured they’d have a small ceremony, forgo their planned trip to eastern Europe, and opt for an Airbnb in Sequoia National Park, where they could honeymoon on a smaller scale and quietly grieve their best laid plans. But even that option now seems unlikely.

Situations like theirs are unfolding all over. Couples who had planned weddings even into the summer are grappling with a world totally unlike the one they knew when the engagement ring first sparkled in the light. Travel restrictions mean out-of-town guests are off the list. Large venues are closed. Some couples are postponing their wedding, while others are moving forward with small ceremonies. Some are even heading to the courthouse, if the courts are still open.

Whether to postpone or cancel a wedding …

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Have Yourself a Bittersweet Easter

A typical Holy Week is out of reach this year. That’s cause for lament—and celebration.

A pastor friend lamented this week, “All our Easter plans are shot. We are gutted—our entire vision and hard work are down the drain!” Another colleague said to me that he openly wept on a staff Zoom call when he finally gave in to the realization that there was no way, given social distancing rules, to pull off the normal joys of Holy Week. He said, “This is unthinkable; it’s worse than the Cubs not playing baseball!” Many leaders I am talking to fear that Easter 2020 will whimper into a non-event, into an anticlimax that does not seem at all like Easter.

This year we face a reality check. Kids standing shoulder to shoulder waving palms on Palm Sunday? That could get you arrested. Maundy Thursday foot washing? Are you kidding? Walking the stations of the cross or pinning a note of one’s sin to a cross on Good Friday? Nope. Saturday Vigil or Holy Saturday activities? No way. And then there is Easter, where the lament comes to its deepest, most profound level.

This year we are something like our ancient exiled relatives who, with lovely memories of Jerusalem in mind, exclaimed, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. … How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1, 4). Today, the lamenting refrain from working pastors goes something like this: “On Slack we sat and wept when we remembered Easter last year. … How can we sing the classic songs of resurrection and preach the classic Easter passages in a foreign place called ‘online’?”

The Songs of Zion glorified Yahweh’s presence in the city of Jerusalem. But those songs seemed emotionally and spiritually distant and disconnected …

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Playing God: Pandemic Brings Moral Dilemmas to US Hospitals

Two Christian bioethicists on life or death issues that American doctors may soon face.

Medical professionals across the US are preparing COVID-19 units in a suspenseful quiet, while others in places like New York are already overwhelmed with patients. The city has ordered hospitals to increase capacity by 50 percent, and they are looking at ways to use temporary facilities, including a recently arrived Navy hospital ship, hastily built field hospitals, and even hotels.

In the midst of all this, doctors and nurses are preparing to face agonizing ethical decisions as their Italian counterparts have already in recent weeks. According to some estimates, the number of projected coronavirus patients needing ventilation in the US could reach anywhere between 1.4 and 31 patients per available ventilator.

There are three main ethical concerns that medical professionals are now facing, according to the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity: protecting the vulnerable by not overwhelming health care systems, allocating insufficient medical supplies, and keeping medical workers safe who lack the proper protective equipment against the virus. The questions are very real: Who should receive medical care when there aren’t enough resources to go around?

Two ethicists aiding US medical workers with these dilemmas are Carol L. Powers, a lawyer and the co-founder and chair of the Community Ethics Committee out of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics in Boston; and David Stevens, a physician and CEO emeritus of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations in Bristol, Tennessee who spent 11 years on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS and malaria epidemics in Africa.

CT spoke to Powers and Stevens about how Christians should approach issues of life or death.

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A Year of Suffering and Soul-Searching in Sutherland Springs

How does a God-fearing, gun-friendly church recover from a horrific mass shooting? Long after the camera crews departed, a Texas journalist stuck around to find out.

Frank Pomeroy, pastor at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was away for the weekend when he received a text message alerting him that a gunman had just attacked the church during Sunday worship. Among the dead was his own daughter, Annabelle.

“By noon,” as Texas journalist Joe Holley writes in his new book recounting the massacre and its aftermath, “Frank was in his truck barreling down I-35, every mile a rolling kaleidoscope of memories … [He] began to separate out the feelings of pain and desperation that threatened him from the practical steps he knew he had to take in the next few hours, the next several days.”

Holley, columnist for the Houston Chronicle and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his columns on Texas gun culture, was at a book signing when he learned about the shooting. Driving home afterwards, he heard all the terrible details on the radio: “A Baptist church. Multiple deaths. Sutherland Springs.”

Soon enough, a clearer picture of the carnage—and an outline of the trials to come—was emerging: “Twenty-five friends and loved ones had lost their lives … A pastor who knew and cared about those broken people needed to preach their funerals. Twenty of their friends and loved ones were in area hospitals, some still fighting for their lives; they needed visiting and their families needed consoling.”

When Holley saw the exit for I-35 he began driving toward the small town. He would spend the next year of his life there, remaining long after most reporters had left. The resulting book, Sutherland Springs: God, Guns, and Hope in a Texas Town, paints a picture of tragedy, despair, faith, and resilience. But Holley also shows the systemic …

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Descobri na Itália o Poder de Três Tipos de Oração

Salmos de lamento pareciam exagerados antes do COVID-19. Mas, em meio a 10.700 mortes, minha igreja em quarentena em Roma se identifica mais do que nunca com Davi.

[READ IN ENGLISH] [LEGGI IN ITALIANO]

A pandemia do COVID-19 mudou a maneira como os cristãos italianos oram e vivem sua fé, numa nação que chora a morte de mais de 10.700 pessoas – o maior número de mortes no mundo – entre 97.600 casos confirmados, perdendo apenas para os Estados Unidos [em 29 de março].

Durante a quarentena não podemos mais nos reunir aos domingos ou mesmo socialmente em pequenos grupos. Viagens e casamentos foram suspensos, assim como a maioria dos estabelecimentos comerciais. Se alguém for pego fora de casa sem um motivo contundente, estará sujeito a uma multa pesada.

Mas esta temporada de afastamento nos ajudou a descobrir três facetas da oração que nós facilmente negligenciamos em tempos de abundância.

1) Orações de Lamento

Salmos de lamento pareciam exagerados há um mês atrás. Por exemplo, a queixa de Asafe de que Deus fez seu povo “beber copos de lágrimas” poderia parecer um pouco exagerada; O clamor de Davi a Deus perguntando “até quando esconderás de mim o teu rosto?” era uma realidade distante.

Mas, à medida que as nações lutam para conter uma pandemia que causa medo e ansiedade, o lamento parece ser bastante apropriado para todos nós. Em março de 2020, o Salmo 44 parece perfeito:

Desperta, Senhor! Por que dormes?
Levanta-te! Não nos rejeites para sempre.
Por que escondes o teu rosto e esqueces
o nosso sofrimento e a nossa aflição?
Fomos humilhados até o pó;
nossos corpos se apegam ao chão.
Levanta-te! Socorre-nos!
Resgata-nos por causa …

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In Italia, Ho Riscoperto la Potenza di Tre Tipi di Preghiera

Prima del COVID-19 i Salmi di lamento sembravano come eccessivi. Ma con ormai 10,000 morti la mia chiesa a Roma, chiusa dal blocco totale, vive più che mai gli stessi lamenti di Davide.

[READ IN ENGLISH]

La pandemia del COVID-19 ha cambiato il modo in cui i cristiani italiani pregano e vivono la loro fede, in una nazione che è sconvolta dai più di 10,000 morti — il numero più alto al mondo — e dai più di 92,400 casi confermati (seconda solo dopo gli Stati Uniti).

Durante questo periodo di isolamento non è più possibile riunirci la domenica o nei gruppi settimanali. Uscite, viaggi e matrimoni sono sospesi, così come la maggior parte delle attività. Se si viene trovati fuori casa senza una valida ragione si rischia una multa pesante.

Ma questa stagione di esilio ci ha aiutato a scoprire tre aspetti della preghiera che spesso trascuriamo in momenti di abbondanza.

1) Preghiere di Lamento

Fino a un mese fa i salmi di lamento sembravano spesso come un’esagerazione. Per esempio, la protesta di Asaf che Dio aveva “dato da bere lacrime in abbondanza” al suo popolo poteva sembrare eccessivamente drammatica; il grido di Davide a Dio “Fino a quando nasconderai il tuo volto?” sembrava un sentimento lontano.

Ma mentre l’umanità sta lottando per contenere una pandemia che genera paura e ansietà, il lamento sembra avere una nuova rilevanza per ognuno di noi. A marzo del 2020, il Salmo 44 sembra risuonare perfetto:

Risvegliati! Perché dormi, Signore?
Destati, non respingerci per sempre!
Perché nascondi il tuo volto
e ignori la nostra afflizione e la nostra oppressione?

Poiché l’anima nostra è abbattuta nella polvere;
il nostro corpo giace per terra.
Ergiti in nostro aiuto,
liberaci nella tua bontà.

Pochi cristiani occidentali hanno vissuto povertà, ingiustizia …

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In Italy, I’ve Rediscovered the Power of Three Types of Prayer

Psalms of lament felt hyperbolic before COVID-19. But amid 8,100 deaths, my locked-down church in Rome resonates with David more than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Italian Christians pray and live their faith, amid a nation reeling from more than 8,100 deaths—the highest tally in the world—among 80,500 confirmed cases (third only to China and the United States).

During lockdown, we can no longer gather on Sundays or in home groups. Social gatherings, travel, and weddings are suspended, as are most businesses. If someone is caught outside their home without a valid reason, there can be a heavy fine.

But this season of exile has helped us discover three facets of prayer we often neglect in times of abundance.

1) Prayers of Lament

Psalms of lament often felt hyperbolic a month ago. For example, Asaph’s complaint that God has made his people “drink tears by the bowlful” could seem overdramatic; David’s cry to God of “How long will you hide your face from me?” was a distant feeling.

But as humanity struggles to contain a fear- and anxiety-provoking pandemic, lament feels newly relevant to all of us. In March 2020, Psalm 44 now sounds pitch perfect:

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?

We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Few Western Christians have experienced poverty, injustice, or persecution. Consequently, our worship usually reflects the moods of resourceful individuals in times of prosperity and peace: composed and mainstream. We do suffer individually; however, seldom is our corporate worship fueled by protest and mourning before God.

Lament is suffering turned into prayer. It’s the worship of people who feel out of …

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