Thursday, June 17, 2004

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It's not easy keeping up with the Oxbloggers

I see that Josh Chafetz has published his first essay in the New York Times Book Review this past Sunday.

David Adesnik's praise to the contrary, we here at often feel powerless in the wake of the Oxbloggers' relentless stream of publications. It's not just their ability to publish in so many tony outlets -- it's the fact that they're more than a decade younger than me and publishing in so many tony outlets. Just who do these young whippersnappers think they are, writing such high-quality copy on such a regular basis?

[Is it because they haven't completed a Ph.D. yet and therefore haven't had their writing skills crushed into a sticky paste?--ed. From an epistemological standpoint, that's a nonfalsifiable hypothesis and lacks any counterfactual analysis. Thank you for proving my point--ed.]

But today the advantage is mine. My review of Niall Ferguson's Colossus: The Price of America's Empire is on page D7 of today's Wall Street Journal. You can see the online version by clicking here. Here's the part of the book that I found most interesting:

What comes through most clearly in his account is that the troubles in Iraq are hardly unique. Empire, even the American kind, has always involved moral quandaries, confused planning and shifting tactics. About a century ago, there was enthusiasm over the U.S. victory in the Philippines, a distant theater in the Spanish-American war. The enthusiasm was soon tempered, though, by the news that American military officials "had ordered the summary execution of Filipino prisoners."

In the case of Japan, one of the architects of the country's postwar constitution admitted: "I had no knowledge whatsoever about Japan's history or culture or myths." In the case of Germany, Gen. Lucius Clay, the military governor of the U.S.-administered zone, planned to cut his staff by half in the six months following V-E day and to transfer power to a civilian government by July 1946. He did neither, of course. But in the end, America's "empire by improvisation," as Mr. Ferguson calls it, worked well because the Cold War required the U.S. to stay in those two countries indefinitely.

The ball's in your court, Oxblog... oh yes, the ball is most definitely in your court.

[Ummm... didn't Adesnik and Chafetz already publish something in the Wall Street Journal?--ed. Arrggh!! I'd have a greater sense of self-esteem if it wasn't for those meddling kids!!]

posted by Dan on 06.17.04 at 11:20 AM


Thanks for the link to the article.

And I also find that section interesting. The more things change, the more we stay the same it seems.

But did Ferguson mention if the U.S. does not continue it's liberal empire, who will step into the void? Surely not Europe, and I don't see any Asian country stepping up to the plate. Or maybe he argues there will not be a void? (Or maybe this isn't addressed at all...but historically there seems to be someone willing to fill the void caused by American isolationism, usually at our expense down the road.

I'm looking forward now to reading his book. Thanks again!

posted by: Chrees on 06.17.04 at 11:20 AM [permalink]

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