Friday, May 9, 2003
More on Bush's Middle East initiative
Hey, that's my line!!
These are truly depressing statistics.
That should make these folks very happy.
These statements strike me as intuitively obvious. I therefore predict European criticism that Bush was being too lenient on the Israelis.
Again, my only criticism was the failure to mention Turkey at all in the speech. Part of promoting freedom means accepting the inconveniences that come with it, and Turkey's behavior in March falls under that category. Pretending like they have no constructive role to play in this initiative is foolhardy.
NATIONALISM AND FINANCE: In light
NATIONALISM AND FINANCE: In light of the Euro hitting a four-year high against the dollar today, this CNN story should provide a cautionary warning for those who believe that nationalism plays no role in global financial markets: The key grafs:
Drezner gets results on free trade in the Middle East!!
From today's New York Times:
The only thing that worries me about this is the suggestion in the article that Turkey be excluded from such a free trade area. I'm going to assume that the administration appreciates the fact that excluding the one stable, pro-Western, established Muslim democracy from any proposed agreement would be counterproductive in the long term.
Thursday, May 8, 2003
TRAGEDY IN CHICAGO: The Onion
TRAGEDY IN CHICAGO: The Onion has the scoop.
MORE ON DISCIPLINARY BOUNDARIES: Last
MORE ON DISCIPLINARY BOUNDARIES: Last week I took Megan McArdle to task for asserting that the economic mode of analysis was superior to theories and methodologies that emerged from other social science and the humanities.
Now, just because I thought Megan was exaggerating things doesn't mean I think economists should stick to their disciplinary knitting and never attempt to explain other phenomenon. For example, consider this Chicago Tribune story about a University of Chicago economist venturing into the humanities:
Read the whole piece. Galenson's typology of artists -- "conceptual" and "experimental" -- and his method for appraising their artistic value -- how their work is valued in auctions -- are hardly slam-dunk assertions. But they are pretty interesting, and art historians do a disservice to themselves by pretending they don't exist or are beyond the pale.
Wednesday, May 7, 2003
THE STRAUSSIAN CONSPIRACY, CONT'D: Seymour
THE STRAUSSIAN CONSPIRACY, CONT'D: Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker essay goes even further than the New York Times in arguing that there's Straussian conspiracy that's captured American foreign policy. [Wait, wasn't this published the day after the New York Times published their Strauss story? And wasn't Hersh formerly a New York Times reporter? Surely this isn't a coincidence?--ed. Maybe conspiracies beget conspiracies. Or maybe you need a vacation]
The essay focuses on the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, which functioned as a "Team B" of intelligence ferreting out links between Iraq and Al Qaeda in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some highlights:
I'll give Hersh some credit -- unlike the Times piece, he makes an effort to actually link Strauss' ideas to current trends in foreign policy. In the end, however, this piece has the same problem as all conspiracy theories -- a lot more is implied than actually proven.
Then there's Hersh's track record over the past two years. Jack Shafer neatly eviscerates Hersh in this Slate piece:
I'll keep updating the Straussian meme's half-life as it develops.
(Full disclosure: During my brief stint at RAND in the mid-90's, I worked with and for Shulsky.)
DECOMPRESSION IN THE MIDDLE EAST:
DECOMPRESSION IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Last week, I blogged about the small but promising steps being taken by various Arab states to reject terrorism and acknowledge the importance of democratic accountability. The countries discussed included Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, and the Palestinian Authority.
One country I missed was Jordan. But David Adesnik (scroll down) has a lot of links and analysis indicating that King Abdullah is now prepared to restart democratic reforms that were frozen in the 9/11 aftermath. Go check it out.
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
ARE LIBERALS LESS COSMOPOLITAN THAN
ARE LIBERALS LESS COSMOPOLITAN THAN CONSERVATIVES?: This is the question Michael Totten, a good liberal, asks. His answer is yes:
Read the whole piece for his explanation as to why this is the case. Roger L. Simon has more on this as well.
UPDATE: Kieran Healy posts a response. Be sure to read the comments, which includes a response from Michael Totten.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias weighs in, defending Totten's thesis.
MORE ON AFGHANISTAN: When we
MORE ON AFGHANISTAN: When we last left off, Donald Rumsfeld has declared the war in Afganistan to be essentially over.
Today's news from Afghanistan:
1) U.S. special forces were fired upon by rockets in Eastern Afghanistan
2) The New York Times reports that Taliban loyalists in Quetta Pakistan are increasingly active: "The Taliban presence is so strong that even many of those who have been refugees here for 20 years seem to believe that the Taliban will return to power in Afghanistan."
3) The chief UN envoy says the deteriorating security situation is affecting statebuiolding in Afghanistan:
4) The first anti-American protest was held in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban . It only attracted 300 people, so take the news for what it's worth.
5) A prominent Afghan academic says that cronyism and nepotism are plaguing the Karzai government.
MORE ON NORTH KOREA: As
MORE ON NORTH KOREA: As I said over at the Volokh Conspiracy, I'm worried about North Korea. For more on the situation on the ground, Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has a nice round-up, and points out -- again -- that South Korea's reluctance to confront North Korea makes the situation an extremely dicey one.
HELLO, TECH CENTRAL STATION READERS!!:
HELLO, TECH CENTRAL STATION READERS!!: My first Tech Central Station essay is up -- it's a critique of the joint Foreign Policy/Center for Global Development effort to rate how much the U.S. and other developed countries' policies help or hurt poor countries. Go check it out.
For those interested TCS readers, this blog post has some additional information on the subject.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds managed to post a link to my TCS essay before I did.
Monday, May 5, 2003
BACK ON TUESDAY: Still guest-blogging
BACK ON TUESDAY: Still guest-blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy. I'll be back here tomorrow.
Sunday, May 4, 2003
The conspiracy narrows
The search for a secret cabal running the government continues. First it was the neoconservatives. Then it was, more specifically, Jewish neoconservatives. Now, according to the New York Times, it's Straussian neoconservatives:
This is pretty weak stuff. In the end, you have one genuine Straussian devotee -- Wolfowitz -- in the government. The rest -- Perle, Kristol, Schmitt -- may be intellectual forces to be reckoned with, but none of them hold a position in the Bush administration (Perle resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board last month).
These myriad variations of the same conspiracy story are growing tedious. Bob Lieber does a nice job of demolishing them in a Chronicle of Higher Education essay. The key grafs:
Sigh. What Lieber says is pretty damn obvious, but it's depressing that it needs to be constantly repeated.
I miss the good old days of conspiracy-mongering, when the Trilateral Commission was supposed to be running things.
Those readers expecting me -- as a member of the very same political science department as Strauss -- to comment further on the Straussian angle will be disappointed. No, it's not because someone got to me. It's because this is all ancient history to me, and since I'm not a political theorist, I have little incentive to keep up on Strauss' legacy. Hopefully, Jacob Levy will be able to post a comment or two.