Thursday, October 4, 2007

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Getting back into the op-ed game

In my last bloggingheads with Matthew Yglesias, we agreed that it is tough to excel at the op-ed format.

Naturally, I have now agreed to contribute to Newsweek International on a monthly basis.

My first effort, "Calling Miss Manners," is now online. Go check it out. The concluding paragraphs:

It would be a cruel irony indeed if rising powers learned the wrong lessons from Bush's mistakes. The United States has received more flak for its diplomatic mistakes than other countries because the glare of the spotlight is at its harshest for the hegemon. As these countries acquire more power, however, they will also garner more attention. So far, their behavior is worrisome. Russia, for example, has had some prior experience with being a great power. Their current diplomatic style, however, makes the Bush administration's first term look like a paragon of propriety and decorum.

Power and interest drive most of what happens in world politics. Diplomatic style does matter on the margins, however. And if these recent events are what passes as diplomacy from rising powers, then world politics is going to start looking like a bad episode of reality television. "The Real World: Turtle Bay" might make for good entertainment, but it's going to be a lousy way to address global problems.

The column has its roots in this blog post from a few weeks ago.

posted by Dan on 10.04.07 at 05:34 PM



From "A Man for All Seasons", Thomas More discovers Master Rich has sold out, "it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Newsweek?

posted by: sbw on 10.04.07 at 05:34 PM [permalink]

I didn't get the tone of Dan's original post on this subject, and I guess I still don't. Russian diplomacy under Putin is pretty much traditional Russian/Soviet diplomacy. It is heavy-handed, relying on intimidation of neighboring countries that can be intimidated and others' perception of great Russian strength. It has not made Russia many friends in the West, but the current Russian government does not really want friends in the West, except on its terms. Even less does it want friends in neighboring countries like Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic states and so forth; it wants clients.

You can argue about whether Russian objectives really serve Russian interests, but they are consistent with the objectives of pre-1990 Soviet and Russian foreign policy, to which objectives propriety and decorum have always been pretty much irrelevant.

posted by: Zathras on 10.04.07 at 05:34 PM [permalink]

Wow. And to think we all saw it here first. The germ that grew into the tree that became the grist of the mill that is Newsweek.

A couple questions:

Hegemon? Are playing to your (international) audience? Or just taking pot-shots at your country you wouldn't in a domestic column?

"The word does not mean that a government shrinks from advancing its interests but that it does so in a way that is designed not to anger or provoke." What if the country's interests are advanced by angering or provoking?

Finally, aren't the VSP's of the world going to take offense to you comparing the results of a total failure of international diplomacy to a bad episode of reality television? Was Puck really that bad?

posted by: Chris on 10.04.07 at 05:34 PM [permalink]

Newsweek? I didn't know it was still published. Oh yeah, now I remember, that's the "agree with us on global warming and Bush = Evil or you're an idiot in denial" fish wrapper. Congratulations.

posted by: Useless Sam Grant on 10.04.07 at 05:34 PM [permalink]

Why do you refer to these countries as "rising" powers? I don't see any evidence that the three countries you mention, or any countries worldwide except maybe China, are getting more powerful than they used to be relative to the United States. Are you referring to the fact that oil prices have risen over the past few years? Surely history teaches that oil prices, and the tinpot pretensions of petroleum exporters, rise and fall, but nothing in the history of the last century suggests that petroleum deposits could be a durable source of world power.

posted by: y81 on 10.04.07 at 05:34 PM [permalink]

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