Sunday, November 2, 2003
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The November Books of the Month
The "general interest" book for this month is one of my favorite cookbooks -- Seductions of Rice, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It's a global cookbook, providing myriad rice recipes from a diverse set of cooking traditions. This includes Chinese stir-frys, Spanish paellas, Japanese sushi, Cuban soups, Indian thorans, Thai salads, Turkish pilafs, Italian risottos, Uzbek plovs, Senegalese yassas, and American gumbos. For those who like to cook new things, give it a read.
The international relations book has been selected in the wake of reading David Rieff's New York Times Magazine cover story on the failures in the pre-war planning for the post-war occupation of Iraq. As someone who's followed this closely, I'd say that Rieff's story is a decent summary of the facts as we currently know them, with the occasional touch of exaggeration.
So, the international relations book choice for November is Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Graham Allison.* This is probably the one "political science" book that real-live foreign policy professionals ever claim to have read.
In the book, Allison outlines three possible models to explain U.S. and Soviet behavior during the crisis. Model I is the rational choice paradigm, which gets short shrift.
Model II is based on a theory of organizational process that argues large bureaucracies operate along standard operating procedures from which deviations are rare. This describes Rieff's point in the story about how the uniformed military services, with a long history of disdain for non-combat operations, failed to plan properly for the occupation phase.
Allison's Model III is bureaucratic politics, the "pulling and hauling" of policy among different bureaucracies with different agendas. Rieff's discussion of the internecine struggles between State and Defense show how bureaucratic politics can lead to the compartmentalization of information:
There is a bias in the field of international relations in favor of "systemic"-level theories, so the bureaucratic politics paradigm has made little progress since Allison first published Essence of Decision in 1971.** This is unfortunate, as Rieff's conclusion highlights how relevant this theory is for real-world politics:
*Allison's co-author on the second edition of this book is Philip Zelikow.
**Allison didn't help matters with his work following the publication of Essence of Decision. In later review articles he conflated his Model II and Model III, to the confusion of many. Then, in his second edition of the book, he and Zelikow abjectly failed to engage in the best critique of the first edition: Jonathan Bendor and Thomas Hammond, "Rethinking Allison's Models"
If you really want to see something else published recently about bureaucratic politics, click here.posted by Dan on 11.02.03 at 08:30 PM
posted by: Family of Casuality on 11.02.03 at 08:30 PM [permalink]
“As Istrabadi, the Iraqi-American lawyer from the Future of Iraq Project, says, ''When the Oil Ministry is the only thing you protect, what do you expect people to think?'' And, he adds: ''It can't be that U.S. troops didn't know where the National Museum was. All you have to do is follow the signs -- they're in English! -- to Museum Square.''”
I think we should take anything said by David Rieff, the son of the radical leftist Susan Sontag, with a huge grain of salt. He is embarrassing himself by mentioning the so called ransacking of the National Museum. It is now abundantly clear that nothing really happened. This was for the most part a fraud perpetuated by the liberal intelligentsia. And let’s get something clear right now: the liberals in the State Department would have found one excuse after another not to invade Iraq. These are the folks who prefer so-called stable dictatorships in the Mid East instead of unpredictable democracies. Also, many of them can’t wait to retire so that they can obtain a lucrative career via the Saudi royal family. This is also why so many of them are hostile to Israel and suck up to Yasir Arafat.
The State Department literally felt more comfortable with Saddam Hussein remaining in power! Have we already forgotten how these screw balls encouraged the previous Bush administration to allow the Iraqi dictator to slaughter his own citizens after the first Gulf war? No, the State Department doesn’t deserve our respect. These are morons of the lowest caliber.
“...notice that november casualties are bound to spike further, with the 15 deaths in the Chinook and the 3 other deaths on the same day, this will show a multiple month post-war casualty spike. A bad thing. A mark of failure, to the casual observer.”
Are you serious? A true “mark of failure” is the Iraqi people remaining under the power of Saddam Hussein. There is no doubt but that American Liberals cannot admit that things are now dramatically better in Iraq than before the war. It sticks to their craw that President Bush deserves credit for liberating the country. An Al Gore administration would have almost certainly sat on its hands. The French would have essentially dictated our foreign policy. The Democrats persist in sticking their wet finger into the air to see if our European leftist “allies” might approve approve of their self abasing behavior. The Democrats are the United Nations party. They are ashamed of America’s greatness.
Nobody can ignore the loss of life of our troops. Still, these brave individuals are not dying in vain. And only a historical illiterate fails to realize that the present totals are ridiculously low considering how much we have so far accomplished.
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