Saturday, March 31, 2007
Baptists, bootleggers, and porn
CNET's Dawn Kawamoto reports that the .xxx registry will not be happening anytime soon:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has rejected a controversial proposal to create a new .xxx domain suffix for adult Web sites.In the New York Times, Thomas Crampton explains the interesting coalition of interest groups that opposed the .xxx registry:
ICM had argued that creation of the domain would enhance safety for young users by clearly defining .xxx sites as a no-go zone.Political scientists talk about "baptist-bootlegger coalitions" to explain occasions when groups on opposite sides of an issue support the same policy for very different reasons (baptists: naive expression of preferences; Bootleggers: rent-seeking).
In this case, however, the baptists refused to side with the powerful bootlegger.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Latest trade tidbits
1) Remember the hints of a trade deal that came out earlier this week? Over at US News and World Report's Capital Commerce blog, James Pethokoukis has more juicy details about the how this may or may not play out. As a general rule, if Dave Sirota is this exercised about it, then it must be a good thing for trade liberalization.
2) A point in the Democrats' favor -- a new WorldPublicOpinion.org Survey about trade and regulatory standards:
Strong majorities in developing nations around the world support requiring countries that sign trade agreements to meet minimum labor and environmental standards, a multinational poll finds. Nine in 10 Americans also support such protections.Sounds good, but the survey question seems awfully vague ("Overall, do you think that countries that are part of international trade agreements should or should not be required to maintain minimum standards for working conditions?")
Which is the greatest threat to globalisation: the protesters on the streets every time the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organisation meets, or globalisation's cheerleaders, who push for continued market opening while denying that the troubles surrounding globalisation are rooted in the policies they advocate? A good case can be made that the latter camp presents the greater menace. Anti-globalisers are marginalised. But cheerleaders in Washington, London and the elite universities of north America and Europe shape the intellectual climate. If they get their way, they are more likely to put globalisation at risk than the protesters they condemn for ignorance of sound economics.I'm unpersuaded There are two huge difference between the 19th century version of globalization and the cuurrent era: there was much more labor mobility back then, but the size of government -- and welfare policies in particular -- were vastly smaller. As much as peopole like to fret about their disappearance, at best the growth of these measures are slowing. As Tyler Cowen implicitly points out here, the growth of markets has led to a corresponding growth in government. So even if I accepted Rodrik's premise, I think we're a long way from where he thinks we are.
4) DeLong also links to a Wall Street Journal front-pager from yesterday about Alan Blinder's fears about offshoring:
Mr. Blinder... remains an implacable opponent of tariffs and trade barriers. But now he is saying loudly that a new industrial revolution -- communication technology that allows services to be delivered electronically from afar -- will put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two. That's more than double the total of workers employed in manufacturing today. The job insecurity those workers face today is "only the tip of a very big iceberg," Mr. Blinder says....DeLong believes that Blinder "has very smart things to see about 'outsourcing.'" I think Blinder is unbelievably smart, but if he's basing his numbers on the same logic he applied in his Foreign Affairs essay, then with all due respect I don't think he has very smart things to say about outsourcing. In the FA essay, Blinder assumed that any job that could be done over the electronic transom:
a) Will be done electronically;Yeah, I got problems with just about all of these assumptions. Greg Mankiw, on the other hand, simply believes that Alan Blinder has been turned by the dark side of the force... which converts Greg into Luke Skywalker.
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen's take on Blinder: "When our economists start preaching that we should look to economists and higher educators to predict the new, growing economic sectors, I again think that the Chinese are not the major problem."
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Defying the new bloggingheads business plan
My latest bloggingheads segment is up -- this time with Henry Farrell. Much to Robert Wright's disappointment, neither of us gets really angry.
An odd, optimistic moment on trade policy
The Financial Times' Eoin Callan reports that with deadlines on the horizon, suddenly Congress and the President are getting serious about trade policy:
Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, on Tuesday intervened in negotiations with Congress over US trade policy in a bid to save President George W. Bush’s economic agenda for his last two years in office.You can access the Democrat talking points here (link courtesy of Salon's Andrew Leonard).
Most of it screams "boilerplate" -- the question is how much of it will come to fruition and whether it represents a shift in the Democrats' bargaining position. Leonard believes that,"most of it is a restatement of the American labor agenda." but Chris Nelson takes a dissenting view his latest Nelson Report:
Notice that this very clearly does not call for “passage into law all of the basic ILO conventions”...something which has been a standard part of Democratic and Labor rhetoric for years.If Nelson's read of the language is correct, I suspect a deal will be done. This is now less about trade and a lot about politics. With the administration and Congress deadlocked on Iraq, the U.S. attorneys, and just about every other policy imaginable, the poll ratings for both branches of government are below 40%. Both the administration and the Congress need to look like they're actually governing. If they can sign a deal on something -- anything -- then they can counter this deadlock perception.
Ordinarily, this desire to cut a deal just to get something done is anathema to me, because what usually gets done is some God-awful piece is legislation that everyone regrets a few months later. It also feeds the bias that action is always better than inaction in politics. Ironically, however, this could actually lead to something constructive accomplished on trade policy.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Score one point for Cass Sunstein
One of the arguments that Cass Sunstein makes in republic.com is that the Internet allows people to filter their information flows so that they buttress to their prior ideological beliefs. Blogs call this "cocooning." The extent to which this effect is more concentrated in online activity than offline activity is open to debate, but it's an interresting argument.
I believe Ann Althouse's divalog exchange with Garance Franke-Ruta on bloggingheads.tv qualifies as a data point for Sunstein's argument. Click here to see the video, in which I think it's safe to say that Ann gets angry.
That's not the main point of this post, however. Compare and contrast the comments on Ann's words and behavior at the bloggingheads site with the reactions at Althouse's blog post. Everyone watched the same video -- but the reactions are very, very different (on the backstory for what sparked this in the first place, click here).
[You're treading on veeeerrrry dangerous ground here!--ed. Oh, relax.]
UPDATE: In comments here, Althouse points out one source for this disparity in comments: "I moderate and delete really insulting comments on my blog. That's skewing that data." I hope it's not skewing it too much.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots and lots of blog reactions -- and Franke-Ruta posts her take here. One additional note -- if you watch the video, I think it's clear that Garance was genuinely startled by Ann's anger. This has the effect of making Ann's outburst seem... disproportionate. In fairness to Althouse, however, it should be pointed out that when taping a bloggingheads segment, the participants cannot see each other. I suspect if Ann had been able to see Garance, her reaction might have been different.
Strange things are afoot at the CRS
Last week I noted that the director of the Congressional Research Service was issuing some odd directives, limiting the flow of information coming from the CRS.
Nothing highlighted Congress's spending problem in last year's election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they'll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.
Monday, March 26, 2007
A few online tomes about Hillary Clinton
Ron Brownstein argues in the Los Angeles Times that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination because of her appeal to white, blue collar Democrats.
Michael Crowley argues in The New Republic that Hillary Clinton's foreign policy hawkishness is not a form of political calculation, but rather what she actually believes. This part does ring true:
[I]t's clear that the Clintonites left office deeply frustrated at the unsolved problem of Iraq and perhaps believing that some final reckoning was inevitable. "President Clinton recognized, as did I," Albright writes in her memoir, "that the mixture of sanctions, containment, Iraqi defiance, and our own uncertainty about Saddam's weapons couldn't go on indefinitely."
Is the U.S. more cosmopolitan.... or just bigger and more powerful?
On his Financial Times blog, Gideon Rachman suggests that Americans are more cosmopolitan than Brits:
We are all familiar with the clichés about American insularity: the number of Congressmen who don’t have a passport, the number of Americans who have never left the US – and so on.Much as I like the back-slapping of America, a few obvious points of caution are warranted. The most obvious is this one: the United States has roughly five times the population of Great Britain. It shouldn't be that surprising, therefore, if a book sells better five times here or a foreign policy event attracts a much larger crowd.
Second, cosmopolitan implies more than just a keen sense of foreign policy interest -- there are cultural dimensions as well. The U.S. might stack up well in that department as well, but it's not a part of Rachman's post.
Now, that said, assuming that Rachman's point is still correct, is this because "America is still enjoying its imperial moment." Well, right now I would use neither the word "imperial" nor "enjoying."
That said, what the U.S. does have in place is a foreign policy infrastructure that's second to none at this point. Beyond the official organs of the federal government, there are a host of quasi-governmental organizations, think tanks, NGOs, foundations, and yes, God forbid, universities with a vested interest in thinking about the world and America's place in it. Sixty years of superpower status will have that effect.
The interesting question to ponder is how long it will be before another country -- or supranational institution -- matches American investments in this area. There is a lag between the acquisition of power and the development of domestic and international institutions to convert that power into authority.
My gloomy prediction of the day
An international diplomatic drive for Mideast peace gained momentum Monday, with Israel welcoming the idea of a regional peace summit and Saudi Arabia suggesting it would consider changes in a dormant peace initiative to make it more acceptable to Israel.If this gains any momentum at all, I predict there will be an attack in Israel or the occupied territories. The attack will be designed to inflame the Israeli political establishment or wreck the Palestinian coalition govenment. There are simply too many armed groups in the region with a vested interest in maintaining the festering status quo.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum is unimpressed with my bold prognostication: "It looks to me like Dan is trying to get some bonus oracle points for predicting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow." Hey, I also scored a perfect 4-for-4 in my NCAA bracket! [Yeah, that's not so impressive either--ed.]
Dan Shaughnessy has blog envy
As predicted in this space, Curt Schilling has taken to the blog format as quickly as Britney Spears checks out of rehab clinics. Schilling reported on his blog that Jonathan Papelbon would be the Red Sox's closer before the Red Sox officially announced it. A few of the local papers' have quoted from the blog for their stories. Others have referred to Schilling's prodigious output of blog posts in the two weeks since Schilling started 38 Pitches (and we can all breathe easier knowing that fellow blogger Mark Cuban is cool with it).
Now, however, comes the first crucial test of whether Schilling can balance his blog and his day job. Today, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy takes on Schilling's blog. Here's how he opens the column:
Getting a little tired and bored here in the final week of the Grapefruit League circuit so I thought I'd take the day off and let Curt Schilling do the work. Schill started writing his own blog a few weeks ago, so today he fills the space with his latest Q & A session with fellow bloggers.You'll have to read the column to see where he goes from there. It's safe to say he's not a fan (though he really detests Schilling's blog commenters).
Why the blog envy? Last week Schilling told Alex Belth on SI.com that he started the blog in part so he could articulate his public statements in a way that would be hard to misinterpret. There was also this passage:
There is the potential to change the way people get their news. Fast-forward this to Opening Day. It's a 2 p.m. game, hopefully I'll pitch great and we'll win. Sometime around 7 or 8 o'clock that night I'll sit down -- I'm on the road, I'm by myself -- I'll blog out the game, pitch-by-pitch in some instances, inning-by-inning, I'll go into minutia ... By 9 o'clock that night I'll have a post up. I'll give you numbers. In the seven days my blog's been up, I've had 398,156 viewers. Those people will know about things they could never read about [in the newspapers], 12 hours before the newspapers ever come out.If blogs can beat newspapers to the punch in reporting inside information, what is their comparative advantage? Three possibilities: 1) better analysis; 2) better writing; and 3) better controversy.
I've read enough of Shaughnessy's baseball analysis to know that's not his strength (Rob Bradford demonstrates more baseball knowledge in a single story than Shaughnessy does in an entire season). He's an OK writer, but there are plenty of Red Sox beat writers and bloggers who are better (note to Globe sports editor: give Amalie Benjamin her own full-time Sox blog). No, Shaughnessy's specialty is using his acid pen to ignite public feuds with Shaughnessy.
Which leads me back to Schilling, and some free advice from a Red Sox fan. Curt, as someone who's been involved in more than one blog feud in my day, a word to the wise -- don't swallow the bait. Pissing matches like these are little more than a massive time suck and an occupational hazard for daily bloggers. For those of us who do our day jobs out of the public glare, that can be aggravating but not debilitating. Your day job commands a little more attention, and you don't have the luxury of being distracted. The blogger in me might want to grab the popcorn and watch the carnage of a full-on online feud between the lead sports columnist and the ace of the pitching staff. The baseball fan in me fears this more than a Ted Lilly start against the Red Sox.
You want to respond? Flick off a few short rhetorical jabs and walk away. Don't escalate, and for God's sake don't forget Shaughnessy's motivation.
My favorite take, however, is this from a blog devoted exclusively to critiquing Shaugnessy's column:
One sarcastic joke repeated six times. Dan will never be confused with Mark Twain....FINAL UPDATE: Schilling responds:
The only response I have to the Curly Haired Boyfriend is this.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Same planet, different European Unions
The European Union, in celebration of it's 50th anniversary, released its Berlin Declaration over the weekend. For an EU document, it's delightfully brief. It also contains this paragaph:
We have a unique way of living and working together in the European Union. This is expressed through the democratic interaction of the Member States and the European institutions. The European Union is founded on equal rights and mutually supportive cooperation. This enables us to strike a fair balance between Member States’ interests.That's certainly one way of interpreting the nature of EU institutions.
Writing at Foreign Policy's web site, historian Alan Sked offers a slightly different interpretation:
Today’s EU resembles a sort of undemocratic Habsburg Empire. Its legislation is proposed by a Commission of unelected bureaucrats who have now apparently lost control of their own staffs and who themselves are usually political outcasts from their national political systems. Decisions on whether to adopt their often bizarre initiatives are then taken in total secrecy by the Council of Ministers or the European Council, before being rubber-stamped by the federalist parliament and imposed on the citizens of member states, whose national legislatures can do absolutely nothing to alter their directives or regulations. Indeed, 84 percent of all legislation before national parliaments, according to the German Ministry of Justice, now simply involves implementing Brussels diktats. All this makes European politics undemocratic at all levels, and opinion polls reflect the public’s growing disillusionment.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
South Africa is a normal country
Pssst.... hey, IR grad students. looking for an interesting paper topic? Michael Wines' New York Times front-pager on South Africa's foreign policy would be a good start.
Wines asks why a regime that relied on international support to end apartheid seems... let's say "indifferent".... to human rights abuses in countries near and far:
Modern South Africa came about, historians agree, in part because of the United Nations’ unrelenting stance against apartheid. The United Nations affirmed that South African racism was not merely an internal political problem, but a threat to southern Africa. It banned arms shipments to South Africa. It demanded fair treatment of black dissidents.Why is South Africa acting this way? Wines gets at some possibilities at the end of the article:
Apartheid, the South African government contends, was a crime against humanity. In contrast, it argues that human rights abuses in Myanmar do not fall within the mandate of the Security Council. Indeed, the South African government says, the Council’s encroachment on issues better left to lesser agencies like the Human Rights Council undermines the organization’s global nature.Let's knock down the third theory first -- I suspect this is not about reflexive anti-Americanism. The ANC has been perfectly willing to tolerate Washington Consensus-style economic policies for more than a decade now. This is not about the doctrinaire implementation of a militant ideology.
I'm not sure I buy the Security Council reform argument either. South Africa's obsteperous behavior at the UN is not a sufficient roadblock to Security Council action -- and if, anything, their positions on some issues are likely to alienate rather than persuade the United States and other western governments on U.N. reform. Plus, if it was just about UN reform, one would expect to see South Africa adopt a tougher position vis-a-vis human rights abusers in their bilateral relations -- and there's been zero evidence of that happening.
Me, I buy a variant of the first hypothesis -- South Africa is becoming a normal country pursuing a realpolitik foreign policy. If this means coddling dictators in Harare and accomodating rising powers in East Asia, so be it. It should also be pointed out that they're not the only country in the Southern African region to be acting this way.
From an IR theory perspective, however, post-1994 South African foreign policy might represent an ideal test of the power of ideas and norms to influence a middle power's foreign policy -- and the test suggests that ideas don't count for a lot. However, that's just my take based on a very surface-level scan of Pretoria's behavior. A proper, in-depth case study might turn up a different explanation..
Grad students, why are you wasting your weekend reading this blog? Get to it!!
UPDATE: I've now created a new blog category, "thesis ideas," devoted to these kind of research questions prompted by an interesting news story.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Cheap talk is fun!!
The Financial Times' Guy Dinmore reports that unilateralist Democrats are pissed off that the Bush administration is acting so darn multilateral when it comes to Iran:
Senators urged the Bush administration on Wednesday to get tougher with Iran but senior Treasury and State Department officials resisted demands to punish European and Asian companies investing in Iran’s energy sector.Now, let's be clear -- if either Chris Dodd or Robert Menendez was president, there's no chance in hell that they would implement the measures they profess to favor. This is just cheap talk.
You can do this on blogs as well. Try it yourself in the comments!
UPDATE: I wonder if this will satisfy Dodd and Menendez.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
While Congress gets all high and mighty about executive privilege....
The Washington Post's Elizabeth Williamson reports that the Congressional Research Service is about to get very chary with their information:
This week, Congressional Research Service chief Daniel P. Mulhollan issued a memo to all staffers in the service, known as Congress's think tank. From now on, he wrote, CRS researchers will require a supervisor's approval before giving any CRS report to a "non-congressional."Or.... you can click here.
The German Social Democrats party like it's 2002
One of the key points I was trying to make in my Foreign Affairs article was that the Bush foreign policy of 2007 looks somewhat different from the Bush foreign policy of 2002 -- it's more multilateral in both form and substance. This has been a common theme among foreign policy wonks across the ideological divide.
However, the word has yet to reach the German Social Democrats, as Judy Dempsey makes clear in this International Herald-Tribune story:
[T]he two parties in [Angela] Merkel's coalition appear more divided over the missile shield than other EU member states, which have been far less vocal or critical of the U.S. missile shield.If you read the whole thing, one gets the sense that domestic political calculations are behind the SPD's thinking... much as it was back in 2002.
Has Taro Aso ever met Condoleezza Rice?
According to Reuters, the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso has offered up an interesting theory of how to build peace in the Middle East:
Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can't be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their "yellow faces", Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying on Wednesday.By Aso's criteria, of course, Japan's colonial legacy means it should not be included in the Six-Party Talks on North Korea because it involves several countries that were part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. I sense, however, that this would be applying too much logic to the comment.
Gender and low-wage jobs
Matt Yglesias links to a Washington Post op-ed by NYU political scientist Lawrence Mead on the withdrawal of low-income men from the workforce:
Why are low-skilled men withdrawing from work just when unskilled jobs appear plentiful and immigrants are flooding into the country to take them? One reason might be that the wages these men could earn have fallen, so, the thinking goes, why work for chump change? Yet these men failed to work more even in the 1990s, when wages for low-skilled jobs rose. It's more likely that male work discipline has deteriorated. Poor men want to work and succeed, yet many cannot endure the slights and disappointments that work involves. That's why poor men usually can obtain jobs yet seldom keep them.Yglesias goes to town with this paragraph:
Frankly, one has to sympathize with this. Presumably NYU political science professors like Mead don't need to put up with the sort of slights experienced by people doing unskilled labor.I can't shake the feeling that something else is going on here. Yes, low wage jobs can be humiliating and hard work.... but wasn't this also true in the past? Indeed, globally, one of the reasons so many people flock to so-called "sweatshop" jobs is because they still seem like a step up from the back-breaking tasks involved in agricultural labor.
What, then, explains the growing disaffection of male workers in this country? It might be that the composition of low-wage jobs has shifted from tasks that were commonly associated with men to tasks that have historically been associated as women's work. Low-wage jobs in the agricultural and manufactiuring sector involve the use of significant amounts of muscle far removed from the final customer. Low-wage jobs in the service sector often require the employee to wear nametags that say, "Hi! My name is ________!" while being as courteous as possible to the customer. My hunch is that a large swath of low-income men can deal with being dog-tired from moving around heavy things, but can't deal with the petty humiliations required to stay in the good graces of an obnoxious shopper. [So you're saying that women enjoy humiliation more?--ed. No, I'm saying that because many of these low-paying service-sector jobs were traditionally viewed as female, there's some path dependence at work here.]
This is just blog speculaion -- I have no idea if there's any empirical evidence to confirm if this is true. Commenters should feel free to shoot this down.
UPDATE: The Economist's Free Exchange has more on this point.
That's one way to get the ballcaps
From the Boston Herald's Clubhouse Insider blog, Jeff Horrigan details the extent to which ESPN's Dick Vitale will go to get a baseball cap:
ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale just threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to this afternoon’s game between the Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. His appearance in a Pirates cap and jersey reminds me of the time a few years back in Sarasota, where the local resident (he lives in Bradenton now) was visiting Ed Smith Stadium for a Cincinnati Reds spring game. Naturally, Vitale was wearing a Reds cap that day, telling everyone that he’s a lifelong Reds fan (just like he’s telling everyone today he’s a lifelong Pirates fan). Well, some of us happened to walk by his car in the players parking lot and noticed five or six different caps in his car for teams that play on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Since then, I have heard him tell fans and media at Devil Rays, Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox game that he (wearing the appropriate hat each time) has been a long-time fan of that home team.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Who's leveraging who in Northeast Asia?
The Financial Times' Demetri Sevastopulo and Andrew Yeh explain the rather bizarre goings-on over the past three days involving North Korea, the financial sanctions against Banco Delta Asia, and the strange Treasury department statement that, "North Korea has pledged, within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, that these funds will be used solely for the betterment of the North Korean people, including for humanitarian and educational purposes."
What the heck happened? According to Sevastopulo and Yeh:
Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, orchestrated a significant shift in US policy towards North Korea by persuading the US Treasury to agree to Pyongyang’s demands to release $25m frozen in a Macao bank since 2005.Full disclosure: I worked with Glaser during my stint at Treasury, and he always exuded competence.
Beyond that, Flake's statement seems internally inconsistent. The financial sanctions cannot be both a strict law-enforcement matter and a source of leverage. It's one or the other. Clearly, it appears that they were leverage.
The sentence in the story that bothers me is China's linkage of this move to the SED. If that's what tipped the scales, then Beijing better be making some concessions in those negotiations that no one knows about.
Socrates' teaching evaluations
This class on philosophy was really good, Professor Socrates is sooooo smart, I want to be just like him when I graduate (except not so short). I was amazed at how he could take just about any argument and prove it wrong....Click here to read the rest of them.
You have to hand it to the Iranian leadership
Another day, another country Iran manages to alienate with its nuclear policy. From yesterday's New York Times:
Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials say.Two thoughts:
1) As I said last year, "never trust the Russians to be a dependable ally."
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
What is Europe's trajectory?
Andrew Moravcsik celebrates the European Union's 50th anniversary with a cover story in Newsweek's international editions. Contra the conventional wisdom, Moravcsik paints a rosy present and future for the EU:
American Alone. While Europe Slept. Menace in Europe. As the European Union celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding Treaty of Rome, the pundits agree: Europe is in terminal decline. It is a continental-size museum dropping into the dustbin of history....You'll have to read the whole thing to evaluate Moravcsik's case for yourself. I certainly agree with him about the present -- indeed, I'm pretty sure a book just came out arguing that the EU is America's equal when it comes to questions of economic regulation.
It's the future trajectory where Moravcsik loses me -- which is why I wrote what I wrote in Foreign Affairs this month. I'm simply more pessimistic about Europe's ability to alter its domestic institutions and overcome its long-term demographic decline. The EU has staved off this problem in part by increasing expansion, but the fact is they're going to be running out of viable countries soon.
Moravcsik and other EU-boosters will counter by pointing to economic aspects of the EU model that work very well -- France's total factor productivity is higher than America's, Scandinavia has combined a generous welfare state with high birthrates and flexible labor markets, etc. This is true, but it is, frankly, a bulls**t argument. You can't say that the entire European Union is on the upswing by pointing to a few regions of it that are doing well in certain metrics and implying that there will be a diffusion effect to the rest of the continent. Domestic institutions in Europe are pretty resistant to change. Indeed, for al the EU's successes, I would still wager that the diffusion of "successful" policy innovations would spread faster from American state to American state than between the different members of the EU. You also can't point to the best bits of the EU and compare it to the U.S. as a whole. Why include MIssissippi but not Greece or Bulgaria? How does French productivity stack up against California alone?
These are questions which I am sure will be answered by the commenters.
UPDATE: Here's a similar critique of the Moravcsik article... with, like, real data!!
That said, according to this survey, Moravcsik is correct about how the rest of the world views the EU.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I've revised this post slightly to correct for some atrocious grammatical miscues.
Monday, March 19, 2007
How HDTV affects campaign 2008
The first thing you notice about HDTV is that some of the politicians look really awful. Studio makeup is not enough to cover up the sagging, cragging, and pitting of all those cruel years in Congress. Some of them look fine . . . John Kerry is positively handsome, if you like men who look kind of like a wrinkly old orange. (Can't his wife buy him a really convincing fake tan? Sigh. Yet another reason not to bother getting rich.) Others—and you know who you are, Senator Specter—not so much. Charles Schumer has a deep crease on the side of his forehead that looks like he slept on his glasses . . . on top of a lit stove. And Tim Russert seems to have a little rosacea problem....I've seen Obama and met McCain -- Megan's conjectures seem sound to me.
That said, even on HDTV there are methods to conceal flaws -- see here for one example. It is possible, however, that makeup and/or other techniques to look good on HDTV would be too subtle to have an affect on normal televisions. This leads to an interesting tradeoff -- which television audience should a candidate target? Would the targeting shift between the primary season and the general election? Would it depend on the demographic being targeted by the candidate?
You known, you just know, that some candidates are going to spent a lot of money on consultants to answer this very question. And if you ask me, Megan deserves a 10% cut on all this swag to help defray her moving expenses.
Has anyone at The American Prospect ever read Thucydides?
The major sins are contained in this Thomas Geoghegan essay that blasts neoconservatives for being so besotted with Thucydides:
College kids write papers now on how we got into Iraq. Or so it is with my friend's daughter. She's supposed to write a paper on one of the neocons. Which one should she pick?...In the interest of having a productive work day, I'll have to refrain from a detailed analysis of why this piece is so God-awful. Instead, I'll have to ask my informed readers to determine the biggest sin committed in this piece:
1) Geoghegan's moronic belief that Thucydides was some kind of war-monger -- indeed, it is ironic that Geoghegan basically accepts the neoconservative interpretation of Thucydides (for a conservative takedown of this neoconservative position, click here).;Debate away!
How is China's media reporting on Zimbabwe?
There's been a spot of trouble in Zimbabwe's autocracy as of late. I wonder how media outlets in non-democratic regimes are covering this trouble?
From the People's Daily Online:
The Zimbabwe government will not sit back and watch the opposition perpetrating "terrorist attacks" on innocent citizens while authorities are also geared to stamp out domestic violence, which accounted for 60 percent of Zimbabwe's murder cases, President Robert Mugabe has said.I can only hope that the honorable people's government in Zimbabwe crushes the treacherous curs of the MDC to promote peace, order and social justice for all [Snap out of it!!--ed. C'mon, I don't get to use "treacherous curs" in daily parlance all that often.]
Friday, March 16, 2007
The fairest review I will ever receive
It's a busy day at the Drezner household -- I have to decide which of my children to ship to the Economist in gratitude for their review of my book All Politics Is Global (now available at Amazon.com and other fine online retailers!!!). It's subscription only, but here's the good parts version:
Daniel Drezner's “All Politics is Global” is too nuanced and academic for easy reading—but ultimately much more rewarding. Mr Drezner, an associate professor of international politics at Tufts University, focuses on the international institutions and accords that regulate trade. Such regulation, though seemingly arcane at first, in fact determines “how to treat workers, how much to pollute, what can go into our food, what can be accessed on the internet,” and “how much medicine will cost”.Hmmmm.... the boy is toilet-trained but the girl has dimples. It's gonna be tough to figure out which one to give away.
Hey, it's been two years -- let's talk about gender and op-eds again
One of the assignments for my Stafecraft class this term is that the students must draft a cogent op-ed submission on a policy issue they care about. "In this case,"cogent" not only means well-written, but written in such a way that would actually pique the interest of an op-ed page editor.
Uproars over the sparse numbers of women in newspapers, or on news programs, in magazines, and on best-seller lists regularly erupt every couple of years. A doozy occurred in 2005, after the liberal commentator Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley, then editor of The Los Angeles Times’s opinion pages, got into a nasty scuffle over the lack of female columnists. That dustup is what motivated Ms. [Catherine] Orenstein to take her op-ed show on the road, which she has done with support from the Woodhull Institute, an ethics and leadership group for women.Two thoughts. First, after describing the assignment to my Fletcher School students -- who are generally perceived as a group of idealistic, altruistic overachievers -- their immediate reaction to the prospect of publishing an op-ed was, "How much do we get paid for it?" I might add that this query transcended gender. Small sample issues aside, I'm very dubious about the notion that women don't seek out the things that Orenstein says they don't seek out.
Second, think about that "Little Red Robin Hood" line in the excerpt, as well as this paragraph:
A bunch of women joined together on one side of the table to discuss an op-ed piece by Ms. Orenstein that appeared in June 2004 in The New York Times on the remake of the movie “The Stepford Wives.”Orenstein's expertise raises a question about the ways in which women seek to get op-eds published. Is the problem that women write on topics similar to men but face a glass ceiling at the op-ed desk? Is it that women do not write about "hard news" issues that are generally discussed in op-ed pages (politics, economics, foreign policy, social policy, ec.)? Or is the problem that what is defined as appropriate for the op-ed essays overly gendered? I tend to think it's the middle one (does Orenstein seriously think that op-eds about Little Red Riding Hood or the Stepford Wives will influence any White House?), but I'm open to suggestions from the readers.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Is it the idea or the execution of the idea?
If someone pointed a gun to my head today and demanded that I say who I think will be the president in 2009:
1) I'd be pretty annoyed, because I thought I had moved to a safe neighborhood;This hunch -- and that's all it is -- makes me want to know how Obama thinks about foreign policy. Which leads me to Michael Hirsh's cover story in the Washington Monthly about this very question:
There’s no doubt that Obama has the intellectual curiosity and self-confidence—not to mention the ideal public persona—to fundamentally reconsider American foreign policy. But at this point, for all his promise, he’s still, in some sense, a cipher. After eight years in the Illinois Senate and two in Washington, his foreign policy thinking, unsurprisingly, remains largely unformed. That [Obama advisor Samantha] Power and [Anthony] Lake—both hard-bitten political veterans, not starstruck newcomers—each found themselves gravitating toward Obama on the basis of a speech, a dinner, or a phone call suggests the level of despair to which both had sunk. Bush, it appeared, had so destroyed what was left of the existing system of international security that both Power and Lake, through their separate journeys, had reached a point where they sought a leader who might offer not a return to that system—as John Kerry cautiously did in 2004—but a wholesale reimagining of it.Read the whole thing. As Kevin Drum points out, "He's actually making one of the most difficult kinds of argument of all, an argument that the current system is fine and doesn't really need big changes [except the people running the show]." Of course, this bears more than a passing resemblance to the argument made by many neocons that the ideas underlying Operation Iraqi Freedom were equally sound, but the Bush administration botched the execution.
I agree with Kevin that it's worth checking out -- but I'm less sanguine with Hirsch's argument that because the system worked well in the past, a recommitment to its structures means it will work well in the future. As I pointed out recently, some difficult adjustments are going to be necessary.
[Hey, aren't there parts of Hirsh's essay that bear an awfully strong resemblance to your Washington Post essay from December 2006?--ed. Well, it seems like that to me, but that could just be an incipient sign of overbearing egotism. Besides, Hirsh's underlying thesis is dissimilar from mine, so I'm willing to let it slide.]
UPDATE: I'm fascinated that some of the commenters to this post infer that because I think Obama will win implies that I think Obama should win. Let's just say that I reserve some doubts about Obama as the candidate for me.
The thousand nations of the Persian empire are pissed off about 300
Government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham said Tuesday that the movie called `300' insults the culture of world countries.Though Matt and I have had some differences on Iran, I agree with correct lesson he from this tidbit of information:
It's interesting that even Iran's contemporary theocrats regard themselves as the heirs to all the pre-Islamic Persian empires. Which goes to show how misleading it is to frame US-Iranian disputes as part of an apocalyptic struggle with "Islamofascism" rather than a sort of banal (but not unimportant!) situation issue where the government of Iran is seeking to assert its interests in the neighborhood where governments of Iran have traditionally sought to assert themselves.UPDATE: Azadeh Moaveni suggests in Time that ordinary Iranians are equally ticked off about the movie.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Nothing to do but scream?
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been diagnosed with a cracked skull from a government beating, according to his spokesman. According to the Washington Post's Craig Timberg, this might be the trigger that actually unifies Zimbabwe's opposition movement:
Two harrowing days in police custody have left Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with serious physical injuries but also renewed standing as head of an anti-government movement that is showing more energy than it has in years....The problem is that a unified opposition will be insufficient for Mugabe's government to fall. The regime has repeatedly displayed a willingness to use its coercive apparatus to maintain power -- a unified opposition will have little effect on that apparatus so long as they are willing to kill.
There need to be members of the ZANU-PF government who are willing to turn their back on Mugabe -- and that will not happen until Zimbabwe's neighbors demonstrate a willingness to ostracize the country and its leadership.
So why don't they? Alec Russell has an excellent analysis of the regional situation in the Financial Times:
Just two days before Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested, the Zimbabwean opposition leader delivered a trenchant ultimatum to the region’s leaders over their policy of “quiet diplomacy” towards President Robert Mugabe.The probability of joint SADC action is low. This leads Fletcher student Drew Bennett to despair:
I was in Zimbabwe a little less than a year ago and saw first hand that the political and economic elite in Zimbabwe, though a miniscule cabal, managed their portfolios just fine in a surreal economy dominated by the black market. Clearly, there are ways around sanctions when the international community has abandoned you.So, to review -- a unifiying opposition, but little effect on government power without regional action, which is highly unlikely.
Developing.... in a very uncertain way.
President Robert Mugabe on Thursday told Western countries to "go hang" after international outrage over charges his government assaulted the main opposition leader in police detention.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Gideon Rachman, security risk
Over at his FT blog, Rachman points out that excessive regulation for admitting both foreigners and foreign capital is posing some problems for the United States:
[T]he survey for the Discover America partnership – a group of big businesses that seeks to promote tourism – also suggested that 39 per cent of regular travellers rate the US “worst” for immigration and entry procedures; the Middle East came second on 16 per cent. Discover America complains of a “climate of fear” and a “travel crisis”. It cites a “near 20 per cent drop in the United States share of overseas travellers since 2000” and claims that this has cost 200,000 jobs and $93bn in revenue.You'll have to read his whole post to understand the title of this post.
A conversational waltz with Garance Franke-Ruta
Topics include whether Barack Obama and John McCain would pursue similar interventionist foreign policies; why GOP candidates are "Hollywood whores"; the death of neoliberalism; and how liberal journalists are coping with this.
Go check it out.
UPDATE: One small note: if it seems like I did not pick up on every point Garance made, this had to do with our phone connection. I could not completely hear all of her points.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Open U.S. Attorneys thread
I've been remiss in not posting about the brewing brouhaha about the role that Republican members of Congress, as well as the White House, played in the removal of several U.S. Attorneys in December 2006. Comment away.
If this New York Times story is accurate, then this story has the perfect storm of tidbits to fuel numerous news cycles: Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, White House overreaching, and the kind of investgation that promises regular tidbits of new information.
UPDATE: Ah, the Washington Post's Dan Eggen and John Solomon feed the storm:
The White House suggested two years ago that the Justice Department fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, a proposal that eventually resulted in the dismissals of eight prosecutors last year, according to e-mails and internal documents that the administration will provide to Congress today.
Does Zimbabwe support or weaken the smart sanctions argument?
Last week Michael H. Cognato blogged at Passport about the fact that smart sanctions seemed to be having an effect in Zimbabwe:
[The International Crisis Group] found that targeted sanctions have played an important role in undermining Mugabe's support:Sounds promising... until we get to more recent events. Like today's AP report:Targeted EU and U.S. sanctions on senior regime figures are working. ZANU-PF leaders cite their personal financial situations as motivation for wanting Mugabe out. “We have businesses which we worked hard over years to set up which are collapsing. It is about time we change course”, said a senior politburo member.The possible implications stretch far beyond Zimbabwe. Targeted sanctions, which limit the activity of specific regime members, rather than the entire country, are a relatively recent innovation. The hope has been that they would better pressure a target government while sparing its citizens needless suffering. Officials in Sudan, Iran, and North Korea are currently on the receiving end of these appeals to their unenlightened self-interest. The news out of Zimbabwe is reason to hope they might be similarly persuaded.
Top opposition leaders were assaulted and tortured by police who broke up a prayer meeting planned to protest government policies, colleagues of the activists said Monday.There are two ways to interpret this kind of repression. One way is that this is the last gasp of a dying regime. You can find this interpretation in this Washington Post story by Craig Timberg:
[Former member of parliament Roy] Bennett, speaking in Johannesburg after consulting with other opposition figures by phone, said Sunday's gathering was the beginning of mass protests against Mugabe's government under a newly formed Save Zimbabwe Coalition.The thing is, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign has been around for six months now, and prior efforts to mobilize have not panned out.
So there's another, gloomier possibility: smart sanctions are insufficient, and the state's ability to repress will not be tamed anytime soon.
A subtle look at the academic bias question
While the HERI [Higher Education Research Institute] does an annual survey of incoming college freshmen that includes questions about political beliefs, no one has tried tracking changes in student political beliefs over the college years. One interesting glimpse is provided by HERI's 2004 report on political attitudes among freshmen and college graduates. In 1994, 82 percent of students in the class of 1998 agreed that "the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns" and 61 percent agreed that abortion should be legal. In 1998, these opinions were held by, respectively, 83 percent and 65 percent of college graduates in that cohort.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
There's lazy reporting and then there's lazy Sunday analysis
Over the past few years, the Boston Globe Ideas section has generally been considered one of the best treats of theirs or any Sunday paper. Which is why I was surprised when I read this Matt Steinglass article on the intellectual trendiness among economists of preaching capital controls:
When the Shanghai stock index dropped 9 percent on Feb. 27, touching off sharp slides in markets across the globe, many were quick to recall the Asian financial crisis of 1997. That crisis was triggered not by a drop in stock prices, but by a collapse in the value of the Thai baht, brought on by currency speculators. But the reason the crash of '97 spread from one country to the next, savaging the economies of Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and ultimately non-Asian countries like Russia, was a broad loss of investor confidence in such so-called "emerging markets."Now, the bolded sentence is clearly supposed to be the takeaway point of the piece, so I was curious which economist or economists Steinglass found to echo Stiglitz's views on capital controls. It turns out that the economist Steinglass found was.... Joe Stiglitz:
In the decade since the crisis, many economists have come to share these views -- including some within the IMF itself. "In 2003 their chief economist came to the conclusion that the empirical evidence did not show that capital market liberalization worked," Stiglitz says. "It did not lead to more growth, it did not lead to more stability. They still believe it's true, but what they now say is they can't prove it." In some cases, the IMF is actually telling countries that "soft" capital controls, such as tax measures and banking regulations, may be a good idea.Stiglitz might be correct in his assertion, although in 2003 at least one chief IMF economist was pretty disparaging of capital controls.
Still, that's not the point. If Steinglass' assertion is correct, one should expect to see a quote from at least one other economist. Hell, Steinglass probably could have raided Brad DeLong's archives and probably found something useful.
We don't get either of those things, however. Instead, we get Stiglitz and more Stiglitz. This is insufficient for the assertion that's made in the essay.
Bad Ideas section. Bad, bad, bad.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
That's some powerful biofuels agreement
Peter Baker reports in the Washington Post that the United States and Brazil have announced a new biofuels initiative:
President Bush announced a new energy partnership with Brazil on Friday to promote wider production of ethanol throughout the region as an alternative to oil, the first step in an effort to strengthen economic and political alliances in Latin America.Sounds pretty ambitious... until we get to this snippet of this New York Times story by Jim Rutenberg and Larry Rother:
[D]espite the agreement, some strains were visible between Mr. da Silva and Mr. Bush.You can read more in the White House transcipt of Bush and Lula's press conference. It contains this accurate Lula summary of the state of play in the Doha talks:
I learned from my Minister, Celso Amorim, that if we draw a triangle, we could show you what the difficulties are in the negotiations we have. What do countries want from the European Union? They want it to facilitate access to their agricultural market for poorer countries to export to them, including the U.S. wants to export to them.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Why I won't be blogging this weekend
From the Associated Press:
Next up for Salma Hayek is a wedding -- and a baby carriage.Sniff.
Give me 48 hours, and I'll be fine.
Exporting university education?
America's great universities are in fact becoming global. They are the brand names for excellence -- drawing in the brightest students and faculty and giving them unparalleled opportunities. This is where the openness and freewheeling diversity of American life provide us a huge advantage over tighter, more homogeneous cultures. We give people the freedom to think and create -- and prosper from those activities -- in ways that no other country can match.I hope Ignatius is correct -- but as a useful corrective, one should check out William Brody's "College Goes Global" in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. Brody, the president of Johns Hopkins, has some experience in exporting American education, and offers some sobering advice:
Since the end of World War II, the United States has been recognized as the world leader in higher education. It has more colleges and universities, enrolls and graduates more students, and spends more on advanced education and research than any other nation. Each year, more than half a million foreigners come to the United States to study. A widely cited article written by researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University that looked at the academic ranking of universities worldwide based on faculty quality and research output found that more than half of the top 100 universities in the world -- and 17 of the top 20 -- were in the United States.
Talk about addiction to cheap oil
The Financial Times' Gareth Smyth reports that Iran is starting to tighten its belt in anticipatio of serious economic sanctions. Of course, one person's "belt-tightening" is another person's "pitiful reduction of massively inefficient subsidy.":
Iran’s parliament this week set May 22 as the day when the country’s 15m motorists lose access to unlimited cheap fuel.
Born to blog
The Opening Day starter for the Boston Red Sox, Curt Schilling, now has a blog. In his first week, he's already moved down the learning curve, following David Pinto's advice and introducing much-needed line breaks into his posts.
Sports fans love or hate Schilling. To the haters, he's an egomaniac who cannot and will not shut up -- particularly if he's talking about himself. To the admirers, Schilling has always walked the walk (see: sock, bloody) in pressure situations, a very rare commodity in professional sports. Perusing his posts to date, I would advise non-sports fans and even casual sports fans to ignore it. However, for baseball fanatics, there's lots of good stuff.
From his first post, I have a hunch that Schilling intuitively gets the blog thing:
I’ve never been a yes/no kind of guy, which probably hasn’t been received well by some. I don’t know that I’ll be changing my style, but I do know that getting ripped for something I say here will be getting ripped for something I actually said–with the entire contents of my comments included.Unless you're willing to be wrong -- really, badly wrong -- you'll never make it as a blogger.
UPDATE: Seth Mnookin also thinks Schilling has the chops to blog.
So you want to write for a wider audience
David Damrosch has a thoroughly accessible essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the difficulties scholars face when they try to write for a wider audience. This paragraph in particlar explains why academics generally don't do this all too well:
The problem isn't that academics "can't write," as is often claimed, but that we are typically engaged in what scholars of the Renaissance know as coterie writing. In 16th-century England, for instance, small groups of aristocrats such as Sir Philip Sydney, his sister Mary Herbert, and their circle would compose poems for their mutual entertainment, circulating them privately from one country estate to another. Scholars today may reach a somewhat larger circle, but most academic writing is part of a continuing conversation among a coterie of fellow specialists with common interests and a shared history of debate. Even for scholars who are elegant prose stylists, it isn't an easy matter to make the transition from writing for Milton's "fit audience, though few" to a larger but less fit readership.Damrosch then discusses his own efforts to write an accessible book that doesn't feel "dumbed down." He runs into an editor at Holt who provides the way:
Not only did the people at Holt want the book I wanted to write — antiquity and all — but they also suggested ways I could revise my sample chapters to better effect. The "Aha!" moment came when John Sterling, Holt's publisher, pointed to the opening of my first chapter. I had begun with a flourish, emphasizing the excitement created when a young curator at the British Museum first deciphered the Gilgamesh epic, with its seeming confirmation of the biblical story of the Flood: "When George Smith discovered the Flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh in the fall of 1872, he made one of the most dramatic discoveries in the history of archaeology." Sterling ran his pen along these lines, but instead of praising this bold beginning, he tapped the page and asked, "Couldn't you make this opening just a bit more dramatic?"
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Dealing with the hysterics and the humorless
Let's surf the net to see if anyone's saying something about me that's worth repeating.
Since I am about as far away as any intelligent and rational American can get from the politics of any proposals for a "new world order," let alone a new new world order, my attention was drawn to a " New New World Order" article (my emphasis on "New New"). After reading it, my suspicions about where our local, state and federal politicians are trying to take us was confirmed. That is, We The People of the United States of America appear to be destined -- by our own political leaders, as well as other power-and-money-seeking political leaders of nations throughout the world -- to be a part of their dictatorial grand scheme, i.e., We The People would no longer be living in an independent, sovereign nation under a Constitutional Federal Republic.You know, you can accuse George W. Bush of a lot of things, but surrendering American sovereignty to some supranational order is not one of them.
UPDATE: Another negative reaction to "Drezler's article" can be found here.
I am sorry to see that Mr. Drezner finds this issue a source of “amusement.” Thousands of people die each year needlessly and many more suffered a great deal, because not enough organs are donated, and because the market has been allowed to intrude into the ways they are allocated. (For instance there is a shortage of donated skin for burn victims because skin is sold to plastic surgeons who pay a high fee to use it to make the hyper rich look younger). One person’s donations can improve the life of twenty others, if on death organs are made available....OK, for the record, I do take the question of organ donation seriously -- which is why I will refer to I thoughtful posts by Kieran Healy and Virginia Postrel on the matter (and click here for why I don't think harangues work all that well on the American psyche).
Amitai Etzioni attacking bloggers for self-promotion? As someone who has been on the receiving end of a steady, unremitting barrage of Etzioni press releases, brochures about Etzioni, and actual Etzioni publications, no, I'm afraid I can't take that criticism seriously at all.
[What about the soft porn allegations?--ed. I can only assume that Professor Etzioni read this post from a few years ago. Repeatedly.]
What I learned at the nonproliferation conference
For the past 36 hours I've been attending the Burkle Center's conference on ""Nuclear Weapons in a New Century: Facing the Emerging Challenges." (Also, I got to use Ron Burkle's bathroom. But let's stay focused for once).
The following is a short list of what I learned:
1) Former SecDef William Perry believes that if Iran and North Korea manage to develop/keep their nukes, "the dam has burst" on the nonproliferation regime.A final point. Mark Kleiman asks:
What I've heard about Iranian politics, from people that I believe know what they're talking about, is that the Guardian Council is somewhat hostile to Ahmadinejad, who isn't very controllable, and that various important power players within the country are nervous about provoking a confrontation with us and the Israelis. I've also heard that the Guardian Council is both faction-ridden and corrupt. How much would it cost for the anti-Ahmadinejad, non-anti-US politicians in Iran to bribe enough Guardians to get their candidates through the next selection round? I don't know, but I doubt it's any substantial fraction of the cost of keeping a CBG on station for a month.The problem with this analysis is the assumption that a Rafsanjani is a better option than Ahmadinejad. At this point, I'm not so sure. Most of the conservative clerics want the nuclear program as well -- they're just craftier about it. Paradoxically, Ahmadinejad is such a loon that he makes it easier for the U.S. to organize multilateral action against Iran. If the mullahs replaced him with someone who was cagier, it will be next to impossible to get Russia and China to buy into any further action.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
"Feh" to globalization
That's the conclusion of Pankaj Ghemawat in this Foreign Policy essay. He makes a convincing case:
In truth, the world is not nearly as connected as these writers would have us believe. Despite talk of a new, wired world where information, ideas, money, and people can move around the planet faster than ever before, just a fraction of what we consider globalization actually exists. The portrait that emerges from a hard look at the way companies, people, and states interact is a world that’s only beginning to realize the potential of true global integration. And what these trend’s backers won’t tell you is that globalization’s future is more fragile than you know....Read the whole thing. This paragraph helps explain to me why my editor at Princeton made me remove the world "globalization" from the title of All Politics Is Global:
According to the U.S. Library of Congress’s catalog, in the 1990s, about 500 books were published on globalization. Between 2000 and 2004, there were more than 4,000. In fact, between the mid-1990s and 2003, the rate of increase in globalization-related titles more than doubled every 18 months.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Movie stars. Swimming pools. Loose nukes.
Blogging will again be light this week because I'm going to Los Angeles for a UCLA conference entitled "Nuclear Weapons in a New Century: Facing the Emerging Challenges."
As I have to say something about this in 48 hours, readers are strongly encouraged to proffer any bright ideas they might have about how to deal with this issue.
Reflections on the International Studies Association
Another conference in the books. Some thoughts:
1) No, I do not miss Chicago weather from late February or early March.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
How offshore outsourcing continues to devastate the tech sector
Robert Weisman reports today in the Boston Globe on how the local IT job market is doing three years after offshore outsourcing devastated the tech sector:
Five years after the dot-com bust ravaged the technology industry, erasing tens of thousands of jobs in Massachusetts, the "Help Wanted" signs have been pulled out of storage. State figures released Thursday show several high-tech job categories growing at more than triple the rate of overall employment over the past 13 months.
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Friday, March 2, 2007
Defining public intellectuals down
The passing earlier this week of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. caused some gnashing of teeth at Tapped about where the next generation of public intellectuals will be found. Ezra Klein writes:
So who takes their place? Will Sean Wilentz or Michael Kazin be remembered as Arthur Schlesinger is, because I don't think Doris Kearns Goodwin or Stephen Ambrose possess the grand moral compass necessary to claim the mantle. The Clinton administration had a Kennedy-esque aura of intellectual ferment, but the public intellectuals it furnished are Paul Begala and James Carville. Ira Magaziner, it turned out, lacked star power. I guess the bright spot on the horizon is Barack Obama's campaign, which boasts a glittering orbit of policy advisors and public thinkers whom the Obama camp has taken a Kennedyesque approach to, encouraging them to retain their public profiles. Hence, the world has not lost Samantha Power or Karen Kornbluh, but they are in the inner circle of a presidential candidacy. Maybe that will elevate them. Or maybe we're just done with public intellectuals, and cable news has time for little but public personalities. (underline added)Then there's Marc Schmitt:
Obviously, there's no factory for creating new Schlesingers or Galbraiths (although those two families do pretty well) but anything that can be done to change the system of incentives for young academics or would-be academics so that there are rewards to making relevant contributions to public life, rather than incrementally advancing some narrow question within their field, would be good.I've occasionally been accused of falling into the "public intellectual" category, so a few thoughts on this matter:
1) I recognize that there's a Potter-Stewart-"I know it when I see it"-quality to defining a public intellectual, but applying that label to either Begala or Carville is just wrong. They
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Why suicide terrorism is different in Afghanistan
While Iraqi suicide bombers target civilians and soft targets in order to sow destabilization and provoke/respond to sectarian violence, nearly all Taliban suicide bombings -- and in Afghanistan, resistance to the presence of foreign forces and the Karzai government is overwhelmingly Taliban -- are focused on Afghan or U.S./NATO security forces. The two researchers assess that unlike the Iraqi insurgents, al-Qaeda or Shiite militias, the Taliban has to cleave the population away from the Karzai government, but in the process must "avoid losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by needlessly killing civilians."