Friday, February 28, 2003
Why can't dictators aspire to be like Mussolini?
A fascinating FT op-ed on what Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein have in common:
Read the whole piece.
Describing my political beliefs
When asked about my political beliefs, I usually respond by calling myself a "pragmatic libertarian." But what exactly does that mean?
I can't provide an answer to that question. I can, however, provide Brink Lindsey's definition of pragmatic libertarianism, which I like a great deal.
Just war and Iraq
I said below that I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer on why a quick war with Iraq would not be more just than the status quo of immiserating sanctions.
That's a fair point, but it's worth asking whether the consequences of the "permanent system of coercion and control" -- which includes the embargo, no-fly zones, and the stationing of large numbers of troops on Saudi soil -- are more limited. One can argue that containment has substantially contributed to instability in Saudi Arabia and the growth of Al Qaeda.
That said, Walzer's point about the uncertainties of conflict are worth contemplating. So is the rest of his essay. He is intellectually honest enough to admit the following:
SHAME, SHAME: As Michael Green
SHAME, SHAME: As Michael Green and Jacob Levy have already pointed out, "No War in Iraq, the University of Chicago group devoted to actively opposing the war in Iraq," which receives funding from multiple university accounts, has published a brief collection of opinion pieces from professors regarding the merits of a war with Iraq.
According to the group:
"No War in Iraq... has chosen to put together this journal of essays because we recognize the grays in the world, and because we still oppose a war in Iraq.... We wanted to put together a journal with opinions both supporting and opposing a war in Iraq.
We wanted readers to get both sides, to see the complexity and come to an educated decision, as we had. When we started soliciting essays, we realized that this task would be more difficult than we had originally thought. While it was fairly easy to find faculty who opposed the war, finding faculty who supported it was a much more difficult task. We followed every lead we had and in most cases learned that the faculty we were told probably supported a war really were not sure where they stood (This is with the exception of Richard Posner of the Law School, whoes (sic) contribution and willingness to participate despite the lack of other pro-war essays we greatly appreciate). While we were trying to convey the honest disagreement within the academic community at the University, we found it difficult to find many professors who supported a war in Iraq. Our impression was that there may not be so much disagreement after all, and that there is general skepticism surrounding the Bush administration's policies on Iraq." (my bold italics)
If this is their story, then these individuals have displayed neither the research skills nor the intellectual curiosity to merit being University of Chicago students. Go to Jacob Levy's post to see particular individuals on campus that believe an attack on Iraq would be justified. They most certainly did not follow every lead.
If this group was serious in its endeavor to present a balanced debate, all that was needed was a mass e-mail to solicit faculty positions on the war. At a minimum, such an e-mail should have been sent to faculty affiliated with the Political Science department, Middle Eastern Studies, International Studies, Public Policy, and/or Philosophy. No email was sent.
The only conceivable defense I can think of for their error was a belief that the contributors had to come from different departments in the university and didn't want too many political science professors. However, the fact that they were able to squeeze in two English professors suggests that perhaps I'm being too generous.
Let me make it clear that if No War in Iraq had only wanted to publish a collection of antiwar pieces, that would have been perfectly appropriate, given the group's raison d'etre. What offends me is their initial claim that they wanted to publish a collection of diverse opinions and then their subsequent claim that they were unable to find any diversity of thought on campus. At the University of Chicago, if you can't find diversity of thought among the faculty, you're not looking hard enough.
It gives me no pleasure to write about this. I don't like publicly criticizing undergraduates on campus. Being at college is all about going on an intellectual journey, one that usually has its share of embarrassing stops along the way.
However, I find the incident I've just related so contrary to this university's principles of open debate that it's worth blogging about it.
Thursday, February 27, 2003
A leading indicator for the Democratic nomination
Mickey Kaus, TNR's &c., and The Note are all a flutter about Bob Shrum's decision to join the John Kerry campaign as an indicator of Kerry's chances to become the Democratic nominee.
However, over the next year (and before the actual primaries), there's a better harbinger for who will be the eventual nominee -- which candidate picks up the elite foreign policy advisors?
Why these people? Because foreign policy analysts might care about a candidate's philosophy of governance, but they care about being Secretary of State more. Therefore, unless their foreign policy views are sharply in contrast with the candidate's ideology (no pro-war analysts would be likely to work for Howard Dean, for example), these people will pick the candidate most likely to win -- and therefore most likely to appoint them to choice cabinet, subcabinet, and White House positions.
[But wouldn't these people just wait until the primary season is over?--ed. Not necessarily. There are clear first-mover advantages to latching onto candidates. In 2000, remember, George W. Bush assembled an impressive list of Republican foreign policy experts -- the "Vulcans" before the first primary or caucus. But why wouldn't domestic policy advisors operate under the same guidelines?--ed. The ideological constraints are more powerful for domestic issues. Since domestic policy is the bread and butter of presidential campaigns, candidates usually take great pains to articulate their policy proposals in a way that acts like a brand for their ideological stripe. This branding narrows the range of domestic advisors who can plausibly join a particular campaign. Because foreign policy is usually reactive rather than proactive, plain-old experience is more valued for its own sake in international relations].
Who are the elite advisors? As a public service, this blog provides the following list. I divide it into two categories -- those with sufficient gravitas to become Secretary of State, and those with enough know-how to qualify as National Security Advisor. The latter group will likely commit to a candidate first, because they have more rungs up the achievement ladder:
National Security Advisor-level advisors: (A larger and more impressive list -- but then again, I actually know most of these guys):
(Interesting side note: It was difficult to locate anything like an personal web page for the first category of people. It was easy to complete the same task for the second group. That says something, but I'm not sure what.)
To my knowledge (which is appallingly slim in inside-the-beltway stuff) none of these people have publicly committed for any candidate. Yet.
UPDATE: I've amended this post to respond to Kevin Drum's excellent question.
When war is the humanitarian option
Mark Kleiman raises a very uncomfortable question for anti-war advocates:
P.S. In fairness, I should point out that Kleiman's figure of 90,000 deaths per annum is a gross exaggeration -- the UNICEF study relied on Iraqi government information that was never released to other researchers and fails to distinguish between deaths attributable to sanctions and those attributable to the Gulf War. The best study I've seen on the topic puts the estimate at around 25,000 deaths per annum.
THE ART OF APOLOGIES: A
THE ART OF APOLOGIES: A Canadian MP has apologized for calling Americans "bastards.":
"A Liberal MP has apologized for saying about Americans: "I hate those bastards."
MP Carolyn Parrish was speaking to reporters about Canada's diplomatic initiative on Iraq. At the end of her comments, after most of the cameras were turned off, Parrish said, 'Damn Americans … I hate those bastards.'
CBC reporter Susan Lunn, who heard Parrish make the comment, said the MP then laughed as she was walking away....
'My comments do not reflect my personal opinion of the American people and they certainly do not reflect the views of the government of Canada,' she said in her written statement.
Late last year, the prime minister's communications director, Françoise Ducros, resigned after calling U.S. President George W. Bush 'a moron' during a conversation with a reporter in Prague."
Parrish's statement is probably false -- the "bastards" comment was -- obviously -- her personal opinion. Maybe she changed her mind later, but she can't claim aliens made her say it. As one American e-mailed the CBC in reaction to the story: "If she hates us, I'd rather her say it and at least have the guts to stick to it... I'd rather be aware of honest hate rather than the smarmy lies of a pretended friend."
This kind of story makes me flash back to 1985, when Reagan was heard muttering "sons of bitches" into a microphone as the press was leaving a Cabinet meeting. Reagan never apologized -- his press spokesman said, with a straight face, that what Reagan had really uttered was "It's sunny and you're rich." In handling it that way, Reagan was able to back away from what he said. He used an obvious lie to avoid telling a more insidious lie.
COULD BE WORSE... COULD BE
COULD BE WORSE... COULD BE "BLUNT AND UPTIGHT": The New Republic Online has given a name to the contributions from Jacob T. Levy and myself -- "Chicago School." Their extraordinarily erudite editor goes on to note:
"Levy and Drezner are members of a small but growing clique of 'scholar bloggers'--scholars who share their insights with wider audiences on their respective web logs. They will be bringing a similiar brand of sharp but informal commentary on politics and foreign policy to TNR readers."
Jacob's latest effort is now available -- and should give some pause to those praising the Bush administration's commitment to Iraqi democracy.
ASSESSING AFGHANISTAN: President Bush's declaration
ASSESSING AFGHANISTAN: President Bush's declaration that the U.S. will build a free and stable Iraq is causing both supporters and critics to take another look at Afghanistan to see how things are there. Evidence of increasing stability and democracy supports the assertion that Iraq can be remade -- evidence of lawlessness and authoritarianism would suggest more humility.
So what's the situation? Depends on who you ask. Hamid Karzai thinks the Afghan situation is continually improving -- of course, he has a strong political incentive to advocate that line of thinking . That same Chicago Tribune story shows that Democratic Senators believe the situation is deteriorating -- of course, they have strong political incentives to advocate that line of thinking.
"In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold....
According to Commerce Minister Seyyed Mustafa Kazemi, the number of foreign firms setting up shop in Afghanistan is growing fast.
He said that in the past six months, his ministry has approved 2,600 business licenses, compared with 2,045 in the 45 years before. Many were given to foreign firms, he said, or those headed by Afghans living abroad who want to return to their homeland. These licensed businesses are the large ones that will pay all taxes and other government fees; most Afghan businesses still open without registration and beyond the reach of central government tax collectors."
However, that report only deals with the situation in Kabul. This Knight-Ridder story suggests much more pessimism about the situation outside the capital:
"More than a year after U.S. forces toppled the Taliban government that sheltered Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan is a fractured country torn by ethnic strife and divided regional loyalties. Its roads are impassable and unsafe, plagued by bandits. Opium production is surging. Regional armies owe no allegiance to the national government, and neither do political leaders who run their provinces like little countries....
'The central government is very weak and can't unite the country because it can't obtain the financial support from the international community,' said Abdul Razak, director of commerce in the southern city of Kandahar."
The truth probably lies somewhere in between, though I always trust the report coming from the sticks more than the report coming from the capital. Two final thoughts on this, however.
First, comparing Afghanistan to Iraq is as unfair as comparing it to post-W.W.II Japan. Afghanistan is the toughest test imaginable for post-war reconstruction. The fact that any demonstrable progress has taken place in a society with no sizeable middle class, economic infrastructure, or stable governance for the last 25 years is worth celebrating. Iraqis are not nearly so impoverished, uneducated, or factionalized as Afghans.
Second, for all of the criticism being levied at the U.S. for not doing enough to rebuild the country, it's pretty clear that the U.S. is doing more than others. This Iranian news story paints a slightly discouraging picture of Afghanistan, but not so bad as the Knight-Ridder story. The key line:
"'The US has been true to its pledge much more than the rest of the global community in providing financial assistance to Afghanistan,' said [Tehran representative of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan Qolam-Hussein] Nasseri.
Considering the source being quoted, and the organization doing the quoting, it's tough to argue that the U.S. has fallen down on the job in Afghanistan.
UPDATE: This Washington Post op-ed definitely comes down on the negative side. Of course, I have no idea where they get their info.
A VERY SAD DAY IN
A VERY SAD DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Fred Rogers is dead of cancer at 74.
As a small child, I still remember watching -- in order -- Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and then Electric Company. Now, I'll admit that my favorite was Electric Company -- it had Spiderman and Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader -- but my afternoon was incomplete if I didn't see Mr. Rogers take off his jacket and tie and put on his cardigan.
Rest in peace, good sir. Millions of middle-aged Americans will never be able to forget you.
UPDATE: Virginia Hefferman's obit captures what I think about Mr. Rogers.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
French consistency on multilateralism
The French Prime Minister made it clear today that if the U.S. decides to go ahead with an attack on Iraq without a 20th UN Security Council resolution regarding Iraq, "would divide the international community" and "be perceived as precipitous and illegitimate." Clearly, the French have a strong belief in multilateralism.
Unless, of course, such multilateral cooperation would actually require them to make material sacrifices for the greater good. In that circumstance, the French appear to be rank unilateralists:
"France launched the most serious challenge yet to the European Union's economic rules yesterday, by vowing not to take austerity measures to plug its growing budget deficit....
Paris's response to its likely breach of the stability and growth pact - the stringent economic rules underpinning the euro - will test the credibility of EU economic policy.
A defiant stance by France, which has recently clashed with other EU members on issues such as Iraq and Zimbabwe, would make it easier for other countries to disregard the pact."
I'm shocked, shocked at this sort of behavior.... not.
UPDATE: Oh, yes, they're also threatening to break up the current round of WTO negotiations.
THOSE FATUOUS AND CYNICAL HUMAN
THOSE FATUOUS AND CYNICAL HUMAN SHIELDS: Tapped has admirably and appropriately scolded the antiwar protestors now heading to Iraq as "human shields," with the idea of thwarting U.S. bombing raids: "If you're opposed to war at any cost, risking your life to protest it has a certain nobility and purity to it. But by our lights, a line is crossed when citizens go from engaging in the political process to prevent a decision to go to war to actively impeding prosecution of the war once that decision has been made."
Here's the key section of the article:
"'We are here for the people, not the government,' said Katarina Soederholm of Norway. She said she objects to the group being used for 'propaganda.'
The Iraqi government has given the volunteers unprecedented freedom to organize their protests, which have included a blood drive and several marches. The government pays for their hotels and provides other services such as phone lines and Internet access.
Soederholm was not part of the group going to the power plant.
'Too risky' was her assessment. 'I will go to a hospital,' she said, 'I don't want to be someplace where my life will really be in danger.'
Despite being called 'human shields,' many activists aren't prepared to die.
'I am not saying I will see this thing through to the bitter end,' said [Godfrey] Meynell, the leader of the group at the power plant. Most plan to leave before any attack starts."
The hypocrisy of these protestors' actions is so rank that they can do nothing to further their alleged cause of peace. There are unsavory members of both sides of this debate, but these people are lower than either Noam Chomsky or ANSWER on the food chain of stupid ideas.
[I thought you weren't going to write about the protestors again--ed. These people are far, far more insidious than run-of-the-mill protestors.]
UPDATE: I take back what I said about Chomsky -- click here for why.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
WHO'S RUNNING THE FOREIGN POLICY
WHO'S RUNNING THE FOREIGN POLICY STORE?: John Judis has an interesting but incomplete analysis of the different administration foreign policy factions. He divides up the administration into hard-core unilateralists (Rumsfeld, Cheney), half-realist/half-institutionalists (Powell, Tenet), and neocons (Wolfowitz). It does a nice job of highlighting the divisions within the administration.
It's incomplete in that I have no idea on what basis Judis is making these assertions -- he provides no actual evidence, says it's "based on interviews with administration officials, press reports and, where necessary, speculation." That doesn't fill me with confidence. It's also incomplete in failing to locate all of the key players (where's Condi Rice?)
Most important, Judis is too willing to lump Bush with Rumsfeld and Cheney as hard-core unilateralists. As I've argued elsewhere, Bush is a multilateralist, but a results-oriented one.
However, the difficulty of locating Bush raises an interesting and somewhat troubling management question -- why hasn't President Bush done a better job of privately managing these publicly feuding factions? (NOTE: As Brad DeLong makes clear, this applies to the administration's economic policy as well). It's clear that this president likes an open and honest debate about foreign policy matters. However, there's a difference between a private debate and a public one.
This administration has been far too public in its disagreements. The result is that anti-American elites in the rest of the world can seize on public comments made by some factions in the administration and trumpet them as official U.S. policy even when they may be a minority view. In contrast, the first Bush administration clearly has policy splits, but they were never made piblic until Bob Woodward wrote about them.
In the end, only the president has the authority to rein in such public divisions. Given the stakes involved in the current debate over Iraq, this should happen soon.
Monday, February 24, 2003
Spring training for Democratic foreign policy advisors
Josh Marshall and Heather Hurlburt have pointed out the gravitas gap in foreign policy expertise among Democrats. This matters because foreign policy will be a critical factor in the 2004 presidential campaign.
Now, thanks to Foreign Policy, we have a chance to rate the main candidates (Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman) foreign policy platforms. How do they stack up so far? Here are my provisional grades, which are based on originality, coherence, and the ability to target Bush's vulnerabilities:
JOHN EDWARDS: I've liked Edwards' previous speeches on foreign policy, so I had high expectations. They weren't met, but there's some interesting stuff here.
He starts off well, explaining the need for a "comprehensive strategy for domestic security." This point manages to underscore his policy emphasis and attack Bush. However, he then goes on to note: "the administration stubbornly clings to permanent tax cuts that will benefit mainly the top 1 percent of Americans while arguing that the government can’t afford vital measures to protect the American people." Note to Edwards staff: I understand what you're going for here, but try to avoid having your candidate sound like Al Gore.
The rest of the essay is too generic. It's not that there's anything wrong with what's being said, it's just lacking in specifics [Be fair, Edwards has given two major foreign policy speeches, and they do have more specifics--ed. Fair point]. I liked the line, "We’ve proved that we have firepower. Now we must show the world that we have staying power." But there's nothing about how exactly an Edwards administration would do this.
The essay does end well: "Getting serious about political reform and human rights in the Middle East will require specific strategies in specific countries, but it will also depend on achieving energy security. Presidents of both parties have tolerated and even supported authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, in part because the United States depends on them for oil. A real commitment to energy independence—which the Bush administration clearly lacks—would not only strengthen the U.S. economy but free the United States to promote American values." The linking of these two issues is both smart politics and smart policy. Overall, Edwards did the best job of linking foreign policy to domestic policy issues, which one would expect of a good Democrat.
Overall grade: B A good start, but room for improvement.
RICHARD GEPHARDT: There's a passage in Primary Colors about the difference between legislators as compared to politicians in the executive branch: "Legislators were a different, somewhat less interesting species." The point was that legislators may be steeped in policy minutae, but leaders have the capacity and the curiosity to innovate.
Gephardt's problem is that he is the quintissential legislator.
This shows up in his essay, which manages to be both bland and wrong, a unique combination. There's an interesting undercurrent about using private sector and civil society forces as a way of generating goodwill abroad, but it's not developed at all. However, he does say, "I am determined to further this tradition of committed leadership and have pursued such a course in international affairs throughout my career."
BWAH HAH HAH HAH !!! Oh, wait, he's trying to be serious. Sorry, I was just flashing back to his 1988 presidential campaign, you know, the one that stressed trade protectionism for one and all.
Beyond that, Gephardt's essay seems blissfully unaware or current events. He attacks the administration for not being pro-Israel enough (?!!). Then he blasts Bush for not doing enough to fight AIDS in Africa. He must have submitted this in early January. Whoops.
Overall grade: F Not ready for prime time.
JOHN KERRY: A pleasant surprise. He starts off by blasting Democrats who believe that foreign policy matters won't be pivotal in the next campaign:
"Democrats must resist a new orthodoxy within our party—a politically stagnating shift that does a disservice to more than 75 years of history. That is the new conventional wisdom of consultants, pollsters, and strategists who argue that Democrats should be the party of domestic issues alone.
They are wrong. As a party, Democrats need to talk about all the things that strengthen and protect the United States. We need to have a vision that extends to the world around us, and we should remember that this vision is as old as our party.... It’s our turn again to talk about things that are hard."
He then does a nice job of advocating more resources for the intelligence services, with specific anecdotes to highlight why such increases are necessary. He muddles through on Iraq, but then gives the best partisan spin on North Korea of all four of the candidates:
"the Bush administration has offered only a merry-go-round policy: Bush and his advisers got up on their high horse, whooped and hollered, rode around in circles, and ended up right back where they’d started. By suspending the talks initiated by the Clinton administration, asking for talks but with new conditions, refusing to talk under the threat of nuclear blackmail, and then reversing that refusal as North Korea’s master of brinkmanship upped the ante, the administration sowed confusion and put the despot Kim Jong Il in the driver’s seat. By publicly taking military force, negotiations, and sanctions off the table, the administration tied its own hands behind its back.
Now, finally, the Bush administration is rightly working with allies in the region—acting multilaterally—to pressure Pyongyang. It’s gotten off the merry-go-round; the question is why one would ever want to be so driven by unilateralist dogma to get on in the first place."
This is a harsh assessment, but I admire the tactics.
Like Gephardt, he stresses the role of non-state actors in assisting U.S. foreign policy. Unlike Gephardt, he actually devotes more than one sentence to it. Ending with a Teddy Roosevelt quote was a nice touch.
Overall grade: A- He's got the chops
JOE LIEBERMAN: The 6th grade English teacher in me liked the crisp and coherent organization of this essay. The foreign policy wonk was either bored or uncertain whether Lieberman knew what he was talking about. Beyond the usual platitudes, his suggestion to "refocus NATO, the world’s greatest military alliance, to apply its might to uproot terrorism." sounds good, but when you think about it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Exactly how is the Belgian Army going to be of use in fighting Al Qaeda?
Then there's this goal: "maintaining the global balance of power must be as high a priority as countering threats from terrorists and rogue nations." Now, surely he doesn't mean that the U.S. should become weaker so that an actual balance exist?
Lieberman deserves some credit for discussing his legislative proposals on democracy promotion and economic liberalization. He seems to get the fact that foreign policy isn't just about guns and bombs. He's unclear on the environment -- read the essay and see if he's advocating rejoining the Kyoto Protocol or not, because I'm still not sure.
Overall grade: C+ An OK first draft, but not fully thought out. Revise and resubmit.
SILLY FINANCIAL TIMES: This FT
SILLY FINANCIAL TIMES: This FT story on the emergence of realpolitik in China's foreign policy is so ahistorical that it just looks silly. The key thesis:
"The restraint that has characterised China's response to the crises in Iraq and North Korea demonstrates a fundamental shift in the way that Beijing pursues its foreign policy, Chinese academics and foreign diplomats said.
As Colin Powell, US secretary of state, holds talks with Chinese leaders today, the importance of Beijing's new-found pragmatism may be on display. Chinese leaders are not expected to stand in the way of Washington's desire to attack Iraq, nor are the two sides likely to hit an impasse over North Korea, analysts said....
'China now publicly tells the world that our foreign policy serves our interests,' says Yan Xuetong, director of the institute of international studies at Tsinghua University."
China's acting in its own interests? Stop the presses!! The unstated implication -- that in recent years China has not acted to advance its own interests -- is ridiculous.
What's dangerous is that this article completely ignores an alternative explanation for China's inaction on both Iraq and North Korea -- a struggle for leadership at the top (UPDATE: Sam Crane makes the same point even more concisely in this LA Times op-ed). The North Korea crisis has been percolating for almost six months now, and the principal Chinese reaction has been to insist it will do nothing.
This might be pragmatism in the form of buckpassing. Or it might be a sign of paralysis. You'd never know from the FT.
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Blogging will be intermittent for the next couple of days. I'll be participating in a conference at Duke on "rethinking international relations theory."
LET THE CLIMBDOWN BEGIN: The
LET THE CLIMBDOWN BEGIN: The International Herald Tribune reports the first effort by Chirac to back away from his tantrum:
"Chirac’s spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, said by telephone from Paris that France was committed to the enlargement of the European Union and wanted to 'avoid any trouble on the road’ to the historic admission of former Soviet-bloc countries.
Colonna retreated from Chirac’s threat to delay the entry of at least two candidates for membership, Bulgaria and Romania, because of their pro-American leanings. ‘We want the enlargement to be a success,’ she added.
France would ‘certainly not’ delay approval of next year’s scheduled admission of 10 new countries, Colonna said."
If you read the story, however, it's clear that Tony Blair will milk this for all it's worth. Bully for him.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO "HMMM....": Given South Korea's extreme reluctance to confront North Korea, willingness to ignore recent North Korean provocations, and borderline-delusional faith in Pyongyang's ability to reform, I'd been trying to figure out what the South Korean position was on Iraq. Somewhat to my surprise, this Reuters report suggests they are staunchly pro-U.S.:
"The United States and Britain picked up support for a tough position against Iraq among U.N. members on Wednesday, although a substantial majority in a two-day debate opposed an invasion of Iraq....
on Wednesday, Macedonia, Albania, Uzbekistan, Iceland, Serbia and Montenegro, Latvia, Nicaragua and South Korea, sharply criticized Iraq and said it had to comply or face tough action."
I wonder if this is a simple case of NIMBY politics, or if the South Koreans genuinely believe that Iraq is flouting the nonproliferation regime but North Korea is not. Marcus Noland makes a decent case that it's NIMBY.
1983 ALL OVER AGAIN: Christopher
1983 ALL OVER AGAIN: Christopher Buckley makes the comparison between last weekend's antiwar protests and the nuclear freeze movement of the early 1980's. Go check it out.
Power laws and blogging
For my day job, I've recently had to read some stuff on power law distributions. Now I find it applies to blogging as well (Link via Hit & Run). Read the whole article, but the basic point is relatively intuitive:
French foreign policy is even dumber than I thought
The quick and overwhelmingly hostile reaction (UPDATE: the BBC has a nice roundup of editorial reaction in New Europe) to Chirac's idiotic comments about central/eastern European countries convinced me that the French government would apologize or downplay the remarks as quickly as possible, probably with some statement explaining that the depth of his love for peace prompted him to make such intemperate remarks. This would be preceded or followed by soothing words from key cabinet officials.
Boy was I wrong. Today, the French Defense Minister upped the ante, according to the Daily Telegraph. Here are her -- pardon the pun -- galling comments:
My favorite part of the article is this priceless graf:
This German report makes her comments sound more Orwellian, if possible:
I must give the Chirac government credit -- it's not easy to make Donald Rumsfeld look diplomatic and Leonid Brezhnev look polite. The French managed it in one fit of temper.
UPDATE: Little noticed in the wake of Chirac's comments has been the tacit support he's received from the chief Eurocrat. According to this report, "But he [Chirac] won some support from European Commission President Romano Prodi, who said the candidates had to realize the EU was a political union and not just an economic club, but he was sure they would get used to it." Of course, how foolish of those candidate countries to believe that a political union meant states would actually debate policy disputes! To be fair, other EU officials who oppose the U.S. position on Iraq have distanced themselves from Chirac's outburst, as this report makes clear:
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
WHAT HE SAID: I might
"The poster child for America’s self-defeating machismo is Donald Rumsfeld. He brings to mind another famously impolitic American diplomat, John Foster Dulles. Dulles, Winston Churchill once remarked, 'is the only bull I’ve seen who brings his china shop with him.'
THE ATTENTION SPAN OF GREAT
THE ATTENTION SPAN OF GREAT POWERS: One of the critiques of the administration's Iraq policy is that going to war will divert scarce resources from the ongoing war against terrorism. I've said before this is a bogus argument, because a) U.S. policy on how to combat terrorism is pretty much set; b) seems to be generating successes, and; c) there are ample resources for both operations. To quote myself, "Gee, I thought great powers were capable of doing more than one thing at a time. That's why they're called great powers."
Upon reflection, I'd like to add one caveat to that statement. The danger with the administration's preoccupation with Iraq -- and the transatlantic fallout it creates -- is that the foreign policy principals (Bush, Rice, Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld) are devoting so much time to the diplomatic and military preparations vis-à-vis Iraq that they have no time to formulate policy responses to other crises, such as North Korea. Great powers can implement different policies in different parts of the globe because they have copious material resources. However, even great powers have difficulty crafting different policies at the same time. The same people need to approve all of these policy responses, and there are only so many hours in the day.
Therefore, one significant cost to the continued confrontation over Iraq is that the administration will, consciously or not, deal with other policy problems with an unintended posture of benign neglect. Both Andrew Sullivan and Brad Delong make this argument with regard to fiscal policy. More acute is the difficulty the administration is having juggling foreign policy crises.
Michael Gordon's NYT-online essay does a nice job of capturing this problem. The key grafs:
"Bush administration officials have been arguing that ousting the Saddam Hussein regime will serve as an object lesson of what can happen to a rogue nation that seeks weapons of mass destruction. But the North Korean nuclear breakout is sending the opposite signal to the W.M.D wannabees: if a regime does not want to be pressured by the sole remaining superpower or pushed around by a powerful neighbor, it should go nuclear as secretly and quickly as it can.....
But if the Bush administration has a better idea to stop North Korea from churning out more plutonium, it has yet to share it. When lawmakers asked Mr. Tenet how the administration would respond if Pyongyang reprocessed plutonium, he said the matter was still under discussion. The administration, it seems, does not have a policy; it has a policy review. With its eye on Iraq, the administration has also sought to downplay the North Korea issue and dispel the sense of crisis." (My bold italics)
If you want to ignore the New York Times, try ignoring Brent Scowcroft:
"We cannot afford to defer this issue. Time is on North Korea's side; each day increases North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities, enhancing its military strength and bargaining leverage -- while narrowing our options to respond. The North Korean regime will ultimately follow other dictatorships into oblivion, but this will not happen soon enough to spare us the terrible consequences of its acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, if North Korea builds up its nuclear arsenal while it sees the United States diverted by Iraq, it may enhance its ability to survive that much longer and inflict that much more harm." (my bold italics)
Critics would argue that this is exactly why the administration should not invade Iraq. I'd counter that such a course of action would actually keep Iraq on the front-burner indefinitely, since the alternative of containment requires constant high-level effort to ensure against backsliding by the UN Security Council. Attacking Iraq sooner rather than later removes the issue from the principals' table, allowing them to focus on the rest of the world.
But Bush's critics are correct to point out that the longer Iraq stays in the headlines, the more that other crises will fester from the lack of attention.
AN ODD INTERVIEW: David Adesnik
AN ODD INTERVIEW: David Adesnik over at OxBlog highlights something that's been bothering me as well -- the recent Sunday NYT Magazine interview with Robert Kagan. More than a third of the questions dealt with whether Kagan was a "chicken hawk." What's weird about this is Kagan's answer to the first question on this point:
"Did you serve in the military?
I was 14 when the Vietnam War ended, and I didn't choose the military as my career path."
That really should have ended the questioning on this topic, but the interviewer persisted for three more questions.
I vehemently disagree with the chicken hawk logic, but I can sort of understand the point being made about elites avoiding military service during Vietnam. The thing is, once the military switched to an all-volunteer force, the question becomes somewhat moot -- either you chose the military as a career or you did not. Kagan did nothing dishonorable or duplicitous -- and yet he has to explain why we shouldn't be living in a Starship Troopers-kind of society.
WHAT'S UP IN INDONESIA?: As
WHAT'S UP IN INDONESIA?: As part of my informal series of updates about countries that are too big to fail, here's the latest on Indonesia. Both this New York Times article and this Financial Times op-ed indicate that the country has taken aggressive and productive steps to eliminate terrorism. The Times reports:
"After denying there was a terrorist threat here and calling travel warnings alarmist, the Indonesian police in recent months have rounded up more than two dozen suspected terrorists, including several men thought to be senior Qaeda operatives in Southeast Asia. The police have also increased security at the American Embassy and at residences of American diplomats, as the United States has been demanding.
'Progress on every one of our benchmarks has been extraordinary,' the American ambassador, Ralph L. Boyce, said in a letter last week to American diplomats.
While Americans at home have been warned to buy duct tape and bottled water to prepare for terrorist attacks, Mr. Boyce wrote that 'there has been no new credible threat information against the official American community' in Indonesia for nearly two months."
The FT essay concurs:
"In spite of a weak leadership, conflict in its regions and economic, political and social crises, Indonesia has, since the October 12 Bali bombing, moved firmly against both regional and local terrorists. With international support, its police force has caught almost all of the Jemaah Islamiah members responsible for terrorist acts carried out over the past three years. In doing so it has gained self-respect and public confidence, and is now going after Indonesia's other terrorist groups, forcing them on to the defensive.
Debilitating local conflicts have been overcome in central Kalimantan, south Sulawesi (Poso) and the Moluccas. In Aceh, which has endured a separatist insurgency for the past 20 years, a road map for peace has been agreed between the government and the rebels with the assistance of the Henri Dunant Centre in Geneva. This outlines a process for ending hostilities and allowing the rebels to participate in the political process. And at last Jakarta is granting greater autonomy to Papua, after long years of neglect.
On the economic front, too, the indicators have improved: inflation - 10 per cent in 2002 - is under control; growth is 3.5 per cent (although still not adequate to absorb 2m people entering the workforce each year); the currency has stabilised; and the fiscal deficit is manageable."
This essay also acknowledges the country's persistent problems -- corruption in particular. But this is still an improving picture.
More French blowback
First they get outmaneuvered on NATO defending Turkey.
Then, Chirac has to suffer the indignity of other European leaders calling him on France's hypocrisy.
Then Chirac gets mad and says something stupid about EU candidate members from central and eastern Europe.
This produces the expected reaction from those countries.
Remember, though, according to Josh Marshall, any transatlantic rift is the fault of the Bush administration. [C'mon, you're going to let the administration off the hook completely?--ed. No, Marshall is correct about Donald Rumsfeld, whose plan for punishing 'Old Europe' sounds like it was devised by a 12-year old in the middle of a temper tantrum.]
UPDATE: Even the International Herald Tribune thinks Chirac went too far.
THAT OXFORD CABAL: OxBlog's David
THAT OXFORD CABAL: OxBlog's David Adesnik and Josh Chafetz have an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal about the student democracy movement. The first line of their piece sounds vaguely familiar, though.
How dare they borrow from my...er... borrowing of Marx.
SURVEY SAYS: Funny.
SURVEY SAYS: Funny.
Monday, February 17, 2003
WHY I WILL NOT BLOG
WHY I WILL NOT BLOG ABOUT THE PROTESTS: Last week I tried to explain why I wouldn't bother to rebut anti-war protestors. By this I do NOT mean reasoned critiques that acknowledge the costs and benefits of inaction, but arguments along the lines of "NO BLOOD FOR OIL!" or "PEACE IN OUR TIME!"
The protests this past weekend, which were pretty sizeable, does nothing to change that. However, the sentiments in Stephen Pollard's Times essay convey something close to my visceral reaction, so here's that link.
UPDATE: This peace blog that Glenn Reynolds links to is either an intentional or unintentional parody of the antiwar movement. If it's intentional, it's too smarmy and obvious to be funny; if it's unintentional, then it's both hilarious and appalling at the same time.
ANOTHER UPDATE: It always freaks me out a little when someone else independently has the exact same response to an essay as I.
GREGG EASTERBROOK IS NOW THIS
GREGG EASTERBROOK IS NOW THIS BLOG'S OFFICIAL SECRETARY OF SANITY: Easterbrook's Week in Review essay on the the genuine and overblown threats to U.S. soil should be required reading for both Homeland Security officials and television news producers. Go read it. Now. I'll wait....
(Sound of me idly whistling).
Don't you feel calmer now? There are still scary things that could happen, but this is the sort of message we need from a Homeland Security Director. I would suggest that Easterbrook take a government position, but that would mean he would have to give up his most important job, which is being ESPN's Tuesday Morning Quarterback during football season.
Surely, a wise government could devise a position for Mr. Easterbrook for the other eight months of the year, n'est pas?
What's up in Pakistan?
Generally, the media picture of Pakistan is a country ready to collapse into an orgy of Islamic fundamentalism. So its worthwhile to point out contradictory evidence, as this Washington Post article highlights. The key paragraphs:
The decline of hawala, given prior assessments that such a decline would be next to impossible, is also noteworthy.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
This InstaPundit-linked story suggests the extent to which France may be suffering some blowback from its obstructionist policy on Iraq. In a delicious irony, France's aversion to genuine multilateralism is about to sabotage its faux multilateralism:
I suspect Eastern Europe's governments have fresh memories of the last time the EU tried to pressure them to oppose the U.S. (to be fair, Washington applied pressure on them as well).
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg has a nice piece in the Los Angeles Times (link via OxBlog) about the French that makes some of these points [But it also uses that meme you don't like--ed. Yes, but his own magazine's blog agrees with me.] The best grafs:
Indeed, there's almost no criticism of the United States that doesn't apply with greater or equal force to France. The French are certainly willing to trade blood for oil, just so long as it's not their own. And if it's true to say that America helped 'create' Hussein, it's doubly accurate to say it of the country that sold him a nuclear reactor. The only difference between the two countries is that America is eager to correct its mistakes while France is entirely at peace with letting Hussein continue murdering and terrorizing his subjects and neighbors.
It's true, the phrase 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' isn't particularly accurate here. The French aren't being cowards: They're more like cheese-eating appeasement monkeys, willing to negotiate with evil for short-term advantage. If that makes them heroes to the antiwar movement, so be it. But it doesn't make them principled -- and it certainly doesn't make them our friends.
Friday, February 14, 2003
When environmentalists pretend they're economists
When journalists have to state what the effects of global warming will be in the future, they rely on the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC describes itself as follows:
In other words, the IPCC is supposed to be a nonpartisan group of experts. They were the ones who concluded in January 2001, based on a plethora of different projections, that "globally averaged mean surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C over the period 1990 to 2100.” Which of course leads to mass media outlets blaring "WORLD TEMPERATURES WILL INCREASE BY UP TO SIX DEGREES BY 2100"
Now it turns out that even the optimistic projections could be too pessimistic. The Economist reports that two distinguished statisticians (Ian Castles, former President of the International Association of Official Statistics, and David Henderson, formerly the OECD's chief economist) have judged the IPCC report to be "technically unsound," which is social-sciencese for "your methodology sucks eggs."
1) They used incorrect exchange rates. In calculating the relative distribution and growth of global output, the IPCC relied on market exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity (PPP) rates. Now, in doing this, the IPCC drastically underestimated the actual size of developing country economies by a factor of three.
Why does this matter? By underestimating third world GDP, the panel vastly overestimated the energy intensity of these economies. Since these economies are in fact more efficient -- three to four times more efficient -- than estimated, they generate CO2 emissions at a much lower rate than the IPCC thinks. To quote the statisticians involved, "The practice of using [market] exchange rate conversion is especially inappropriate in relation to projections of physical phenomena such as emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols." This is because PPP rates better reflect local economic conditions, and therefore are a better base from which to craft predictions about increases in production facilities and infrastructure.
2) The projections vastly overestimate developing country growth. The IPCC vastly overestimated past growth rates and in their extrapolation to the future rely on wildly unrealistic growth figures for the next century. In the IPCC's most environment-friendly scenario, i.e., the one with the lowest economic growth:
One of the statisticians notes that, "The total output of goods and services in South Africa in 2100, according to these downscaled [IPCC] ... scenario projections, will be comparable to that of the entire world in 1990."
To quote South Park, "Dude, that's some pretty f@#&ed-up s*@% there."
3) The IPCC projections for the last ten years can be shown to overestimate carbon dioxide emissions by a factor of two. I'll just quote one of the documents here:
Of course, I'm sure France will simply argue that since the IPCC report is in substantial compliance with known econometric techniques, it's fine the way it is. For the rest of us, it appears that the primary estimates for global warming have been grossly exaggerated.
A DAMN FUNNY VALENTINE: I
A DAMN FUNNY VALENTINE: I was contemplating posting something mushy about the day. It hold some actual significance for me, as seven years ago today I proposed to my now-wife. Her first response was "When did you get the ring?", flummoxed that I could pull off anything on this scale without her knowing about it. She said yes soon afterwards. [You popped the question on Valentine's Day? That's so... trite--ed. That wasn't my original intention. Why it turned out that way is a long story that I have no intention of spilling on the Internet. Sorry].
So anyway, I was thinking of posting something mushy, when I read Kieran Healy's blog-ode to his (mighty fine) sweetie, and had to concede that there was no way it could be topped with conventional measures. Go check it out.
THE CHALLENGE TO AL QAEDA:
THE CHALLENGE TO AL QAEDA: All of the recent Al Qaeda--"bin Laden" pronouncements seem to be getting Old Media into a very jittery state. And it's doing wonders for America's hardware stores and duct tape sector.
It's possible/probable that Al Qaeda has already planned some sort of response to the start of an Iraqi attack. The question is, can they pull off a big attack, if not on a 9/11 scale, then something like Bali? I ask the question not because of any morbid curiosity, but because an attack on Iraq throws the gauntlet down for Al Qaeda, and unless they respond quickly, they will look enfeebled and irrelevant.
The fact is, it's extremely difficult to measure success in the war on terror. A stretch of months without a bombing could be due to improved counterterror tactics or because Al Qaeda is biding its time. However, these pronouncements, combined with the likelihood of war with Iraq, combined with skeptics claiming that such an attack will weaken our war on terror, provides what social scientists call a "crucial case" in testing the disparate hypotheses. Three possibilities:
1) No attack takes place during the war or its immediate aftermath -- this would support Bush's SOTU contention that we are winning the global war on terror.
2) A big attack takes place, but not on U.S. soil -- this would support the contention that homeland defense measures have had an appreciable effect in preventing Al Qaeda from repeating a 9/11 attack. However, it would partially undercut the contention that Al Qaeda's strength is waning.
3) Coordinated attacks take place, but not on U.S. soil. Same message as above regarding homeland defense, but a clear refutation of the "weakening Al Qaeda" hypothesis.
4) A big attack takes place on U.S. soil -- this would support critics' contentions about the war on Iraq triggering such attacks, as well as raise some disturbing questions about the quality of homeland defense. It would certainly demonstrate Al Qaeda's potency.
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Is American soft Power on the wane?
Saying that the U.S. is the global hegemon is obvious. One obvious source of that hegemony is our military might, but there are others, as Josef Joffe pointed out a few years ago:
That jibes with this definition of soft power as well.
Now, many are fretting that as the U.S. increases its exercise of hard power -- you know, the whole war on terrorism and all that kerfuffle over Iraq -- that our soft power will decline, just because of the global resentment such actions create.
Charles Paul Freund and Shekhar Kapur also argue that U.S. soft power is on the wane, but for different reasons. They argue that, contra Benjamin Barber, that demand for indigenous culture is increasing, making U.S. exports, like Hollywood films, less compelling. Kapur (who was the director of Elizabeth) concludes:
Now is normally the time in my posts where I weigh in on whether these claims are true of not. In this case, however, I will confess that I'm just not sure. I think the above arguments are exaggerations, in part because the U.S. economy remains so dynamic compared to our competitors, and because just as broadcast networks remain relevant in a world of disparate cable channels, American culture will remain relevant in a multiculti world. But I can't deny they've got some good arguments. And I automatically tend to sympathize with any argument that proves that Jihad vs. McWorld is a load of dingo's kidneys.
WILL IRAQ DESTROY THE EUROPEAN
WILL IRAQ DESTROY THE EUROPEAN UNION?: Josh Marshall has been pretty consistent in blaming the U.S. for the current fraying of transatlantic ties, specifically NATO. [Doesn't Marshall refer to non-European areas as well?--ed. Yes, but that's not what this post is about.] I've written that the U.S. could have been more tactful in their dealings with France and Germany, but Marshall has to face facts -- the current fracas is largely a result of Franco-German bullying and blundering, not U.S. bellicosity.
Critics of the U.S. posture are forgetting that the current split among European countries is not just about Iraq, but the future of the European Union. France and Germany have tried to restore their co-leadership of the EU. They've blocked agricultural reforms, propsed reforms to the European Commission that would weaken the influence of small republics, and generally been prancing around convinced that their bilateral comity would cause the rest of Europe to march behind them.
Well, they screwed up. As the Economist points out, "The [pro-U.S.] gang of eight have, quite deliberately, undermined the idea that the Franco-German couple can continue to set the EU's agenda." Recall Bill Safire's description of the genesis of the gang of eight: "The draft document was then circulated by the Europeans among other leaders thought to be (1) critical of the Franco-German proposal to assert dominance in the European Commission; (2) genuinely worried about their nations' exposure to weapons of mass destruction being developed by Saddam; and (3) eager to express solidarity with the United States, which three times in the past century had saved them from tyrannous takeover." The (now) 18 European countries are sympathetic to the U.S. position on Iraq, but they are most decidedly opposed to the French and Germans trying to speak for them.
Marshall's railing about the fraying of NATO, but neglects to point out that this isn't a case of the U.S. vs. France, Germany, and Belgium -- It's the other fifteen NATO members vs. France, Germany and Belgium. No wonder a German analyst was paraphrased in the New York Times stating, "the debate over Iraq has left in shambles Europe's own supposedly growing unity on the most basic matters of foreign policy and defense."
Now, according to the FT, these intra-European divisions are threatening the EU as well:
"there is a growing sense of foreboding in European capitals that the summit could turn into a showcase of EU division and disharmony.
Romano Prodi, European Commission president, warned that the "total lack of a European common foreign policy" was a disaster in the making.
'If Europe fails to pull together, all our nation states will disappear from the world scene,' he told the European parliament in Strasbourg. 'Unless Europe speaks with a single voice, it will be impossible to continue working closely with the US on a longstanding basis while retaining our dignity.'"
Read the FT article -- there's some good stuff in there about how France, Germany and Belgium are blocking the participation of Eastern European candidate members precisely because of their pro-American views.
The U.S. has not been blameless in recent transatlantic tiffs, but Marshall makes a mistake in apportioning most of the blame on the Bush administration. France and Germany started this latest row, and they now stand to lose the most if these disputes continue.
THE ENIGMA THAT IS JAPAN:
THE ENIGMA THAT IS JAPAN: No one disputes that Japan has had thirteen years of economic stagnation since the 1980's property bubble burst. A key source of Japan's malaise has been its inability to clear up it's mostly insolvent banking sector. There is no doubt that such a step would be politically painful, which is why there's been such an unsatisfactory status quo.
What's weird about this is while Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi has essentially given up tackling the economic problem, he has been willing to expend political capital to alter Japan's status quo on foreign policy, as this Chicago Tribune story makes clear:
"Yearning to support the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq and feeling threatened by North Korea, Japan is stretching and challenging the meaning of its constitutional vow to renounce war forever so its forces might participate more actively in multinational military missions.
In the first significant breakthrough, a Japanese destroyer is cruising the Indian Ocean in support of the war on terrorism. In another, Japan's foreign minister has suggested allowing Japanese troops to join future United Nations peacekeeping missions.
For any other nation these would seem very modest actions. But for Japan to even suggest using the threat of force -- particularly if it conjures up images of Japanese soldiers patrolling foreign soil, as the foreign minister's suggestion does -- is extraordinarily sensitive because of the constitutional restraints and because memories of Japan's past aggressions are still raw in other Asian nations, such as South Korea and China."
Why would Koizumi try to dislodge a foreign policy status quo with formidable legal barriers while letting sleeping economic dogs lie? One answer is that it's always easier for an executive to deal with foreign policy issues than domestic economic ones. An extension of that answer is that if Koizumi can't or won't get any political credit for fixing the economy, at least he'll receive a boost from making Japan a more active player in world politics.
Assignment to readers: compare the Bush administration to the Koizumi government. Is the current administration:
UPDATE: Here's more proof that the Japanese are serious about changing their foreign policy doctrine.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
LITMUS TESTS FOR EVERYONE!: Both
"A panel of independent experts ruled that the Iraqi missiles could fly beyond the permitted 150km range and Dr Blix will declare the al-Samoud 2 missile a proscribed programme.... Before making a final decision on whether the missiles contravened UN rules, Dr Blix convened a meeting of outside missile experts from Britain, China, France, Ukraine, Germany and the US on Monday and Tuesday. Diplomatic sources said that those experts determined that the al-Samoud 2 exceeded the 150km range, but that the capability of the al-Fatah remained an 'open question'.
The experts also judged Iraq to be in violation of UN rules for repairing banned casting chambers for making illegal missiles and for building a new test stand that can test missile engines five times above the permitted thrust."
The NYT report also has some good stuff on the machinations going on at the UN, including France, Russia, and China's decision to have Friday's meeting be an open session, which is rankling even their sympathizers on the Security Council.
Now, if the reports are true, there are going to be some tough litmus tests for both anti-U.S. coalition at the Security Council, as well as Iraq:
FOR FRANCE RUSSIA, AND GERMANY: Their immediate fall-back defense will be that Blix's report is not evidence of material breach, but rather that the inspections are working, since the discovery came from some of the new information contained in Iraq's December 2002 report (never mind that Powell's speech proved otherwise). However, will even these countries will have to concede that unless Iraq hand over the banned weapons, they must be declared in material breach? If yes, then the hot potato shifts to Iraq; if no, then these countries will win the Best Foreign Policy Self-Immolation Award for 2003. (UPDATE: The Russian rsponse is to claim that the violation is a technicality, but I don't think that's going to fly).
FOR IRAQ: The UN is going to ask them to hand over the weapons. And here is where the Rumsfeldian rhetoric will pay dividends -- there is no chance they will comply. Hussein is probably convinced at this point that Bush will invade no matter what the Security Council decides, so why fight with only one arm? The only possible gambit they could employ would be a quid pro quo offer of handing over weapons in exchange for a general withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. That, however, is not unconditional compliance, and probably won't fly.
FOR THE UNITED STATES: Can Negroponte and Powell avoid looking smug when they watch the aforementioned countries try to squirm their way out of these logical traps?
AMUSING DIVERSIONS OF THE DAY:
AMUSING DIVERSIONS OF THE DAY: Patrick Ruffini has a pretty funny sketch of a West Wing-style show written from a Republican perspective. The Brothers Judd has a funny (if slightly unfair) exploration of Tom Friedman vs. Tom Friedman. And The Onion has a very funny story about North Korea's frustrations with the U.S.
WHO THE HELL IS DANIEL W. DREZNER?
A brief introduction, in the form of a Q&A:
Q: Who are you?
A: I’m an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago. I’ve previously taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Donetsk Technical University in the Republic of Ukraine for Civic Education Project. I’ve also served as an international economist in the Treasury Department, a research consultant for the RAND corporation, and as an unpaid foreign policy advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign (they didn’t need the help).
I’m the editor of Locating the Proper Authorities: The Interaction of Domestic and International Institutions (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003), and the author of The Sanctions Paradox: Economic Statecraft and International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 1999). I’ve written a fair number of articles in both policy and scholarly journals. I’m in the middle of a book-length project on globalization and global governance, under advance contract from Princeton University Press. I have a B.A. from Williams College, an M.A. in economics and a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University. I’ve received fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard University. I'm a monthly contributor to The New Republic Online, and have also published essays in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New York Times, Slate, Tech Central Station, and the Wall Street Journal. This weblog has been in existence since September 2002.
Q: What do you know?
A: I can claim some genuine expertise on the utility of economic statecraft, the political economy of globalization, U.S. foreign policy, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, as my wife is fond of pointing out, this narrow range of expertise does not prevent me from discussing with false confidence everything else under the sun.
Q: What’s your political affiliation?
A: I’m a small-l libertarian Republican who studies international relations, which means I’m frequently conflicted between my laissez-faire instincts and my clear-eyed recognition that there is no substitute for nation-states in world politics. Just keep reading the blog, you'll get a pretty good sense of what I believe.
Q: You don’t have tenure – why are you wasting valuable hours blogging instead of writing peer-reviewed academic articles?
A: I will admit to some apprehension about this perceived tradeoff. However, blogging and academic scholarship are like apples and oranges. I love the academic side of my job, i.e., the researching and writing about international relations theory. But I’m also a policy wonk. And since the New York Times op-ed page mysteriously refuses to solicit my views, the blog lets me scratch that itch.
Q: What do you mean by wonk? How much of a policy geek are you?
A: I wrote my first op-ed -- about the Reagan Doctrine -- for the Hartford Courant when I was 17 years old. I’m pretty damn geeky. Of course, the University of Chicago does pride itself on being a magnet for people like me.
Q: I want to learn more about international relations in today’s world; what should I be reading?
A: Go to my book recommendations page and find out!!
Q: Isn’t it pretentious to have your middle initial in the byline for all of your publications?
A: The first time I ever published an article, my mother complained about the absence of my middle initial in the byline. Between looking pretentious and getting Mom off my back, it was an easy call. [UPDATE: My mother, after reading this, e-mailed to say:
Q: I’ve perused your blog, and I’m noticing an annoying editor guy pops up on occasion. What’s the deal? Are you schizophrenic?
A: This is a tic I’ve shamelessly borrowed from Mickey Kaus. I find it useful as a way of dealing with counterarguments, as well as the occasional humorous aside [So that’s all I am to you? An outlet for cheap laughs?—ed. Go bug Mickey for a while.]
Q: Why do you have such a God-awful picture on your department’s web site?
A: It was a bad hair/skin day and I’m too lazy to replace it. By the way, this is my standard response whenever I'm asked why I haven't done something. The good news is that I have a slightly better picture on my main web site.
Q: I still want to know more.
A: Then you clearly have too much time on your hands. However, feel free to check out the rest of my web site, which includes my academic cv and some more biographical material. Also, go check out my answers to Crescat Sententia's Twenty Questions.
IT WAS ME!! IN THE
IT WAS ME!! IN THE OFFICE!! WITH THE COMPUTER!!: Last month, Jacob Levy announced his monthly New Republic on-line gig with the enigmatic statement that, "Another scholar-blogger will be writing with the same frequency, offset by two weeks; but I'll let him or her reveal his or her identity in due course." That mystery must have spawned... minutes of fevered speculation in the Blogosphere. Well, the mask must come off -- c'est moi!!
My first New Republic column is on why the Bush administration is actually more multilateralist than commonly perceived, and why they get no credit for it. I spread the blame around. Enjoy!!
DOES GLOBALIZATION THREATEN THE U.S.?:
DOES GLOBALIZATION THREATEN THE U.S.?: That's the message of this Financial Times story:
"The heads of the main US intelligence agencies warned on Tuesday that globalisation, which has been the driving force behind the expansion of the world economy, has become a serious threat to US security."
Sounds serious. A closer read, however, suggests that the problem is not globalization per se, but the fact that it punishes societies not receptive to the free exchange of good and ideas:
"George Tenet, CIA director, said that globalisation had been 'a profoundly disruptive force for governments to manage'. Arab governments, in particular, he said 'are feeling many of globalisation's stresses, especially on the cultural front, without reaping the economic benefits'."
This mirrors a theme of this blog, which is that a lack of globalization is radicalizing Middle Eastern societies.
Beyond that, the article (which recounts U.S. Congressional testimony) stresses the dangers of WMD proliferation, which actually has little to do with globalization.
On the whole, a misleading story. [So you think globalization never threatens U.S. security?--ed. No, any opening of borders lets some bad in with the good. However, Stephen Flynn has argued in multiple fora that its possible to combine homeland defense with pro-globalization policies.]
DEBATE OF THE DAY: Josh
DEBATE OF THE DAY: Josh Marshall blames the Americans for wrecking Western multilateralism. Josef Joffe thinks the Germans are committing foreign policy suicide, and Robert Lane Greene believes the French, because they are better off in a multilateralist world, will eventually modify their position. I link -- you decide. [But shouldn't you also post your own thoughts about this?--ed. Wait an hour or two.]
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
LAST THOUGHTS ON THE ANTI-WAR
LAST THOUGHTS ON THE ANTI-WAR PROTESTORS: David Corn has the goods on why Michael Lerner has been banned from speaking at this weekend's anti-war protest in San Francisco. It has to do with one of the protest's organizers, "ANSWER, an outfit run by members of the Workers World Party, for using antiwar demonstrations to put forward what he considers to be anti-Israel propaganda." Corn goes on to observe that, "The WWPers in control of ANSWER are socialists who call for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, who support Slobodan Milosevic and Kim Jong Il, who oppose UN inspections in Iraq (claiming they are part of the planning for an invasion aimed at gaining control of Iraq's oil fields), and who urge smashing Zionism."
A question to antiwar protestors: if the American Nazi Party or the Ku Klux Klan helped organize (not just participate, mind you -- take an active role in preparing) an antiwar protest, would the desired end justify participation? If the answer is no, how is ANSWER any better?
Actually, though, what intrigued me about Corn's post was this Lerner quote: "There are good reasons to oppose the war and Saddam. Still, it feels that we are being manipulated when subjected to mindless speeches and slogans whose knee-jerk anti-imperialism rarely articulates the deep reasons we should oppose corporate globalization."
Hoow do the "deep reasons we should oppose corporate globalization" have anything to do with the Iraq question? Since most corporations would probably opposes an attack on Iraq (because of the introduction of business uncertainty its creating), is Lerner's statement coherent in any way?
I agree with this guy: the protestors' message is so off the charts it actually aids the attack Iraq argument. I can't take the protestors' arguments seriously anymore. And because of that, there's little point in blogging about them.
"The most painful thing has been watching other antiwar groups make unprincipled compromises with A.N.S.W.E.R. As a result, there is support on the left for self-determination for every group in the world except the Jewish people. Fellow progressive Jews, some anxious to speak at these rallies, have urged me to keep quiet about anti-Semitism on the left. After all, they say, stopping the war against Iraq is so much more important.
Why should we have to choose? Tikkun will be bringing thousands of our supporters to the demonstration Sunday. But just as we fought against the sexism and homophobia that once infected the left, we will challenge anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing on the left, even as we say "no" to a war with Iraq."
DEFENDING OLD EUROPE
I know I've had some fun at "Old Europe's" expense, but there's a meme making its way across the Blogosphere about these countries that crosses the line. The most recent version I've seen is this Steve Dunleavy op-ed in the New York Post that Glenn Reynolds linked to yesterday. Here's the final sentence of that article:
"It chills the bone when the French government and so many of its citizens steadfastly try to undermine Bush, even sneer at him, when so many of them were saved by the nation he leads - with the greatest band of brothers on earth."
Now, this boils down to the notion of indebtedness -- that because the U.S. sacrificed to liberate France during two World Wars, they owe us some gratitude now. The same could be said of Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc.
Let's be blunt -- this is a bullshit argument. First of all, what's the statute of limitations on such gratitude? Surely we Americans owe a debt to France for their invaluable assistance during the Revolutionary War -- not to mention the Louisiana Purchase. How much does this place us in France's debt? [But that was more than 200 years ago--ed. World War Two was more than a half-century ago, and an overwhelming majority of Americans and French have no personal memory of that time period. History is history.]
Second, how does one weigh the relative weight of such sacrifices? Yes, many Americans of the Greatest Generation gave their lives, but a hell of a lot more Russians shed their blood in the same conflict. Does this mean France owes a greater debt to Russia than the United States? [But Russia just stood by when Hitler overran France--ed. So did we. So, for that matter, did most French].
Finally, exactly why did we liberate France -- and Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc. -- in the first place? The simplest, noblest answer you can give is that we were fighting tyranny in the name of democracy. One can carp about the inconsistent, hypocritical attitudes of Old Europe, but it's impossible to deny that their governments' positions genuinely reflect public sentiments in those countries. In other words, they are repaying the debt they owe to us -- by governing themselves in a democratic manner. It's a crying shame they don't want to give the Iraqis the same option, but sometimes democracies make wrong decisions.
Don't tell me a country owes us anything for what we did more than a half-century ago -- it's a stupid, emotive argument that is devoid of any genuine substance.
UPDATE: I just received the following e-mail from a World War Two ETO vet, who puts it more succinctly than I: "Those crosses on the front page of the NY Post mark the graves of more guys from my old squadron than I care to remember. They would roll in their graves if they knew that Dunleavy claims they died for France. Good work."
FORGET INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS -- TIME
FORGET INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS -- TIME TO DISH ABOUT THE OSCARS: The Academy award nominations are out. And, although I'm sure the Blogosphere will rage about Peter Jackson not getting a Best Director nomination for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I'm actually pleasantly surprised with most of the choices. A few carps:
Why the hell didn't Hugh Grant get a Best Actor nomination for About a Boy? [You gonna start ranting again about how comedic performances never get nominations--ed? I would, if it weren't for the fact that Nicolas Cage and Jack Nicholson did get nominations for such performances]
Where is Dennis Quaid's Best Supporting Actor nomination for Far from Heaven?
Why wasn't the best foreign movie of last year -- Monsoon Wedding -- not nominated for anything?
Finally, and most geekily, what the hell was the Academy thinking giving a Best Visual Effects nomination to Spiderman -- which was a good movie with laughable CGI effects -- while ignoring Minority Report, which only managed to develop the freshest vision of the future since Blade Runner?
OK, I got that out of my system. Back to regular blogging.
Monday, February 10, 2003
Cut Blix some slack
A lot of warbloggers carped about Hans Blix when he was appointed chief weapons inspector for the UN, because he headed the IAEA when it whiffed on detecting Iraqi violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ten years ago.
HMMM....PERHAPS ERIC ALTERMAN IS WRONG:
HMMM....PERHAPS ERIC ALTERMAN IS WRONG: A week ago, Alterman wrote a cover story for the Nation that argued Europeans do not dislike Americans -- they dislike the Bushies. I usually disagree with Alterman, but I though it was a cogent piece. And this Richard Bernstein piece in the New York Times would seem to buttress the point.
But then we have this poll:
"A majority of Germans believe the United States is a nation of warmongers and only six percent think President Bush is interested in keeping the peace, according to a survey published Monday....
"The survey found 57 percent agreed with the statement: 'The United States is a nation of warmongers.' (my bold italics)....
"The survey of 1,843 Germans found 93 percent believed Bush was ready to go to war in pursuit of his interests, while 80 percent said the United States wanted war to boost its power."
The poll question specifically asked Germans what they thought of Americans, not just the Bushies. Furthermore, that figure is probably understated, since the question is so provocatively phrased it probably caused some respondents who share the sentiment to back down.
(Depressing) food for thought.
UPDATE: A German-speaking reader who was able to access the original Financial Times Deutschland story e-mails: "the original report... phrases the statement as 'Die USA sind ein Kriegstreiber', 'the USA are a warmonger', so I don't think the NYT translation is accurate." Other German readers, don't be afraid to help out here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Another helpful German-speaker e-mails: "'Kriegstreiber' does not have the same emotional weight as 'warmonger', although it is probably the closest translation into a word that is actually used. A more literal translation would be 'conductor of war' or 'driver of war'. 'Monger' is a rather obscure term, surviving mainly in ironmonger and fishmonger, while 'Treiber' is very common, used among other things for software drivers. In other contexts, such as 'Haupttreiber' (prime mover), the connotation is completely positive."
You have nothing to lose but their chains
A (very liberal) paraphrase of the opening to the Communist Manifesto.
How can you join this spectre? If you're a college student, click over to OxBlog, where Josh Chafetz and David Adesnik are "arguing for an international student movement to coalesce around democracy promotion." Chapters have already opened at Yale, Brandeis, Columbia, and -- more nebulously -- Iran. Click here for the Oxford group's Statement of Principles. And remember:
"DEMOCRATIZERS OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!!!"
Sunday, February 9, 2003
SAME PLANET, DIFFERENT WORLDS: How
SAME PLANET, DIFFERENT WORLDS: How did the meeting between Iraqi officials and the UN inspectors go?
Inspectors See 'Change of Heart'; U.S. Says Progress Is Not Enough
"Weapons inspectors said today that they had seen "the beginning of a change of heart on the part of Iraq" on cooperating with the United Nations, but Bush administration officials dismissed the gestures as deceptions and said the Iraqis were desperately playing for time."
"BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 9 -- The top U.N. arms experts said tonight that they were unable to reach agreement with Saddam Hussein's government on several key weapons issues they had traveled here to resolve in a bid to build support for continuing inspections."
I just blog -- you decide.
NEW POLI SCI BLOGGER.... THE
NEW POLI SCI BLOGGER.... THE POOR BASTARD: As I enter month five of being a blogger, I am noticing that some of my professional colleagues have displayed increasing interest in the blog. Increasingly, I've been wondering whether more political science profs (not grad students) would start to break free of their paradigmatic shackles and start to blog.
It's begun. Henry Farrell at the University of Toronto has surreptitiously started a blog this week. Henry and I have some overlapping research interests regarding Internet governance. Reading his blog, it's safe to say we disagree about politics (as well as theories of Internet governance). But he's terribly smart and a good egg to boot, so check out his blog for yourself.
Henry, you're about to fall down the rabbit hole...
Saturday, February 8, 2003
DANGER!! PEACEKEEPER TRAP!!: If this
DANGER!! PEACEKEEPER TRAP!!: If this report is correct, Old Europe has figured out a last-ditch method of indefinitely delaying action against Iraq:
"Germany announced a new Franco-German initiative to try to avert military conflict after a magazine reported it involved sending thousands of U.N. peace-keeping troops to Iraq and trebling the number of arms inspectors."
Now, at first glance, this sounds like the "coercive inspections" idea that Jessica Tuchman Matthews and others devised back in September 2002. Which I thought was a good idea, then.
But Franco/German behavior over the past two weeks has been so... so... [reluctant to acknowledge reality?--ed. Thanks!!], that I think they have an ulterior motive. They want to use peacekeepers in Iraq the same way they wound up being used in Bosnia -- as an excuse to do nothing. Because British and French peacekeepers were on the ground, there was stiff European resistance to take any coercive action against Bosnian Serb forces. This (plus U.S. vacillation, to be sure) led to three years of dithering, before any constructive action was taken.
Another question: just which nationalities would comprise the proposed peacekeeping force?
Friday, February 7, 2003
I PROMISE NOT TO WEAR
I PROMISE NOT TO WEAR MY SEAT BELT, EITHER: Dear (Sir) Richard Branson,
As a professor of international relations, I find I must travel to Europe on occasion. I promise that if I should ever fly one of your airlines, I will swear profusely at the crew, try to smuggle passengers into the first class section, write God-awful music, and generally act like a horse's ass for the entire duration of the flight.
Daniel W. Drezner
P.S. I'm sure the BBC has waited decades to be able to run the headline: "LOVE MAKES PEACE WITH VIRGIN."
Clarifying the Zakaria critique
1) Kurtz says, "Drezner dismisses Zakaria's thesis as an essentially worthless idea". Not true. I said I thought Zakaria was wrong. Wrong ideas are often useful because of the effort required to refute or disprove them. Both Fukyama and Huntington might be wrong, for example, but the debates they inspired were certainly valuable in thinking about the future of international relations and U.S. foreign policy. This is how I feel about Zakaria.
2) My problem with Zakaria's preconditions for democracy are that they are sufficient but unnecessary conditions -- and he treats them as both necessary and sufficient. In other words, Zakaria is probably correct that countries with decentralized forms of commercial, political and religious authority will be stable constitutional democracies, but there are other ways this outcome can come about. The result is that Zakaria presents an overly stringent criteria for how stable democracies emerge, which produces an overly risk-averse policy of democracy promotion.
3) I agree with Kurtz that "Zakaria's warnings against democratizing optimism need to be taken very seriously indeed". I believe they will be, which is the reason I blogged about Zakaria's talk. However, my warnings against the democratizing pessimism that both Zakaria and Kurtz embrace also need to be taken seriously.
UPDATE: Noah Millman has some thoughts on the myriad paths of democratization.
MUST-READ FOR BLOGGERS: Kevin "CalPundit"
"A lot of reporters have for a long time read blogs — often ones run by their friends — as a sort of guilty pleasure. But I think just recently there's a new sense that news is being made there; opinions are being formed; stories are being broken that you don't hear about in other places. And so even your more buttoned-down reporters have started to take notice."
Read the whole thing.
REVISIONIST BULL@#$! AT THE GUARDIAN:
REVISIONIST BULL@#$! AT THE GUARDIAN: Andrew Sullivan links to a Jonathan Steele essay in today's Guardian on Europe's reaction to Iraq that is impressive in mixing equal amounts of perceptive realpolitik assessment and odious crap. The realpolitik part is pretty accurate:
"The crisis showed the EU not only has no common foreign policy among today's 15 members, but its chances of ever getting one when it is enlarged to 25 are virtually nil. The pursuit of a common foreign policy was always an illusion, and if the Rumsfeld/"gang of eight" double whammy have brought a dose of realism, so much the better. As long as there is no United States of Europe or a European Federation foreign policy, Europe will never be more than a series of 'coalitions of the willing' on whatever is the major issue of the day."
So far, so accurate. Then we get to the truly reprehensible part of the story -- his explanation for why Central and Eastern European states are siding with the United States on Iraq. Sullivan dismisses it, but I can't let it go, it's so offensive. Definitely worthy of a fisking:
"In 1989 there were those who thought these newly liberated countries would be bastions of new thinking. But the west was an attractive-looking club and they were anxious to join the winning side in the cold war."
What fools those Eastern Europeans were!! Wanting such petty things as freedom, democracy, and personal enrichment!
"While the EU insisted on a slow and complex process of economically painful adjustment, joining Nato was relatively easy and the US used a mix of fear, flattery and economic incentives to get them to sign up."
Yes, that's why these countries joined NATO -- the U.S. bullied them into it. The possible alternatives -- fear of Russian revanchism, desire for self-defense, German enthusiasm for expansion, a wish for these countries to cement their status as stable democracies -- are certainly not compelling.
The EU insists on complexity? Mon dieu! That turn of phrase is a nice way of obfuscating the real explanation for the slow process of EU expansion -- a fear of being flooded with cheap agricultural exports that would further imperil French farmers.
"After all, eastern Europe's elites had spent 40 years accommodating themselves to superior power."
Yeah, that Vaclav Havel is a real kiss-ass.
"Neither the reform movement in Czechoslovakia in 1968 nor Solidarity in Poland in 1981 challenged their countries' links with Moscow."
I'm pretty sure that's wrong -- at least with Czechoslovakia. If memory serves, right before the invasion, Dubcek visited other dissident Eastern European states (Romania and Yugoslavia) as a signal to Moscow. We all know Moscow's response.
"It was only when Mikhail Gorbachev told them in 1987 that they need not follow the Soviet lead that they began to break loose. It was therefore inevitable that after the USSR collapsed these countries would sense the new reality that Europe belongs to the US."
Gee, those "complex" western European policies like Ostpolitik should have convinced those elites that western Europeans never kowtow to power.
"The fact that ex-communist leaders such as Aleksander Kwasniewski, Gyula Horn and Ion Iliescu led the way is not a paradox so much as proof that the survival instinct usually trumps vision or principle."
As I pointed out before, the economic rewards of EU membership far outweigh the more nebulous benefits of siding with the U.S. on Iraq. And this statement certainly jeapordizes the smoothness of their accession. So don't say their actions are about survival -- risks are being taken here.
"The anti-Vietnam war movement which taught a generation of Europeans about the arrogance of US power passed eastern Europe by. Isolated inside the Soviet empire, and suspicious of Moscow's propaganda line even on the occasions when it was right, they did not notice that the US was also an imperial nation."
I'm sure that if those unenlightened citizens living under communism had heard about the U.S. opposing a communist dictatorship with force of arms elsewhere on the globe, they would have just filled the streets to protest. [You saying Vietnam was a good idea?--ed. No, but saying that Eastern Europeans living under communist domination would have opposed it is a pretty dumb-ass statement, neh?]
"The imminent threat of war in Iraq has raised the issue of independence from the US to the top of the agenda. During the cold war it was a question which dared not speak its name. Now it is in the open and whether they are old or new, big or small, European nations must face this old/new question in the coming days.."
So true, Jonathan. But not for the reasons you think.
Thursday, February 6, 2003
IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS --
IN PRAISE OF POLITICIANS -- AND PUNDITS: As a political scientist, I assume that politicians will act in a opportunistic fashion in order to get elected. However, my own DC experience confirms something that Brad Delong says here is 99% correct [Only 99%?--ed. I'm sorry, I just can't put Al Sharpton into this category]:
"But everybody who goes into politics for real--who runs for the Congress, or takes a senior job in the Executive Branch--is a patriot. There are other careers one can enter with a much higher probability of success that promise more in the way of fame, wealth, and the absence of boredom. Only a deep love-of-country can make someone become an Assistant Secretary of HHS or a Director of OIRA or a Representative from the area around Knoxville.
Nobody enters politics seeking to make their country poorer, weaker, and more miserable. Only patriots enter American politics."
P.S.: If you read the DeLong post, it's clear that he thinks pundits are a different breed: for Mickey Kaus, "policies are not real, but just a game, epater le liberaloisie and all that..." C'mon Brad, that's not fair. The probability of being a successful pundit is pretty low as well. Only a slightly lower percentage of policy analysts, pundits, and commentators go into it for fame or treasure. [What about blogs?--ed. Oh, yes, a successful blogger earns... there's just no dignified way to end that sentence.] And no one who reads Kaus can believe that he doesn't genuinely care about substantive issues, like welfare reform.
WHAT DOES ASIA THINK ABOUT
WHAT DOES ASIA THINK ABOUT IRAQ?: The IHT screw-up did lead me to wonder how other countries in the Asia/Pacific region reacted to the speech, and whether there is any support for the U.S. position:
Indonesia is most decidedly opposed to U.S. action
Singapore clearly supports the U.S. position.
India seems pretty noncommittal.
I'll update as I find out more. Anyone who wants to enlighten me, e-mail away.
ENDGAME: That OxBlog pool on
ENDGAME: That OxBlog pool on which day the bombing starts in Iraq might want to consider the following facts:
1) The 101st Airborne has received orders to deploy in support of possible future operations, "in the global war on terrorism." The 101st is the Army's only air assault division, "trained to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world within 36 hours." (Thanks to Tom Holsinger for this link).
2) CNN reports that two more aircraft carriers might be headed to Iraq as well.
3) As a harbinger of the eventual French capitulation on Iraq, France’s Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said this week, "French military forces will be ready to intervene in Iraq, should that decision be taken." Reuters reports that France is sending its only aircraft carrier into the Medierranean for training exercises: "The training will include some joint military exercises with other European or possibly U.S. vessels." Specifically, the U.S.S. Harry S Truman. [Did you have to link to the ship?--ed. You know my feelings about aircraft carriers.] UPDATE: The IHT headline and story on France's shift in position actually match each other.
Guys, I'd bet sooner rather than later.
The power of simulation
Robert Shapiro has a good story in Slate on what economists can learn about the functioning of markets from studying online fantasy games. (Click here for California State Fullerton economics professor Edward Castronova's paper that inspired Shapiro). However, it's worth pointing out that the use of gaming simulation data has also occurred in political science. Douglas Van Belle published a 1998 paper in Political Research Quarterly that used results from online games of Diplomacy to test certain realist propositions about order in world politics. (If you're at a university, click here to peek at the actual article). Van Belle wrote another article about the merits of studying simulated environments for International Studies Notes. The punchline is a bit depressing for my career choice of explaining world politics, but still provocative:
"The somewhat disturbing answer suggested by running this simulation over the Internet is that the international system may be fundamentally unpredictable. It is not a question of insight, method or skill, it is a question of the fundamentally unpredictable nature of innovation by creative, problem-solving human beings. The extreme complexity of the swiftly fluctuating international political arena, which in the real world is complicated by the feed-back between international and domestic politics may be creating a chaotic environment, a system that is mathematically determinant but fundamentally unpredictable. This is exactly the type of environment that is more likely to produce unpredictable behavior, including innovation, and in such an environment even the smallest of changes can produce huge differences over time."
INACCURATE HEADLINE OF THE WEEK:
INACCURATE HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: "Asia unswayed by Powell’s data." The first sentence of this International Herald Tribune story seems to buttress the headline:
"Initial reaction from Asian countries on Thursday indicated that most remained unmoved by Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation of Iraq's noncompliance with United Nations mandates."
If true, this would certainly be newsworthy. Read the story, however. Malaysia is the only country with officials quoted as being unconvinced. In contrast, foreign policy leaders from Australia, Japan and the Philippines are all quoted with expressions of solid support for the U.S. position. The story acknowledges the extent of Japan's policy shift:
"Moving as close as Tokyo has come to backing the use of military force against Iraq, [Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro] Koizumi added: 'Iraq holds the key to whether this matter can be resolved peacefully or not.'"
By my count, then, shouldn't the headline read, "ASIA SWAYED BY POWELL'S DATA"?
To attribute this to the recent New York Times takeover of the International Herald Tribune would just be paranoid.... or would it?
UPDATE: Astute reader K.W. points out that geographically, Australia is not part of Asia. An error for both the IHT and myself. My proposed headline should instead read, "PACIFIC RIM SWAYED BY POWELL'S DATA."
IS THE U.S. SHAFTING MUSLIM
IS THE U.S. SHAFTING MUSLIM COUNTRIES ON TRADE?: The Progressive Policy Institute just issued a policy report warning that current U.S. trade policy will undermine the war on terrorism. Because the U.S. is actively pursuing bilateral and regional trade deals with much of Latin America, Africa, and East Asia, the Middle Eastern countries are falling behind by standing still: "Of the 70-90 countries covered by U.S. regional/bilateral trade inititatives planned for 2003-2005, only one (Morocco) is in the Middle East." Since these countries have similar export portfolios, the creation of new trade deals will lead to a lot of trade diversion -- with other developing countries replacing Middle Eastern exports to the U.S.
The report overreaches a bit. These countries have brought a lot of this difficulty on themselves, with protectionist, dirigiste policies. Only half of the Arab League's members are WTO members; by one measure, Arab countries are among the least globalized states in the world. That said, it has some decent policy proposals, and is worth a look.
HE MUST HAVE BEEN JEALOUS
HE MUST HAVE BEEN JEALOUS OF TRENT LOTT'S SPOTLIGHT: House Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., who chairs the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security that supervises the U.S. Department of Justice, including laws aimed at preventing terrorism, praised the decision to intern Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. He observed that some Japanese-Americans ``probably were intent on doing harm to us... just as some of these Arab Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us.'' Note that, by this logic, we might want, in future months/years, to round up and intern all Korean-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and potentially Franco-Americans.
The obvious comparison of this jackass statement is to the Lottroversy. What's chilling is the extent of the parallels:
1) Both are Republicans in positions of leadership.
Coble wins special dummy points, however, for making his comments a mere six weeks after Lott demonstrated the political danger of praising racist policies.
When Coble received his subcommittee chairmanship last week, he was quoted: "I think we'll be in the eye of the storm. ... It's going to be challenging," I'm pretty sure this is one storm the good Representative can clear up by resigning his chairmanship and beating a hasty retreat to the back benches. On one crucial dimension, this flap is even more serious than the Lottroversy: Coble has direct oversight authority for the type of activity he so enthusiastically supported. Shudder....
One interesting side note: Eric Muller appears to be the first to blog about this, but unlike the Lottroversy, it was old media that first reported on this. Hopefully the Blogosphere will not need to get as exercised this time around, as Coble gets caught in his own perfect media storm.
UPDATE: Coble is not the only idiotarian North Carolina representative. According to this report, "Republican Sue Myrick, commenting on domestic security threats, said -- quote -- 'Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.'" [UPDATE: The APhas the fuller quote: "You know, and this can be misconstrued, but honest to goodness (husband) Ed and I for years, for 20 years, have been saying,`You know, look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.' Every little town you go into, you know?'"]
ANOTHER UPDATE: Josh Marshall is now blogging about the North Carolina delegation. Yep, it's just a matter of time before they fall like dominoes.
FINAL UPDATE: Coble's press spokesman tries to dig out of the hole his boss created. Now, if you read the text, play devil's advocate, and ignore Coble's history of idiotic remarks on the subject, the rationaly might fly. I'm pretty sure, however, that the last thing a Coble press spokesman would have wanted was the headline: "Coble says internment remark meant to illustrate segregation."
Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Updated score -- New Europe 18, Old Europe 2
The foreign ministers of the Vilnius Group Countries -- Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia -- just issued a statement strongly supporting the U.S. position on Iraq, in response to the Powell speech on Iraq. This is in addition to last week's statement by the Gang of Eight. Here's the good part:
Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values. The trans-Atlantic community, of which we are a part, must stand together to face the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and dictators with weapons of mass destruction.It will be interesting to see if similar declarations emerge from non-European countries in the next couple of days.
[Aren't you exaggerating the story? These countries are small compared to France and Germany. They won't be involved in any actual fighting. What's the big deal?--ed. Consider that 13 of these 18 countries are not yet members of the European Union, and to get in, they're going to have to make France and Germany happy. These governments took a significant political risk to make these statements -- don't trivialize it.]
The next (spectacularly wrong) big idea
Public intellectuals like big ideas, because they help us organize the way we see the world. You can't go far as a public intellectual by being consistently wrong. You can, however, go very far if you are spectacularly, grandiosely wrong in a big-idea kind of way . Spectacularly wrong big ideas demand attention. Countless authors devoted countless numbers of pages to proving why Francis Fukuyama was wrong in "The End of History?" and Samuel Huntington was wrong in "The Clash of Civilizations?", few people remember them; they remember Fukuyama and Huntington.
Which brings me to Fareed Zakaria's forthcoming book, The Future of Freedom, which is the end result of a question he initially asked in a Foreign Affairs essay entitled "The Rise of Illiberal Democracy." Zakaria was at the University of Chicago's John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy yesterday to road-test some of his book's arguments, which boil down to:
1) It took a long time for constitutional liberal democracy to develop properly in the West;
Now, this is a great big idea. It's topical, relies on history, has few moving parts, and leads to counter-intuitive policy recommendations. But it's still spectacularly wrong.
1) Stable democracies have emerged without the preconditions Zakaria spells out. Some (big and small) examples: Botswana, Costa Rica, India, Japan, and the Baltic states.
2) The slow processes stressed by Zakaria have equally adverse consequences. States that are in the middle of Zakaria's process are more dangerous than even illiberal democracies. As Jack Snyder has pointed out, these sort of states often have a sufficient mix of particularistic coalitions that lead to overexpansion, which leads to war. Snyder and Ed Mansfield have statistically demonstrated that states undergoing regime transition are far more likely to initiate wars than either democracies OR autocracies (click here for a precis of this argument).
As for illiberal democracies, it is undoubtedly true that their first few years are volatile ones, with lots of potentially aggressive leaders getting elected and then causing problems. However, as Stephen Walt has shown, these revolutionary states tend to mellow, and act as responsible members of the international system.
This doesn't mean that illiberal democracies are necessarily better for world politics than slowly reforming authoritarian states are. But they are not necessarily worse, either. It's more a question of timing -- illiberal states that become democratic are more likely to have problems sooner rather than later, while authoritarian states that are slowly democratizing are likely to have problems later rather than sooner.
So, to conclude: a) states do not necessarily have to go through the same long-term evolution that England or America endured to become a liberal democracy, and b) over the long term, illiberal democracies are not necessarily more violent actors than other non-democratic states.
All that said, I have no doubt that three months from now, this will be the next big idea. So bookmark this post and remember it for cocktail party chatter come late April! [So whaddaya think of Zakaria's other stuff?--ed. His first book is a staple of my U.S. Foreign Policy class.]
UPDATE: Several people have e-mailed to point out that Japan did have a long history of decentralization in political/economic power. This may be true, but that certainly does not hold on the religious dimension. Since Zakaria seems to imply that all of these myriad sources of power must be decentralized, I don't think his argument holds here.
SIGN #248 THAT I AM
SIGN #248 THAT I AM A POLITICAL SCIENCE GEEK: When I was a senior in college, I was essentially choosing three career routes -- investment banker, policy gadfly, or serious research. I chose the latter because I found the idea of being paid to think deep thoughts and then research whether those thoughts have any merit enourmously appealing. However, every once in a while (usually when I'm looking at my bank balance) I ponder whether I made the right choice.
Today, however, I just put the finishing touches on my syllabus for an undergraduate course I'll be teaching on globalization. Putting together the list of topics and readings is crucial, because the best improvisations can't cover a badly-designed course or dull-as-sin essays. The fact that I'm excited about the substantive debates that will undoubtedly ensue makes me positively giddy.
I may occasionally muse about making loads of money in the private sector, or exercising loads of power in the policy world. In the end, however, I'm too happy being a professor to consider anything else full-time.
Tuesday, February 4, 2003
The overreaching French
One way to judge a country is by the caliber of the countries that choose to oppose it. Who are the adversaries of the U.S.? Iraq and North Korea -- pretty good choices. Then there's the French. The Economist sums up France's foreign policy of the last few months quite nicely:
The president, apparently in a fit of pique, in October abruptly postpones a long-planned summit with Britain. The agriculture minister criss-crosses the European Union to sabotage the European Commission's plan to reform EU farm policy. The foreign minister last week enrages the United States by implicitly threatening a veto at the United Nations over any assault on Iraq. Such is the behaviour of France over the past four months—and doubtless there is more to come.Most of this can be explained by the French fear of U.S. "hyperpower" and the desire to create a Franco-German counterweight via the European Union. A funny thing happened along the way to balancing, however: the French overreached. Bill Safire (link via OxBlog) does an excellent job of linking last week's "Gang of Eight" declaration to the fear of peripheral European states of French power-grabbing. The key sections:
The underlying purpose of the Schröder-Chirac push was less about protecting or defanging Saddam Hussein than it was about a much more parochial goal: to assert permanent Franco-German bureaucratic dominance over the growing federation of European states. Opposition to American superpower, they thought, was their lever of Archimedes to move the Old World....Once the French got wind of the document, they tried like hell to get these countries to reverse. Only the Netherlands acquiesced.
In other words: the French attempt to balance against the United States has led to much of Europe balancing against France.
As I said, we have good taste in our rivals. [But don't the French have substantially valid reasons for objecting to U.S. policies?--ed. As Chris Sullentrop pointed out last week in Slate, French opposition to the United States is rooted in U.S. hegemony, not any set of specific policies.]
Monday, February 3, 2003
The Koreas and self-denial
Josh Marshall has made a lot of hay about the Bush administration's supposed blunder in publicly rejecting Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine policy" towards North Korea in early 2001. As I've previously posted, I agree with Josh on the "public" nature of the brush-off, but not the substantive rejection -- it was unclear to me just what the sunshine policy achieved beyond some statements of comity, Kim Dae Jung's Nobel Peace Prize, and a few years of being duped about the DPRK uranium enrichment program.
Now it turns out that the statements of comity -- and by extension Kim's Nobel -- came with a hidden $400 million price tag. Kim Dae Jung has all but admitted that he paid the bribe to Kim Jong il in order to ensure the historic June 2000 Pyongyang summit took place. Idle question: if $400 million is the going price for a summit, what will the DPRK asking price for denuclearization be?
The South Korean reaction to this also merits further comment. This country seems badly split between conservatives who share the U.S. view of North Korea's intention, and sunshine advocates (one of whom was just elected to the presidency) who seem in complete denial about the situation in North Korea. This faction is deathly afraid of a DPRK collapse, because of the overwhelming costs that will come with reunification. I suspect this fear is what lies behind their willingness to repeatedly bribe the North Koreans into acquiescence. However, unless and until the liberal wing of the South Korean political spectrum comes to grips with the moral and material price of appeasing the North Korean regime, there is little that the U.S. will be able to do to defuse the situation.
UPDATE: Now a former ROK intelligence officer claims the bribe was actually $1.7 billion for the summit. I'm not sure how much I trust this allegation, but if true, it merely underscores the point I made above.
ON IRAQ, IT'S DÉJÀ VU
ON IRAQ, IT'S DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: One of the benefits of going on vacation is that it permits some perspective on the myriad cycles of news and commentary. On Iraq, I can't escape the feeling of déjà vu. The current cycle of opinion seems like a replay of September/October all over again -- publics/pundits feeling queasy about aggressive action, antiwar activists decrying U.S. imperialism, European leaders either categorically rejecting the U.S. position or calling for more time for "the process" to sort itself out, Russia constantly hemming and hawing, China shrugging its shoulders, and Iraq flipping the bird to anyone and everyone.
Then -- presto! -- Bush makes a compelling speech that points out the implications for the security of the U.S. and the prestige of the U.N. if no action is taken. Which means:
1) Public support for action shoots up in the United States.
The final kicker for déjà vu came this weekend: The New York Times published an antiwar argument that appeared elsewhere two months ago. [Does that make it an unworthy argument?--ed. Hardly. As I've previously noted, it's a good but not impregnable argument. But why would the Times choose to recycle it after it's been in the public domain for two months?]
BELATED CONGRATULATIONS TO JACOB LEVY:
BELATED CONGRATULATIONS TO JACOB LEVY: A scant four months ago, Jacob Levy was just another struggling young blogger with dreams of hit counts that only Andrew Sullivan could envy. Now he's got a monthly gig at the New Republic (click here for his first column) and for February, he's joining the Volokh Conspiracy.
You go, Jacob!!
Saturday, February 1, 2003
ANOTHER TRAGEDY: To blog is
ANOTHER TRAGEDY: To blog is to comment, critique, analyze and argue about disputes of the day. There is nothing to dispute about the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia. All one can do is mourn.
InstaPundit's already linked to it, but here's a link to Ronald Reagan's address to the country following the Challenger explosion 17 years ago. It may be Peggy Noonan's finest speech. The final paragraph still gets me.