Thursday, May 1, 2003
A WORD FROM THE EDITOR:
A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: Drezner, since you started the blog nine months ago, you've passed 200,000 unique visits. You've been mentioned by such Blogosphere luminaries as Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, Joshua Micah Marshall, Virginia Postrel, and Glenn Reynolds. The blog has been quoted/mentioned in the Washington Post and MSNBC. You now write a monthly column for The New Republic Online. What are you going to do now?--ed.
I'm joining the Volokh Conspiracy!!
Temporarily, that is. I'll be guest-blogging there Friday and Monday. Go check it out.
UPDATING THE WAR ON TERROR:
UPDATING THE WAR ON TERROR: Civilization is starting to run up the score, according to the Chicago Tribune:
There was additional good news -- the planner of the USS Cole bombing was captured in Pakistan.
Here's the introduction to the State Department report. It turns out that multilateral diplomacy is useful for something (I'm not being sarcastic):
The report also provides an interesting graph demonstrating that, beginning in the late eighties, there has been a secular decrease in the number of terrorist attacks. In fact, the number of attacks has fallen by more than two-thirds from 1987.
So is the Bush administration just riding the wave? No. If you look at the graph closely, there was an unambiguous spike in attacks at the end of the 1990's. The Bush administration can and should take credit for arresting that worrisome increase.
THE RUMSFELD SEAL OF APPROVAL:
THE RUMSFELD SEAL OF APPROVAL: Donald Rumsfeld has declared that the war in Afghanistan is over:
The Secretary of Defense definitely gets chutzpah points for the declaration (though, to be fair, the Reuters version of the story includes some caveats). I blogged last week about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. If you don't believe me, consider the words of Ahmed Wali Karzai -- the President's brother and respresentative in southern Kandahar -- in this CBS report from early April:
If the end of major combat operations means that the U.S. is about to make a major push towards building some semblance of an infrastructure for Afghanistan, that's great. If it's a signal that America's work is done in that part of the world, that's disastrous.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
The Kerry-Dean flap
THE KERRY-DEAN FLAP: Will Saletan, Mickey Kaus, Howard Kurtz, Matt Yglesias, David Adesnik, Kevin Drum , ByWord, Daily Kos, and the entire left half of the Blogosphere are all in a tizzy over John Kerry's shot across Howard Dean's bow.
Dean was quoted in a Time magazine article saying,
Kerry's spokesman Chris "I used to shill for Gore" Lehane, in a press release, responded with:
The debate seems to revolve around whether Kerry was being fiendishly clever in a good way or in a hypocritical way. What strikes me, however, is that Kerry wasn't being fiendishly clever at all -- he was following the precise instructions laid out by the Time reporter, Karen Tumulty. Let's look at the Dean quote again in context of the Time story:
Kerry's staff does earn points for being the first one to read/exploit the Tumulty suggestion.
But clever? I think not.
On academic specialization
Boy, is that an eye-catching headline.
For those of you still reading, Kieran Healy critically reviews the myriad complaints across the Scholar-Blogosphere that academic specialization has stunted conversations within and across disciplines about Really Important Questions (NOTE TO GRADUATE STUDENTS: replace "conversations" with "discourse" and you'll understand what I'm saying). Kieran unearths a great Max Weber quote from "Science as a Vocation" that anyone contemplating writing a dissertation needs to remember:
I would add only one point here. It also helps tremendously if you can explain to yourself -- and hopefully others -- why others should care about what you care about so deeply.
Chris Bertram posts a modest rejoinder to Healy that's worth checking out as well.
P.S. Click here for those who are interested in the feudal structures of my own discipline of international relations.
SCORE ONE FOR THE TRIBE!:
SCORE ONE FOR THE TRIBE!: Click on this Eugene Volokh post and you'll see that I'm guilty of a really bad pun.
A FRENCH FAUX PAS: Jacob
The topic is recent French attempts to integrate Muslims into the secular state. Apparently, it's not working out as planned.
A RESPONSIBLE MIDDLE EAST?: Let
A RESPONSIBLE MIDDLE EAST?: Let me preface this post by saying that I'm going to be wildly optimistic. I recognize that terrorism, potential terrorism and general disorder continue to haunt this region.
However, one gets the definite impression that governments in the regime are beginning to comprehend that they need to change their ways.
Consider the new Palestinian prime minister. I don't know how long he will last, but his first speech sent a powerful signal, according to the Washington Post:
Then there is Libya, which today owned up to some previous nastiness:
Acknowledging that democratic representation is important and that terrorism is bad are baby steps for most of the world. In the Middle East, however, their significance should not be understated.
As I said, I'm being wildly optimistic (for example, click here for my last post about the new Palestinian PM, and here for the NYT's skepticism about Saudi Arabia's future). It's possible that terrorism and extremism on both sides will torpedo any chance at an Israeli-Palestinian peace, or that Saudi reforms will go nowhere. But maybe the elimination of the Iraqi problem will cause a genuine move toward more responsible governance.
Developing... in a good way, I hope.
UPDATE: Brian Ulrich e-mails that I missed another promising development -- in a popular referendum, Qatar just approved their first constitution. It's not perfectly democratic, but it does allow for a partially elected legislature, and more importantly, has provisions guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom from torture.
The Washington Times story on the Qatari referendum also contains some intriguing news about Syria:
DREZNER GETS RESULTS ON SAUDI
The only troops that will remain in Saudi Arabia will be a small training mission that has been deployed in the country since the Truman administration.
So much for the American Empire. This is a signal difference between the U.S. and other hegemons of the past -- when countries don't want U.S. bases, the military packs up and leaves.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Is the U.S. helping poor countries?
The Center for Global Development (which is an offshoot of the Institute for International Economics, one of Washington's best think tanks) has just released a report that, "grades 21 rich nations on whether their aid, trade, migration, investment, peacekeeping, and environmental policies help or hurt poor nations." Here's the technical version of the report. Foreign Policy is publishing an summary version of it -- and the Financial Times has a quick run-down of the findings:
Is this a damning indictment of U.S. foreign policy? Yes and no.
The report deservedly takes the U.S. to task for being foreign aid misers and for tying American aid to U.S. purchases. The report also slams the U.S. for its poor record on legal migration.
However, on some of the other policy dimension, the report is stacked against the U.S. On the security dimension, for example, the measure is: “Countries' contributions to the U.N. peacekeeping budget (which funds operations in dozens of countries) and personnel contributions to international peacekeeping efforts.” This conveniently overlooks the role the U.S. military plays in preserving global security [C’mon, how significant is that?—ed. Let's go to Gregg Easterbrook's essay on U.S. military superiority from the Sunday New York Times]:
There are other flaws in the study that I'll be discussing in the near future.
That said, I'd still recommend taking a look at it.
Tips for new bloggers
Starting a blog? Want to get noticed?
For the big fish perspective, here's Eugene Volokh's perspective. The part of the post I agree with the most:
The part of Eugene's post that I sort of disagree with is his claim that
Maybe it's the contrarian in me, but I like posts that disagree with my argument -- if they rest on a compelling conceptual or empirical basis.
An additional note for those using Blogger -- make sure your f#@&ing permalinks are working.
From the smaller fish's perspective, here's Will Baude's perspective. The part I agree with the most:
Monday, April 28, 2003
THE IRAQ-AL QAEDA LINK: Andrew
THE IRAQ-AL QAEDA LINK: Andrew Sullivan and Michael Totten both link to the Daily Telegraph story discovering a document linking Hussein's regime to Al Qaeda. The Toronto Star co-broke the story -- here's their version of it. The Star also reprints the key section of the three-page document. Here it is, annotated:
Maybe the meeting went nowhere, maybe it didn't. What's clear is that in 1998, both Al Qaeda and Iraq's government were interested in cooperating.
I had thought the Al Qaeda link was the weakest part of the justification for going to war with Iraq. It will be interesting to see if more documents emerge.
IS THE WHEEL TURNING IN
IS THE WHEEL TURNING IN BERKELEY?: I have done some scary things in my life. I have sky-dived. I have bungee jumped. I drank water straight from the tap in Moscow. I've flown Uzbekistan Airways, for God's sake. However, when anyone has asked me what's the scariest thing I've ever done, I tell them unequivocally that it was when I walked up Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley wearing a business suit (I was en route to a job interview).
The article makes an excellent point, however -- that Berkeley is no longer the liberal stereotype of yore, in part because of the increasing diversity of students on campus:
Here's a link to the California Patriot description of events -- they have pictures.
SHIITE MEME OF THE WEEK:
SHIITE MEME OF THE WEEK: Last week's meme was all about how the United States had underestimated the power of Shiite clerics in Iraq, and how the most influential Shiite mullahs in Iraq are clearly linked to Iran.
My prediction is that the meme that will emerge this week is the potentially growing rift between Iran's government and Iraqi Shiite leaders.
My evidence? Two bits of data -- which is all that's needed for a media meme to develop. First, members of the largest Shia group - the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) -- attended Monday's United States-sponsored meeting of Iraqi groups with Jay Garner "to discuss the formation of a transitional administration for Iraq." SCIRI had boycotted a similar meeting held in Nasiriyah two weeks ago. At a minimum, this means that SCIRI recognizes it will need to deal with the United States if it wants to play a future role in governing Iraq.
Even the BBC acknowledges the diversity of Shia opinion:
Second, there's this New York Times piece:
I'm not even close to being an expert on intra-Shiite relations, so I'm not saying that Iran will have no influence in postwar Iraq. However, these stories certainly muddy up the claim that Iraq is on course to becoming a Shiite theocracy under the thumb of Iran's mullahs.
WELL, THIS IS A SURPRISE:
WELL, THIS IS A SURPRISE: This Financial Times discovery speaks for itself:
DREZNER GETS RESULTS ON SAUDI
DREZNER GETS RESULTS ON SAUDI ARABIA!: One of the reasons I gave back in the fall for supporting the use of force in Iraq was that removing Saddam Hussein would also remove the need for large-scale U.S. forces to be in Saudi Arabia. That troop presence has been a major irritant in the region. It was also destabilizing the Saudi regime -- and not in the good way that neocons dream about.
From today's New York Times:
Getting U.S. forces out of the same country where the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina is an unambiguously good thing.
Reading the Times piece, what struck me was not just that this was smart foreign policy, but the wildly divergent attitudes of the Saudis and Qataris on hosting the U.S. military:
This is a win-win-win situation. Qatar gets the U.S. military presence it wants. Saudi Arabia gets to reduce the U.S. military presence it loathes. The United States gets to improve relations with two countries in the region simultaneously.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
REGARDING THAT FRIENDS POST: You
REGARDING THAT FRIENDS POST: You complain about academic stereotypes in popular culture, and the blogs beat a path to your door. Posts from Amanda Butler, Stephen Karlson, Andrew Cory, and The Crooked Heart on the topic.