Friday, April 25, 2003
Should this trend be encouraged?
This story provides more explanation:
Hmmm... you know, come to think of it, Salma Hayek also opposed the war with Iraq. Why, that makes her... positively un-American!! [That may be because she's a Mexican citizen.--ed. It's the weekend. Shut up and let me have my fun.]
Just thinking out loud....
UPDATE: Patrick Belton has some less puerile thoughts on the topic.
NORTH KOREA UPDATE: First, exactly
NORTH KOREA UPDATE: First, exactly what did North Korea say in their negotiations with the U.S. and China? From today's Washington Post:
North Korean negotiators have told U.S. officials in Beijing that the communist nation possesses nuclear weapons and threatened to export them or conduct a "physical demonstration," U.S. officials said yesterday....
U.S. officials said North Korea declared it had nuclear weapons as officials were milling about in corridors on Wednesday, the first day of the talks among the United States, North Korea and China. The top North Korean official at the talks, Li Gun, pulled aside the highest-ranking American present, Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly, and told him that North Korea has nuclear weapons. "We can't dismantle them," Li told Kelly. "It's up to you whether we do a physical demonstration or transfer them."
U.S. officials are still puzzling over the statement and its exact meaning, including whether North Korea was threatening to test a nuclear weapon. But, a senior official said, "it was very fast, very categorical and obviously very scripted."
OK, it's safe to say this is not good news. However, the really weird aspect of this has been that, in the wake of North Korea's admission, China is more upset than South Korea. From the Financial Times: China is supposed to be North Korea's closest ally. But the failure of US-North Korean talks brokered by Beijing this week has severely tried the patience of the Chinese government, diplomats and people close to the talks said on Friday.....
"The talks failed to achieve the results that China wanted. After putting so much effort into this the Chinese are pretty frustrated with the Koreans," said one foreign diplomat. Another person close to the talks said that, behind a smiling public façade, Chinese diplomats were seething at North Korea's behaviour.....
[W]hat is becoming increasingly clear is that, behind the rhetoric, Beijing's regard for the regime of Kim Jong-il (pictured), the North Korean dictator, has virtually evaporated. Any residual affinity from the days of socialist brotherhood more than a decade ago has gone.
"Korea is a huge problem," said one government official.
On the other hand, there's South Korea's reaction:
UPDATE: Kevin Drum has more on the disturbing South Korean reaction.
A minor complaint
However, the story line that really frosted me was from a few years ago, when Ross was sleeping with an undergraduate. If the caricature of academia in the Blogosphere is a collection of tenured radicals, the caricature of academia in popular culture is a collection of lecherous white male who inevitably bed one or more of their students.
This is true across mediums. Of the top of my head:
Movies: What Lies Beneath, Loser, Terms of Endearment, Moonstruck.
There is no fighting it; if a fictional character is a white male professor, nine times out of ten he's sleeping with the co-ed.
Why is this? Probably because, in the absence of illicit sex, our jobs appear to be intensely boring to the outside world.
UPDATE: Josh Cherniss thinks this phenomenon is simply an extension of the fact that sex sells in fiction. Maybe he's right -- however, what upsets me is affair-with-coed is the only persistent trope in the fictional depiction of academics.
MORE ON SANTORUM: Give the
MORE ON SANTORUM: Give the progressives their due -- like a stopped clock, they are right every once in a while.
Example? The left anticipated Santorum would put his foot in his mouth five years ago.
In March 1998, Progressive magazine selected Santorum as the dumbest member of Congress. Yes, it's a biased list, but the entry on Santorum is still pretty funny. The key grafs:
Go read the whole entry on Santorum -- the Bob Kerrey quote is pretty funny.
Thanks to alert reader J.B. for the link.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reports on the first White House comment on Santorum:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a more pessimistic interpretation of Bush's statement -- and he could be right. He's certainly on the money when he says this:
THE PARALLELS CONTINUE: In the
THE PARALLELS CONTINUE: In the run-up to Gulf War II, I'd commented and linked to comments on the historical parallels between the anti-war movement and the nuclear freeze protests of the early eighties.
Well, another one is emerging -- the financial link between these protest movements and totalitarian dictatorships. There's evidence that the nuclear freeze movement received some funding from the Soviet government (click here and here).
Now it turns out that The Mariam Appeal -- a prominent British anti-war group that opposed Operation Iraqi Freedom and is headed by Labor MP George Galloway -- received funds from Saddam Hussein. Andrew Sullivan has been all over this. The Daily Telegraph broke the story a few days ago. The Guardian provides some supporting analysis. Galloway has denied receiving funds but admits that intermediaries who worked for him may have done so. The Christian Science Monitor now buttresses the original story with additional evidence:
[Are you saying this taints the entire anti-war movement?--ed. No, absolutely not. It is, however, yet another stain on the "leadership" of such social movements -- click here and here for more blemishes]
THE GREAT BLOG DEBATE: Over
THE GREAT BLOG DEBATE: Over the past few months, bloggers with higher hit counts than I have strongly encouraged me to switch from Blogger to Movable Type. In the past month, Virginia Postrel and Kevin Drum have made the leap. So why don't I?
To tell the truth, I'm sorely tempted -- Blogger has been quite aggravating as of late. I may be switching in the next few months. However, one thing that holds me back is this Virginia Postrel observation:
For those 1-2% of you out there who actually care about this question, let me know what you think about this.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
IF ONLY CELINE DION HAD
IF ONLY CELINE DION HAD BEEN IN STEERAGE: Mark Kleiman thinks shipping regulations are too stringent nowadays.
Oh, that's not really true. Go check out his interesting debate with Tom Schelling about the ethics of cost/benefit analysis.
Catching up on Rick Santorum
I'm late to the party on Rick Santorum's comments on the right to privacy and homosexuality. There's good commentary from Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, Virginia Postrel, Chris Lawrence, Kevin Drum, John Scalzi, Jonah Goldberg, and Andrew Sullivan. Jacob Levy has posted an awesome collection of links as well.
Having read the entire interview -- you should too -- I do tend to agree with Eugene Volokh that Santorum has a leg to stand on in regard to his legal arguments. Nevertheless, the following seems clear to me:
1) Santorum thinks that the public acceptance of homosexuality is destroying our country's moral fiber
UPDATE: Via Sullivan, I found this CNN transcript. Tony Blankley's comments on this are worth repeating:
That's a pretty good summary of what Alan Wolfe's research says on the topic as well.
AH, MY FAVORITE AXIS: Via
AH, MY FAVORITE AXIS: Via Tapped, I found this New York Observer report on the neoconservative ecosystem. The article occasionally veers off into the paranoid style that it explicitly warns against. Mostly, though, I found it pretty funny. My favorite part:
A MORE OPTIMISTIC POST: OK,
There's also this report from the Washington Times:
WORRYING ABOUT AFGHANISTAN: It's possible
WORRYING ABOUT AFGHANISTAN: It's possible to point to press stories indicating that things are getting better in Afghanistan. The number of returning Afghan expatriates is increasing, which is one sign of stability. Kandahar now has an Internet cafe. Polio vaccinations have drastically reduced the rate of infection in the country.
So, does that mean things are -- on the whole -- improving in the country? No, I'm afraid the security situation is getting worse.
Much, much worse.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to chat with a high-ranking member of our armed forces. This is the kind of guy who presents a generally unflappable demeanor. It was an off-the-record conversation, so I can't say what he told me exactly. It was clear, however, that the situation in southern Afghanistan was starting to alarm him.
Further evidence comes from Jane's Intelligence Review's latest update on the Afghan situation:
Click here for today's example of the increased coordination of the anti-Karzai forces.
Part of the problem with the increased strength of the oppoosition forces is that it forces the Karzai government to rely even more on tribal militias, contradicting efforts to create a truly national military. The Christian Science Monitor explains:
The U.S. response and the Afghan government's response to this has been to step up security patrols in the affected areas, and to apply pressure on Pakistan to cut off any covert support for Taliban remnants.
The final source of my pessimism comes from someone who knows Afghanistan well, Barnett Rubin. Read this VOA report and it's clear his outlook has become more pessimistic since I heard him in January.
Clearly, more effort needs to be devoted to the country. Given all the focus that will be on Iraq, my concern is that this situation will be permitted to deteriorate even further, because Afghanistan is off the front pages and because many of the same government officials responsible for Afghanistan are dealing with Iraq as well.
Developing... and for the moment, not in a good way.
UPDATE: CNN reports on another firefight along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
A STEP FORWARD FOR THE
A STEP FORWARD FOR THE PALESTINIANS?: It appears that in response to overwhelming and persistent international pressure, Yassir Arafat has backed down and accepted Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas' proposed cabinet. Here's the AP story, and here's CNN's take.
Much of the press has played this up as a contest between Arafat trying to place his cronies and Abbas wanting to reform the Palestinian administration. That's true but incomplete in the sense that Abbas might not be that much of an improvement. Consider this extract from a New York Times story from yesterday:
Then there's this take in the Chicago Tribune:
These stories suggest two things. First, Palestinians would be willing to go along with a two-state solution provided there was evidence that their own state was managed somewhat efficiently. In other words, a leader commited to peace could get it by tying progress on that front with an anti-corruption campaign at home. Second, I'm far from convinced that Abbas will be able to pull this off.
This is definitely one post where I hope I'm eventually proven wrong.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire has more reasons to be pessimistic.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!: OxBlog is one
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!: OxBlog is one year old today -- so go check out their sight.
I, for one, find them invaluable as a labor-saving device. For example, I was going to write up a long post about why Newt Gingrich's shot across Colin Powell's bow disturbed me so much -- because it presumed that the flaws in U.S. foreign policy lay in Powell's management of the State Department and not Bush's management of his cabinet. To highlight Powell's failure at diplomacy without any mention of Donald Rumsfeld's verbal gaffes in this area strikes me as fatuous. [So you're letting Powell off the hook?--ed. Go back and read this post; I'm an equal-opportunity critic]
Fortunately, I don't have to discuss this any further. Go read David Adesnik's thorough post on the subject. It also mentions beaches in Thailand.
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, the White House is having the same reaction I did:
I'm not a lawyer, but I do get cited in court decisions
Loyal readers of this blog know that I occasionally have strong opinions regarding some attempts at international law creation these days. A sharp observer might ask, "Hey, Drezner, you study international relations. What do you know about internationational law?"
My instinctive response is, "not a lot." However, a friend just informed me that the only article I have ever published in a law journal was cited by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in their decision on the Ramzi Yousef appeal (2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 6437 for those law geeks out there). Mr. Yousef was the gentleman who helped organize the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and conspired to bomb twelve United States commercial airliners in Southeast Asia. The reference was to an obscure question regarding whether scholars of international law were -- through their writings -- the primary creators of customary international law. I was cited in part because I said the obvious -- that this was a silly contention. The observation that my article "cit[ed] extensively to relevant examples" counts as high praise -- in legalese. So I know something.
Nevertheless, I still can't claim expertise. If you want some real experts regarding international law, go read what the following people write:
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
GIVE NICHOLAS KRISTOFF HIS DUE:
GIVE NICHOLAS KRISTOFF HIS DUE: I like it when public commentators admit it when they were wrong (and Lord knows, I have to do it all too frequently). Not because it humbles them, but because it sends an important signal of credibility. It tells me that their theoretical take on the world is not rigid to the point where it distorts their empirical assessment of the world.
Which brings me to Kristoff's column today. Here's his opening:
He covers a lot of the same ground that I posted about two weeks ago. However, it carries more weight when a dove admits it.
Of course, that doesn't I think Kristoff is right in this conclusion:
We'll see whether Kristoff is correct. However, approximately 40% of Iraq are not Shi'Ite, and I'm betting that a healthy fraction of the Shi'ites don't want to see an Islamic Republic.
The key will be to see the proliferation of Iraqi media. The more people that see moderately large Shi'ite demonstrations for an Islamic republic, the more it will mobilize alternative social movements who will oppose such actions. The fundamental question is, at this point, whether hard-line Shi'ites will then choose to moderate their tone to stay in the political game a la Tajikistan, or choose secessionist or rejectionist strategies.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has more on Kristoff and the future for democracy in Iraq.
Don't tread on me
So I'm scrolling down InstaPundit when I come to his Monty Python Test. So I take it. The result?
See, this is why I don't have a comments section. I'd just go medieval on everyone.
I hope this doesn't imply that I'm just a dumb bunny.
UPDATE: Alan K. Henderson has a good roundup on the rest of the Blogosphere's Monty Python doppelgangers.
Monday, April 21, 2003
MUST-READ FOR THE DAY: It's
MUST-READ FOR THE DAY: It's actually from last month -- a New York Times translation of a Der Spiegel interview with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. It's extraordinary for several reasons. The first is Fischer's claim about the neocon vision of a post-9/11 world:
For the record, Wolfowitz vehemently denies he said this to Fischer. He wrote a letter to the editor in which he states, "I have never held the view the Foreign Minister attributes to me and did not express such a view in our meeting of Sept. 19, 2001, as the official notes of that meeting make clear." Given Fischer's apparent preference for public dissembling and private truth-telling, I tend to believe Wolfowitz on this one.
Then there's this exchange:
Really, I recommend reading the entire article -- the Der Spiegel interviewer gives Fisher a pretty good grilling.
I came away from the read depressed about Europe's map of the future. Fischer admits that "Europeans at their end started to hold strategic discussions too late. We have to catch up now." However, I can't divine any underlying social purpose behind Fisher's call for a strategic vision beyond constraining American power.
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and a cautionary note
I can't count the number of times someone in the Blogosphere (myself included) has posted initial reports of this variety and have them turn out to be either overblown or just plain wrong. There's an additional strike against this story -- the conditions under which it was reported:
So why am I posting it?
That said, take this information with a grain of salt.
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus offers additional reasons for why we should keep our skepticism in check regarding this story. Of course, he also offers a link to a Los Angeles Times story that would confirm Miller's version of events.