Monday, October 31, 2005
Hey, Karen Hughes!!! Over here!!! It's about Pakistan!!!
Dear Underscretary of State Hughes:
Anyway, I wanted to write you about Pakistan. You may or may not know that they've suffered a pretty devastating earthquake there recently. The U.S. has already dispatched aid to the region, but the amount that has been allocated pales in comparison to the aid dispersed after the tsunami in late 2004/early 2005.
The reason I bring this up is that the tsunami aid brought about a tremendous amount of goodwill in places like India and Indonesia. There's already some evidence that the aid sent to Pakistan is helping to burnish America's image in a distinctly anti-American portion of the globe. Anne-Marie Slaughter reprinted one letter on America Abroad that makes the point in a plain manner:
This is one of those instances where the U.S. can do good and do well by following through with significant relief and humanitarian efforts. It's the best kind of public diplomacy you could ever buy. And bear in mind that the costs of inaction here would be considerable. As Zahid Hussain reports in Newsweek International:
In the New York Times last week, Alexander Saunders put forward a very interesting aid proposal:
This sort of proposal needs someone at the deputy or principal level for it to fly.
How about it, Karen?
Open Alito thread
Feel free to comment here on President Bush's nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court.
[Well, what's your take?--ed. I don't know anything at all about Alito. That said, my legal bellwether is the Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr, and he seems pretty pleased with the choice. After reading this David Bernstein post, however, one wonders how the KKK will react.]
UPDATE: Julian Sanchez has a post up at Hit & Run that deconstructs some of the ThinkProgress/Center for American Progress/Daily Kos criticisms of Alito.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Tell me something I don't know about pre-war planning
In the Financial Times, Stephanie Kirchgaessner report on a finding that will not surprise loyal readers of danieldrezner.com:
Here's a link to Bowen's actual report.
[C'mon, you're not hiding behind the incompetence dodge, are you?--ed.] Rosenfeld and Yglesias make some provocative points but in the end are unpersuasive. As Fareed Zakaria points out in today's NYT Book Review in his review of George Packer's The Assassins' Gate:
The trouble with European Muslims....
One of the central tenets of the global war on terror and the National Security Strategy is that the primary source of ant-American terror comes from the Arab Middle East. Some, like Peter Bergen, challenge this assumption, arguing that the bigger threat comes disaffected Muslims living in Western societies.
Bill Powell has a long, disturbing essay in Time for Europe that makes Bergen's point for him. The nut paragraphs:
The most disturbing aspect of Powell's story is that the turn to radicalism appears to be inculcated among second-generation Muslims:
Friday, October 28, 2005
Open Plamegate indictments thread
So it looks like Libby gets indicted today, and Rove is not out of the woods.
Special Prosecutor will hold a press conference at 2 PM today on the matter -- according to Fitzgerald's official web site.
Be sure to check out Tom Maguire's blog, as he has pretty much owned this story since day one. But then come back and comment away here.
UPDATE: The AP reports that Libby has been inicted on obstruction of justice, perjury, and making a false statement to investigators. Kathryn Jean Lopez says there are two counts of both perjury and making a false statement.
I suspect this quote from William Kristol's Weekly Standard essay hinting that no indictments would be the way to go is going to be resurfacing in the blogosphere for the rest of the day:
LAST UPDATE: For my money -- and assuming that Fitzgerald has completed his indictments -- Jason Zengerle has the last, best word at TNR's Plank:
Miers postmortem thread
So the punching bag that was Harriet Miers' nomination is no more.
I was all geared up to post something debunking Kevin Drum and Harry Reid's assertion that this was Bush caving in to the radical right, but my laziness pays off, as all I have to do is link to Virginia Postrel, Matt Bodie, Dan Markel, and the Hotline (link via Daily Kos).
Readers are ordered to draw their own conclusions and post them here.
Putting a good foot forward in Pakistan
David Rohde had a story in the New York Times earlier this week that nicely demonstrates how U.S. disaster relief can affect local attitudes about Americans -- even in Al Qaeda country:
Read the whole thing -- Al Qaeda is also mobilizing humanitarian relief, but it's tougher to gauge those efforts.
Link via America Abroad's Jim Lindsay, who observes:
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Anoint no economic superpower before its time
A common lament among those who like to prognosticate about America's future is that China and India are churning out more and better engineering students than the U.S., which presages their rise to superpowerdom.
Sounds ominous -- those figures were cited in a National Academy of Sciences study warning that, "In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode." (link via Glenn Reynolds)
The thing is, those numbers don't hold up. Back in August, Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal's "Numbers Guy" column deconstructed Colvin's claim in Fortune and found some problems:
Kudos to Hira and Freeman for their intellectual honesty -- both of them are generally concerned about the effects in the U.S. of widening the global supply of educated labor.
[OK, so the number isn't as big as previously thought. It's still pretty big, right?--ed. This gets to the question of quality. Diana Farrell and Andrew J. Grant write in the latest McKinsey Quarterly that the quality problem could lead to a talent shortage in China:
UPDATE: Howard French has a nicely balanced account in the New York Times of China's effort to upgrade its top universities in order to attract top-drawer talent. The highlights:
French also provides his own engineering numbers: "In engineering alone, China is producing 442,000 new undergraduates a year, along with 48,000 graduates with masters' degrees and 8,000 Ph.D's."
How crazy is Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad?
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad had some lovely words for Israel yesterday, according to the FT's Gareth Smyth:
The most depressing sentence in the story? "US analysts noted that the president’s remarks were not a departure from hardline Iranian rhetoric and did not represent new policy." Well that's a relief.
Whenever political leaders start talking crazy talk, some political scientist like me usually comes out of the woodwork to explain the underlying rationality of such a move. After reading this Financial Times piece by Smyth and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, however, I'm beginning to wonder about Ahmadi-Nejad's competence:
I can't see the rationale either. Maybe these kind of sanctions weaken Ahmadi-Nejad's domestic political opponents, but in a country like Iran there are better ways of weakening one's political opponents. Even in a world of $60 oil and the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, this kind of political behavior is not heakthy.
So is Mr. Ahmadi-Nejad crazy like a fox -- or just crazy? Discuss.
Congrats to the pale hose
Back in August, Mike DeBonis wrote the following in Slate:
Now we'll get to test his hypothesis.
Congratulations to the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. Like the Red Sox last year, the South Siders swept the NL representative. Unlike last year, however, all four of these games were exciting nailbiters until the end. As David Pinto points out in Baseball Musings:
The Red Sox in 2004, the White Sox in 2005 -- man, if the Cubs win it next year, the world really will end.
Of course, I've lived in Chicago long enough to know that until that happens, White Sox fans will be very, very happy to stick it to the Cubs fans.
UPDATE: You just knew Leo Strauss was involved.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
A very important post about.... Barbara Boxer's blue mind
Via Matt Welch, I found Anne-Marie O'Connor's story in the Los Angeles Times about Senator Barbara Boxer's new novel, A Time to Run (co-authored with Mary-Rose Hayes).
There's some fascinating information in O'Connor's piece about the motivations behind the troika of protagonists:
Insert your own joke about the Kennedys here.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go consult a therapist to determine which parent emotionally abused me so much as to drive to the right of the political spectrum.
[Wow, emotional abuse and early gender confusion. You're a psychological mess. No wonder you didn't get tenure!--ed. Hmmm... maybe I should take a closer look at the Americans With Disabilities Act!!]
Harriet Miers evokes the wrong emotions
I'm actually beginning to feel pity for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers --- and this is not a good thing. I'm feeling the same way about Miers that I feel when I go to a job talk and recognize within five minutes that there is no chance in hell that this person is going to be hired.
It now seems well nigh impossible to find anyone of substance willing to say anything really positive about her nomination. Finding negative things, on the other hand, is pretty damn easy.
Orin Kerr looks at some Miers speeches, about the role of the courts in addressing abortion or religion. Reading the highlighted passages, I concur with Kerr: "The writing is awkward enough that I'm not entirely sure what she is saying."
This pales in comparison to Virginia Postrel's take:
However, the end to this New York Times story by David Kirkpatrick is what really got me to feeling sorry for Miers:
As Ann Althouse points out, "Once people have decided you're dumb, pretty much everything you say sounds dumb." That is now the problem for Miers -- and, by extension, the Bush administration.
How long can the fundamentalists be wrong?
When it comes to predicting exchange rates, there are chartists and fundamentalists. The former focus on short-term price trends and try to win the "predict everyone else's expectations" game. The latter look at underlying economic fundamentals to figure out where the exchange rate will inevitably head.
When it comes to the dollar's performance in 2005, chartists are beating fundamentalists. The Economist's Buttonwood column tries to explain why:
The question is how long the chartists will stay bullish on the dollar. Speaking for the fundamentalists, New York Fed President Timothy Geithner is not optimistic (link via Brad Setser):
Geithner also touches on one of the big questions that I can't answer -- why the United States has such a comparative advantage in consuming goods and services:
it's not even clear that policy reforms of the sort Geithner is talking about will be sufficient in the Pacific Rim -- past crises have made that region loath to consume. Click here for more on the puzzle of Asia's lack of domestic consumption.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Do brain drains retard economic development?
Celia Dugger has an annoying New York Times story entitled, "Study Finds Flight of Educated Workers Affects Poor Nations." Here's how it opens:
A few thoughts:
Here's a link to the actual World Bank report. Go check it out.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Open Bernanke thread
Tyler Cowen is all over the nomination. See this post grading Bernanke's capabilities to do the job -- and this one on Bernanke's contributions to the economics discipline.
For me, the key will be whether -- like Greenspan -- Bernanke will be willing to question his assumptions about the way the economy works in the face of data that contradicts his a priori assumptions. If Tyler's assessment is correct, I'm pretty optimistic.
It's nice to see Bush reverting to the John Roberts mold of picking universally well-regarded nominees -- as opposed to other, less savory molds. Andrew Samwick thinks "Bernanke is an excellent choice." Brad DeLong thinks it's "a very good choice." Max Sawicky thinks it's "the preferable outcome."
On the other hand, Stephen Roach says that Bernanke was his "second favorite choice." One could interpret that as damning with faint praise, but given Roach's general economic outlook, I'd interpret it as grudging acceptance.
One interesting question at confirmation hearings will be where Bernanke thinks inflation is right now. Given current conditions, deflation is not the source of concern it was a few years ago. At the same time -- as Daniel Gross pointed out yesterday in the New York Times -- it's not completely clear whether inflation should be a source of concern either.
Open Syria thread
I've been remiss in not posting about the UN report blasting Syrian officials for their role in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In the New York Times, John Kifner provided a nice one-paragraph summary:
So, the question is, what now?
Some surprising people are talking tough. In the Financial Times, Former Kerry advisor Martin Indyk urges the Bush administration to resist a Libya-style deal with Syrian leader Bashir Assad:
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The EU needs to turn the key
Alan Beattie and Victor Mallet report in the Financial Times that the EU's previous trade commissioner -- and current Director-General of the World Trade Organization -- is trying to pressure the current trade commissoner to get the EU's act together on the Doha round:
The situation is clearly causing Peter Mandelson to get hot under the collar.
Why exactly is the EU acting so obdurate on this issue? Well, it's mostly the French, and according to Thomas Fuller of the International Herald Tribune, it's the power of terroir (link via Virginia Postrel)
Friday, October 21, 2005
Looks like I'm not getting the Prius
So I've agreed to join my own blogger cabal -- Pajamas Media.
[So what does this mean for your average reader. Wait, screw them, what does this mean for me?!--ed. Not much, really. In a few weeks/months, you'll be redirected from this URL to another one -- but this bookmark will still be valid. There will probably be a few more ads along the right-hand side -- the whole point of this idea is to pool together multiple sites to generate larger traffic for advertisers. That's about it. And me?--ed. You're still on the payroll.]
Here's my profile over at their site. Money quote: "My plan is to retire in three years based on this. I was specifically promised lots of cash and a Toyota Prius." UPDATE: Roger Simon sets me straight on the compensation.
[Hey, wasn't Pajamas Media co-conceived by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs?--ed. Why yes, yes it is. I disagree a fair amount with Charles -- but then again, I disagree with David Corn a fair amount too, and he's involved as well. Any good classical liberal would want this kind of disagreement--it would be like one syndicated columnist caring about who else is covered by the syndicate. Besides, I don't think there's going to be a huge overlap in readership. According to this LGF commenter, "sagely and even-handedly pondering all sides of an issue of grave geo-political importance is not what makes an exciting blog." So much for the Prius!--ed.]
Who the hell is Daniel W. Drezner?
A brief introduction, in the form of a Q&A [NOTE: this has been updated and revised from my previous "about me" page from four years ago. Feel free to compare and contrast the two pages to your heart's content!--ed.]:
Q: Who are you?
A: I'm a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. I've previously taught at the University of Chicago, 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 and as a research consultant for the RAND corporation.
I'm the author of All Politics is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes (Princeton University Press, 2007), U.S. Trade Strategy: Free Versus Fair (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2006), and The Sanctions Paradox: Economic Statecraft and International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 1999). I'm the editor of Locating the Proper Authorities: The Interaction of Domestic and International Institutions (University of Michigan Press, 2003). I've also written a fair number of articles in both policy and scholarly journals -- click here for links to many of them.
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 German Marshall Fund of the United States, Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard University's Olin Center for Strategic Studies. I was 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, the Boston Red Sox, 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. Domestically, I was an unpaid foreign policy advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign (they didn't need the help) -- but then I grudgingly voted for Kerry in 2004. It's safe to say I'm conflicted some of the time. Just keep reading the blog, you'll get a pretty good sense of what I believe.
Q: Why are you wasting valuable hours blogging instead of writing peer-reviewed academic articles?
On the record: 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. [Er, the Times has solicited your views--ed. Oh, sure, once -- and that was only because I said "pretty please." Any time the Times is willing to give me instant access to their op-ed page without Times Select being such a killjoy, I'll give up the blog.]
Off the record: Sure, I was worried about how the blog was perceived when I was untenured. However, I'm pretty confident that the blog hasn't retarded my scholarly output And I've reached the point in my career where I don't need to worry about tenure. So f$%& that s&*^.
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.
Q: I want to learn more about international relations in today's world; what should I be reading?
Also be sure as well to check out the journals. The ones intended for a general interest audience include Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The National Interest, and The Washington Quarterly. On the scholarly side, go check out International Organization, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, and World Politics.
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: "Using your middle initial is not pretentious. It is your name. The W stands for your great grandfather, William Pauls, my mother's dad. He was much loved as you are as well!" So there].
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 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: 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, my Normblog profile, and my Pajamas Media bio.
That's quite a cabal you have, Mr. President
Former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson gave quite the talk at the New America Foundation earlier this week. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and the Financial Times' Ted Alden thought it worth writing about.
What's the big deal about Wilkerson's speech? Well, for the press, it's the latest sign of a conservative crack-up. For foreign policy wonks, it's the accusation that the Bush administration pretty much ignored the 1947 National Security Act:
Wilkerson also points out, however, that there was a stronger pre-war consensus on Iraqi WMD intellgence than many want to believe:
Thursday, October 20, 2005
It's your very last chance to get in the acknowledgments!!
This appears to be the week when career setbacks translate into publishing successes.
A few days ago, Bruce Bartlett was fired by the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Now, Rachel Deahl reports in Publishers Weekly that Doubleday is thrilled:
[Hooray!! This means it's coming out in a few months, right?--ed. How little you know about academic publishing, my notional friend. It means I will be spending the next couple of months to complete one final revision. After I hand it in, it will come out about a year after that. So my goal will be for the book to be released in 2006.]
And you -- yes, you, the not-so-average blog reader -- can help!! If you have a few spare days, feel free to peruse the manuscript. Let me know if you have any constructive criticisms, stylistic suggestions, or detect any typos (there are a bunch strategically sprinkled into the current version). If you're lucky, you too could find yourself mentioned in the acknowledgments in a major university press book!!
[Whoop-dee-frickin'-doo. This is a big deal?--ed. Well, it is for my field. Anyone in the discipline who sees a new book in their field will first check the acknowledgments, index, and bibliography to see if they are mentioned. And anyone who tells you otherwise is not to be trusted.]
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
So explain this to me about Harriet Miers....
The positive trait that appeared most often in early press accounts about Harriet Miers was her meticulous attention to every detail. Say what you will about Miers, all the i's were dotted and all the t's were crossed on her watch.
One could quibble about whether this is the most useful trait in a Supreme Court Justice, but it is certainly a positive trait in its own right -- one that many Americans wish they had in greater stock. And, at this stage of the game, I suspect the Bush administration will take whatever positive memes about Miers it can get.
Which makes this Knight-Ridder story by James Kuhnhenn all the more disturbing:
To be fair to Miers, a lot of the incomplete answers are likely due to Bush's reluctance to do anything that event hints at a waiver of executive privilege.
Still, there's this very odd end of the story:
In NRO, Byron York notes that her supporters have admitted that, "The meetings with the senators are going terribly. On a scale of one to 100, they are in negative territory."
Should the U.S. still have some SOB's?
As Henry Farrell pointed out two months ago, one of the more intriguing ideational coalitions of the past few years has been, "the ever-smushier and less critical lovefest between leftwing opponents of the Iraq war and rightwing realist opponents of same."
I bring this up because, a) it appears that the influence of the neocons has been on the wane in the Bush administration as compared to the realists; and b) Max Boot's Los Angeles Times column on one of our strategically convenient but ideologically awkward allies -- the ex-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan:
One wonders -- if the Bush administration veers towards a more realist direction, will liberals and neoconservatives find common cause on cases like these?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Can you feel the Hong Kong buzz?
Last week WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said that, "the engines [of WTO negotiations] are buzzing" -- mostly because of a U.S. proposal to reform its domestic price supports for agricultural goods.
Lamy has an ambitious timetable in the run-up to the December Hong Kong Ministerial conference:
Well.... the problem is that the U.S. isn't the only country that needs to make concessions.
There's the European Union, for example. Deutsche Welle is not optimistic:
And then there's the rest of the world -- particularly the developing countries. In the Financial Times, Alan Beattie is not optimistic:
Lamy is correct -- his timetable for negotiations is not impossible.
But with this constellation of interests, it's pretty damned improbable.
In my first visit to Souther California, my guide took me to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. After gawking at the stores and the price tags, we stumbled into an art gallery that was having quite a function -- lots of guys with slicked-back pony tails, black suits, black shirts, and black ties [Cut them some slack -- this was 1990--ed.]
It turned out that we had stumbled into a retrospective of the artwork of... Sylvester Stallone.
The piece of his I remember the most was "Rocky V." This was a collage of typed manuscript pages on a canvas with gobs of paint splattered everywhere. It was very... three-dimensional.
I dredge this memory out of my brain and inflict it on all of you because of this Associated Press story:
I look forward with bated breath to see the work of art that Stallone will forge out of this screenplay.
Readers are strongly encouraged to suggest an age-appropriate opponent for Stallone's senior boxing flick. With apologies to Fight Club, I'd have to vote for William Shatner.
The dissaffected Republican elites
For many years, Bruce Bartlett has been the epitome of the loyal critic -- someone who has defended the Bush administration on big questions while still highlighting his differences with the administration.
According to the New York Times' Richard Stevenson, Bartlett has joined the ranks of really disgruntled Republicans:
This is the message that is coming from Bush officials, according to Time:
In the end, whether Yglesias (and Bush) are right or not revolves around two really, really big questions:
Monday, October 17, 2005
All we are is dust in the wind
Bertram is likely correct that many of the contributions are ephemeral, but is it really so bad to come up with an idea that is "absorbed into the body of human knowledge"? Isn't that kind of the point?
[But according to Bertram, there won't be much trace of the idea's progenitor--ed. On the one hand, duh. Current writers always interpret older writers in the context of their current epoch. On the other hand, it is precisely this habit in our thinking that then leaves the door open to graduate students eager to engage in their own kind of revisionism -- which can't happen without reading the originator.]
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Open Iraq constitution thread
Comment away on the implications of the Iraqi vote on its constitution.
There's a lot riding on that last paragraph.
Is any country prepared for the avian flu?
As the Bush administration continues to develop its pandemic plan, I'm beginning to wonder if any country is really prepared for a pandemic. The Financial Times reports that the EU isn't prepared for an avian flu pandemic. What's interesting is why:
There are going to be some nasty intra-EU squabbles if a pandemic breaks out anytime soon (which, it should be stressed, is far from certain. Experts are predicting an outbreak by 2020. So, with luck, this will turn out to be like the Y2K problem rather than the 1918 influenza outbreak).
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen makes the case for not violating Roche's patent on Tamiflu.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Seven days later....
Among the things I've learned in the week after tenure rejection:
Yeah, that's about all that I've learned.
[Wait just a friggin' minute. There's been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere -- and in the Chicago Tribune, and the New York Sun, and Inside Higher Ed, and the Chronicle of Higher Education -- about what (if any) role blogging played in the decision. Now that you've got some more intel, do you want to fan those particular flames?--ed. Well..... I don't want to violate any confidences, and there are some things that will remain "known unknowns" no matter what. That said, let's just say I found myself nodding unconsciously when I read these paragraphs by Sean Carroll with regard to his own case of tenure denial at the U of C:
I can knock down simple strawmen on the question of what happened. I wasn't denied tenure because of my politics, for example. At a deeper level, however, it's just impossible to parse out well-justified motivations from poorly-justified motivations. And the sooner you and I accept that fact, the better for our emotional health.]
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Most embarrassing Miers moment yet
From today's Washington Post story by Peter Baker and Charles Babington on the Miers nomination:
Is it just me, or would this be like asking a nominee for Secretary of State, "Please describe in detail any foreign experience or travel you experienced"? UPDATE: Michael Froomkin supplies a more exact analogy in the comments.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Thomas Schelling gets his due from Sweden -- but not from Slate
My favorite class to teach in recent years has been Classics in International Relations Theory. This is a great books course, starting with Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and ending with Thomas Schelling's Strategy of Conflict.
The reason this is my favorite course is the effect it has on the grad students, who consume a very steady diet of literature that is supposed to be "cutting edge." They are therefore shocked to discover that the modern version of democratic peace theory bears little relationship to Kant’s original formulation, for example. However, they are always stunned to learn that whole careers in international relations have been built out of codifying a few sentences in Schelling. [Oh yeah, and you're not guilty of this?--ed. I'll plead not guilty on Schelling, but nolo contendre with regard to another Nobel-worthy economist.]
So it's wonderful news to read that Schelling has co-won (with Robert Aumann) The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis." Kieran Healy has a good post up detailing the relative contributions of Schelling and Aumann. Tyler Cowen has a lovely post up (one of many) about his old Ph.D. advisor.
Alas, Kaplan commits the very sin he accuses Schelling of making -- providing an overly neat theory of how Schelling contributed to U.S. policy in Vietnam. Kaplan's own description of Schelling's role in Vietnam contradicts his claim:
In this description, there's not a whole hell of a lot of brashness -- indeed, Schelling's recommendation was not to escalate Rolling Thunder if the initial bombing didn't work. In Kaplan's passage, Schelling appears to be acutely aware of the difficulties of measurement in applying his theory of compellence to Vietnam. He made a recommendation, but with none of the hubris Kaplan associates with social science (Kaplan also elides Schelling's leadership in a subsequent attempt to convince then-NSC adviser Henry Kissinger to withdraw from Vietnam in the early days of the Nixon administration).
Kaplan's essay contains a grain of truth about the dangers of social science. Too often, theorists come up with great models of the world by assuming away petty inconveniences like bureaucratic politics, implementation with incomplete information, or the effects of rhetorical blowback. But before he throws out the baby with the bathwater, Kaplan might want to ask himself the following question: if policymakers choose not to rely on social science theories to wend their way through a complex world, what navigational aid would Kaplan suggest in its stead? Policymakers across the political spectrum always like to poke fun at explicit theorizing about international relations. The problem is that they usually rely on historical analogies instead -- which are, in every way, worse than the use of explicit theories.
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen quotes Business Week's Michael Mandel on the drawbacks of game theory:
Tyler has a number of responses (to which Mandel responds) but mine is simple: game theory has the wrong name. It is a theoretical tool rather than a theory in and of itself. Because of this, Mandel is correct that it is possible to devise game-theoretic models that lead to contrasting predictions. However, the virtue of game theory is that the differences made in starting assumptions, institutional rules, and causal processes are laid bare. One can then argue about how realistic the assumptions, rules, and processes are.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Kleiman points out and explains why the blogosphere is united in its high regard for Schelling.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Don't worry so much about my little finger
It will come as no surprise to readers that I think Adam Smith was a very, very smart man when it came to human nature.
I have been very touched by the empathetic responses to my recent bit of bad luck. But a sense of propriety and justice would be good in responding to the devastation in South Asia -- not to mention other recent natural disasters.
Click here for the Red Cross' response to the Kashmiri earthquake.
UPDATE: California Yankee has a useful list of charities for quake victims.
Saturday, October 8, 2005
So Friday was a pretty bad day....
This Friday was a less-than-great day for two reasons.
First, the Red Sox got swept in the playoffs. I’m sad about it, but not that sad. I can hardly begrudge the White Sox for their first playoff series victory since
[Shouldn’t you be more "rah-rah" about the team representing the South Side of Chicago?—ed.] Well, that leads to the second and more important reason why Friday was a pretty bad day.
The political science department voted to deny me tenure. Next year at this time, I will no longer be residing in Hyde Park or teaching at the University of Chicago.
[Wait a minute, you can’t leave it at that. What happened? What the hell happened? Why didn’t you get tenure? Was it your failure to anchor yourself within a clearly established theoretical paradigm? A lack of respect from peers in your IPE subfield? Too much output? A declining respect of your subfield by your tenured colleagues? The departmental turn away from mainstream political science scholarship? Your political orientation? Jealousy of your public intellectual status? WAS IT THE FRIGGIN’ BLOG??!!--ed.] My answers in order: I dunno, perhaps, probably not, maybe, I guess so, a little, could be, I seriously doubt it, and who the hell knows? Any decent social scientist must allow for multiple causes, so it’s not necessarily an either/or question. At the moment, I simply lack the data to confirm or deny any explanation. I may garner more information in the days and weeks that follow, but the fact that I was genuinely surprised at the outcome suggests that my ex ante intelligence gathering was piss-poor.
[So what will you do now?--ed.] Look for gainful employment to start in June 2006 – a fact that will no doubt amuse readers who have disagreed with my take on the effect of offshore outsourcing on job creation. At least I have some lead time.
[How are you feeling? Are you bitter at the U of C?--ed.] I’ve felt better. And -- duh -- yeah. That said, I will miss the students. The undergrads have been wonderful, and the grad students have been razor-sharp. At the moment, my biggest regret about all this is the knowledge that I’ve taught my last class at the university.
[Speaking of regrets, let’s go back to the blog.... er… any regrets?--ed.] The very first words I wrote on this blog were: "I shouldn't be doing this. I'll be going up for tenure soon." This is a theme that I’ve touched on several times since then. The point is, I can’t say I didn’t go into this with my eyes open.
That said, if one assumes that the opportunity cost of blogging (e.g., better or more scholarship) was the difference between tenure and no tenure – an unclear assertion at best – then it’s a tough call. From a strict cost-benefit analysis, one could argue that the doors that blogging opened could have been deferred for a few years in return for the annuity of a tenured position at Chicago. That said, if I did things only for the money, I never would have entered the academy in the first place. And I’ve enjoyed the psychic rewards of blogging way too much to regret my choice.
[Just this week you said, "The academic job market, as I've witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system." Still believe that?--ed.] Well, I’d posit that the second half of the hypothesis has received another data point of empirical support. We’ll see how the first half holds up as the job market proceeds.
Blogging may be slower than usual for the next couple of days.
Friday, October 7, 2005
Is there anything more exciting than Canadian public television?
Blogging may be slow for the next few days, as I'll be at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies for a conference entitled, "Growing Apart: Europe and America."
However, for those diehard readers of danieldrezner.com who reside in Ontario -- yes, that's all three of you -- I'll be one of a bevy of talking heads for TVOntario's Diplomatic Immunity, airing this Friday.
TVO will also -- God forbid -- be airing the "highlights" of the conference... er... at some point in the next few weeks.
Canadian public TV -- it's fantastic!!
Thursday, October 6, 2005
More Miers links
This Jim Lindgren post probably won't assuage her.
In this post, Postrel partially corrects Lindgren's assessment -- but then goes onto observe, "The prose is indeed clunky, however, and the article is banal in that well-known corporate way, where you make an argument--her main point is that the courts need more money--without any sharp points."
I'll give the last word to Postrel, who rebuts the snobbery argument:
Scholar-blogger thoughts, cont'd
Following up on my last post:
Oxblog's David Adesnik is happy about the new U of C Law School blog -- and the extent to which the law school is proud of its existence -- but nevertheless believes blogging remains decidedly out of the academic mainstream:
In the spirit of the last paragraph, I would encourage the IR scholars in the audience to check out Dan Nexon's post about the debate over the role that norms play in world politics. He's looking for feedback.
"I can't think of anything bigger that's happened in virology for many years."
That's the assessment of one expert in Gina Kolata's New York Times front-pager on new research about the 1918 influenza virus:
A companion piece by Gardiner Harris suggests that Democrats have officially freaked out about the avian flu problem:
Even though I've been Bush-bashing as of late, it's worth pointing out that Democrats are late to this party. Kolata says in her story that, "Bush administration officials have been talking about pandemic flu preparedness for years, and they say they will soon release a pandemic flu plan, in the works for more than a year." Harris says that, "The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, said he had been delivering speeches about improving the nation's preparedness for a flu pandemic since December."
Of course, let's see how the plans pan out.
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Who do you trust?
George W. Bush is asking Americans to trust him one hell of a lot in recent weeks.
On the Miers nomination, as George Will put it, "The president's 'argument' for her amounts to: Trust me."
The problem is, this kind of presidential assertion runs into the "crony too far" problem, as Jacob Levy points out:
Then there's this Congressional push to ward off further Abu Ghraibs by codifying the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation as the uniform standard for military interrogations in the field. According to the AP's Liz Sidoti, Bush doesn't like that proposal at all (link via Andrew Sullivan):
In the Weekly Standard, Tom Donnelly and Vance Serchuk state why the administration is off base:
There are good people working in the executive branch in whose competency I trust. At this point, George W. Bush is not one of them.
UPDATE: William J. Stuntz argues in TNR Online that Bush is echoing Truman:
This is a nice piece of analogical reasoning, but I don't think it holds up. The first problem is that even the Bush people who are "major-league talents," like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, have not acquitted themselves well. The second problem is that Truman, unlike Bush, was a voracious reader who demonstrated a fair amount of intellectual curiousity.
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Gendered observations that make you go, "hmmm...."
Wow, talk about your night and day observations about how Miers' gender will affect her possible performance on the Supreme Court.
First, there's Crooked Timber's Kieran Healy:
That's a lovely sentiment, but without digging too deep I can think of a few examples on both sides of the political fence who don't meet Healy's criteria. [UPDATE: Healy amends his assessment, but not on the gender issue.]
Then, there's this from the American Thinker's Thomas Lifner:
Apparently, if confirmed, Miers would also have the prerogative to ground any Justice who stays out after curfew.
Your scholar-blogger links for today
My co-author Henry Farrell has an excellent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the ways in which blogging and scholarship can complement each other. Without saying his name, it is certainly an excellent rejoinder to one Mr. "Ivan Tribble." The key paragraphs:
Meanwhile, for those who believe that the academic life is a cushy one, go click over to Dan Nexon's post about the poli sci job market at Duck of Minerva. The highlights:
I'm simultaneously more pessimistic and optimistic than Nexon.
On the pessimistic side, the fact that no single person can occupy all the jobs proffered to them does not mean the market will clear. Among top-tier institutions, it is far more likely that departments will simply adopt a "wait 'til next year" approach than hire their second choice. At which point the process repeats itself -- a lucky few snap up all the job offers, everyone else waits until next year. For aspiring academics that want the really plum jobs, this can be like repeatedly banging your head against a wall in the hopes of obtaining a result different than your head hurting -- a textbook definition of insanity.
On the optimistic side, I don't think old-boy networks warp the hiring process as much as is often posited. This is what I said in "So You Want to Get a Tenure-Track Job..."
The academic job market, as I've witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system. Some people will undoubtedly slip through the cracks -- but on the whole, talent is recognized and rewarded.
So how did the grand stategizin' go?
Over at Democracy Arsenal, former guest-blogger Suzanne Nossel provides a lengthy post outlining the general sense of the meeting.
Go check it out. There were a few conference papers worth reading, and I'll post links to them once they're made available.
Monday, October 3, 2005
Open Miers thread
My substantive take is pretty much in line with the Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein -- particularly this point:
Jack Balkin concurs: "Although we don't know much about Miers, it's likely that, like John Roberts, she was picked with a view toward protecting executive power." That's a thought that makes a small-government conservative just giddy with anticipation, doesn't it?
As for the politics of it, Michelle Malkin chronicles discontent on the right side of the blogosphere -- including her own reaction:
Eerily enough, this parallels Josh Marshall's reaction:
Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog informs me that, "Moderate Republicans have no substantial incentive to support Miers."
As an anonymous e-mailer put it to me:
Whoa, hold the phone -- she was a fair and honest Lottery Commissioner? Put this woman on the bench right away!!!
[Isn't that a little harsh?--ed. Look, maybe Miers is supremely qualified -- I'm sure the hearings will reveal something about her competence at jurisprudence. However, a glance at her cv -- and those praising her accomplishments -- suggests that beyond not having ever served on a bench, she appears to have held no other job of parallel legal distinction. Would Miers ever be an answer to any legal question that starts, "Name the top nine lawyers who _____" -- besides serving George W. Bush for an extended period of time? In a post-Katrina environment, that dog won't hunt. You stole that from Jacob Levy--ed. Well, I only borrow from the best, and besides, Jacob also said he wanted this meme to travel as far and wide as possible.]]
Given the politics of the Supreme Court right now, there was no one -- no one -- who was going to skate through this nomination. This choice, however, seems designed to tick off every variety of conservative known to man.
No wonder Glenn Reynolds thinks Bush has pulled a perfect storm -- and not in a good way.
Meanwhile Senator Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ) tells the Associated Press that he finds Miers, "courteous and professional."
FINAL UPDATE: Oh, man, does Larry Solum find the right quote from Federalist 76.
Things that keep me up at night
The Independent's Jeremy Laurance reports that the World Health Organization is trying to calm people down about avian flu:
Well, I feel much better now.
Even more calming is this Time.com report from Christine Gorman:
Saturday, October 1, 2005
Liberalization, Moroccan style
Neil MacFarquhar has an excellent front-pager in today's New York Times looking at the conundrums of Morocco's recent liberalization:
Read the whole thing.