Saturday, September 27, 2003
Krauthammer fisks Kennedy -- film at eleven!
To which Krauthammer responds:
It's worth comparing Iraq to the Clinton administration's deecision to intervene in Bosnia in the summer of 1995.
If you read Richard Holbrooke, Samantha Power or David Halberstam, it's pretty clear that Clinton acted in Bosnia because he wanted to avoid the political fallout from either further massacres or having to rescue French and British peacekeepers, particularly during a presidential election year.
Now, there were risks to intervention as well, and it's to Clinton's credit that he took the appropriate action. However, at the time, I don't recall (correct me if I'm wrong) accusations that Clinton was acting in a political manner in his use of force, even though there was an element of this to his actions. And, as I pointed out before, the Republican leadership at the time supported Clinton's actions.
They didn't accuse him of waging the war to win the election.
P.S. If you check my aforementioned post, you'll see that Thomas Friedman made Krauthammer's point back in March with even greater force:
Friday, September 26, 2003
DanielDrezner.com gets results from Eric Zorn!!
In a previous post on j-blogs, I wrote:
In response, Eric has written an excellent blog post. You should read the whole thing, but Zorn provides a new and interesting analogy on how editors should think of j-blogs:
Really, I'm serious, read the whole thing.
The Iraqi free trade zone
It appears that after a day of wavering, Iraq's Governing Council is now endorsing Iraqi Finance Minister Kamil Mubdir al-Gailani's plans for sweeping liberalization of the economy. This includes allowing 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses in all economic sectors except oil. Among the proposals:
This plan has drawn criticism from the usual quarters -- namely, Palestinians and the left -- as somehow generating a fire sale of Iraq for Western looters. Actually, the big winners here are the Iraqis themselves.
Since the fall of Saddam, Iraq has essentially functioned as a free trade zone. The benefits of this of this for Iraqis are readily apparent in the explosion of consumption over the past five months. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on this over the summer, and now USA Today follows up with a report indicating that the rise in cobsumption is also sourring entrepreneurial activity (link via Glenn Reynolds and Virginia Postrel). The key grafs:
Opening up investment to foreigners is crucial to preventing Iraq from reverting back to the statist nightmares that Egypt, Syria, Iran, et al are currently experiencing. Permitting foreign ownership of banks helps ensure that capital markets won't be repressed by the state as an act of political favortism. The policies being put forward to liberalize Iraq's economy are an excellent first step to installing the proper restraints on state intervention in the economy.
As a coda, I'm always amused by people who simultaneously supported the anti-globalization movement and condemned the sanctions against Iraq. In one case, the exchange of goods and services is evil -- in the other case, the exchange of goods and services is essential.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall links to a Guardian story suggesting that even with a small Iraqi state, there will still be favortism. And check out this Chicago Tribune story on the Iraqi entrepreneurial class.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
An ode to lunch
The Chicago Weekly, an independent student paper that appears to have no online home, asked me to write a small essay for the returning students. So, reprinted here, is my ode to the leisurely lunch:
[Yeah, but do you practice what you preach?--ed. In fact, this very day I had an exquisite lunch at a lovely restaurant in the Loop with two esteemed colleagues, one of whom blogs at some conspiracy site. Though in this case, it was a last blast before classes start.]
Bloggers are definitely moving up in the world.
No coherent narrative
A lot of bloggers have linked to it already, but in case you haven't seen it yet, USA Today ran a story earlier this week on media coverage of Iraq that confirms my "no single narrative" argument from last month.
Go check it out.
To quote David Brooks:
Ladies and gentlemen, your counterweight to the United States
It is the belief of prominent Europeans -- and some Americans -- that the European Union will emerge as the primary rival to the United States in world politics. Of course, this requres that a) most of the member states have a common set of preferences; b) EU institutions acquire greater material capabilities; and c) EU official competently administer those resources.
This is the continuation of an ongoing scandal from the late 1990's. It's not the only scandal involving EU officials, however. Two years ago, Europol -- Europe's top police agency -- was raided by Dutch police after it was discovered that some officers had engaged in money laundering. When the leading anti-money laundering unit in Europe is busted for laundering money, you do begin to wonder about the competency of European officialdom.
No government is corruption-free. But if Eurocrats can't handle a €98 billion budget, what happens when their state capacity starts to expand?
Why David Adesnik is really wrong
When I started reading David Adesnik's "jeremiad" against political science while he was guest-blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, I started to cringe. Then I got mad.
There's a very big difference between creating new data and using new statistical techniques to analyze old data. I strongly suspect Adesnik's source of irritation is the latter. The former is way too rare in the discipline, especially in international relations. Mostly that's because building new data sets takes a lot of time and the rewards in terms of professional advancement are not great, whereas relying on old data has no fixed costs.
This is one reason why Pape's article is worthy of note -- he actually collected new data, which leads to results that Adesnik himself admits are "surprising."
David mistakenly conflates creating new data with the use of fancy statistical techniques when they're not necessary. The latter can be a occupational hazard -- though I'd argue that the greater danger is the proliferation of sophisticated regression analysis software like STATA to people who don't have the faintest friggin' clue whether their econometric model corresponds to their theoretical model.
Sigh. Of all the social sciences -- including economics -- I'll bet that political scientists actually spend the most time discussing what constitutes proper scientific work. This is partly due to insecurity, but it's also due to a refreshing humility about the difficulty of the enterprise. For good examples of this sort of debate, click here for one example, and here's another. And, for good measure, click here, here, and here. Note that some of these works disagree with each other -- and I certainly disagree with some of them. [So, has any good come from these books?--ed. Sometimes I think this has generated a healthy debate within the discipline, and other times I think it's just navel-gazing.]
I have no doubt that historians can, through closely argued scholarship, identify which groups are extremist -- ex post. The key is to find descriptive characteristics that can be identified ex ante. Without ex ante markers to identify proper explanatory variables, theories degenerate into tautologies. Islamic affiliation is a descriptive category that can be identified ex ante, and Pape's discovery that it's not correlated with suicide attacks is a relevant and counterintuitive finding. To be fair, Pape has some good points. As his study shows, democracies are the almost exclusive targets of suicide attacks, because liberal political systems are vulnerable to terror. Moreover, he is probably right that there is an element of rational calculation behind such attacks, since even extremists have an interest in success. Still, it is absolutely impossible to explain the tactics of Al Qaeda or Hamas without reference to their perverse ideologies. This is a nice summary of Pape's value-added. On the "perverse ideologies" question, I don't think Pape would disagree. Without the ideology, it's impossible to delineate these groups' substantive preferences. The real problem is that Pape, like so many political scientists, abandons all nuance in deriving policy programs from his work. As I see it, the cause of this unsubtle approach is political scientists' obsession with statistics, a pursuit that dulls their sensitivity to the compexity of real-world political events. If numbers are your thing, you're going to have a hard time explaining why Israelis and Palestinians have spent five decades fighting over narrow tracts of land. I agree with Adesnik that one can draw different conclusions from Pape's findings than he does -- and this is a weakness in the paper. However, to attribute this to Pape's obsession with statistics is amusing on a number of levels, many of which Chris Lawrence explained. Let's just say that Bob Pape would not be considered welcome at a meeting of the large-N brotherhood at APSA. Indeed, Pape fully supports the Perestroika movement that I've discussed previously. So then, what is to be done? As you might of heard, many political science programs require training in statistics but not foreign languages. That trend has to be sharply reversed. Learning foreign languages promotes immersion in foreign cultures and ideas, which in turn make it hard to ignore the role of those cultures and ideas in the realm of politics. Given that politics is an art rather than a science, there is no substitute for getting inside the minds of those we study. I'm perfectly happy to see more cultural immersion, but the notion that such training will automatically induce greater understanding is horses@&t. Witness the self-criticisms -- or rather, the lack thereof -- within the Middle Eastern Studies community in the wake of 9/11. These people are deeply immersed in the culture and language of the Arab peoples. Is Adesnik really suggesting that people like Edward Said can enlighten us about the region? In conclusion, politics is an art and a science, a simple fact that many people within and without political science seem incapable of understanding. And for Pete's sake, read the whole paper before penning a jeremiad like that. The great flaw of modern political science is its desire to imitate microeconomists (and share in their prestige) by developing theorems that explain and predict the behavior of rational actors. Of course, that is exactly the wrong way to go about things. It is only when political scientists recognize that ideas and values are what drive politicians and voters that they will begin to produce something worthy of the name "science". Chris Lawrence explains what's wrong with this statement.
To be fair, Pape has some good points. As his study shows, democracies are the almost exclusive targets of suicide attacks, because liberal political systems are vulnerable to terror. Moreover, he is probably right that there is an element of rational calculation behind such attacks, since even extremists have an interest in success. Still, it is absolutely impossible to explain the tactics of Al Qaeda or Hamas without reference to their perverse ideologies.
This is a nice summary of Pape's value-added. On the "perverse ideologies" question, I don't think Pape would disagree. Without the ideology, it's impossible to delineate these groups' substantive preferences.
The real problem is that Pape, like so many political scientists, abandons all nuance in deriving policy programs from his work.
As I see it, the cause of this unsubtle approach is political scientists' obsession with statistics, a pursuit that dulls their sensitivity to the compexity of real-world political events. If numbers are your thing, you're going to have a hard time explaining why Israelis and Palestinians have spent five decades fighting over narrow tracts of land.
I agree with Adesnik that one can draw different conclusions from Pape's findings than he does -- and this is a weakness in the paper. However, to attribute this to Pape's obsession with statistics is amusing on a number of levels, many of which Chris Lawrence explained. Let's just say that Bob Pape would not be considered welcome at a meeting of the large-N brotherhood at APSA. Indeed, Pape fully supports the Perestroika movement that I've discussed previously.
So then, what is to be done? As you might of heard, many political science programs require training in statistics but not foreign languages. That trend has to be sharply reversed. Learning foreign languages promotes immersion in foreign cultures and ideas, which in turn make it hard to ignore the role of those cultures and ideas in the realm of politics. Given that politics is an art rather than a science, there is no substitute for getting inside the minds of those we study.
I'm perfectly happy to see more cultural immersion, but the notion that such training will automatically induce greater understanding is horses@&t. Witness the self-criticisms -- or rather, the lack thereof -- within the Middle Eastern Studies community in the wake of 9/11. These people are deeply immersed in the culture and language of the Arab peoples. Is Adesnik really suggesting that people like Edward Said can enlighten us about the region?
In conclusion, politics is an art and a science, a simple fact that many people within and without political science seem incapable of understanding.
And for Pete's sake, read the whole paper before penning a jeremiad like that.
The great flaw of modern political science is its desire to imitate microeconomists (and share in their prestige) by developing theorems that explain and predict the behavior of rational actors. Of course, that is exactly the wrong way to go about things. It is only when political scientists recognize that ideas and values are what drive politicians and voters that they will begin to produce something worthy of the name "science".
Chris Lawrence explains what's wrong with this statement.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
What Arnold hath wrought
I am willing to bet that in entire blogosphere -- hell, the entire mediasphere -- no one predicted this as an outcome of Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign:
Colorado, eh? Well, Navratilova vs. Owens could be an interesting race. It would be much more interesting, however, if the Republicans found a more formidable opponent.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
The Sacramento Bee responds
At least one reader responded to my suggestion [You mean my suggestion--ed. It's all good] on how to respond to the Sacramento Bee's ombudsman Tony Marcano's distaste for letting Daniel Weintraub's blog go unedited -- they e-mailed Marcano.
To which the ombudsman replied:
I'm not going to reprint the reader's entire e-mail to the ombudsman, but the only thing in it that was remotely close to insulting was the final question: "When did the the Bee turn so gutless?"
Now I'll admit that I probably wouldn't have phrased it that harshly, but given that the ombudsman's job is to hear complaints, doesn't this response suggest someone too thin-skinned for the job?
Undeterred, our trusty reader pressed forward in his search for a response. He finally succeeded in getting a real reply from David Holwerk, who is Weintraub's editor. Here's his reply:
This is a pretty decent response in my book. Good editors deal with good writers by improving the form of the writing so that the content is clear. I'm not a regular reader of Weintraub's blog, so only time will tell if this is what actually happens. As a statement of what an editor does, however, Holwerk's reply sounds like a promising start.
Of course, Mickey Kaus has his own thoughts on the matter:
Hmmmm.... given that the Bee's editorial staff also has created their own group blog, this may be a case of newsroom subcultures clashing.
Definitely click on the Kaus link, by the way. It's a long and information-rich post.
A very special survey
As part of the paper I'm co-authoring on the power and politics of blogs, I am making a humble request to those who are employed as journalists, columnists, commentators, producers, or editors for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. Please take two minutes and send me an e-mail* (be sure to include the media outlet you work for as well as your job title) at firstname.lastname@example.org with answers to the following five questions [Oh, sure, then you'll broadcast their answers to your friends!--ed. All responses will be treated as confidential unless you give me permission to do otherwise in your e-mail]:
UPDATE: In the first 24 hours, I've already received 50 relevant responses. Many thanks to everyone who linked to the request, particularly Glenn Reynolds, Kevin Drum, Cory Doctorow, Howard Bashman, James Joyner, Josh Chafetz, Scripting News, and Jim Romenesko.
ANOTHER UPDATE: We're almost at the 100 mark!
If you fit the criteria and haven't responded yet, please do so!! Pretty please!!
*Do NOT post your answers in the comment box below. It's been disabled for this post -- because otherwise, your answers would be available for all the world to read!!
A new blog project
Over the past year, I've been asked whether blogging can contribute to scholarship. While I've been positive about the effect of blogging on my academic writing style, I'm otherwise leery of mixing the two. Hell, last week I told the Chicago Tribune:
I suspect my aversion to mixing the two is akin to the "worlds colliding" idea that was done to perfection on "The Pool Guy" episode from Seinfeld: I'm worried about whether Blogger Dan and Scholar Dan can co-exist in the same world.
To test out what happens when worlds collide, I've decided to co-author a scholarly paper on the power and politics of blogging with fellow political scientist and fellow blogger Henry Farrell from Crooked Timber. The idea will be to present this paper at the 2004 American Political Science Association annual meeting. Henry and I are hoping to chair a roundtable on blogging; some heavy-hitters in the blogosphere who shall remain nameless for the moment have already committed.
In the ensuing months, we'll make drafts of the paper available to the blogosphere and invite comments or criticisms. For this post, however, we're just looking for two things. The first is feedback on the definition of a blog. Our working definition -- partly inspired by the feedback from this post -- is as follows:
Whaddaya think -- too vague? Too specific? Too wordy? Comments or suggestions for improvement are welcomed.
The second request is for links to working papers or journal articles on the political effects of blogs. I'm NOT talking about the articles that appear every six months like clockwork in the major dailies with headlines like "Americans Are Agog About Blogs!!" I'm talking about papers with more substance.
Here's our limited bibliography:
Jeffrey A. Henning, "The Blogging Iceberg," October 2003.
Pejman Yousefzadeh, "The Rt. Honorable Blogger," Tech Central Station, November 12, 2003.
Any readers who know of any papers beyond those listed, please let me know about them.
I look forward to your comments.
UPDATE: Here's a web page replete with newpaper stories on blogs. Thanks to alert reader K.M. for the link!!
Listen to the radio
Interested in the connections between war and trade?
From 12-1 PM Central time, I'll be on Odyssey, nationally syndicated radio show hosted by Gretchen Helfrich and produced by WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio.
Tune in on your radio dial, or listen via the Internet by clicking here. FYI, there is a call-in segment towards the end of the hour.
UPDATE: Well, that was easily the most enjoyable experience I've had doing a radio program. Good conversation, deep without getting too jargony or off-topic, nicely managed by Gretchen, and quality production. It helped, of course, that the other "expert" was Eugene Gholz. Eugene and I did not agree so much that we were always on the same page, but we did agree on enough Big Things to be in the same book.
Monday, September 22, 2003
Your John Edwards moment
Whatever the merits of Wesley Clark's decision to seek the Democratic nomination for President, Clark did succed in one area -- hogging the spotlight from John Edwards' formal announcement that he was also seeking the nomination. I don't care what Edwards says about this -- though no fault of the Edwards campaign, the timing sucked.
We here at DanielDrezner.com don't think that's fair. [We don't? Does this mean we're endorsing Edwards?--ed. Absolutely not. However, I've admired some of the things he's done during the past year, and I do think the Dems are prematurely slighting his candidacy.] In response, we bring you this cornucopia of John Edwards information:
Why the Red Sox will win it all
In the wake of my last Red Sox post, Tom Maguire has been teasing me about my baseball loyalties. So with the final week of the regular season upon us, this post -- a few thoughts and a bold prediction -- is just for him:
1) Statistical indicators indicate that the Red Sox have a 97.4% chance of reaching the postseason. Woo-hoo!!
Indeed. This is the attitude of a true Red Sox fan. As opposed to this sort of behavior.
3) Just to jinx the team as they try to clinch a playoff spot this week, here's my explanation for why this team will win the World Series this year: they're better prepated prepared for overcoming temporary disasters than any other team in baseball.
According to Tom Tippett, in all of Major League Baseball, the Red Sox have endured the greatest number of defeats this year in situations where they should have won (by generating more total bases than the other team). He concludes: "Boston hasn't taken full advantage of its opportunities this year." I'd be even harsher -- factor Tippett's criteria in with Sox' second-worst bullpen in the American League, and one can only conclude that the Red Sox lead the league in "heartbreaking losses."
However, it's worth quoting Tippett more extensively:
The key to the Red Sox success this year is that they have refused to allow heartbreaking losses to affect their overall equilibrium. It would obviously be better if they had no such losses. The key, however, is that such reversals don't cause the team to go into a tailspin.
This is why the Red Sox will win the whole shebang -- playoff baseball is all about heartbreakingly close games. The team that wins the playoff series is the one that can live with temporary disappointment and then come back the next day and play better baseball.
The obvious example is the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite two dramatically blown saves by Byung-Hyung Kim in Yankee Stadium, a manager that had no touch in terms of pitching changes, and a powerful symbolism that suggested the Yankees should win in the wake of 9/11, Arizona gutted out the series and won in it in seven games.
Most teams that enter the postseason are used to success and unaccustomed to staggering reverses. The 2003 Red Sox, on the other hand, are veterans of this sort of emotional workout.
Of course, they also have Kim as their closer.
[If you're wrong, you're setting yourself up for a world of hurt--ed. Yeah, but if I'm right, this post will ring throughout the ages... or at least make up for my disastrous political predictions.]
The unstable equilibrium of j-blogs
The Sacramento Bee has decided to "edit" Daniel Weintraub's blog. According to their ombudsman:
This has prompted much gnashing of teeth across the blogosphere. The usual suspects -- Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, and Robert Tagorda -- are all over it. Kaus does the best job of identifying the problem with the Bee's "reform":
That's a lovely sentiment, but my strong suspicion is that newspaper editors will be congenitally incapable of following through on it. Editors, like many managers, tend towards risk-averse behavior. Editing a blog lowers the probability of stepping into an unwanted controversy, while allowing a journalist to roam unfettered in the blogosphere has little upside.
I agree that it's a shame that Weintraub's blog is being muffled -- but I also think that this incident is endemic to the unstable nature of the j-blog phenomenon. [How do you know -- you're not a journalist!!--ed. Call it my "right now" take. But I may be wrong. Eric Zorn, I'm looking in your direction to correct me if I am] And I'm not sure that anything can be done about it.
[What if bloggers and their readers e-mailed the Bee's ombudsman to point out that controversy swings both ways?--ed. What a subversive thought!! And you, an editor no less!!]
UPDATE: Well, it does appear as if bloggers have the power to get sportswriters fired at the Sacramento Bee (link via David Pinto).
Jacques Chirac flunks international relations theory
Today is the beginning of comprehensive exams for some graduate students in my department at the University of Chicago. To those students -- good luck, and stop wasting time reading this drivel!!
I thought about the exams after reading the New York Times' exclusive interview with Jacques Chirac (see also the accompanying news story). For Chriac, I could provide a set of customized questions after reading the interview. Three samples:
In what way will the transfer of de jure sovereignty without de facto responsibility accelerate statebuilding in Iraq? Is sovereignty without responsibility merely an example of organized hypocrisy, or is there normative content to this concept?
Please reconcile your theory of emerging blocs with the statement that the U.S. and Europe share the same values and interests.
Given the history of uprisings against Saddam Hussein prior to 2003, please identify a theory -- any theory -- of world politics that would be consistent with your prediction.
Alas, I fear Chirac would not pass the exam. His international relations worldview is about as clear as.... as.... Salma Hayek has been on what she wants in a man. [Where the hell did that come from?--ed. If you read Salma's comments, you'll see that it's an apt analogy!!]
The William Jennings Bryan of Israel
The New York Times reports on a gala 80th birthday party for Shimon Peres, the grand old man of Israel's Labor Party. Some highlights:
It is, perhaps, indecorous to point out a man's flaws on his 80th birthday. [If you were a high-falutin' op-ed columnist, maybe. You're just a blogger--ed. Well, that does make me feel better.] Peres' legacy in Israeli history will probably not be as sparkling as his birthday party suggests.
Although Peres has been Prime Minister twice, he may be the most incompetent politician in Israel's short history. How incompetent? Peres, when leading the Labor Party into a general election, never won an electoral victory over the Likud party. The closest he came was in the mid-1980's when, despite the previous Likud government contributing to hyperinflation, Peres was only able to get Labor to win enough seats to enter a power-sharing deal with Likud. In the mid-1990s, despite a Nobel Peace Prize and a martyred leader in Rabin, Peres lost to Benjamin Netanyahu.
Peres may be respected worldwide, but in Israel he's the William Jennings Bryan of politics. Bryan was a three-time Democratic nominee for President and a three-time loser in the general election. Bryan may have achieved the ultimate Pyrrhic victory when he successfully prosecuted the Scopes monkey trial but lost the larger public debate on evolution.
I hope I'm wrong, but I fear that the Oslo accords will be Peres' monkey trial. Perhaps the most telling sentence in the NYT article, and the one that regretfully consigns Peres to a minor place in the annals of history: "No prominent Palestinian or Arab figures were present, though Mr. Peres has many longstanding relationships in the Arab world."