Friday, March 7, 2003
IS BOEING GIVING UP ON
IS BOEING GIVING UP ON CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT?: There are two ways to interpret the news that Boeing is trying to acquire BAE Systems PLC, the British aerospace firm that is a 20% owner of Airbus, Boeing's rival in the passenger plane market.
The first is that Boeing is trying to make life difficult for Airbus by threatening to absorb one of its owners. This doesn't make any sense, however, since the European Union Competition Commisioner can veto any merger on antitrust grounds -- which was why the GE-Honeywell deal was scotched three years ago. The British government also owns a golden share that could block any deal.
The second is that Boeing is trying to enhance its core competency in defence manufacturing. BAE is "the largest Euopean defense company," but its civilian sales have been flat as of late. One wonders, however, if markets -- and airline companies -- wouldn't take this as a signal of Boeing's surrender to Airbus on commercial airliners.
One final, subversive thought -- a good Leninist would argue that Boeing will try to increase its superprofits by exploiting current transatlantic tensions. An increase in those tensions would lead to increased defense spending on the continent. If Boeing acquires BAE, it becomes a vital player in any European arms buildup. Boeing CEO Phil Condit is going all out to woo key EU officials.
I'm most certainly not a good Leninist, though.
NOTE TO SELF -- DO
NOTE TO SELF -- DO NOT GET ON WILLIAM SALETAN'S BAD SIDE: Either Saletan got up on the wrong side of the bed today, or he's just fed up with the Franco-German international shuffle. Either way, he eviscerates their diplomatic stance during today's UN Security Council debate in this Slate piece. The highlights:
"In Friday's council debate, they made two arguments against a U.S. invasion of Iraq. First, they said it was unnecessary because Iraq has begun to comply with U.N. inspections. Second, they warned that an attack on Iraq without U.N. approval would ruin the credibility of the United Nations, on which the security of every nation, including ours, depends.
Are inspections more effective than force? Is the United Nations a better guarantor of U.S. security than American power is? Both questions are fraudulent. Inspections depend on force, and the United Nations depends on the United States. The French and Germans are telling us not to mess with the status quo, when the status quo is us....
Nice try, Joschka and Dominique. We aren't fooled. We're touched by your pleas for relevance. And we're flattered that the only rival you can put up against us is ourselves."
WHAT ABOUT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES?: David
WHAT ABOUT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES?: David Adesnik over at OxBlog has a series of informative posts on how many civilian casualties the U.S. military has caused during the past decade or so of armed conflicts. Click here for Kosovo; here for the first Gulf War; and here for Afghanistan (plus a smackdown of Marc Herold). Key findings:
1) While any loss of life is tragic, these numbers are smal compared to other wars that have taken place in these countries.
It should be noted that much of Adesnik's info comes from the good people at Human Rights Watch.
MEMO TO DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR
MEMO TO DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT: Apparently you've all decided that it's necessary to publicly comment on important foreign policy matters. On Iraq, you may be tempted to spout the standard line about Bush as a unilateralist, blah, blah, blah.
Here's a suggestion: read Michael Walzer's op-ed in today's New York Times. Walzer recognizes that simple opposition to a big war is not a viable policy option:
"The American march is depressing, but the failure of opponents of the war to offer a plausible alternative is equally depressing. France and Russia undoubtedly raised the diplomatic stakes on Wednesday by threatening to veto a new Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. But they once again failed to follow up the rhetoric with anything meaningful.
What would a plausible alternative look like? The way to avoid a big war is to intensify the little war that the United States is already fighting. It is using force against Iraq every day — to protect the no-flight zones and to stop and search ships heading for Iraqi ports. Only the American threat to use force makes the inspections possible — and possibly effective.
When the French claim that force is a 'last resort,' they are denying that the little war is going on. And, indeed, France is not participating in it in any significant way. The little war is almost entirely the work of American and British forces; the opponents of the big war have not been prepared to join or support or even acknowledge the work that the little war requires."
So he offers one of his own, which confronts both Saddam Hussein and Jacques Chirac:
"First, extend the northern and southern no-flight zones to include the whole country. America has already drastically restricted Iraqi sovereignty, so this would not be anything new. There are military reasons for the extension — the range of missiles, the speed of planes, the reach of radar all make it difficult for the United States and Britain to defend the northern and the southern regions of Iraq without control of central airspace. But the main reason would be punitive: Iraq has never accepted the containment regime put in place after the gulf war, and its refusal to do that should lead to tighter and tighter containment.
Second, impose the 'smart sanctions' that the Bush administration talked about before 9/11 and insist that Iraq's trading partners commit themselves to enforcing them. Washington should announce sanctions of its own against countries that don't cooperate, and it should also punish any companies that try to sell military equipment to Iraq. Third, the United States should expand the United Nations' monitoring system in all the ways that have recently been proposed: adding inspectors, bringing in United Nations soldiers (to guard military installations after they have been inspected), sending surveillance planes without providing 48 hours' notice, and so on.
Finally, the United States should challenge the French to make good on their claim that force is indeed a last resort by mobilizing troops of their own and sending them to the gulf. Otherwise, what they are saying is that if things get very bad, they will unleash the American army. And Saddam Hussein knows that the French will never admit that things have gotten that bad. So, if they are serious, the French have to mount a credible threat of their own. Or better, they have to join the United States in every aspect of the little war."
Will this work? I doubt it. But it's the best and most concrete counterproposal to the current policy that I've seen yet. Plus, it allows Democrats to simultaneously talk tough and advocate for peace.
P.S. Go to &c for some more advice on this matter.
DREZNER GETS RESULTS FROM THE
DREZNER GETS RESULTS FROM THE ECONOMIST!: The Economist has just reviewed Fareed Zakaria's new book, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. Their critique is eerily reminiscent of another review of Zakaria's thesis that appeared last month. Some key paragraphs from the Economist review:
"America is not Mr Zakaria's main focus: the developing world is. And it is here that his Big Idea begins to get bogged down. He argues that countries need a history of building liberty and an income per head of at least $5,000 if they are to begin sustaining liberal democracy. That gives him just nine candidates, and a strange batch they are—Romania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran. Yet many countries have managed the trick without meeting those preconditions, including Japan, Costa Rica and, despite his strictures, India. [Hey, didn't you provide the exact same list of countries?--ed. Yes, but I mentioned Botswana and the Baltic states as well.]
He writes rather as if countries face a simple choice between establishing democracy or maintaining incremental reform. In practice, new democracies have often begun because the previous regime had collapsed and there was no other way of establishing legitimacy.....
Illiberal democracies are volatile. That does not necessarily make them worse for themselves or the world in the long run. It is a matter of timing: they get the bad news out early. Reforming autocracies leave tough political problems until later, in the hope they will be more manageable. That is not necessarily an argument against rapid democratisation. Mr Zakaria's book is not an attack on democracy, but on its over-extension. He calls the problem 'too much of a good thing'. The same might be said of this book."
To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Hmmm.... Influencing the zeitgeist..."
IMAGINE IF WE WERE FOCUSED:
IMAGINE IF WE WERE FOCUSED: Another blow to Al Qaeda, according to Reuters:
"Two sons of Osama bin Laden were wounded and possibly arrested in an operation by U.S. and Afghan troops in Afghanistan which killed at least nine suspected al Qaeda members, a Pakistani official said on Friday.
The operation took place on Thursday in the Ribat area, where the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran meet, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, home minister of the western province of Baluchistan, told Reuters....
A U.S. official in Washington could not immediately confirm or deny the report of bin Laden's sons' capture. 'We don't have any information to substantiate that,' he said."
Remember, the conflict with Iraq is supposed to be distracting us from the war on terrorism.
ADVANTAGE: VOLOKH!!: Michael Kinsley's columns
ADVANTAGE: VOLOKH!!: Michael Kinsley's columns in Slate have been getting stranger with each passing week. This week's effort -- which suggests that Bush doesn't mind rising oil prices because it helps his friends -- is the most inchoate yet. I was going to blog a rebuttal, but Eugene Volokh has done a nice job of dismantling it. And also check out Joesph Grieco's insightful essay on the exact relationship between war and oil. [FULL DISCLOSURE: I know Joe pretty well, as we do research in the same area.]
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a fisking of Kinsley on his site.
The sports desk though his audience was the Cubs' pitching staff
The first paragraph of Michael Tackett's "news analysis" of Bush's press conference in today's Chicago Tribune:
"On some occasions when the subject has been Iraq, President Bush clearly has been speaking to the world. This time, as he signaled more firmly than ever a path toward war, he seemed to be speaking pointedly to the American people."
The first paragraph of today's lead editorial in the Tribune:
"At the beginning of his televised press conference Thursday night, President Bush spoke less to the American people than to the 14 other nations that sit on the United Nations Security Council. The question the council faces now, Bush said, is whether Saddam Hussein has complied with international demands that he fully disarm."
Thursday, March 6, 2003
ANOTHER SCHOLAR-BLOGGER: Amitai Etzioni, a
Welcome to the Blogosphere, Professor Etzioni.
PRESS CONFERENCE MUSINGS: In the
PRESS CONFERENCE MUSINGS: In the immediate wake of President Bush's press conference:
1) This is not personal; it's strictly business. For all of the claims that Bush is acting like a cowboy, what struck me was how sober, how somber he sounded. It was clear that in his calculations, "the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action." There was no anger in his voice or his words, either at Iraq or our erstwhile allies. Instead, there was sadness and a heavy heart about the decision that lies ahead of him.
2) The President understands the value of protestors. I thought one of his best responses came on his reaction to the protestors. He -- quite rightly -- made the connection between the current anti-war protests and prior anti-globalization protests. The illogic of the anti-globalization movement makes Bush's implication clear: even if millions of people say that 2 + 2 = 5, it doesn't make it so.
3) Bush believes in "honest multilateralism." Consistent with what I wrote last month, Bush thinks that multilateralism is a means to an end. He's not afraid of discord -- he'd rather have any disagreement out in the open. It is this quality above all that flummoxes an Old Europe that prefers a false display of consensus to principled differences of opinion.
UPDATE: Kieran Healy has a nice roundup of the Blogosphere reaction. Shockingly, those on the left found it uninspiring while those on the right found it straightforward. Jonah Goldberg has a good point on which audience Bush was targeting.
THAT'S A LUCKY MAN: You
"It's not enough for these "feminists" that sexuality, or even specifically female sexuality, be used as an oxymoronic anti-war weapon, but that it must be denial of female sexuality that is the weapon, that very special tool for keeping their social order and their status quo intact. Sex, after all, should only be given up in the appropriate manner and to the appropriate person, and woe to they who disagree...waitaminute, this is starting to sound kinda familiar...
What also galls me is that these women are claiming not only sex, but femininity itself as a uniformly passive, gentle, loving, pacifist attribute. What rubbish. I shouldn't support waging war on a mass-killing dictator because as a woman, my place is to elevate discourse and consensus and eschew 'manly', messy action? They're even implying that if I am not a peaceful, good-mannered, right-thinking woman like them, a woman for peace, then perhaps I am not really a woman at all? And these are the women who are telling me this?"
Read the whole thing. The whole f@%$ing thing. It explains the title to this post.
THE COARSENING OF DIPLOMACY: 2003
THE COARSENING OF DIPLOMACY: 2003 has not been a good year for diplomatic niceties. Donald Rumsfeld compares Germany to Cuba and Libya; Jacques Chirac telling Eastern Europe to shut up; Canadian MPs calling Americans "bastards"; Congressional representatives threatening a U.S. withdrawal from the WTO, or comparing Osama bin Laden to Ethan Allen. Clearly, the prospect of war is making everyone testy, causing people who should know better to shoot their mouths off. Some of these statements fall into the "Kinsley gaffe" category, while others are simply beyond-the-pale, offensive, stupid tripe.
Compared to Middle Eastern diplomacy, however, the above examples are pretty tame stuff.
A Kinsley gaffe first: At last Saturday's Arab League summit, Libyan leader Muhammar Khaddafi [Is that how you spell it?--ed. Don't start] accused Saudi Arabia of making a pact with the devil by allowing U.S. forces to be stationed in the region. Crown Prince Abdullah responded -- on live television, mind you -- with the following:
"Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and not an agent of colonialism like you and others. As for you, who brought you to power? Don't talk about matters that you fail to prove. You are a liar, while the grave is ahead of you."
Khaddafi has responded by withdrawing his ambassador from Riyadh and threatening to withdraw from the Arab League.
Now the beyond-the-pale tripe: With that effort at establishing Arab comity a failure, the countries of the region tried again at yesterday's Organization of the Islamic Conference. That meeting -- broadcast live on satellite TV -- didn't go so well either:
"After Kuwait's foreign minister used his speech to the summit to call on Saddam to step down to avert war, Iraq's Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri accused the Kuwaiti minister in his own speech of 'threatening Iraq's security at the core' by allowing U.S. troops on Kuwaiti soil.
Sheik Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, another Kuwaiti minister, interrupted al-Douri, calling the Iraqi's remarks lies.
Al-Douri responded: 'Shut up, you monkey. Curse be upon your mustache, you traitor.' 'Mustache' is a traditional Arabic term for honor.
'This is hypocrisy and falsehood,' Sheik Mohammed shot back."
Needless to say, much of the Middle Eastern press is upset at these displays of ill temper and Arab disunity [Yes, it must distract from directing their vitriol against Israel--ed. You said it, I didn't]
THE DECISION: According to Matt
THE DECISION: According to Matt Drudge, last night was decision night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
"President Bush on Wednesday night was to make the ultimate call whether to strike and invade Iraq with military force, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
A top White House source offered few details, but did reveal the president would make a 'defining decision' by morning....
Plans for a major speech on Iraq next week by the president were under review. Bush might give Saddam a very short time period to disarm completely, perhaps as little as 72 hours, before military action."
In related news, I just finished Richard Brookhiser's cover story in the Atlantic Monthly . It's not available on line, but it's a pretty good read -- if nothing else, it puts into perspective the role of Bush's faith in his decision-making. This summary is accurate:
"He [Brookhiser] concludes that Bush's greatest strength is the clarity of his strategic and personal vision. His greatest weakness? Imagination."
Wednesday, March 5, 2003
GOOD FOR OPRAH: Oprah Winfrey
GOOD FOR OPRAH: Oprah Winfrey is restarting her book club -- with a twist:
"Winfrey sent a jolt of excitement through the publishing world last Wednesday when she revealed plans to resume her phenomenally successful book club after a 10-month hiatus.
This time, though, she plans to shine the spotlight on literary classics. She will try to bring to life books and authors that many people haven't attempted to read since high school or college, if ever.
For the club, tentatively titled 'Traveling with the Classics,' Winfrey said she expects to make three to five picks a year. In addition to on-air discussions of the chosen work, she will take the show to locations around the world related to the books' plots or their authors' lives."
Given that Winfrey was able to convert all 46 of her previous book-club picks into best sellers, it will be interesting to see if she has a similar effect on more "classical" works.
The reason I like this is that it's bound to lead to roiling debates about whether Oprah is destroying, simplifying, or revitalizing the "canon." The article is a bit vague on what Winfrey considers a "literary classic", although one tipoff is her observation: "I can't imagine a world where there is no Shakespeare, where there's no Tolstoy or George Eliot or Toni Morrison or Proust or Hemingway or Steinbeck."
I'm sure that the debate, plus people actually reading Winfrey's suggestions, will have an edifying effect.
Oh, and publishers love it.
A DEPRESSING DAY FOR U.S.
A DEPRESSING DAY FOR U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: Regular readers of this blog know that I strongly support an attack on Iraq, even if the United Nations doesn't go along. However, I will admit that today, the spillovers of that policy are dragging me down. I've already discussed the significant opportunity costs of keeping Iraq on the front burner indefinitely. Today is one of those days when the costs are front and center while the benefits seem like a distant mirage. Consider:
1) Michael Tomasky on the deteriorating state of Mexican-American relations (I think he's exaggerating things, but not too much).
2) The Los Angeles Times on the Bush administration's apparent acceptance of North Korean nuclear proliferation (link via Kevin Drum, who has more to say on this).
3) Slate's Fred Kaplan, who's been extremely sympathetic to an invasion of Iraq, assessing the month of diplomacy since Powell's UN speech: "It is becoming increasingly and distressingly clear that, however justified the coming war with Iraq may be, the Bush administration is in no shape—diplomatically, politically, or intellectually—to wage it or at least to settle its aftermath. It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign-policy crisis or been so distrusted by so many friends and foes as a result."
Do I agree with everything that's said in these links? No. Do I think these pieces exaggerate? Yes. Is there something to what they're saying? Alas, I believe so.
The U.S. has to deal with the resentment that comes with being the global hegemon, China, Germany, France and Russia acting like spoiled teenage brats, and a lot of trouble spots in the globe. The Bush administration has not been dealt the best of diplomatic hands. That said, today is one of those days when I think the administration could be husbanding its hole cards a little better.
UPDATE: This Washington Post analysis captures a bit of what I'm feeling:
"The Bush administration this week has become increasingly isolated in the world over its determination to topple the Iraqi government, leaving it in a diplomatically difficult position in advance of a critical U.N. Security Council meeting Friday.
By contrast, Iraq has made great headway in splintering the Security Council, making it less likely it will approve a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing military action. Iraq over the weekend began complying with a demand to destroy missiles that exceeded U.N. restrictions, provided unrestricted access to seven scientists and promised to answer inspectors' questions on its weapons programs."
However, if you read further, it's clear that the foundation of this week's events was laid weeks and months ago:
"A number of foreign diplomats said they were taken aback -- even betrayed -- by what they perceived as the administration's rush to war. They seized on any evidence of Iraqi cooperation to argue that the inspections were working and that imminent military action was not necessary. Positions were so hardened by early last month that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's extensive presentation of Iraqi misdeeds to the Security Council failed to sway many minds."
The $64,000 question is the last paragraph of the piece:
"The administration has frequently threatened that the United Nations would become irrelevant if the United States is forced to wage war without U.N. backing. But that argument has been turned on its head. France and other nations increasingly appear to believe a rejection of the U.S. position would rein in an administration they feel has been consumed with hubris."
I strongly suspect that France has grossly miscalculated the administration's willingness to act regardless of what transpires at the Security Council this week.
THEY NEVER LEARN: A disturbing
THEY NEVER LEARN: A disturbing rite of passage for new Treasury secretaries is, within the first weeks of office, to make a Kinsley Gaffe -- accidentally speaking the truth when silence would suffice. I suspect this is because they simply can't comprehend the notion that a single offhand remark can move markets -- until they utter an offhand remark that moves markets.
For reasons that remain a mystery, the Bush appointees inevitably screw up on the "strong dollar" policy:
"Mr Snow's remarks that he was not concerned by the recent fall in the dollar - which he said was within normal ranges - made perfect economic sense. Unfortunately, they also betrayed a worrying lack of market savvy and an inability to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor, Paul O'Neill....
If Mr Snow is to follow the example of one of his predecessors, then Robert Rubin or Larry Summers would be much better choices than Mr O'Neill. Both realised little could be gained by expressing an opinion on the dollar's moves. If Treasury secretaries express concern at a fall in the dollar and then do nothing they lose credibility. If they appear unconcerned, they risk fuelling the move. As a result, whenever asked about the dollar Mr Rubin and Mr O'Neill simply intoned the mantra that they supported a strong currency, and left the market to draw conclusions about what this meant."
As a result of Snow's comments, the dollar is now at a 4-year low against the Euro.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, both Robert Rubin and Larry Summers did make similar gaffes when they first came to the Treasury department. However, they quickly learned on the job. Paul O'Neill did not learn on the job. Let's hope Snow is a fast learner.
[Why should the U.S. support a strong dollar? Doesn't this worsen our balance of trade?--ed. Yes, but it has compensating benefits. A strong dollar helps to keep inflation low (by keeping the price of imported goods down) and interest rates low (by attracting capital inflows). Low interest rates and low inflation contribute to robust economic growth]
DEMOCRATIZATION AND IRAQ: Can democracy
DEMOCRATIZATION AND IRAQ: Can democracy flourish in Iraq? The answer depends on which expert you ask.
Historians are skeptics. They do not like analogies to the U.S. occupation of Japan, in part because they don't like historical comparisons, period.
Regional historians believe that the ethnic cleavages and long history of authoritarianism within the country makes the notion of a successful Iraqi transition to democracy absurd.
Middle Eastern experts are skeptics because the term "Arab democracy" appears to be an oxymoron.
Experts in comparative politics are skeptical because Iraq is an oil exporter, and these "rentier states" are traditionally correlated with authoritarianism (click here for a dissenting view).
In other words, lots of experts agree that the local conditions for a liberal democracy in Iraq are not good.
These people make solid arguments, but overlooks one crucial detail -- international factors are more important than domestic factors in determining the success of democratic transition and consolidation.
The international dimension matters in two ways. First, to quote one standard text on democratization:
"the most frequent context within which a transition from authoritarian rule has begun in recent decades has been military defeat in an international conflict. Moreover, the factor which most probabilistically assured a democratic outcome was occupation by a foreign power which was itself a political democracy." (my italics)
This argument has already been out there, and is usually countered by citing the myriad domestic roadblocks combined with the point that military occupation alone does not guarantee a democratic transition. Here's where the second part kicks in -- transitions to market democracy are easier when your neighbors are market democracies. One study has found this to hold for the post-communist countries (click here for more) and there is no reason to believe that the effect is limited to that region.
It would seem that Iraq would fare poorly along this dimension, but consider:
1) Turkey is a democracy and borders Iraq to the north.
So, I'm optimistic.
THE QUINTISSENTIAL BUCKPASSING ARGUMENT: I've
THE QUINTISSENTIAL BUCKPASSING ARGUMENT: I've blogged previously about the phenomenon of other states buckpassing their international responsibilities so as to free ride of the United States. However, Stuart Taylor is both more fiery and more eloquent about the topic:
"The point is to underscore how the Europeans, South Koreans and others who have become so anti-American depend on American power -- unthinkingly, ungratefully, and completely -- for their well-being. Abdicating their own responsibilities to help maintain world order, they are free riding, as my colleague Clive Crook noted last week, on the same U.S. polices that they publicly denounce. Like a spoiled teenager who expects her parents to support her even though she refuses to do any work around the house and constantly mouths off to them, these nations enjoy the benefits of U.S. global policing while refusing to share in the costs and trashing the policeman....
The tidal wave of anti-Americanism has multiple wellsprings, of course.... But underlying them all is the implicit calculation that the safest course for European nations (and others) is to obstruct American policies while free riding on American power.
It may be too much to expect the European and Arab publics, who are fed grotesque caricatures of Bush and America by their media and intelligentsia, to grasp their own interests in helping the United States defang Iraq. But wise leadership is about seeing one's national interest in the long term, and educating public opinion instead of pandering to it. The superficially clever Chirac and Schroeder are not wise leaders. They are fools. And they are helping to bring the world closer to a dark era of nuclear anarchy."
Read the whole piece.
Tuesday, March 4, 2003
Y A-T-IL UN MOT FRANÇAIS
Y A-T-IL UN MOT FRANÇAIS POUR "WEBLOG"? JE N'AI PAS PENSÉ AINSI: Apparently the French are losing another battle. The European Union is increasingly becoming an English-speaking zone:
"The Union's public voice is increasingly anglophone. For a brief period earlier this year the spokesmen for all three major institutions in Brussels—the commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers—were British. Jonathan Faull, the commission's chief spokesman, will be replaced this month by Reijo Kemppinen, a Finn. But for French-speakers the change is a double-edged sword. The good news for them is that this high-profile job will no longer be held by a Briton; the bad news is that Mr Faull's French is rather better than Mr Kemppinen's....
A recent study by the EU's statistical arm showed that over 92% of secondary-school students in the EU's non-English-speaking countries are studying English, compared with 33% learning French and 13% studying German....
As one would imagine, this sort of English imperialism scares the French. The Economist story provides two specific reasons for French concern, one of which is completely logical and one that is absurd:
"the rise of English within EU institutions particularly alarms the French elite because for many years the Brussels bureaucracy has been a home-from-home, designed along French administrative lines, often dominated by high-powered French officials working in French. Moreover, the emergence of English as the EU's main language gives an advantage to native English-speaking Eurocrats. As Mr Dethomas notes: 'It's just much easier to excel in your own language.'
Some French officials argue that there are wider intellectual implications that threaten the whole European enterprise. In a speech at a conference in Brussels on the French language and EU enlargement, Pierre Defraigne, a senior official at the commission, argued that 'it's not so much a single language that I fear but the single way of thinking that it brings with it.' When French was Europe's dominant language in the 18th century, French ideas were the intellectual currency of Europe. Voltaire was lionised at the Prussian court; Diderot was fêted by Russia's Catherine the Great. These days, however, ambitious young Europeans need to perfect their English and so tend to polish off their education in Britain or the United States, where they are exposed to Anglo-Saxon ideas. For a country like France, with its own distinct intellectual traditions in economics, philosophy and law, such a trend is understandably galling. The commission's Mr Defraigne worries aloud whether 'it is possible to speak English without thinking American.'”
Thinking American? Mon dieu!!
P.S. For a translation of the post title, cut and paste the text into Babel Fish.
Overstatements about Germany
The debate about Iraq is starting to debilitate people's good judgment. For example, suddenly everyone is making loopy statements about German history that perhaps should be reconsidered.
On the other hand, methinks Andrew Sullivan may be indulging in some hyperbole in his latest post on the real agendas of various international actors in the Iraq debate. Most of them make sense, but this line on Germany is over the top:
Bloggers, commentators, protestors, I beg you... no more abuses of German history!
Monday, March 3, 2003
WHY I LOVE STUDYING INTERNATIONAL
WHY I LOVE STUDYING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: One of my favorite parts of teaching IR is when I tell students anecdotes about international crises that they didn't know.
Like how during the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. warplanes came close to firing air-to-air, nuclear-armed missiles over the Soviet Far East.
Like how President Reagan actually did send a signed Bible and birthday cake to Iranian leaders in an effort to win the release of American hostages in Lebanon.
You just can't make this stuff up.
Why this should be your #1 international relations blog
Here's the original Hockey News article. I'm quite confident that these other -- alleged -- foreign affairs blogs have also failed to observe that Kournikova's official web site has nothing to say about this -- her latest diary entry is about her trip to Memphis.
I pledge to continue providing the most thorough coverage of this ongoing story... at least until the African members of the Security Council start their rose ceremony regarding the Iraq resolution.
Daniel Drezner -- your source for all aspects of international relations! [Won't this pathetically desperate ploy to attract more hits fail when it's revealed that you think Salma Hayek is much more interesting than Kournikova?--ed. No, I think that would only happen once it's revealed that I think Ashley Judd is a better conversationalist than Kournikova]
*Even if Den Beste did have this news, wouldn't it take you more than an hour to read through his post on it?
UPDATE: For those readers who would find Colin Farrell more interesting than any of the aforementioned ladies , click over to Farrellblogger for a pretty amusing anecdote involving a BMW, a pub, and some tight shorts.
IS THE FINANCIAL TIMES RECYCLING
IS THE FINANCIAL TIMES RECYCLING ITS STORIES?: According to the FT, the liberalization of European Union economies is failing:
"European diplomats are warning that the European Union's liberalisation programme, intended to make Europe the world's most competitive economy by 2010, has run out of steam.
An EU summit this month, scheduled to review and inject new impetus into the liberalisation process, is instead set to be dominated by the crisis over Iraq and the problems of the EU's stability and growth pact....
But diplomats from other countries caution that progress at the summit is likely to be merely symbolic. 'The problem is Germany and France and it is clear that Schröder and Chirac are not willing to take the necessary measures,' said one EU diplomat. 'There are also worries about the watering down of the stability pact.'"
I fear this story will be recycled endlessly as long as Schröder and Chirac remain in power -- although, given the way the EU operates, it might just be endemic to the institution.
COULD BE WORSE -- COULD
COULD BE WORSE -- COULD BE AN "INSIGNIFICANT MICROBE": According to N.Z. Bear's Blogosphere ecosystem, I'm a "crawly amphibian," in contrast to the "higher beings" of Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, or Stephen Green.
Sorry, I'm flashing back to high school again. I'll be able to post again in a few hours, I'm sure.
How to demoralize Al Qaeda
Today's picture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after his capture by U.S. and Pakistani agents is precisely how to puncture the allure of Al Qaeda in the Arab community. This guy looks like a pathetic slob. That's the lasting image you want of Al Qaeda.
In general, embarrassment is a much more effective method than decapitation to destroying terrorist networks. The key to destroying such groups is to eliminate recruitment by spreading the perception that the group is ineffective. Capturing terrorist leaders and publishing photos that make them look like death warmed over is the most effective way to do this.
Empirical example: the most successful anti-terror campaign against a network of suicide terrorists was Turkey's successful battle against the Kurdish People's Party, or PKK. A turning point in this battle was Turkey's capture and trial of Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK leader. Öcalan's behavior after his capture helped knock the wind out of the PKK's sails, as this analyst notes:
"During his 1999 trial, PKK leader Öcalan apologized to the Turkish people for the PKK's 'historic mistake' of waging a war against the state, debriefed Turkish intelligence on the organization's activities, sold out every demand the PKK had ever made, and urged his followers to lay down their arms. To most observers, it was obvious that Öcalan was simply trying to save his own life."
I'd spring for the pay-per-view fee if the U.S. can get Mohammed to behave the same way.
UPDATE: Click here for one of my esteemed colleagues' takes on the strategic logic of suicide terrorism and how to fight it.
MY GEEKIEST POST YET: Two
MY GEEKIEST POST YET: Two quick thoughts after scanning InstaPundit this morning:
1) A remake of Battlestar Galactica? Yes!! An underrated sci fi series, in no small part because it actually took the concept of logistics seriously [Oh, yes, because logistics always sells--ed. Look, I said this was going to be a geeky post].
Casting the new Starbuck as a woman? Hmmm... risky but intriguing. The original Starbuck character was your classic scoundrel-with-a-heart-of-gold. Apollo, on the other hand, was the ultimate goody-goody. If -- a big if -- they let the female Starbuck be just as scoundrel-like, it would be a great twist. If they turn the female Starbuck into another Apollo, I won't be watching.
2) Note to self -- by 2004, get wife to wear baby-doll t-shirt with blogname on it. Almost as good as tenure.
UPDATE: Contrary to what David Adesnik fears, I have no intention of posting any pictures of my wife on the blog. Although David is correct in postulating that she "is so stunningly beautiful that we will be forced to ogle her for days on end." David, I would never stoop to posting about attractive women in order to attract attention.
Sunday, March 2, 2003
Memo to liberal hawks
As self-proclaimed "liberal hawks," I see you're debating whether to hope against hope that a war with Iraq will be called off due to a lack of multilateral support (even though you all support multilateral action against Iraq), leading to Bush's political downfall in 2004. You object to the absence of strong multilateral support, due to "the more-or-less inept manner in which the Bush administration has handled the build-up for war," combined with evidence that the Bush administration's plan of democracy promotion looks haphazard at best and phony at worst. Kevin Drum sums it up:
OK, as someone who's to the right of y'all, let me try to provide you with one substantive point and one cynical point while you continue your debate:
The substantive point is that when push came to shove, internationalist Republicans did support President Clinton when he used force in both Bosnia and Kosovo. In the case of Bosnia, Bob Dole supported Clinton even though it was not in his political interests to do so. They supported the President because, corny as it sounds, it was the right thing to do [C'mon, not every Republican acted this responsibly--ed. No, but most of the ones the media took seriously on foreign policy matters -- Dole, McCain, Lugar -- did act responsibly]
These "conservative hawks" supported the administration even though they also -- justifiably -- disagreed about process and planning matters. If you read Richard Holbrooke, Samantha Power or David Halberstam, it's clear that the Clinton foreign policy team took far too long to act in Bosnia. When they did act, it was in a largely ad hoc manner to avoid the shame of deploying U.S. forces to cover a withdrawal of French and British peacekeepers. In the case of Kosovo, there was such a lack of consensus about the means that Clinton decided on his pledge not to use ground troops a few hours before his televised speech in response to an offhand comment from an ex-NSC staffer. Altruism and democracy promotion were not high up on the priority list.
I dredge all of this up not to argue that the Bush team is better than the Clinton team, but rather to point out that crafting foreign policy is like making a sausage -- you really don't want to know exactly how they do it, but the end result is usually pretty tasty. The interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo were not the result of carefully crafted decisions in line with an overarching philosophy of foreign relations -- they were messy and clumsy and, in the end, did much more good than harm.
Whatever you think of Bush's intentions or his decision-making process, Tom Friedman is correct:
Even if you don't like the process by which the U.S. currently finds itself, the cause is just and the outcome in Iraq ikely to be a dramatic improvement over the status quo.
The cynical point is simple: politically, the best outcome for Democrats is for the war to take place sooner rather than later. The "no war" outcome is a nonstarter, for all of the domestic political reasons Matthew outlines. However, the longer a war is delayed, the more it benefits Republicans, for two reasons:
1) The rally-round-the-flag effect will be stronger. A successful war now will fade from memory quicker than one taking place in the fall or next spring. We're approaching the exact point in the electoral cycle when Bush 41 was riding his after the Gulf War victory. Eighteen months is a liftetime in politics. Twelve months or shorter, and Bush will be better poised to use the war to bolster his electoral chances.
2) The economic rebound will be stronger. It's clear that what's depressing business investment and consumer confidence is the uncertainty over the Iraq situation. If an attack occurs now, the economy will probably experience a short-term rebound from the reduction of uncertainty. Over the longer term, macroeconomic fundamentals like the size of the budget deficit and interest rates will kick in. Now, if you're a Democrat, you have to believe that in the long term, the "bizarrely destructive " domestic policies of the Bush administration will trigger a downturn. So, if you're a Dem, when do you want the short-term uptick in the economy to take place -- 2003 or 2004?
Have fun with your debate!
UPDATE: Kevin Drum e-mails to say I missed his biggest beef:
I think Bush's speech last week is pretty convincing evidence that he does care about democracy in the Middle East. However, this NYT Sunday Magazine story suggests the possibility that the neocon position won't necessarily win out. In any event, my main point is that even if Iraq turns out to be like Bosnia is now, that's still a dramatic improvement over the status quo, which is just wretched.
Also, be sure to read Kevin's entire post on this. My quote makes him sound more cynical than he actually is.
More on the liberal hawk debate from Dmitriy Guberman.
A COMEDY OF ERRORS ON
A COMEDY OF ERRORS ON A SHIP OF FOOLS: An apology is in order. In a previous post, I labeled as "fatuous and cynical" those individuals going to Iraq to be human shields. After reading Tim Blair's post and his collection of links regarding the latest developments, I'm afraid I must take back the words "fatuous and cynical" and replace them with "stupid and naive."
This Daily Telegraph article about the departure of eleven British human shields is just hysterical. The best parts:
"During one cold, rainy night in Milan, we were left without our sleeping bags after an Italian went AWOL with the support bus. Later, a £500 donation from a well-wisher in Istanbul was squandered on boxes of Prozac in a misguided attempt to cheer up the war-weary Iraqi civilians....
After a propaganda lecture from Dr Hashimi, one young American told me: 'It's so interesting to hear what is really going on in this country.' He scoffed at any suggestion that their good intentions might be misused by Saddam's regime: 'All we have seen here is continuous kindness and hospitality.'
Bruce, a 24-year-old Canadian wearing a T-shirt saying 'I don't want to die', was one of a group of tanned young men who were drafted into protect a grain store. Initially, he, like others, had concerns about the sites, which included an oil refinery, a water purification plant and electricity stations. He was won over when the Iraqis provided televisions, VCRs, telephones and a Play Station.
'Dr Hashimi has explained that we help the population more by staying in the "strategic sites",' he explained. His friend added: 'We play football in the afternoons and the Iraqis bring us cartons of cigarettes. It's just like summer camp.'"
Read the whole piece -- it's quite droll.
Kudos as well to Sweden's anti-war movement, which, according to the AP, has the good sense to repudiate the human shields:
"On Friday, the head of Sweden's largest peace organization urged human shields to leave Iraq, saying they were being used for propaganda purposes by Saddam Hussein.
Maria Ermanno, chairwoman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, cited reports that Iraqi officials were arranging transportation, accommodations and news conferences for the human shields.
'To go down to Iraq and live and act there on the regime's expense, then you're supporting a terrible dictator. I think that method is entirely wrong,' Ermanno told Swedish Radio."