Michael Haas was born in 1938 in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Stellwagen Elementary School and Jackson Intermediate. Adopted at birth, his adoptive mother had been an elementary schoolteacher, and his adoptive father was a journalist who earlier had been threatened by the Ku Klux Klan because he wrote an editorial condemning their terrorist acts against Mexican Americans in Orange County, California. (His adoptive mother’s sister had married a Californio, that is, a descendent of a pre-statehood Californian whose Spanish ancestry predated Mexico’s independence from Spain.) While in Detroit, Michael Haas observed one of the effects of President Roosevelt’s “hire now, train later” affirmative action during World War II, namely, blacks hired anew in the cafeteria of the General Motors Building in downtown Detroit, across the street from the Fisher Building, where his father worked at radio station WJR.
In 1950, he moved with his adoptive parents to Los Angeles, where his father became program director of radio station KMPC. He attended Le Conte Junior High School and graduating from Hollywood High School in 1956. The 1950s were the dark days in which perceived left-wing members of the film industry were blacklisted, and several of his classmates were directly affected because their parents were fired or investigated. As a result, he joined the American Civil Liberties Union in college. In 1986, to give some recognition to directors who bravely raise political consciousness through feature films, he founded the Political Film Society (www.polfilms.com), which reviews political films and gives awards to directors each year. Later, he produced and directed a program that reviewed films for KCLA, an FM and Internet radio station.
Haas received his baccalaureate degree at Stanford University in 1959. Yale University awarded him a Master’s Degree in 1960. He completed his doctorate at Stanford in 1964. All three degrees are in Political Science.
Under the direction of his thesis adviser, Robert C. North, his Ph.D. dissertation, Some Societal Correlates of International Political Behavior, was among the very first in political science to use a computer to calculate correlations. His dissertation’s thesis, which developed a “mass society” theory that aggressive warfare occurs in societies wherein there is a breakdown of civil society, is still applicable today. International Conflict (1974) was a major multivariate quantitative effort that went beyond his dissertation by finding correlates of decisionmaking conditions and global structures with the probability of war.
During his last year of work on his doctoral degree, he taught temporarily at San Jose State University. He then accepted a permanent position at the University of Hawai`i’s main campus in Manoa Valley, Honolulu, where he rose from Assistant Professor to Professor and remained until 1998. While on the faculty in Honolulu, he also held temporary positions at Northwestern University, Purdue University, the University of California (Riverside), San Francisco State University, the University of the Philippines, and the University of London. The assassination of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk occurred two blocks from where he was interviewing civil rights officials while teaching at San Francisco State University. And he observed the Poll Tax Riots of 1990, the largest in Britain during the twentieth century, during his semester teaching in London.
His research appointments include a United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) consultancy at the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok in 1971 and a Fulbright Research Fellowship at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies on the the University of Singapore campus during 1987.
The University of Hawai`i’s Department of Political Science has one of the largest graduate programs in the country, attracting brilliant students from Asia who have returned to their homelands to establish themselves as foremost political scientists. Haas advised several. There were so many from Korea that they are known there among political scientists as the “Hawai`i Mafia,” to whom he dedicates Korean Unification: Alternative Pathways (1989). One famous student from Cambodia, Hourn Kim Kao, founded and is president of the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. He asked Haas to chair the university’s International Advisory Committee, in which capacity Haas has conferred several honorary doctorates in recent years.
In 1998, he opted for early retirement and returned to Los Angeles, where he lives in the Hollywood Hills. During the next ten years, he held temporary positions at Loyola Marymount University, California State University (Fullerton), California State University (Los Angeles), California Polytechnic University (Pomona), Rio Hondo College, College of the Canyons, and Occidental College. In December 2008, he resigned from his latest teaching position to complete his latest book, George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes (2009).
Among other books that he has written over the years, the earliest were edited collections of original essays focusing on basic questions in the field of political science—Approaches to the Study of Political Science (1970) and International Systems: A Behavioral Approach (1974). He also compiled several reference books—International Organization: An Interdisciplinary Bibliography (1971) and Basic Documents of Asian Regional Organizations (nine volumes published from 1974-1985).
His later publications have been more topical, including three books on Hawai`i—Politics and Prejudice in Contemporary Hawai`i (coedited in 1976 with Peter P. Resurrection), Institutional Racism: The Case of Hawai`i (1992), and Multicultural Hawai`i: The Fabric of a Multiethnic Society (1998).
Inspiration for the books on Hawai`i was the obvious discrimination then practiced by Japanese administrators of Hawai`i State Government against Filipinos, Native Hawaiians, and even Caucasians. Accordingly, Haas formed the Foundation for Race/Sex Equality and the Spirit of Hawaiian Aloha (FRESHA) and filed several third-party civil rights complaints on behalf of aggrieved persons. As a result of his complaints, Hawai`i State Government was required to have an affirmative action plan, and for ten years the statewide Hawai`i Department of Education was under scrutiny in moving from defiant civil rights noncompliance toward Filipinos to a program of bilingual education run by Filipino professionals. For a time, the Honolulu chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked Haas to chair its Education Committee. What the three books demonstrate is how problems of discrimination were identified and handled within the multicultural ethic that pervades the diverse Aloha State. (The cultural and political contexts described in the trilogy, among the main social influences on Barack Obama during all but four of the first eighteen years of his life, is the subject of his current writing project, scheduled to be published by February 1, 2011, Barack Obama, The Aloha Zen President: How a Son of the 50th State May Revitalize America Based on 12 Multicultural Principles.)
Six of his books have been on Asia and the Pacific. Korean Unification: Alternative Pathways (1989) contains essays by several distinguished scholars that propose a change in policy from confrontation to cooperation between North and South Koreas, and indeed the two Korean governments later adopted many suggestions in the book. About seventy-five regional intergovernmental organizations are described in The Pacific Way: Regional Cooperation in the South Pacific (1989) and The Asian Way to Peace: A Story of Regional Cooperation (1989). Materials for the latter book were obtained during extensive trips to Asia, the first of which was supported by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and UNITAR.
While in Singapore during 1987, young Catholic social workers were arrested on trumped up charges of being “Marxists,” a spectacle that was played out on government-controlled television, prompting him later to edit The Singapore Puzzle (1999). The truth in the book, which contains chapters written by Haas and by several scholars who have been mistreated in the island republic, so annoyed the Singapore government that its sale is banned in that country.
In 1988, after visiting Indochina, principally Vietnam, he applied for and received a U.S. Institute of Peace grant. He then wrote two books—Cambodia, Pol Pot, and the United States: The Faustian Pact (1991) and Genocide by Proxy: Cambodian Pawn on a Superpower Chessboard (1991), arguing for an end to covert American support for the Khmer Rouge’s ambition to regain power in Cambodia and for a détente between the United States and Indochinese countries. Both objectives eventually came to pass, and he celebrated the arrival of a new era in his poem Cambodian Exodus, which was published in the January-February 1993 issue of Khmer Conscience.
Haas’s major theoretical contribution to political science is found in Polity and Society: Philosophical Underpinnings of Social Science Paradigms (1992). The book contrasts varying paradigms applied to the study of economic and political development, community power structure, presidential and ethnic voting patterns, civil strife, international violence, and efforts to build international community. The book remains one of the very few social science expositions that deals with basic metaphilosophical principles.
In recent years, he has focused on international human rights. His Improving Human Rights (1994) found statistical patterns that suggested an optimal way in which foreign aid can best advance human rights—by enabling countries to develop more diverse communication systems. Haas’s International Human Rights: A Comprehensive Introduction (2008) is the most complete textbook on the subject. While researching the chapter on war crimes for the latter book, he realized that daily events reported from Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and Iraq matched the description of prohibited conduct in the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, the United Nations Charter, and many related international treaties which form the basis for civilized international behavior that has been promoted for 150 years by most American presidents. He then decided to link the legal texts with reports of various occurrences in his monumental George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes (2009), which has a Foreword written by Benjamin Ferencz, former prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. A sequel, America’s War Crimes Quagmire, From Bush to Obama, was published in 2010.
At a personal level, he has survived his adoptive and birth parents as well as three close partners. After his adoptive mother died, he located a half-sister and other birth relatives, who live in Shiawassee County, central Michigan. Relatives of his paternal adoptive parents live in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Relatives of his maternal adoptive parents live in Southern California.
When not working on the computer to write articles, blogs, books, and letters to the editor, he enjoys filmgoing, gardening, karaoke, telling jokes, and many other diversions. In addition to membership in the American Civil Liberties Union, he belongs to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Progressive Democrats of America, the Stonewall Democratic Club, and various academic professional organizations, including a life membership in the International Studies Association.
On August 14, 2009, Michael Haas was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, principally for his book George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes (2009).
In April 2010, he was elected to the California Senior Legislature for a two-year term. In that capacity he has proposed several pieces of legislation for ultimate adoption by the California State Legislature and signature by the Governor.
Now living in the Hollywood Hills, Michael Haas has devoted his life to advancing the goal of greater respect for human rights along with the establishment of a more peaceful world. His work continues.
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