Tuesday, October 12, 2004
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IR scholars weigh in against Iraq
A small group of IR scholars called the Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy have amassed 650 signatures from international relations scholars in the United States and allied countries to sign an open letter blasting the Bush administration's foreign policy. This is from the text of the letter:
Before anyone starts claiming that this is just an example of radical academics engaging in Bush-bashing, they should check out the list of signatories. There are some scholars on the list who would be considered by mainstream Americans to be "out there" in their beliefs, but there are also a wide array of realists, rational choice theorists, democratization activists, area experts, and liberal institutionalists. I concur with Henry Farrell -- this is a group that cannot be lightly dismissed.
To answer the obvious question: I did not sign it. In part my reticence to sign comes from a misplaced comparison made in the letter between Iraq and Vietnam; another part of it comes from the failure to articulate an alternative strategy (which, to be fair, was probably impossible with such a diverse group of signatories). The second graf of the letter hints that U.S. force should have been deployed against Pakistan, and I'm not sure that would have turned out any better than what's happened in Iraq. And as my last post suggested, it's just possible that Afghanistan has not suffered too badly from the attention on Iraq. And I seriously doubt that any of the signatories believe that the military resources deployed in Iraq should have been deployed in North Korea.
Another big part is that the letter conflates two different objections to the administration's foreign policy; the initial decision to invade Iraq, and the poor execution of the post-war occupation. I concur with the second assessment, but I still think that had the pre-war planning been a little better, the post-war effects in the region would have been much more positive than negative.
However, in all honesty part of the reason I didn't sign it is that I've been wrong enough about Iraq to be gun-shy in making any declarative statement about the future of U.S. policy in that country, good or ill. I made a fair number of arguments in support of invading Iraq in the run-up to the war, and at least some of them have been proven wrong. I'm used to being wrong, but being wrong on this scale is discomfiting to say the least.
Even if I didn't sign it, however, I've come to reluctantly agree with a fair amount of the letter. So go read the whole thing (there are footnotes and everything!) and tell me what you think.
UPDATE: Many of the comments refer to this as "Monday-morning quarterbacking." However, many of the security scholars who originated this letter also participated in a Fall 2002 paid advertisement in the New York Times op-ed page urging the Bush administration not to invade Iraq -- click here for more.posted by Dan on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM
I'm curious. What was it about the Vietnam comparison that seemed "misplaced". After reading the letter, which says that the Iraq policy is the most misguided one since the Vietnam period, I didn't see much of a comparison at all.
I have read many comparisons of Iraq and Vietnam that I think are remarkably off the mark, but, in this case, if you believe that America's foreign policy was misguided in both instances then it is a completely fair statement. The letter doesn't suggest that they are misguided in similiar ways.
Perhaps, you don't feel that America's foreign policy in Vietnam was misguided? Or is that Iraq is not nearly as misguided as Vietnam? My guess is that it is the difference between a strategic error and a tactical one, but, if you have the time to clarify, I'm sure the board would benefit.posted by: Jason on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"In part my reticence to sign comes from a misplaced comparison made in the letter between Iraq and Vietnam; another part of it comes from the failure to articulate an alternative strategy (which, to be fair, was probably impossible with such a diverse group of signatories)."
But that is precisely one of the serious problems with this kind of letter. There may be those who thought there ought to be far more force applied and those who think that no force ought to be applied. Both would think that "the current American policy centered around the war in Iraq is the most misguided one since the Vietnam period, one which harms the cause of the struggle against extreme Islamist terrorists."
Say on an applied violence scale of 1-100 (with 1 being never go to war and 100 being an attack on large portions of the Middle East with a large number of nuclear weapons), Bush's action was 45. If someone's idea of the appropriate policy was 15 points or more off from Bush's actual policy, they could say that it was seriously misguided. There would be a consensus that it wasn't optimum, but there could be wildly differing and flat-out contradictory opinions about how to make it better.posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I'm worried about you. Really. Probably half of these people know less about Iraq and American foreign policy than I do. I have a PhD. Could I still my name on there too? Bet I could.
How is this different from the much-maligned "groupthink" which we were all to disavow after the 9/11 commission gave it a bad name?
Are there any counter-letters going around? I wonder why not?
Have any of these people made mistakes in the recent past? Have they been willing to mix it up with people who challenge their fundamental worldview? I daresay not. But you have. If you really agree with them, sign it but add an addendum noting that you dislike the whole Vietnam thing. Whatever.
I'd like to sign a letter that says I am horribly, horribly sorry that for years before 9/11 I, a trained historian in good standing with my peers, mocked suggestions that there was a substantial subsection of the Muslim world that was foaming at the mouth crazy with hatred of me, my country, and all that I hold dear. Do you know of any such letter? Any such public apology in the offing?
When I see such a letter, I will withdraw my objection to all such letters as meaningless bordering on obnoxious. But I'm not holding my breath.posted by: Kelli on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Kelli: "How is this different from the much-maligned "groupthink" which we were all to disavow after the 9/11 commission gave it a bad name?"
Because the people on this list normally agree on very, very little. They run the gamut in their worldviews on international relations, and a lot of them don't like each other very much. These are not ideal conditions for groupthink.
I suppose you could claim they're suffering from the groupthink of being in the ivory tower, but a fair number of the signatories have had policymaking experience.
Jason: Measured in terms of costs and benefits, Iraq does not even come close to Vietnam.posted by: Dan on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
So what's new here? Just another set of authors covering well-worn criticisms. The public has heard it all, and sadly, most are simply bored by it. No issue-murkifying "good vs. evil", "with us or against us", or "run but cannot hide" slogans. (someone look up 'murkifying')
Yeah, I'm discouraged by this year's spin-over-substance campaigns, but probably more so by the fact that lockstep partisanship shelters most voters from honest analysis of articles like this one.
posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
As Kelli well summarized, what have these "experts" achieved for Iraqis the last ten years? What have they achieved for Afghanis the last twenty? How did they assist us in preventing terroirsm in the 90s? On 9/11? Being a a professor, I"m sure they will have more respect from you than from others but was what they said really worth analyzing? The word expert has become something of a joke of late due to all the wrong predictions that "experts" made about Afghanistan and Iraq in the beginning. What do they contribute that would make their opinions anything more than hundreds out of millions of Americans with opinions? Thank you for actually thinking about it and not signing it.posted by: Ptolemy on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I think it's clear what the signatories on that list "believe" -- Kerry - Edwards '04.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Actually that's a misstatement.
More accurately: "ABB '04".
They just didn't want to get left out of the limelight generated by the aging rockers against Bush. Tell them they need some fancy posters and a tour to really make a splash, Dan!posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
News flash: Academics support Kerry. Film at 11!posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
What many commenters seem to have overlooked is that these individuals aren't just any people with opinions, nor are they suggesting they could have done better. Moreover, they do not deny that there has been some benefit from the action taken in Iraq. If one reads carefully, there is more to this letter than most of the things in the "anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war" bin. Specifically, it calls for:
"an open debate on how to achieve these ends, one informed by attention to the facts on the ground in Iraq, the facts of al-Qaida’s methods and strategies, and sober attention to American interests and values."That seems like an entirely reasonable call to me. This letter does not propose that these people have one collective answer, or all the answers, or any answers. Rather, these individuals, as professionals (more than just people with opinions), understand the benefit of a (pardon the cliche) marketplace of ideas. Most importantly, I think it needs to be pointed out that the signatories of this letter are in a uniquely qualified position to write such a letter because they are professionals in and experts on the subject to which it pertains. They are not concerned about reelection (many are not even concerned about tenure), or other political (in the colloquial sense) matters and therefore (unlike policymakers or politicians), have unmatched qualification to approach this topic without concern about its impact on their professional lives.
To Dr. Drezner specifically: What do I think? My biggest reaction is that I saw a number of names that I never, ever thought I'd see attached to the same statement.posted by: Philip J. Brinkman on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
So what is the value of p now?posted by: niq on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
So I go looking for my old IR profs (there is only one included), and I see the following:
William O. Beeman
WTF? I thought there were supposed to be IR profs!posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
As someone who is ABD in an IR program, I have to say this does not surprise me at all. All of the IR faculty in the department signed the letter, including my advisor.
It does not surprise me in the least that so many scholars jumped on board this letter - including some of the biggest names from the realist/neo-realist school or IR theory. Many of these same people opposed action in Iraq in the first place. Nearly all of the people I know that signed that list are pretty reflexively anti-Bush. Given the nature of academics, it might be reasonable to say over 95% are democrats and will be voting for John Kerry.
At APSA in Boston a couple years ago, I dragged myself to a panel on global governance that had John Mearsheimer as the discussant. I couldnt miss a chance to see "Mad Dog" Mearsheimer - on a panel about the growth of international institutions and regimes.
Mearsheimer, recognizing that most of the packed room was thinking this, made a point that has really stuck with me. He said that in academics he is considered a hard core, rightwing, Machiavellian figure. He said that in real life he is a moderate democrat and his views and policy preferences reflect that. He went on to say that in academics and political science in particular, the discipline had skewed leftward to such a degree that it was in danger of losing relevance when it came to policy related discussion. It was a cautionary speech and most people just waited for him to get going to see the give and take between Mearsheimer and the rest of the panel.
As someone who is both a realist and somewhat of a reluctant Republican when it comes for national elections and many foreign policy matters, I caught the gist of what he was saying. In a discipline and field where it is risky as hell to come out and say you are a conservative before you have tenure, there is definately something wrong.
As someone who supported the invasion of Iraq and still thinks it has resulted in an improved security picture for the US, I am in a miniscule minority in academics. My logic is Saddam being gone is the best outcome possible for the US in the region. I also think the Bush admin has screwed this up nearly every way possible in carrying this out, but the overall goal (getting rid of Saddam and sending a message to the Islamic world) was important enough to justify the risk and the cost.
I do not claim I am smarter than all my peers and those up in the academic stratosphere. That being said, I have no problem saying that most academics operate in a universe where there is no interaction with the right side of the political spectrum. As someone who used to work for both Republicans and Democrats in government, I was familiar with partisan politics and then some. In academics, I was unprepared for a world in which Republicans were not only almost always wrong, but painted with such disdain that you would never really they were a major political force in the US.
As such, with no disrespect intended, I view these kinds of things with intense skepticism. If you cant admit that a particular view can ever be right or correct, how can you expect your criticism to hold any water?posted by: ABD4Life on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Thank you for admitting that you've been wrong about many, many things when it comes to US foreign policy this year. Also thank you for trying to gently correct readers who might harbor suspicions about the letter's purpose.
You rightly point that it's rare to have these many signers from different parts of the field and different ideologies agree to sign the letter.
But more importantly you note that you disagree with some of the text and propositions, and that's what really matters - names give the words legitimacy, but it's the ideas that should be the point of our debate.
posted by: c. on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
It does not surprise me in the least that so many scholars jumped on board this letter - including some of the biggest names from the realist/neo-realist school or IR theory.
Of course, another reason that so many IR profs are anti-Iraq war is that there are TWO (sometimes overlapping) large groups out there opposed to Bush's policies: the left AND the realists. It is certainly true in my experience that IR academics skew left. And among those who do not skew left, there is most certainly a skew toward realists. So it is not surprising that some IR-types who might not be left-wing, pro-Kerry are against the Iraq war and thus show up as signatories to the letter: realists ALSO are and have been against the war.
Now, if Dan can point to some right-wing, neoconservative (anti-realist, or whatever) signatories... THAT I'd be interested in. But as it is, the letter is a snoozefest.posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Just what are you saying? On one hand you say that all of academia against is the Republicans, and that
As such, with no disrespect intended, I view these kinds of things with intense skepticism. If you cant admit that a particular view can ever be right or correct, how can you expect your criticism to hold any water?
On the First point:
On the second:
In econ we try to resolve the issue by calling them postive vs. normative arguments. Positive arguements say what things are based on data without taking personal preferences into account. Normative arguments try to say what things should be and take personal (or theoretical) preferences into account.
That said- on the merits of the letter's text alone, did they make a positive or a normative argument? I'll grant you the intent is normative (what policy making isn't?) but I think if you read again you'll find their concerns and their charges are positive and backed by the data.
OK, last comment: the footnote reference to the wackjob "Anonymous"'s book Imperial Hubris isn't very reassuring.posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I think it's safe to say that:
are not Realists as none of them are IR theorists. Plus I took a class with Lloyd, and I assure you, he's not a realist in that sense of the word.
As for conservatives:
Anyway, who are you looking for that's considered conservative? I certainlly consider some of these folks conservative, but my definition and yours might not match. Someone from Bob Jones' staff or more like a Fareed Zacharia?
c.posted by: c. on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
The Tora Bora argument is armchair generaling on so many levels its absurd. In all likelihood OBL died then or soon after, and as far as I know no individual that escaped from Tora Bora has ever been shown to have impacted America or our allies in any way.posted by: mark buehner on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Right wingers in IR? I do not know of any. John Mearsheimer, considered one of the most most rabid realists, self describes himself as a "moderate Democrat."
Mearsheimer is a disciple of Waltz and considered his most hardcore. Yet...he has said from the beginning he doesnt support the action in Iraq and is not nearly as rightwing as people give him credit.
As for Waltz, he could never agree with a neocon.
In my experience in academics, a hardcore realist is basically a conservative democrat (far to the left of Zell Miller).
Seems awefully narrow minded for a group of experts.
How much would diverted resources really help? How has our position been weakened? Without neutralizing Saddam's army, verifying his WMD status, and preventing him from reconstituting his programs how could we effectively engage another country in the mid-east? How do we deal with the refugee problem if we attack NK?posted by: aaron on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Mark B. is absolutely dead-on right. Arm-chair generals indeed.
International Relations scholars have no possible idea how many troops is correct to deploy in any particular warzone, and show ludicrous incompetence engaging in speculative wargaming. For "realists" to think that we should have committed all of our spearpoint troops in Iraq is laughably inane.
As for the rest of it, weak stomachs all. They wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes observing WWII without screaming that the sky is falling.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Virtually the entire letter in Monday-morning quarterbacking. I mean, needless to say, not a single one of these 650 said, pre-invasion, "whatever you do, don't disband the Iraqi Army!"posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
After spending a lifetime in higher education, I don't need to read the letter, nor look at the signatories to know that if they are academics in good standing, they have only viewpoint and that is the received wisdom of the leftwing "scholars"
Many of the doctorates are in the pseudo-sciences like socialogy, psychology, teacher's training, overhead projectors, communication, etc.
This letter and many more different kinds of attacks from all quarters are part of the final push from the left to unseat the president and put the poseur in the White House. Imagine Mrs. Kerry having access to top secret documents and plans which she will immediately make known to the terrorists.
posted by: erp on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
A comment on a comment.
c.: I've worked in and around academia all my life. I've also worked in the private sector, in journalism, in politics, in the military, and in social services. I don't claim to bring a lot to the table, but one of the few things I think I can reasonably claim is a sort of sense of context; understanding the relationship between the different parts of society.
The reason I bring this up is because one sentence of yours really jumped out at me. You wrote: "And you can't have the Neo-cons without a pretty good set of academics willing to back their conservative theories."
I love academia, its contributions, its tradition -- nearly everything about it, really. But if you asked me what its greatest flaw is, I wouldn't even hesitate: An inflated sense of importance.
The interaction between academia and the political sphere is an interesting one. But in my observation, I would never say a certain group of political officials *needed* the blessings of academia.
- Alaska Jackposted by: Alaska Jack on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
'International Relations scholars have no possible idea how many troops is correct to deploy in any particular warzone'
Neither, it seems, do Bush Administration officials ..
Who can be persuaded by a large group of sheep? They are people out of power, so their agendas must be by definition suspect.posted by: Sissy Willis on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I'm certainly glad you weren't president.
Committing all of our combat troops to Iraq as Shinseki recommended would have meant no sharp point of the spear available to deal with Iran, N. Korea, or any other threats.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"...virtually the entire letter in Monday-morning quarterbacking"
Al, I mean this in the nicest way possible, but isn't this a bit rich coming from someone who spends his time posting comments on other people's blogs?posted by: jiminy cricket on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
'Committing all of our combat troops to Iraq as Shinseki recommended would have meant no sharp point of the spear available to deal with Iran, N. Korea, or any other threats.'
Shinseki recommended no such thing. He simply pointed out how many troops might be needed to stabilize Iraq.
A sensible person (a category, which sadly does not seem to include the Bush administration), might then have concluded
1) that it might be worthwhile to build the army up to the level (after all in WW-2, we didn't launch the Normandy invasions for 2.5 years) that it would take to undertake this operation OR
Quoting Al the tool:
Really, Al? In fact, I can imagine that many Realists, who emphasize the role of anarchy in the internnational system, understand all too well the importance of order. I'm not certain that not a single one of the signatories wrote pre-invasion, "don't disband the Iraqi army". But, if you were wading in a pool of gasoline, I don't think I'd have to warn you not to light a match.posted by: althetool on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Erg, you forgot one.
4) Conclude that Shinseki isn't God, and his ideas are not divine edicts.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Yawn. Almost every intro to IR class includes such nuggests as "Hindsight is always 20 20."
Seems these guys forgot that...posted by: ABD4Life on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Homework assignment for you. How many people died on D-Day? Was Omaha a "disaster" or not? How many times more Americans died on D-day within a 24 hour period vs. have died in Iraq in 18 months? Are the Iraq war whiners incontinent ninnies, or not?posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
1. The bad judgment shown in Iraq does match Vietnam. Dan's of course right that the cost in lives in Vietnam easily exceeds that in Iraq. But we've yet to see just what effect on American security Iraq will have as it plays out. Possibly it will prove a great boost to the Islamists.
"Committing all of our combat troops to Iraq as Shinseki recommended would have meant no sharp point of the spear available to deal with Iran, N. Korea, or any other threats."
Really? I'm curious to know where they will come from NOW given current deployment levels and schedules. I suspect that the gambling strategery amongst the Neocon-DoD circles was that Iraq would provide a nice stepping stone base for possible future actions in Syria/Iran. What Shinseki was trying to remind them of was the possibility that they might just get tied down in the reconstruction phase in Iraq and may want to plan accordingly. They didn't want to hear it, probably because it robbed them of some of the shiny notions on how Iraq would play out and more importantly it would have undercut some of "Go Go Go" juice behind the effort politically..
This is why realist circles on the left and right don't have kind words, and it isn't limited to just academic circles either. Monday Morning Quarterbacking my ass. Incompetency on this level doesn't get more obvious.posted by: Waffle on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Virtually the entire letter in Monday-morning quarterbacking. I mean, needless to say, not a single one of these 650 said, pre-invasion, "whatever you do, don't disband the Iraqi Army!"
Israel bombed Iraq's al Tuwaitha nuke compound over a decade before the Iraq war. The IEAE was conducting inspections there shortly before the invasion.
So, given those facts, one might safely assume that that would be on the shortlist of places to safeguard.
Now, read Looting of factory machinery in Iraq raises alarms: The Bush administration said Tuesday that it will investigate reports that equipment with possible nuclear weapons applications was looted after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
I posted about this in April 2003.
Yes, I was doing it from a chair in the U.S., but I don't think it's fair to say that most of those who point out failures like this are just armchair QBs.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Desert One was incompetency. Running away from Al Qaida in Somalia and turning down Bin Laden because you don't want the embarassment of a trial was incompetency. A lack of perfection in a war against terrorist insurgents is not incompetency -- it is to be expected.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
It's fascinating to see how every time an intelligent, thoughtful, experienced person or group of people gives it as his or her thoroughly-reasoned analysis/opinion that Bush's policies run the gamut from counterproductive to outright-dangerous, the amen chorus shows up with its well-worn talking points to dismiss them.
Career soldiers against the war? "They're all Democrats" - even the ones who aren't.
Nobel laureates against Bush's economic policies? "What do they know?" (Like a Nobel for Economics is something you get out of a cereal box.)
Scientists, medical researchers, bioethicists against Bush's environmental and health policies? "Just a bunch of baby-killing liberals! and tree-huggers!"
The Bush Admin's revolving door personnel problems, with anti-terrorist experts leaving, one after another, in despair and disgust? "Just disgruntled ex-employees!"
Career diplomats, military officers, and intelligence professionals all saying Bush won't listen to them, won't meet with them, lives in a fantasy world? "They worked for Clinton! They don't understand Bush's vision! They're disloyal!"
And now, a group of (*shudder*) academics - who've only spent their whole lives studying IR, whose pinkies probably know more about it than Bush's personality cultists know about it in their whole bodies - are also taking their alarm public.
And, once again: "What do they know!"
Well. More than you do, I'll warrant.
The list grows ever longer. The capsule universe containing People Who Think Bush Knows What He's Doing grows ever smaller.posted by: Palladin on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Career soldiers against the war? "They're all Democrats" - even the ones who aren't.
Are you talking about the same military that supports Bush by 73% - 17%?
Nobel laureates against Bush's economic policies? "What do they know?" (Like a Nobel for Economics is something you get out of a cereal box.)
You mean like our latest and greatest Nobel laureate in economics, who thinks that Bush's tax cut was too small?
Sheesh.posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Israel bombed Iraq's al Tuwaitha nuke compound over a decade before the Iraq war. The IEAE was conducting inspections there shortly before the invasion.
Hmmm, and there I was almost convinced that Saddam didn't have a nuclear weapons program. Now you're telling me he did, but it's been looted. Wish you folks would make up your mind about what the anti-Bush talking points are supposed to be.posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Are you talking about the same military that supports Bush by 73% - 17%?
Is there a breakdown by rank available? That might be interesting.
Hmmm, and there I was almost convinced that Saddam didn't have a nuclear weapons program. Now you're telling me he did, but it's been looted.
Back in July 2003 I had a long post about the academic "study" (note the scare quotes that indicate what I thought of it) that tried to show that "conservatives" had personality defects.
Unfortunately, visiting comments sections of blogs I've noticed that "BushBots" seem to have certain traits in common. They misunderstand things, like the "global test", or "nuisance", or what I wrote above. Whether they misunderstand because they can't read, they can't do research, or as a tactic is unknown. Then, they post hysterical comments that occasionally question the OP's patriotism or support for the troops. It's truly a sad thing to see.
As for the last quote, Iraq did indeed have a nuclear program, and the fact that they had such a program was well-known. As I said, the IAEA was doing inspections. And, one of their reactors had been bombed by Israel. The previous link I posted discussed the possibility that Iraq was doing forbidden research in labs built under al Tuwaitha.
There's a difference between having a nuclear program and developing nuclear weapons, but if you want to pretend that there's no difference be my guest.posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"I made a fair number of arguments in support of invading Iraq in the run-up to the war, and at least some of them have been proven wrong. I'm used to being wrong, but being wrong on this scale is discomfiting to say the least."
I'm pleasantly surprised that Boy-Professor is capable of admitting of being wrong. It is good because in 2-3 years he will have to admit being totally wrong on outsourcing of American jobs.
That's what happens when one internalizes establishment consensus opinion of the day. It might be clever and it might be brilliant but it is not wise and often wrong.posted by: kufar on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
DAN -- P VALUE. YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE! p-value, p-value, p-value.
This post is irrelevant. It doesn't matter. Wingnuts don't care. Business school deans and economists can say Bush has fubar'd the country, and the wingnuts just chug more kool-aid. Cognitive Disonance '04.
Kelli, I'm sure you will next be telling us how he knows more about US science policy than scientists.posted by: Jor on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
How about the opposite? It's the american society that has veered much more to the left.
All the major IR theories adopt a methodological individualist perspective (i.e. the state taking the role of the individual) with differences focusing on the nature of the system and whether the states can cooperate or not. That doesn't sound like lefty to me.
The only theory that sets itself apart is constructivism but that's in the margins of IR theory.posted by: Nick Kaufman on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Wow Jor you don't seem to have anything better to do than wait for twenty-something Drezner to announce his voting preference to you.
Don't worry, he's going to vote for the spineless waffling socialist, just like you are.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Wow, what a letter. I agree with your take, based on your excerpt, that Vietnam is not the most precise analogy. Why not the War on Drugs?
But your take pretty closely tracks my thinking. Great minds think alike? Or blogthink....posted by: gaw3 on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Well, no one wants to listen to a discussion of IR theory, so I will keep this brief.
The whole realist-liberal matching up with conservative-liberal or republican-democrat is somewhat overstated.
Republicans generally find themselves in the realist camp and dems in the liberal, but its not because the matches between academics and politicians are based on an agreed upon formula. Most politicians have no idea what the differences are between classical realism, neo-realism, offensive realism, neo-liberal institutionalism, etc etc. Politicians views on these things are generally based on their worldview - not belief in and research into academic theory. On the other hand, many academics become so wrapped up in theory that they lose sight of the real world relevance of what they are talking about.
Realists (broadly defined) focus upon either anarchy or human nature to explain why the big things in international politics from ancient Greece to today can be explained through balance of power and the quest (reluctant or not) for hegemony.
Neo-Liberals focus on how institutions ameliorate the anarchic nature of international politics and make cooperation, which is difficult under anarchy, easier to undertake and sustain. Their focus is on anarchy, states, and institutions.
Liberals (broadly defined) focus on trade (make trade not war), government type (democratic peace), institutions, and individuals rather than on anarchy. To the extent that they do discuss anarchy, it is generally to demonstrate that it is not the powerful constraint realists make it out to be. Where realists spend their time talking about why things stay the same, liberals generally talk about why things can, will, and do change. Liberals also reject the unitary actor model you describe - focusing a lot more on domestic politics in determining international politics.
My sense is that if you are talking about all major paradigms of international relations - you are wrong. You leave out the whole liberal tradition.
The problem with any of this is that, when comparing the policy world to the academic, you will not find many people who follow a hard and fast line adhering strictly to one of them. Take the neo-cons, for example. They believe in using power (and then some), the grand chessboard of IR, and many of the things realists believe. Yet...they believe in the transformative nature of democracy and being able to fundamentally change a region and the world. That is not realist or liberal, republican or democrat, etc etc. Its a mix and match of differing elements of each based on their own collective worldviews.posted by: ABD4Life on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"I think the suggestion is only that special op forces might have been deployed in Afghanistan, and perhaps in Pakistan if doing so was cleared with Pakistani authorities."
How do you know that hasnt happened? First of all, it almost certainly has, secondly, we wont hear about it for years... if ever.
A big problem in all this post-game analysis is the assumption that more troops = instant higher liklihood of success. That is simply not the case in war, particularly war of this character. Context check for a moment: pre-Afghanistan, the usual inteligentsia suspects, whom I suspect include a goodly number from this list, spent months explaining why going into Afghanistan was destined to be a total disaster. The reason our generals chose the troop-light strategy they did was that they were attempting to avoid the very pitfalls foriegn armies had suffered. Tommy Franks made the call in Tora Bora. Had he somehow air lifted 10,000 more troops into the region, maybe he would have bagged the lot of them, and then again maybe thousands of troops would have been killed as the countryside rose up.
Iraq is the same issue. Maybe half a million troops would have stabalized the country. And maybe we'd be in the same place but with 5 times the casualties. How many of these people know that modern military theory indicates that raw numbers work _against_ the occupying power? There is a strong school of thought in the Pentagon initiated by theorists like Martin Van Creveld that the _only_ way to 'win' against an insurgency is to meet them on relatively equal terms on the battlefield while similataneously trying to win the population over. This encourages the enemy to come out and fight where you can kill them. Sound familiar? Maybe it will work and maybe not, but lets not pretend this is Geoege and Don sketching these strategies out on cocktail napkins. There are very real reasons for the way we are doing things, which I doubt these folks have much experience in.
'4) Conclude that Shinseki isn't God, and his ideas are not divine edicts.'
[ Clap my head]
Yes, of course. Since the post-war situation in Iraq has been such an overwhelming success, with every prediction made pre-war having borne fruit, its clear that the Bush administration Iraq policy architects were absolutely right to conclude that Shinseki could be safely ignored.posted by: erg on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Seems that the idea of adding troops in Iraq after major combat operations had ended was meant to establish peace, not continue war. Bremer and others have stated that more troops would have established order & control, pre-empting the rise of an insurgency.
The argument earlier in this discussion that adding troops would simply have added casualties in the face of current insurgencies ignores the intended & expected result of placing more troops there in the first place.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
'Was Omaha a "disaster" or not? How many times more Americans died on D-day within a 24 hour period vs. have died in Iraq in 18 months? '
What was the difference between the battle trained Wehrmacht troops and Saddam Hussein's Potemkin Army ? Did Saddam command a solid industrial base, and a still powerful army as Hitler did (despite being mauled by Russia) ? Or was he a pathetic tinpot dictator living in fear of the day his own people or Iran would arrive on his doorstep ? Was Saddam controlling most of Western Europe and a part of the East ? Or could he barely control half his own country ?
Was WW-II a largely conventional war fought on largely conventional terms against enemies that had attacked us or declared war on us ? Were we enganged then in another unconventional war with a different set of enemies which required the co-operation of the intelligence services of other countries and did D-day endanger that ?
What was the long-term strategic objective of D-Day and was it achieved ? Did we wait until we could build up the forces and ships to execute D-Day properly instead of attacking in 1942 or 1943 ?
Does anyone who thinks post-war Iraq has been a success possess the vision of Mr. Magoo and rose-colored glasses to rival those of Cyclops ? Have the architects of the post-war period displayed a level of incompetence and disorganization that would not have been acceptable in a 10-year old running a lemonade stand ?
"The argument earlier in this discussion that adding troops would simply have added casualties in the face of current insurgencies ignores the intended & expected result of placing more troops there in the first place."
True, but intent and expectation are the first casualties of contact. Introducing more troops after the fact could have had a major negative impact on the Shiia community, for instance. Law of unintended consequences. We can argue how the reconstruction was botched all day and night, and I'll criticize probably more than anyone. But the military side is a different beast. It has been deliberate, not political.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
All Iraq war justifications aside, I feel the Admin. did 'ride the tide' of war popularity to help sell their pre-emptive invasion plan to voters. They knew that public acceptance for such a plan would eventually subside, and there simply wasn't time for a 2+ year build-up (if necessary).posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
To kelli and others, if you are a scholar, you can add your name to the letter by clicking on the link
The decision to disband the Iraqi Army has come in for a great deal of criticism. Some of it is justified, but not all.
An aide to Paul Bremer wrote an op-ed for this last year in either NYT or the WP. Basically, he said that the army had already disbanded itself, with most people going home. Disbanding it merely made this formal.
Also consider the possibility that an Iraqi unit, not fully vetted, might have attacked an american unit when it was off guard.
Maybe the best thing to do would have been to keep the officer corps, not the conscripts, but get rid of the very top ranks. Among the regular army, keep providing pensions and money to people who've been demobilized. Or organize some sort of civiian work corps for the bulk of the army.posted by: erg on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"Maybe the best thing to do would have been to keep the officer corps, not the conscripts, but get rid of the very top ranks. "
The officer corp was almost entirely Sunni, Baathist, and wildly incompetant. The effect what you suggest would have had on the Kurds and Shiia isnt hard to imagine. Disbanding the army was the best decision we made. The term worse than useless comes to mind. I think we have to entertain the notion that what we are facing now was to some degree inevitable, and exasterbated by the failure to deliver on reconstruction and political handover in a timely fashion.
If I may doubly post, Chris Layne from CATO, Mike Desch who holds the Bush Chair at Texas A&M, and several people who write for the new Conservative qualify as Conservative.
"As for the predictive nature of the IR field, you have a point. But many of the IR security specialists signed a letter which was in the NewYork Times BEFORE the war, cautioning what could go wrong. They predicted correctly."
Thanks for the information Mia. Is there a link to this letter? I'd like to have a look.
It wasn't actually a letter. It was a paid advertisement that appeared on the op-ed page. (To anticipate a question, it is my understanding that the letter was paid for entirely by the authors of the letter.) A google search turned up a reproduction of the ad at:
Thanks for the link irdebate. Everyone should check it out, its pretty revealing about the mindset. I dont see any predictions here that werent generally accepted as givens by the thoughtful hawks. In fact they have been proven wrong as far as Al Qaeda goes, Al Zaqawi is and was in Iraq. Al Qaeda has come to Iraq to fight while we have managed to continue dismantling them in Pakistan and elsewhere. This letter doesnt predict anything we didnt know, it merely seems to indicate it wont be worth the price. That remains to be seen. The capitulation of Libya, for instance, is a gain that the authors would never have contemplated. Seems facile and ignorant of the neo-con arguments at first glance.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
In addition to Libya, there has also been a fair bit of positive news from Syria as well. We might be heading towards a Libya like success with Syria in the next few months.posted by: ABD4Life on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Couldn't Libya's recent 'capitulation' be seen instead as simply a better method for a rogue state to achieve its desired goals verses the one chosen by Saddam?
We now see Libya oil deals underway, and the EU lifting sanctions on Libya's efforts to build an arms program. Wouldn't these developments make Saddam say: "So, THAT'S how it's done!" (?)posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"In fact they have been proven wrong as far as Al Qaeda goes"
In fact, they have been proven absolutely, right as the 09/11 commission made clear. No opeational links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.
'Al Qaeda has come to Iraq to fight '
What we have is one terrorist group, Zarqawi's, which has links to Al Qaeda, playing some sort of unspecified role (probably significant, but not the major one) in what is largely a home-grown insurgency (except the suicide bombers). We've also probably created thousands of potential terrorists around the world. It is also worth pointing out that Al qaeda affiliated groups have launched attacks in half a dozen places around the world at this time, so the notion that theyre tied down in iraq is fallacy.
"Seems facile and ignorant of the neo-con arguments at first glance."
I think you miswrote "facile and ignorant neo-con arguments" :-).posted by: JonT on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
The letter says:
Although we applaud the Bush Administration for its initial focus on destroying al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan, its failure to engage sufficient U.S. troops to capture or kill the mass of al-Qaida fighters in the later stages of that war was a great blunder. It is a fact that the early shift of U.S. focus to Iraq diverted U.S. resources, including special operations forces and intelligence capabilities, away from direct pursuit of the fight against the terrorists
This is a Kerry talking point, isn't it? Which is to say, it isn't entirely accurate and is more than a bit misleading. I mean, what do you say to people who applaud the "initial focus" but are critical of events that happened three weeks later, "in the later stages of the war"? And who then refer to events months later as if they were occurring contemporaneously with the "later stages" previously referred to? (And the support offered is a report in the Atlantic!)
I can do without that kind of "expertise"?
I am not a IR professional but do my best to be informed about the area. This letter appears to me to be typical academic whining by a lot of people who never have to put anything on the line in their line of work and blast away at people who have to make the hard decisions and risk getting things done in an imperfect way.
I can recall seeing predictions about Afghanistan and Iraq by some signatories of this letter which in retrospect were not only wrong but almost comical in their excesses. These are never referenced.
The timing of this letter is clearly political and meant to have an effect on the election no matter what party affiliations alleged. Very few in the public will of course ever see it, but if it has some salutory benefit for the signatories, so be it.
I am particularly struck by the paragraph:
I can't imagine that anyone can seriously claim that Osama's popularity versus that of the president is of any interest at this time-or indeed any relevance. Osama was a hero to millions after 9/11(see dancing in the streets in the West Bank). Doesn't prudence and common sense require waiting a bit before buying into these unsupported claims? Who really knows about Bin Laden's fund raising or if he is even alive?posted by: Andrew on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"In fact, they have been proven absolutely, right as the 09/11 commission made clear. No opeational links between Saddam and Al Qaeda."
They didnt claim operations links. They claimed no cooperation. Without doubt there was cooperation. Zaqawi came from Afghanistan to Baghdad for medical care.
"What we have is one terrorist group, Zarqawi's, which has links to Al Qaeda, playing some sort of unspecified role (probably significant, but not the major one) in what is largely a home-grown insurgency (except the suicide bombers)."
Al Qaeda is one terrorist group for that matter. They are indeed playing a role in Iraq, and they have attracted hundreds of foriegn terrorists, many of which we have killed or captured (particularly of late). Zaqawi has named himself the tip of the AQ spear, and if we can break that tip we will have crushed a major part of Al Qaeda. Remember, war isnt about killing every one of your enemies. Its about breaking their will. Breaking the foriegn insurgency in Iraq will be a major blow to Islamo-fascism, and AQ in particular. A free and democratic Iraq will be a death blow, as Zaqawi himself acknowledged.
"We've also probably created thousands of potential terrorists around the world"
Everything America has done or not done in the last 50 years has illicited that criticism. Im numb to it. Every brave terrorist we kill scares a cowardly one. We killed a bunch of Nazis and fascist Japenese, I dont see them running around in ever increasing numbers.
"It is also worth pointing out that Al qaeda affiliated groups have launched attacks in half a dozen places around the world at this time, so the notion that theyre tied down in iraq is fallacy. "
Perhaps, but basically all of the attacks have been aimed at the _iraq policy_, such as the Madrid and Australian embassy bombings. Would those cells have been sitting peaceably at home smoking hookas if we didnt invade Iraq? Or would they have attacked elsewhere? Where? Who knows, but doubtless not somewhere healthy for US interests. Our enemy is forced to respond to us, not vice-versa. For better or worse, that is an undeniable effect of Iraq.
"I think you miswrote "facile and ignorant neo-con arguments" :-). "
Lets stick to "widely misunderstood" :)posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
'They claimed no cooperation. Without doubt there was cooperation. Zaqawi came from Afghanistan to Baghdad for medical care.'
1) Zarqawi's links to Al Qaeda were limited. He was one of the mujhadeen, but no more than that. Its also unclear if he was actually in Baghdad above ground or how much 'official' sanction his visit had. There are reports that one of his legs was amputated, reports that it was not. Given how much we've combed through iraqi official documents after the invasion, it seems clear there were no operational links, no real co-operation.
' They are indeed playing a role in Iraq, and they have attracted hundreds of foriegn terrorists, many of which we have killed or captured (particularly of late). '
By all accounts, and especially given the prisoners in captivity, the number of foreign fighters is probably only a small percentage of the inusrgents. Maybe the ones carrying out the car bomb attacks, thats all.
'Zaqawi has named himself the tip of the AQ spear, and if we can break that tip we will have crushed a major part of Al Qaeda.'
Zarqawi is not even part of Al Qaeda. And before we attacked Iraq, he was not attacking US Soldiers. Even now, its unclear how responsible he is for the chaos in Iraq, and how nuch is home grown Baathists.
' Remember, war isnt about killing every one of your enemies. Its about breaking their will. '
Insurgencies are about not creating more enemies than you kill. If by killing one terrorist in Iraq, we create a dozen new Sunni or even Shia extermists, we've achieved a resounding failure.
What about the domestic insurgency in Iraq ? And how about the fact that there were as far as w know, no real terrorists in Iraq (except the occasional Palestinian terrorist) and there are far more now ?
'Perhaps, but basically all of the attacks have been aimed at the _iraq policy_, such as the Madrid and Australian embassy bombings. Would those cells have been sitting peaceably at home smoking hookas if we didnt invade Iraq? Or would they have attacked elsewhere? Where? Who knows, but doubtless not somewhere healthy for US interests. Our enemy is forced to respond to us, not vice-versa'
All terrorism and counter-terrorism is a matter of response and counter-response. If the terrorists are attacking in Turkey or Morocco or Pakistan, that means they can launch foreign attacks despite the fallacious claim that they're tied down in Iraq. And except for Spain, none are directly linked to Iraq. In fact, it fits what we know of Al Qaeda -- that its devolved power to regional independent cells.
It has also been more or less established that the Iraq war has created new cells of terrorists in Europe.
We are and were fighting Al Qaeda. Taking time for a military adventure of dubious worth because it might just attrack Al Qaeda is a strategic manuever that makes Hitler's actions at Dunkirk look like great wisdom.
"I can't imagine that anyone can seriously claim that Osama's popularity versus that of the president is of any interest at this time-or indeed any relevance"
I cannot imagine that anyone can seriously claim otherwise. At least partly, this is a war for hearts and minds. When we see such huge unopularity for the US (and not just in the usual suspects, but in India, Ireland, Greece), its clear that this should be a matter of relevance. Especially in a war where we need the support for foreign intelligence agencies to track down terrorists.
[Fortunately, Al qaeda's nihilstic brutality has pobably hurt their PR as well, and led the Saudis and the Pakistanis to crack down on them, ]posted by: erg on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I thought Ireland, Greece, and India were among the usual suspects hating America. You mean they have become worse?
There is no exuse or reason to support Osama and to be expected to compete with him surely must mean the battle is already lost and not worth any more effort on our part.posted by: Ptolemy on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Scholars! Well, if a bad grade on a term paper would have persuaded Osama to change majors from Terror Studies to Elementary Ed. or if we could persuade Mullah Omar to retire to a quieter life by having the Dean snub him a faculty tea, I guess I'd turn the war on terror over to the scholars.
But I don't think things work that way.posted by: expat on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
As for the predictive nature of the IR field, you have a point. But many of the IR security specialists signed a letter which was in the NewYork Times BEFORE the war, cautioning what could go wrong. They predicted correctly.
I have to say that, on reading the actual letter, it looks to me as though the authors predicted WRONGLY. It looks to me as though several of the things they complained about in the initial letter were either completely wrong ("The first Bush administration did not try to conquer Iraq in 1991 because it understood that doing so could spread instability in the Middle East, threatening U.S. interests. This remains a valid concern today." AND "War with Iraq will jeopardize the campaign against al Qaeda") or are the EXACT OPPOSITE of what they complained about pre-war (THEN: "Iraq has military options—chemical and biological weapons...-that might impose significant costs on the invading forces and neighboring states"; NOW: "Iraq’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons was negligible".)
In sum, it looks to me as though the esteemed academics REALLY ARE Monday Morning Quarterbacking. If I, as a football fan, complain before the game that we need to beef up our defense because the other team looks like they will score a lot of points, and complain after the game that we only won 7-0 because we shouldn't have attempted all those field goals into the wind, then, yeah, the pre-game commentary is still completely wrong and the post-game analysis is still Monday Morning Quarterbacking.posted by: Al on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
(sorry, double post. How do you quote someone here)
>>My sense is that if you are talking about all major paradigms of international relations - you are wrong. You leave out the whole liberal tradition.>>
I agree with your point that there's no correspondence between IR theories and day to day politics.
However, I believe that my point still stands. I think that the liberal tradition that you bring up to dispute my point is an excellent illustration of my argument.
From my understanding - and I am sure you know more- the difference between realism and liberalism is whether one is optimist or pessimist about human cooperation. Realist are generally not and liberals generally are.
However, both base their worldview on individuals/states trying to maximize their interest whatever those may be. For me, that's important because interest-maximizing individuals (or states) isn't a notion that I would tie with a leftist worldview.
It's also hard for me to call liberalism a leftist perspective when it gives major emphasis on trade, free trade that is. Can you imagine going to a labor confab or a 60s protest march in Europe or America and talk about how free trade.
Now compare the premise of methodological individualism on which IR relies on with other disciplines like sociology or anthropology, even political theory. In those disciplines there are plenty of traditions that talk of larger impersonal social forces or in which emphasis is placed on "expoitative" relations and altruistic behavior. Now, these in my view are disciplines that carry a rich leftist tradition.
It's on these disciplines where most of the times you ll find the stereotype of the detached intellectual who holds an idealistic view of reality. Not -for the most part- on IR faculties.
As for the neoconservatives, it's not a theory, but a policy perspective based on a realistic worldview with a blend of realist and liberal goals (I say blend, because the preponderance of the US is their major concern too).
I for one cannot take them seriously because OTOH i find most of them to be overrated intelectual mediocrities with a fuzzy theory and on the other because their work is conducted in the cozy word of think tanks where they have forshaken the safeguards and criticisms of academia.posted by: Nick Kaufman on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"1) Zarqawi's links to Al Qaeda were limited. He was one of the mujhadeen, but no more than that."
Now we're parsing a bit. He was wounded in an American missile strike on Al Qaeda bases. How much more of a link do we need? This is hardly a court of law.
"Its also unclear if he was actually in Baghdad above ground or how much 'official' sanction his visit had."
Again, we have to be careful of our burden of proof here. Could a high profile terrorist could wander into the police state of Baghdad without Hussein knowing it? Possible, but plausible?
Small but highly significant. These are the ones carrying out the big bombing attacks that make the nightly news around the globe. These are the guys that have assassinated a number of high profile pro-American Iraqis. The Nazis were a small contingent in the Spanish civil war, but decisive. And remember, Al Qaeda is a small group to begin with. We wouldnt expect to see thousands of them. The point is we can cut a deal with local insurgents, as seems to be happening. If they flip Zaqawis people and agree to elections we will have achieved a major victory.
Thats debateable and meaningless. We arent fighting a war against Al Qaeda, we are fighting a war against Islamo-fascists of which Zaqawi is a major figure, whether or not he went through his AQ hazing ritual officially.
He was developing chemical weapons, trying to bring down the Jordanian government, and hobnobbing with the Taliban and AQ. What do you think his plans were? This isnt law enforcement, we dont wait until the guy kills a hundred Americans before he becomes an enemy.
"Even now, its unclear how responsible he is for the chaos in Iraq, and how nuch is home grown Baathists. "
We know the suicide and assassinations are Zaqawi, or at least he takes credit which amounts to the same thing. The point is, do you really think if we hadnt invaded Zaqawi would be merrilly going about his business in iraq with no thought of lifting a finger against the US? Or more likely would he be plotting to poison the Gerber factory with Ricin or something of the sort? Iraq harbored Zaqawi, in my book that in itself if casus belli.
"Insurgencies are about not creating more enemies than you kill."
True enough. And the fact that 2/3rds of Iraq isnt rebelling, and that the Sunnis themselves are showing signs of turning against the foriegners shows we are doing well.
If that were the case. We have seen no such evidence. On the other hand, if establishing a free Iraq essentially ends the war, thats a risk worth thinking about.
It is to be hoped that elections will ease that problem, and an all Iraqi army will end it.
Wow. 'Just' Palestinian terrorists? And what about Zaqawi? He's not a real terrorist? You know by that definition Mohammed Atta wasnt a real terrorist either. Until he stepped on that plane.
No-one made that claim. The fallacious argument is that if they didnt have Iraq as an issue they wouldnt be blowing something up. Possibly something more critical to our interests. Like the Capitol building for instance.
No? The attack on the Australian embassy wasnt meant to get Howard out of office who just happens to have sent troops to Iraq? Would Australia have been a target at all if we never invaded Iraq? And what about the fact that AQ seems to have abandoned Afghanistan? Would the elections have taken place if all that effort had gone to destablizing Afghanistan? I dont know, but its clear that AQs focus is Iraq.
"It has also been more or less established that the Iraq war has created new cells of terrorists in Europe. "
Sure. Good natured folks who would be happilly working in shops and being good citizens just cant take it any more seeing US flags on Iraqi soil and are forced to strap dynamite to their bodies. I dont buy it. Enemies are enemies. Its just a matter of if and when they reveal themselves. If this has smoked the zealots out into the open so much the better.
"We are and were fighting Al Qaeda."
"Taking time for a military adventure of dubious worth because it might just attrack Al Qaeda is a strategic manuever that makes Hitler's actions at Dunkirk look like great wisdom."
How about Roosevelts attack on North Africa post Pearl Harbor? We have removed a dangerous and unpredictable peice from the game board, and tied down many of the rest of them. We have intimidated old enemies like Libya and Yemen into becoming allies. We have a singular chance to attack the root cause of Arab terrorism, their fascist poverty states. You can debate the wisdom of the plan, but you cant pretend there isnt a plan. Its petty and small.
"The world media is carrying the news story as did AP -- the largest mobilization of professors since Vietnam..."
OK, great: "The Million Professot March".posted by: Mike on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Wow, who would have thought that the wingnuts would have brushed off another group of experts?posted by: Jor on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"Wow, who would have thought that the wingnuts would have brushed off another group of experts?"
Or that the moonbats would bow down to the ivory tower like Moses coming down Mount Sinia.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Dan - Must be tough to be a reasonable professor writing a blog that receives so many responses that are part of the 'hate the elites' 'anyone with a good education is an idiot' 'what can a person who has read and visited an area frequently, and speaks the language, know about anything' crowd. I can see why you are not inclined to blog so frequently anymore. There is a real dissonance between you and many of your commentors. I often wonder if they have read your biography. If they have, then how can they appear to approve of you but hate what they consider to be educated elites? I mean, you are highly educated and teach at an elite university. (Personally, I think it takes far more than a graduate degree to be an elite in our society. What percent of the population has at least an undergraduate degree now? It's higher than 40% isn't it? You can't be elite if you're half the population. The most amusing thing of course, is our fearless leader complaining about the elites.)posted by: Boris on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Aw Mark - Why don't you just join some crazed militia, arm yourself to the teeth, and live in the woods somewhere. Geez. Just be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot when you mistake your own shadow for the enemy. You don't even realize what a patsy you are for Cheney and the neocons. For differing reasons, Cheney for economic and the neos for some fanciful mishmash of democracy thru world domination, they use people like you. The get you all scared and riled up so you will unwittingly support their agenda, which is not in your best interests. You think Karl Rove really cares about your fears? If he thought Bush would lose the election if he continued his "War on Terror" then he would stop Bush in his tracks.
Listen to yourself. "Enemies are enemies. Its just a matter of if and when they reveal themselves. If this has smoked the zealots out into the open so much the better." Are these the words of a rational person? Some historian reading these words 100 yrs from now would never guess that you were a citizen the biggest military and economic power of the time. Get a grip.posted by: pedrorules on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
"Are these the words of a rational person? Some historian reading these words 100 yrs from now would never guess that you were a citizen the biggest military and economic power of the time. Get a grip. "
My words are direct, you think they are any different than the words Churchill used 50 years ago (aside from being far less beatiful)? Or has the world changed somehow? Why dont you go try spending some time in Riyadh or Cairo or the West Bank and see how nice the world is.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Thank you for pointing out the massive hypocricsy demonstrated by most of the posts about this blog.
Folks you're reading the Blog of a Political Scientist Professor (y'know one of your Monday morning QBs..and shouldn't it really be Tuesday morning QB?). He's bloging about his ideas, esp. his academic ones. The very ideas you call useless and biased and not based in reality. So if you really think that the words and ideas of academics are garbage WHY ARE YOU HERE???
Second a bunch of you went off on the idea that pantywaisted intellectuals with no field experience should be allowed to comment on the potlical process. Who are you people??? We've have an disillusioned ABD whose jobs experience seems just as varied as mine; We've got a bunch of folks with anti-acadmic rants - where are your credentia as policy makers? And a bunch of standard bloggers whose politics have always played a roll in their posts. Hello - were are the empire builders, successful policy implementors, diplomats, and other people who spend their lives doing this stuff? If we're going to argue that the only credible criticism of US FP can come from the US FP or any other country's Foriegn Policy establishment, then shouldn't the rest of you SIT DOWN and SHUT UP?
Don't like that do you?
Also, who cares about their liberal persuasion? Put away your political colored blinders for a moment - did their letter make sense? Do you agree with the letter? Why not tell us what you thought - just like Dan asked. Instead y'all are telling us about how you like or dislike the people who wrote the letter. Damn it all, can't any of you treat the text as a text? Critic it on its merits?
What is with you post-modernists anyway?
I was going to post on that - paragraph by paragraph. So I'm just as guilty of you as wasting time on a useless and unprofitable discussion of the poltics of the writers. And here I've gone and wasted 15 minutes doing the same thing.
So let me ask - does any care to have a discussion of the text or should I just fold up my tent and seek other, less partisan pastures?
You're right 'C', I have far more respect for the folks in the military who have allowed Afghanistan to move towards democracy and are doing the same in Iraq (and who are voting 80% to 15% for Bush over Kerry) , versus the pointy-head foreign relations academics who blather and prattle and accomplish nothing in the face of Rwandan machetes, Sudanese Janjaweed militias, and Iraqi mass graves for children and their dolls who are probably voting 95% Kerry, 2% Bush.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Also 'C' if you real earlier in the thread you will see Mark B, myself and several others dismantle the foolish arguments of the letter.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
You know Matt,
I read each of your deeply insightful posts - you know, the ones were you proceed to spend most your bandwidth insulting intellectuals? I found this one particularlly telling:
Arm-chair generals indeed.
Now, last time I checked, foreign policy was designed by non-military civilians, and the budget for miltiary operations is controlled by non-military civilians. And gee, look! It's non-military civilians MANY OF WHOM HAVE NEVER GONE TO WAR who are busy telling our generals in Iraq "So Sorry! No more Troops!"
As to spear-head troops, what in gods name are you talking about? We don't use spears or phalanxes, and we certainly don't start wars by charging over borders - we use our non-personnel armaments to soften up a country, then attack. This isn't Omaha beach y'know. And where, where do you get the idea that we should have committed all our troops to Iraq? I thought the letter said we have inadequate occupation force. Did you read the letter?
Apparently that the meme that we don't have enough troops to hold ground is not only based in fact - our governement is acting on it. We are in redeployment to move troops of at least one of the flashpoints you claimed we shouldn't remove troops from - the DMV between ROK and DPRK. We're doing that because leaving 47,000 troops and support to act as a trip wire against a madman isn't the wisest use of men and material. Ditto with our restructing of forces in Germany.
So gee, those pointed-headed academics have a point about the occupation. How can you say that the military is happy with the number of troops in Iraq and that we have sufficent numbers to occupy the country. Please, explain to me how so many military and non-military civilians are reading that situtation awry.
Oh and Matt, if you addressed a single criticism with a counter-arguement with something that wasn't along the lines of "You're voting for Kerry you wimpy draft dodgers so your opinions suck!" please point me to it. I must have missed it this last time around.
p.s. there was at least one ex-military guy on the signing list - John Mearshimer graduated West Point. Now that I've said that someone will come out about how the military college produces useless soliders, then somebody else will mention Colin Powell...and we'll avoid addressing the letter again
p.p.s. what is with the WWII comment - I didn't get it. Was that supposed to be an insult? If so check your history. In WWII the sky was falling in europe. If they didn't cry like that the sky was falling (like Winston Churchill did for _years_), then they were deluding themselves like Chamberlain and Lindenberg that everything was a-ok. Um, which would you rather have making policy during a war to the knife?posted by: c. on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
What do these "experts" accomplish that requires their writings to be given so much relevance? Certainly thier free to say what they think.I have no doubt they can tell us the per capita income and ethnic percentages in Iraq. What can they tell us about a Iraq a year from now? Anything other than a guess? If it is a guess, why is their guess more "informed" than any others if they don't have a clue? Any one can predict troubled times or difficulties. What did many of these people actually say about Afghanistan two years ago. Can we compare? Are there links to let us compare? Academics can contribute but do they really have the place to judge and not be judged themselves?
Sorry if you are threatened by non-academic opinions Mr/Ms C.posted by: Ptolemy on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I'm not threatened by non-academic opinions. How can I be? I'm not one. My issue is with people dissing people because they are academics. It's like me dissing you because you're purple or sing Abba songs in the shower.
Academics that study the social sciences live and breathe their subject matter daily. Academics interested in policy making live and breathe both the study of their choose field and spend their lives advocating policies. Non-academics who are not actively engaged in policy making do not live an breathe politics (as much as we like to think we do). To dismiss the ideas of academics without (a) reading the work in question and without (b) offering constructive criticism is an act of willful ignorance.
As for judging each acadmic - well everyone here has access to the net and by assocation to many, many research papers, new articles, blogs, etc. by which we can judge what these people thought 2 years ago and what they thought today. Yet as far as I can tell I'm the only commentator (other than maybe Dan) who actually did some research on these people. I find that the data supports most but not all of their letter, and that they in general have been consistent. Some of them have been remarkably consistent, esp. given the nature of the debate on Iraq and the War on Terror. So what was that about links? Surely you too can use Google.
As for predictions - political science is a predictive social science. IR in particular uses models of the world to predict outcomes. We can argue that those models are bunk, and in a couple places people argued that most IR models are bunk. As it stands, a couple people who signed that letter did predict the problems we've had with the occupation and Afganistan. I'm sure if we did some research a couple of them have articles out on what's going to happen in January and predictions of the results of the elections. Unlike pundits, academics need to back up those predictions with data and logic - that's what makes them credible. And what should make their guesses better guesses then the layman's.
c.posted by: c on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Your evaluation is suffering from post hoc selection bias. Of course after the fact you can always pick out the predictions that prove correct for any event, and claim that everyone should have listened to the person who made the prediction.
That's always the case, for any and every event.
The military knows a hell of a lot more about what is going on in Iraq than the petitioners who signed this document, and they aren't voting for Kerry.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
You seem to be judging that they wrote articles and are experts. I still don't see why it matters when the situation is in such flux. They are still guessing and other than the fact you are a Kerry supporter ( from other posts on other threads you seem to be a Kerry supporter or at least against Bush )I see no reason for you to rise so gallantly to their defense. Being experts, they shouldn't need your defense anyway. Prejudices? Surly your past statements aren't unknown to many on this thread concering Bush and the Iraq war.posted by: Ptolemy on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
Bloggers, in order to understand why experts are considered experts, many on the list have lived in the region, speak the language, know the history, and I for ex. talk to the terrorists (as does Jessica Stern), and then we work with Homeland Security and counter terrorism. If we aren't expert enough for you... who is? In fact, check out what General Barry McCaffery says about the war in Iraq. He's the Dean of west point and he's fairly vocal on what went wrong. You may think the military is voting for Bush whole hog -- not from the majors and colonels I have talked to... so as far as experts are concerned, I doubt reading Yahoo news and watching Bill O Reilly would qualify.
Disbeliever, remember thou art mortal. Remember thou art mortal.
What is the point of the statement being made at this time? Why now? How does it help? Considering what Bush HAS accomplished, what does it matter? Even if you hate him, what does the statement achieve?posted by: Ptolemy on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
The phrase "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" refers to the statement's specific accusations of bad strategy and tactics in Iraq.
Like you said -- these folks were mostly against the invasion -- of course they seize on every possible news report and MSM meme to support their "disaster" hypothesis.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
The irony here is that GWB himself said that he would "let history judge" whether the actions of his administration were a mistake. Now, we've been presented with evidence of a remarkable consensus among academics that yes, there were mistakes, and there were big ones. What now? "We'll let history judge, but only if the history is written by Republicans?" Really.
That said, this is hardly Monday-morning quarterbacking in one important regard: the question of whether or not mistakes were made is perhaps the most contentious one of this election, and certainly among the most visible. With a substantial number of people in the "no mistakes" camp and the Bush crowd asserting that if they had it to do over again they wouldn't change a thing, how can this letter really be accused of post-hockery?
And as far as the handful of actual evidence that's been offered, I have to wonder why the "80% of the military votes for Bush" figure hasn't been contested. This comes, I believe, from an Army Times Publishing e-mail survey of readers, which even the ATP warns is not a scientific poll in any way. Rasmussen's figures are more like 58% Bush, 35% Kerry among veterans, which is actually pretty astounding: typically the military is about as conservative as academia is liberal, and finding that 35% of professors plan to vote for Bush would be a scathing indictment of Kerry. If the folks with the boots on the ground are in fact the best judges of the quality of Bush's policy, why has he only been able to hold onto a bare majority of this traditionally Republican constituency?posted by: Curt on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
What a shock! 650 International Relations academics oppose Bush' policies! Who knew?
Curt, 'The Judgement of History' is not typically understood to mean the current opinions of a group of historians but rather the more measured concensus which emerges after many of the facts come out and there has been a generation of debate.
Reagan no doubt struck the majority of historians of his time as incredibly vacuous and a much less suitable President than Jimmy Carter of Walter Mondale. Current opinions of him are a good deal more positive.posted by: Don on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
I'd like to sign a letter that says I am horribly, horribly sorry that for years before 9/11 I, a trained historian in good standing with my peers, mocked suggestions that there was a substantial subsection of the Muslim world that was foaming at the mouth crazy with hatred of me, my country, and all that I hold dear.
Kelli, there's nothing to keep you from starting such a letter.
I'd be curious about your estimates of that, and their confidence intervals. Ideally you could draw a graph that goes from 0 to 1.2 billion on the x axis and from 0 to 1 on the y axis, and you draw a line that starts at 0,0 and that shows your estimate of the probability that the number of muslims that are foaming at the mouth crazy with hatred of you is no more than that number.
For myself, I would have estimated before 9/11 that the number of foaming-at-the-mouth crazy-with-hatred muslims was almost certainly somewhere less than four million, and I'd give it a 70% chance that it was less than 2 million, and a 50% chance it was less than 50,000. I figured that most of those would be palestinians, who after all have spent the last 30 years getting bombed with american bombs, with a few iranians whose relatives got gassed by american poison gas and a few iraqis who believed their children died from american sanctions etc.
After 9/11 I looked into it somewhat more carefully, and it appears that most palestinians even under occupation don't blame americans for the zionists, they tend to think of us as clueless dupes and that it isn't really our fault. So now my estimate is, 50% the number is less than 50,000, 70% it's less than 200,000, almost certainly less than a million. Mostly iraqis who've lost relatives to american attacks, a few iranians, a few palestinians, and a few random nutcases scattered all around.
My estimate of the number of americans post-9/11 who're foaming-at-the-mouth-crazy against muslims is 50% less than a million, 70% less than ten million, 99% less than 20 million. Some of these are rabid zionists, a few rabid fundamentalists who blame the arabs for delaying the rebuilding of the temple and the 2nd Coming, and a bunch of people who were driven insane by the 9/11 coverage, or who were insane already and latched onto 9/11 as a way to justify their symptoms.
Ptolemy wrote, Being experts, they shouldn't need your defense anyway.
Good point. The experts have spoken, and a few random nutcases on a blog say the experts are irrelevant, and people rise to their defense. Kind of silly when you look at it.
Mark wrote, Without doubt there was cooperation. Zaqawi came from Afghanistan to Baghdad for medical care.
Do you believe that?
Say, did you know there are a lot of bridges for sale near Baghdad?
He was wounded in an American missile strike on Al Qaeda bases. How much more of a link do we need?
Maybe a second report confirming that? Given the number of unconfirmed reports we've seen bite the dust recently....
Could a high profile terrorist could wander into the police state of Baghdad without Hussein knowing it? Possible, but plausible?
First, it's one unconfirmed report. So let's say it did happen, sure it's plausible it could. Saddam's police state was designed to stop people who might get popular enough to get an anti-Saddamm coalition together. Get popular and Saddam was likely to send people to knock on your door in the night. Somebody who just wants to keep quiet, getting in the country and out again? Easy. Note that Allawi's people did it often, and so did Chalabi's people.
So, say he got caught. A minor al qaeda character who has no bad intentions toward iraq. What would they do with him? Trade him to the americans for something-or-other? Not a high-value target to anybody at that point. Maybe one moderate bribe would be enough. Doesn't that make sense?
Zaqawi has named himself the tip of the AQ spear, and if we can break that tip we will have crushed a major part of Al Qaeda.
You do know that it was like yesterday that Zarqawi claimed to join al qaeda. They appear to have been competitors before that. But then, why would we take Zarqawi's word about anything?
A free and democratic Iraq will be a death blow, as Zaqawi himself acknowledged.
Do you believe he wrote that? Is there any particular reason to disbelieve that letter came out of Chalabi's forgery factory?
The point is we can cut a deal with local insurgents, as seems to be happening. If they flip Zaqawis people and agree to elections we will have achieved a major victory.
Why would you consider that a major victory? It looks more like a defeat to me. Zarqawi has been making attacks that alienate iraqis, and people confuse him with the resistance. Get rid of him and the real resistance gets a lot stronger.
We know the suicide and assassinations are Zaqawi, or at least he takes credit which amounts to the same thing.
Amounts to the same thing?! Oh wow. Listen, remember those bridges around Baghdad? It just so happens that I have title to them, and with a little bit more capital we could....
Curt, 'The Judgement of History' is not typically understood to mean the current opinions of a group of historians but rather the more measured concensus which emerges after many of the facts come out and there has been a generation of debate.posted by: 沥青 on 10.12.04 at 04:35 PM [permalink]
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