Friday, June 13, 2003
Warning to academic bloggers: although I have no problem with Muller's post, my spider sense tells me that this is crossing a veeerrrryyyy dangerous line. I'm actually surprised more students haven't created blogs to rate their teachers. That's not a phenomenon I anticipate with glee.
[Is this because you fear being exposed as a bad teacher?--ed. No -- an alert reader pointed me to one online ranking of my teaching -- tough but clear -- which I'd describe as reasonably fair. The source of this unease is probably the same thing that causes me never to blog about my students, no matter how brilliant or inane they turn out to be. The student-teacher relationship is not like a doctor-patient one, but there are aspects that I would prefer not to see publicized. I may just be priggish on this point, however.]
It's a strange day in the blogosphere
On the one hand, we have conservative free market advocate Andrew Sullivan acting like a PBS affiliate during the middle of pledge drive week (suggested sociology thesis topic -- are NPR pledge drives strongly correlated with increased incidents of road rage?).
On the other hand, we have liberal interventionist Josh Marshall making "arrangements to start accepting advertisements on a limited basis." The paragraph that follows that quote is Marshall describing his desirable market demographic.
Actually, I wouldn't read too much into this -- Sullivan already has ads, and Marshall has collected contributions from readers. It's still pretty funny.
[Jealous that you can't attract either pledges or ad space?--ed. Again with the jealousy meme! No, I have no beef with either pledge drives or advertisements. In fact, I'm still weighing whether it would be appropriate to launch a fundraising drive to move off Blogspot and onto an independent web site. Feedback appreciated on this point. As for advertising, to quote Spinal Tap, my audience might not be larger than Marshall, but it is more... selective].
Intentions and outcomes in Iraq
Adesnik responds with New York Times and Washington Post stories demonstrating that things are improving in Iraq. For an even better example, click on this Chicago Tribune story on the U.S. position on the Marsh Arabs, a group that was the target of what can only be described as a Baathist effort at genocide.
Mediator that I am, I think both Yglesias and Adesnik are correct. I agree with Matt that Bush principals control the neocons and not vice versa. This was why I thought all the conspiracy theory hysteria of the past few months was so absurd.
However, just because the key Bushies are not closet Wilsonians does not mean they do not recognize that frequently countries do well by doing good. Everyone acknowledges that the Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam, but that is but one example of this. The administration decision to increase foreign aid by 50% and create a new AIDS initiative fall under this category as well.
I suspect there is a deeper debate underlying this question -- should individuals be rewarded for good intentions or good outcomes? If a leader acts in an altruistic fashion for self-interested reasons, how does one evaluate such behavior? I strongly suspect that one's answer to this question depends on one's political affiliation.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
What's going on in Africa?
Sudhir Muralidhar has a link-filled post updating the various areas of instability in Africa.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
WHAT'S GOING ON IN ALL
WHAT'S GOING ON IN ALL OF IRAQ?: OxBlog's David Adesnik links to a Washington Post story demonstrating the relatively high degree of cooperation between the U.S. military, Shiite clerics, and a reconstituted civilian authority in Karbala. Adesnik's conclusions:
These reports, combined with Mark Steyn's lovely travelogue, leads one to wonder if the coverage of Iraq now suffers from capital captivity. Coverage of Baghdad -- where things are clearly problematic -- is generalized to the rest of the country. Such a generalization may apply to Sunni strongholds like Fallujah and Tikrit, but not the vast majority of the country.
WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE
WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE PENTAGON?: One of the hallmarks (or frustrations, depending on your ideology) of the Bush team has been their message discipline, no matter what the clamor from the outside world. Weakness was never to be admitted or demonstrated.
It's something of a surprise, then, to see the recent torrent of statements coming from high-ranking civilians in Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department. First, Paul Wolowitz gets into trouble in a Vanity Fair interview [Are you talking about the bogus claim in the piece that had Wolfowitz asserting that the Bush administration didn't really believe its own WMD story?--ed. No, I'm talking about something else in the interview. According to Josh Marshall,
There's some dispute over whether Wolfowitz intended this part to be on the record. However, Brad DeLong is correct in pointing out that for us non-journalists, the important part of this is the substance of Wolfowitz's comments.]
Then there is Douglas Feith's attempt to refute allegations that the DoD tried to spin the WMD story. The New Republic's &c points out that Feith's attempt backfired, leading to accusations of "doublespeak" and labeling Feith and others "browbeaters."
Today, it's a Deputy Assistant Secretary, according to USA Today:
Assignment to Phil Carter: is this just a series of unanticipated screw-ups, or is this an example of Rumsfeld losing the ability to rein in his subordinates?
"You cannot say anything too bad about the Yanks and not be believed
Let me preempt your queries with some useful links
The key government documents cited in my TNR Online essay are the September 2002 National Security Strategy and the December 2002 National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction.
[UPDATE: While I was technically correct in the TNR piece when I said that the word "pre-emption" never appeared in the National Strategy to Combat WMD, I was wrong in substance. On p. 3, the document states:
Apologies for the error, and thanks to reader M.R. for e-mailing me the correction.]
Some newspapers and columnists have gotten into trouble by misquoting Bush officials, so let’s get those links out of the way. Go to this post from last week on Wolfowitz to get the gist of his comments comparing North Korea and Iraq. As for Rumsfeld, here's a link to his quote from November 2001, and here's a post of mine from late April that provides the second quote in the article. That post also discusses the Army's decision to shut down the Peacekeeping Institute.
The Pew Research Center's "Views of a Changing World 2003" is available here. The quote in the article is from page 3 of the overview.
The Niall Ferguson quote comes from his Wall Street Journal op-ed from last week. Dr. Shireen M. Mazari is the Director General of Pakistan's Institute of Strategic Studies ; her comments came from this essay.
Click here for a March 2003 Washington Monthly essay by Nicholas Confessore that discusses how U.S. military personnel are being stretched to their limit. Ironically, Confessore lowballs his estimate of how many U.S. tropps would be needed in Iraq. And, to be fair, Rumsfeld seems to be following some of Confessore's recommendations. Phillip Carter points out that even now, there are too few troops on the ground in Iraq.
THE LIMITS OF PREEMPTION: My
THE LIMITS OF PREEMPTION: My new TNR Online piece is now up. It's a discussion of why the doctrine of preemption is not going to be exercised again. Go check it out.
End of an era
George Soros is a third-rate philosopher but a first-rate philanthropist [How does he rate as an international financier?--ed Well, he used to be first-rate, but Daniel Gross now believes his influence is on the wane]. Soros has been a fixture on the Slate 60 ranking of philanthropy.David Plotz notes, "George Soros has poured much of his fortune into civil-society projects. His Open Society Institute is a Bell Labs of civil innovation, seeding schools, NGOs, and organs of a free press all over the world." He correctly identifies Soros' philanthropy as a guide for building civil society in Iraq.
So it's somewhat sad to link to this Washington Post story :
As someone who used to work for an organization that Soros helped midwife, it's worth noting that the genius of Soros' civil society work was his firm message to the organizations he funded that his largesse would be temporary. This knowledge provided the necessary incentives for these groups to keep their bureaucracy to a minimum and actually dispatch people beyond national capitals into areas that needed civil society the most. His decision to largely pull out of Russia is fully consistent with that philosophy.
To reiterate -- I think Soros' philosophy is hackwork and his politics border on the histrionic. In his philanthropy, however, Soros epitomizes the rare combination of geneosity and hard-headedness that is needed to build civil societies from the ground up.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
A GENERATIONAL BREAK?: This Josh
A GENERATIONAL BREAK?: This Josh Chafetz post suggests that by 2008, there will be a clear dividing line among conservatives between those who still care about the Clinton Wars and those who have moved past it:
I'm with Josh on this... and I've never even met Chelsea (go read Josh's post to understand that line).
Monday, June 9, 2003
What's wrong with Hillary Clinton and the press
Brad Delong has yet to recover from his policy run-in with Hillary Clinton in the early 1990's:
Keep reading his post for precise details of Clinton acting like a martinet.
Now, upon first reading this, I strangely found myself to the left of DeLong. The health care debacle happened a decade ago, when Clinton was new to the ways of Washington. A lot has happened since then. I don't have any great love for Hillary Clinton, but I do believe that people can learn from their mistakes.
Then we go to Andrew Sullivan's reaction to Clinton's interview with Barbara Walters:
So I wind up agreeing with DeLong (and Sullivan) after all.
What got DeLong exercised in the first place was this week's Economist "Lexington" essay on Hillary's prospects for the presidency in 2008. The essay really sets DeLong off:
What's interesting about this rant is DeLong's implicit belief that good opinion writing should care only about normative outcomes and not tactical political analysis. This is utter nonsense -- the best opinion writing contains elements of both.
Which leads me to the smartest thing I've read on this point in a good long while -- from Virginia Postrel on what ails the New York Times: