Friday, December 19, 2003

Libya decides to bandwagon

Agree or disagree with the Bush administration, this is great news:

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say Libya has confirmed that it sought to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, but now intends to dismantle the program.

At the White House Friday evening, Mr. Bush said Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi will allow the entry of international inspectors to confirm that its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs are destroyed.

Speaking in London, Mr. Blair said Mr. Ghadhafi vowed to dismantle the weapons programs in a transparent and verifiable manner. Mr. Blair said the decision came after nine months of negotiations.

Since Lockerbie, Ghadhafi has been pretty quiet on the whole terrorism/rogue state front. Over the past decade, he's repeatedly made noises about wanting better relations with the West. And he's probably such an idiosyncratic character that it would be tough to call him part of any trend.

Still, one has to wonder -- does this happen if the U.S. doesn't invade Iraq? [But the negotiations started nine months ago!--ed. And the war was just beginning at that precise moment.]

UPDATE: President Bush clearly thinks there's a link:

Our understanding with Libya came about through quiet diplomacy. It is a result, however, of policies and principles declared to all. Over the last two years, a great coalition of nations has come together to oppose terror and to oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We've been clear in our purposes. We have shown resolve. In word and in action, we have clarified the choices left to potential adversaries. And when leaders make the wise and responsible choice, when they renounce terror and weapons of mass destruction, as Colonel Ghadafi has now done, they serve the interest of their own people and they add to the security of all nations.

So does the New York Times in a truly humble editorial:

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are entitled to claim a large share of the credit for Libya's surprising announcement. To an extent that cannot be precisely measured, the fate of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted from power by the American military with British backing after endless prevaricating about Iraqi weapons programs, must have been an important consideration in Libya's decision....

Over the past five years, by turning over two suspects for trial, acknowledging its complicity in the Lockerbie bombing and paying compensation to victims' families, Libya finally managed to persuade the United Nations Security Council to lift the international sanctions that had shadowed its economy and its international reputation for more than a decade. Those sanctions were lifted in September. This page recommended lifting American sanctions as well, but President Bush left them in place pending further steps, most notably Libya's decision to end its unconventional weapons programs. It is now clear that he was right to do so. The added American pressure worked just as intended.

. The Times has more behind-the-scenes info here. The White House also has a fuller description of the agreement (links courtesy of Kathy Kinsley).

posted by Dan at 07:01 PM | Comments (32) | Trackbacks (4)

When is American culture not American?

Tyler Cowen blogs from a UNESCO meeting. Glenn Reynolds points out some of the positives in the post. I found this part more interesting/depressing:

[B]oth the French and French-Canadian views are allied by a great suspicion of American culture and of Hollywood in particular. I was quite surprised to hear The Lord of the Rings movies used as an example of how cinema reflects an American point of view. Of course the director Peter Jackson is a New Zealander. The author Tolkien was a Brit, and his stories drew on a wide range of influences, many of them Nordic. Most of the characters in the movie are not even human beings. How can this possibly be said to represent American culture in any way that is prejudicial to the Europeans?

Of course, it's not only American culture that scares the French government.

Jacob Levy provides more LOTR commentary for, "the loving nitpickery of the fan-- isn't that what the internet is for?"

UPDATE: This anecdote in Newsweek's cover story on Return of the King was pretty funny:

“The Return of the King” also delivers spectacular battle sequences—which probably goes without saying, given [Peter] Jackson’s lifelong fascination with warfare. (Tell him you’ve seen an early screening of “Master and Commander,” and he’ll nod excitedly and ask, “How are the battles?” Tell him you’ve seen “The Last Samurai,” and he’ll nod excitedly and ask, “How are the battles?”)

posted by Dan at 04:45 PM | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (0)

The freedom tower

I confess that I have not followed the debate over replacing the World Trade Towers in Manhattan. But, the proposed tower was unveiled today -- a curving, simple spire of 1,776 feet to be called the Freedom Tower. Here's how the proposed replacement will look:


Go check out the New York Times and Los Angeles Times for the backstory. ABC has a lovely picture of the future skyline.

My reaction is akin to how Montgomery Burns felt about Marge Simpson's portrait of him in "Brush With Greatness":

"You know, I'm no art critic, but I know what I hate. And... I don't hate this."

posted by Dan at 03:19 PM | Comments (27) | Trackbacks (1)

New trade deal

I've taken a fair number of potshots at the administration for its flirtations with protectionism. It would be churlish (my word of the day) not to congratulate them on negotiating a Central American Free Trade Agreement. According to the Financial Times:

The agreement with El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala will eliminate all tariffs on industrial goods over a decade, and will gradually phase out protection of agricultural products over the next 20 years. It will also force the Central American countries to deregulate most sectors of their economies and adopt strong protection for US patents, trademarks and copyrights....

Costa Rica, which has the largest economy in the region and is the biggest market for US exporters, refused to conclude the negotiations because of US demands that it liberalise its monopoly telecommunications and insurance sectors.

Mr Zoellick said the US was prepared to resume talks with Costa Rica next month and hoped it would make the needed concessions to become part of the agreement.

If Lloyd Gruber's hypothesis in Ruling the World is true, you have to conclude that Costa Rica will accede to the agreement.

Ratification looks to be a fun fight.

posted by Dan at 11:26 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Dean under fire

Howard Dean is catching all kinds of hell this week, in large part for a churlish line in his foreign policy speech that I didn't mention in my own critique: "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer."

TNR Bush-hater Jonathan Chait how has an anyone-but-Dean blog. Andrew Sullivan links to two examples: Spinsanity and the Washington Post. Here's an excerpt from the latter:

[T]here are important differences between the Democratic front-runner, Howard Dean, and the other five [prominent Democrats]. In his speech Monday, Mr. Dean alone portrayed the recruiting of allies for Iraq as a means to "relieve the burden on the U.S." -- that is, to quickly draw down American forces. Only he omitted democracy from his goals for Iraq and the Middle East. And only Mr. Dean made the extraordinary argument that the capture of Saddam Hussein "has not made Americans safer."

Mr. Dean's carefully prepared speech was described as a move toward the center, but in key ways it shifted him farther from the mainstream. A year ago Mr. Dean told a television audience that "there's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies," but last weekend he declared that "I never said Saddam was a danger to the United States." Mr. Dean has at times argued that the United States must remain engaged to bring democracy to Iraq, yet the word is conspicuously omitted from the formula of "stable self-government" he now proposes. The former Vermont governor has compiled a disturbing record of misstatements and contradictions on foreign policy; maybe he will shift yet again, this time toward more responsible positions.

Now Michael Kinsley goes after him as well:

Howard Dean's comments this week offer both a negative and a positive case study. He broke the most obvious rule: Pretend, at least, that you're enjoying the party. Don't stint or quibble.

Looks bad for Dean... or does it?

This is not the first time Dean has put his foot in his mouth and lived to tell the tale. None of the Dean's campaign's comparative advantages are really threatened by this latest blunder. It's already clear that DC Democrats loathe and fear Dean -- to his base, however, this is just feeding the beast.

If anything, the hope these criticisms offer to the rest of the Democratic field merely increases the likelihood that all of them will stay in the race, splintering the anyone-but-Dean vote and letting him win by plurality. That, plus some key endorsements, should erase this talk of third parties.

posted by Dan at 11:11 AM | Comments (29) | Trackbacks (2)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Who's going to be on trial?

In the wake of Saddam's capture, there's been some murmurings that since "we created Saddam," his capture will prove embarrassing to the United States in general and Donald Rumsfeld in particular

I said my peace on this sort of nonsense six months ago. So go read Martin Kramer on this point instead.

UPDATE: The New Republic is hosting a debate between Anne-Marie Slaughter and Ruth Wedgwood on the trial of Saddam (link via Josh Chafetz). These are two heavyweights in matters of international law, so go check it out.

posted by Dan at 03:48 PM | Comments (51) | Trackbacks (0)

Let's go to the mailbag!!

Yesterday's Slate essay has inspired a much stronger reaction than my last Slate essay. Probably because it's featured on the MSN portal today.

The following is an (edited) collection of the most... "out there" responses I've received, and will be updated as the day goes along:

"[Y]our love for Howard Dean is to palpabable.... As for the IRAQ war, in fact the whole Muslim Middle east, something has to be done about their crusade against the west and America. Especially after the attack on 9/11/2001. We need to perform a crusade (1930's Germany style) against the Muslims and throw out of America all Muslims back to the Middle East as they do not support the US Constitution, much like yourself."

"Who died and left you in charge of National Security. It sounds if you would let all of the killers of the Mideast walk right and in take over America!!!"

"Sadly however, you ignored or opted out on the Pinocchio theory.... the current administration is based on lies, lies, (and will full apologies to Samuel Clement) damn lies. So there you have it from the “Left of Che Guevara” contingent of the Boomer generation. And yes, if you must be bitchy about it, I still read from my Thoughts of Chairman Mao book. What, you don’t?"

"I read the above captioned article and can easily tell that you are a democrat. It must be nice to sit back and "monday morning quarteback" the president. Your views are so far to the left, I'm sure some of your text must have been a rewording of a Marxist doctrine."

"Israel and the Israeli lobby in the U.S. are the ones that really call the shots in the substance and execution of our middle eastern foriegn policy. Without a doubt, they have wagged the body of our middle-eastern foreign policy for many, many decades."

"Just another Bush Basher. It seems very fashionable in the Preppy Soho society the annals of the campus and the media. Quite frankly, it makes me sick."

"We're shooting through an uncharted, terrorist-filled galaxy at light speed, and the spinners like you are all playing the role of Mr. Scott, shouting over the intercom to James T. Kirk that "..she can't take much more!" Bush, like Kirk, is facing something nobody ever wants to face: The unknown. He's boldly going where no man has gone before, and I think it's high time he gets some credit for doing a pretty damn good job at it."

"You hate us (clear minded Americans who don't even need to have a high school education, much less be a professor, to see that Bush is doing, what he believes is the best thing for America) so bad, with all due respect... LEAVE!"

"[L]like a good little American Nazi, you just blindly brush aside any evidence that Bush is trying to establish a world wide empire, and a totalitarian one at that?.... I am watching my country, the United States, rapidly become a fascist dictatorship and the press, instead of alerting Americans about what is actually going on, are blindly going along with it."

"Why don't you Bush Bashers just write something like, "Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah!!!!! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah." It seems to me, that's all you people know how to do.... The UN was never going to do anything about Hussein. You know this as well as every other Democrat, but you CHOOSE to ignore facts. So, rather that acknowledge truth and fact, you harp and nitpick."

"After reading your Bush the Bumbler I really need your address so I can send you a clue. Try reading 'Everything I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten'. This is not difficult. Please let your new babysitter be Michael Jackson."

"You are the very foundation of troubles in this country. Your 'freedom' to speech that allows you to write just reinforces why I would vote for this President again. Your "freedom" alone kills soldiers. Your words tell rulers around the world that America is disjointed and vulnerable. I never liked President Clinton but I never spoke badly of him. As citizens of this country and under democratic system - win or lose - we support our president."

"I am shocked at your radical views and at MSN for featuring such fanaticism. You might as well fly a plane into a building."

"With your inability to use sound logic and reasoning, how did you ever get to be a professor of anything?"

"You truly are nothing more than just a negative person, besides being a liberal. Your articles are from the mindset of someone who craves nothing more than attention. Grow some balls, be a man and support our country and president in a time of war."

"A word to the wise; Republican toadies should treat Dr. Dean with more respect. Show him some respect now and he may take pity on poor Bush when it comes to the 'head to head' debates. Even a conservative robot such as yourself has to see the writing on the wall."

"Sedition is any act, writing or speech, etc., directed against state authority, the government, or the constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to entice others to hostility or disaffection. Mr. Drezner, You sir are a seditious traitor. Your reason: political advantage; pitiful and pathetic."

"As a politic (sic) science student, like myself, you must have heard of the project for the new American century (PNAC), you must also be aware that all major officials inside the admin are ex-corporate execs. You must also know that there are as many corporate lobbyers in Washington as there are politicians. And I am assuming that you also know that the invasion of Afghanistan had been in the making since the late 90?s. The list can continue, ut I feel that this is sufficient to show that your representation of the 'conspiracy theories' is both unfair and manipulative."

"When will liberals such as yourself grow up and stand up for what is right in this cruel, vicious world?.... What is your point besides a pathological hatred of President Bush?.... Your constant harping, piddling criticisms and infantile tantrums about President Bush is just too much to take."

"You are obviously apart of the angry left who entertain fanciful stories of withholding capture anouncements and the like from the public for pure political gain."

"Chicago, what a liberal hotbed, you, Cusak (sic) and Jessie Jackson and Co. Perhaps Dan, if the terrorists had reached out to Chicago on 9/11/01, you would feel very differently."

"After reading your article on what is really wrong with President Bush's foreign policy I can only conclude that you are either a pacifist, an appeaser, a coward, or some combination of all three."

"I for the life of me can not understand how you and your cohorts on the media and in Hollywood can be so un-American. If you were living and working under any of those people, I am certain you would have been done away with along time ago if so much as criticized them the way you criticize our government. Not one person offers any constructive advice and if any thing is offered it has to go before the UN which is a total waste of time any money and completely anti-American, except when it comes to our money. I am glad we have President Bush and I hope he continues to do exactly what he has done. He is at least doing something and not giving into people like you and the rest of you ultra liberals."

"While you liberals have the "right" to slam the president in print, I feel your patriotism borders on "verbal treason" for not standing with our commander in chief in a time of war. In most of the countries you defend, people are killed for that and less."

"Aren’t you glad you live in the United States, Communist like you are what is wrong with how our society is today."

The joys of open debate! I had no idea that there were this many people who agreed with Britney Spears' political philosophy -- or Che Guevara's, for that matter.

Just to be clear, I'm not posting these because they upset me or provoke a need for sympathy. Mostly, I found them hysterical, in both senses of the word.

That said, let me close with a few polite and trenchant e-mails:

"i'm 21 years old and a security forces member in the USAF, i've recently read about your criticism on the presidents foreign policies and what not. i'll be the first to admit, that a lot of the political topics are over my head, but i think your writings focused more on the bad than the good, this whole thing has been hard on all us military members but, hearing the thanks from the Iraqi people seeing how relieved they were doesn't that make it all worth it? these type of things are never easy, and i know there is always room for improvement, but on the whole i think President Bush is doing a wonderful job, and i have full faith in him. regardless of what ever problems there are with his policies he is doing some good in the world."

"You might be right about the Bush administration being incompetent. Problem is, we won't really know until long after the fact. Incompetence is a charge that more often accompanies failure, when in truth there have been many successes throughout history that happened in spite of being incompetently orchestrated.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that we have a greater chance at achieving good by incompetently following the correct policy than we do following, competently or otherwise, an incorrect policy....

Sometimes we just muddle through and it all works out anyway. Doing the right thing, however inexpertly, seems to be better than doing the wrong thing like a champ. It's the difference between being efficient and being effective."

posted by Dan at 10:53 AM | Comments (69) | Trackbacks (7)

Questions about the DoD memo

Beyond the loonier e-mails I've received regarding the Slate essay, the criticism that crops up most frequently attacks what I said about the DoD memo regarding reconstruction contracts from last week. Basically, they have two points:

  • Why reward countries like Germany, France, and Russia for how they behaved prior to the war?

  • Given the relative success of Baker's mission to Europe, isn't this an example of successful hard-nosed bargaining?

    I wrote about the DoD memo at more length last week, but to expand a little:

    1) When White House officials tell the New York Times that they were surprised by the timing and wording of the memo, you know there was a screw-up.

    2) For those who feel these countries should not be rewarded for their behavior, I'm certainly sympathetic. A question, then: why are Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the list of countries that can receive contracts? Can a case be made that these countries were more cooperative than France, Germany or Russia prior to the war?

    3) This also goes to the bargaining question as well. According to press reports, of the approximately $120 billion in Iraqi foreign debt, only $40 billion is owed to Paris Club members. The rest is owed primarily to the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia in particular. If the DoD memo is supposed to be an example of bare-knuckles bargaining, why wasn't Saudi Arabia -- which owns a much larger portion of the debt than any European country -- excluded from the approved countries as well?

    4) As for Baker's mission, he has achieved some nice joint statements. But as this Chicago Tribune story points out, at this point they are merely words, because of how the Paris Club operates:

    [D]ebt relief for Iraq is by no means a done deal. The Paris Club always has made its debt decisions by the unanimous consent of its 19 permanent members, raising a high hurdle for a controversial subject.

    One member is cash-strapped Russia. It is owed more than $3.5 billion in country-to-country debt by Iraq and $52 billion in pending contract obligations — and has expressed no willingness to forgive any of it.

  • posted by Dan at 08:47 AM | Comments (16) | Trackbacks (0)

    Wednesday, December 17, 2003

    The process critique

    I have a new Slate essay on criticisms of the Bush administration's management of foreign policy. Go check it out.

    [Hmmm... this sounds familiar--ed. Yes, this is a theme I've touched on a fair amount in the past few months -- click here for one example.]

    On research, I'm much obliged to Joe Katzman for the U.S. News and World Report link and to Virginia Postrel for the Newt Gingrich link.

    Three caveats that don't appear in the actual Slate essay, but are worth mentioning. First, although the process critique is coming primarily from the right, they don't have a monopoly on the story -- Josh Marshall has been hammering this point home for some time now -- click here for an example.

    Second, although I think the process critique is a powerful one, Democrats are unlikely to use this line of attack. Why? Process is boring. “Policy Coordination Needed” might not be as dull a headline as “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative,” but it’s close. In the primaries at least, the Democrats one would expect to adopt this approach – Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, John Edwards – haven’t gotten a ton of traction in the polls. Candidates and campaigns prefer a simple message to a complex one – and in choosing between attacking Bush’s foreign policy on substance or process, Democrats will opt for the former.

    Third, it's possible that the administration is trying to fix this problem, which is why Bush 41 people seem to be sprouting up. First there's Bob Blackwill, whom I've talked about here. Now there's James Baker, who seems to be having some success in his European trip.

    posted by Dan at 02:24 PM | Comments (59) | Trackbacks (5)

    The future of neoconservatives

    Josh Marshall debated Richard Perle on the future of the neoconservative movement. You can access a C-SPAN video of the debate here.

    Marshall's take on Perle:

    Richard Perle... ended up in person being about as gentlemanly and fair-minded as his view of foreign affairs and America's posture on the world stage would lead you to expect.

    Greg Djerejian thinks Marshall might be overly sensitive on this point:

    With all due respect to Josh, I think this is unfair to Perle. True, Perle made some snide references to the views of "Mr. Marshall" and his "friends," but he's a long-time bureaucratic operative with sharp elbows. In other words, it's part of his makeup and style to debate in this fashion

    Put differently, it's likely a different style of debate than, say, that found defending doctoral dissertations at Brown. I don't say that to poke fun at Josh Marshall--I mean it seriously. Perle and Marshall likely have very different debating styles with Perle more aggressive and Marshall more conventionally polite and, perhaps, a tad docile compared to Perle.

    With all due respect to Greg, any academic worth their salt is used to raucous and rancorous debates.

    Greg's post -- a nice substitute for the two-hour video -- argues that Perle's description of neoconservatism "felt very much like sober-headed foreign policy realism--rather than the oft-described messianic exportation of democracy doctrines (or some grossly deluded neo-Wilsonian style project)."

    I'm afraid I've got to disagree with Greg again. First of all, most realists opposed the war in Iraq.

    Second, I'm not sure how much neoconservatives think or want Perle to be their exemplar. I've expressed my reservations about Perle in the past, so I might be biased here.

    UPDATE: Belgravia Dispatch responds (additional posts here and here) In response to the response, I probably should have said "academic" realists rather than pragmatic policy types -- though I'm pretty sure the Scowcroft camp was none too thrilled with the war either.

    posted by Dan at 01:09 PM | Comments (26) | Trackbacks (2)

    MNCs vs. IGOs

    Robert Tagorda has a great post highlighting the contrasts in behavior between international governmental organizations (IGOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) in parts of the globe that are vulnerable to terrorism. To put it in fight-or-flight terms -- the IGOs are more likely to vamoose when trouble comes around, while the MNCs are much more resilient in the face of terror attacks.

    Check out this Christian Science Monitor story for more on corporate strategies in countries experiencing terrorism. Tagorda concludes his post:

    This comparison should prompt serious discussions on who truly benefits struggling localities. As the international community worries about the influence of its most powerful member, the business world is productively establishing long-term relationships.

    posted by Dan at 11:37 AM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (1)

    Tuesday, December 16, 2003

    Iraq after Hussein

    Adeed Dawisha, a native Iraqi who teaches political science at Miami
    University of Ohio, has an understandable interest in how to build a democratic Iraq.

    He also has a forthcoming article in the January 2004 Journal of Democracy on the prospects for a democratic Iraq. Read the whole article, but here are some highlights, both good and bad:

    The coalition forces have faced serious difficulties in Iraq, and these were apparently intensifying as the end of the year approached. But to portray these difficulties as definitively signifying the failure of the reconstruction or Iraqis’ rejection of the U.S.- and British-led coalition’s plans for their country would be a mistake, since it would mean unrealistically discounting many positive developments that augur well for Iraq’s future as a free, democratic, peaceful, and law-governed country. Iraq is obviously not out of the woods, but to pronounce the coalition’s effort a failure after just a few months of reconstruction following decades of dictatorship would be premature, to say the least....

    In the early days after Saddam’s fall it was reported that one could buy five hand grenades for a dollar in the main markets in broad daylight. Some improvement had occurred by August, when the price had reportedly risen to $3 per grenade, though a bulk rate of $20 for ten grenades was also said to be available. Most of the armaments come from looted government arsenals: The CPA estimates that Saddam stockpiled a staggering 600,000 tons of arms and munitions. After six months of occupation, coalition forces had been able to destroy or secure no more than about 75,000 tons—or 12.5 percent—of the deadly stuff....

    While the situation in Iraq gives rise to much concern, it is not by any stretch of the imagination desperate. Many observers, perhaps focusing too heavily on day-to-day media coverage, seem unable to shift their attention from the security situation to other developments in the country, many of which give grounds for optimism. Perhaps first among these is that Iraqis on the whole have chosen the path of peace. It is unfortunate that many in the Arab and Western press have bestowed on the perpetrators of attacks against coalition forces the grandiose label “the Iraqi resistance.” Such a categorization, whether purposely or inadvertently, creates an impression of a universal phenomenon supported by most Iraqis. Nothing could be further from the truth....

    Probably the most encouraging development in Iraq has been the surge of activity at the level of local self-government and civil society. Most Iraqi towns and cities—including the major conurbations of Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, and Kirkuk—now have governing councils that have been chosen through consensual processes, often involving elections. In most cases these councils have run the affairs of their towns either in cooperation with, or independently of, coalition forces. The case of genuine “grassroots democracy” in Baghdad is particularly interesting. Suffering from widespread lawlessness, the city was still able in the fall of 2003 to form 88 neighborhood councils, which then in turn elected a 37-member council for the whole city.12 These councils will over time prove to be indispensable agents not only for political stability, but for the growth of a democratic political culture and institutional ensemble in the new Iraq.

    Without a doubt, the mushrooming of local self-government councils
    has been one of the major success stories of the occupation. Even those councils that have not been elected have been selected through peaceful and relatively (or even impressively) consensual means, in more than a few cases with initial advice and assistance from coalition military officers, and are providing scope for unprecedented amounts of open debate and citizen participation....

    The mushrooming of political parties, syndicates, and newspapers
    signals a nascent political pluralism upon which democracy can be built.

    Go and give it a read. Dawisha is hardly Panglossian -- he just looks that way after you read Juan Cole for a while.

    UPDATE: Dawisha is also quoted at length in this Peter Bronson column in the Cincinatti Enquirer. The highlight:

    "In 18 months to two years, Iraq will be stable and democratic,'' says Adeed Dawisha, political science professor at Miami University.

    "I am very confident this will happen. At the end of 2005, Iraq will have a freely elected parliament and government," says the Iraqi-born educator.

    posted by Dan at 11:47 PM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

    Where does the EU go from here?

    What's the fallout from the collapse of the EU constitutional negotiations this weekend? Depends on who you ask. In terms of the constitution itself, the Economist thinks this can only be a good thing:

    [T]he document was a disaster. Constitutions are supposed to give citizens a clear and concise explanation of the powers—and the limits to the powers—of the principal organs of government. However, the long, rambling draft produced by the 105-member European Convention was so vague on how it assigned powers to various institutions that at times even convention members themselves could not explain it. And the EU’s principle of “subsidiarity” (devolving decision-making so it is as close to the people as possible), far from being strengthened, was undermined by making it subordinate to the Union’s objectives, which included various types of “cohesion” (read: Brussels-led harmonisation).

    As the convention members tried to satisfy everyone, their draft constitution ended up riddled with botched compromises, anomalies and absurdities.

    Andrew Moravcsik -- who knows a thing or two about the European Union -- also believes that the collapse in negotiations was a good thing -- but for a different set of reasons:

    European leaders agree on 95 percent of the new constitution; they have bolstered their bargaining clout on the remaining 5 percent by issuing inflammatory and uncompromising public statements....

    The wager was that by debating a new constitution, public support for the Union would grow. It hasn't. Constant Eurotinkering has made voters cranky and suspicious. For the first time in the Union's half-century history, polls show that fewer than half now view it favorably.

    The lesson for Brussels here is clear: Don't rush! Think long term! Remember that early-morning deals come back to bite those who make them--and undermine the European ideal. Remember, too, that Europe's proposed constitution is a conservative document meant to consolidate and modestly extend EU achievement since 1990--and fix them for decades in a new Europe of nearly 500 million people.

    The "collapse" and "crisis" in Brussels thus has a silver lining. So what if Europe's grandees went home empty-handed? Another early-morning compromise in Brussels last week might well have triggered yet another vicious circle of rambunctious referendums, continuous crises, contentious negotiations and deeper public disillusionment.... A little patience is in order. Europe kicked the can down the road? Good. That's the smart play.

    Unfortunately, some of the leading EU members have shorter tempers than Moravcsik would have liked, according to the Financial Times:

    Six of Europe's biggest paymasters on Monday called for a freeze in the European Union budget until 2013, in a move that could cut aid payments to poorer countries including Spain and Poland.

    The leaders of Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria, all net contributors to the EU, said in a joint letter that the union's budget should be subject to the same "painful consolidation" as national budgets.

    The warning, following immediately after Spain and Poland blocked the deal on a new EU constitution, steps up the pressure on Madrid and Warsaw to fall into line.

    Germany, which contributes 22 per cent of the EU's €100bn budget, has warned of "certain parallels" between the budget negotiations and finalising a deal on the constitution.

    However, the FT also reports that these kind of tactics will have some blowback in Paris:

    President Jacques Chirac was given rough treatment on Monday in the French media and by opposition parties for his part in the failure to agree an overhaul of the European Union's institutions at the EU summit in Brussels....

    François Hollande, leader of the socialists, the main opposition party, yesterday attacked the way Mr Chirac and Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, had tried to impose their views on their colleagues by presenting a strong Franco-German front. "They sought to show that it was sufficient to get two to agree for 25 [leaders of EU countries] to do the same," Mr Hollande said.

    Among Monday's newspapers, Le Monde headlined the lonely position of France and Germany, saying: "Isolated, the Franco-German couple have suffered a second defeat in less than a year." The first was the failure to consult in mounting a common front against the US-led invasion of Iraq.

    An editorial in the pro-European Libération highlighted the inability of the "Franco-German motor" to take any initiative within the EU. Even the pro-government Le Figaro highlighted the failure of the much vaunted Franco-German alliance to orchestrate a deal.

    Such comments suggest fresh moves by Mr Chirac to use the Franco-German axis as a political weapon within the EU will be subjected to much greater scrutiny at home. If this proves the case, it could have significant implications for plans being floated by Mr Chirac and Mr Schröder to press ahead with a core group of EU "pioneer" states ready for deeper integration.


    posted by Dan at 11:06 AM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)

    Monday, December 15, 2003

    Grading Dean's speech

    Howard Dean's major foreign policy speech is now available on his web site.

    I'll get to the content in a second, but some free advice to the Dean people -- is this the picture you really want on the front page of your web site when talking about foreign policy?:


    Howard Dean -- he'll be as tough as Warren Christopher!!

    OK, the speech. Quick hits:

    1) According to Dean:

    Addressing these critical and interlocking threats [of] terrorism and weapons of mass destruction -- will be America's highest priority in my administration.

    Hey, that sounds familiar... oh yes, here it is:

    The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed.

    2) Describing Dean as a pacifist would be a mistake:

    During the past dozen years, I have supported U.S. military action to roll back Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, to stop Milosevic's campaign of terror in Kosovo, to oust the Taliban and al Qaeda from control in Afghanistan. As President, I will never hesitate to deploy our armed forces to defend our country and its allies, and to protect our national interests.

    3) The "big idea" is a global alliance against terror, "a commitment among law-abiding nations to work together in law enforcement, intelligence, and military operations." Iraq aside, there's actually been a fair amount of international cooperation on this front. What is Dean proposing that's different? I read through the speech and found nothing specific on this. Is Dean talking about a global NATO? A stronger IAEA? What, exactly?

    4) Here's Dean on the connection between our foreign economic policies and national security:

    Today, billions of people live on the knife's edge of survival, trapped in a struggle against ignorance, poverty, and disease. Their misery is a breeding ground for the hatred peddled by bin Laden and other merchants of death.

    As President, I will work to narrow the now-widening gap between rich and poor. Right now, the United States officially contributes a smaller percentage of its wealth to helping other nations develop than any other industrialized country.

    That hurts America, because if we want the world's help in confronting the challenges that most concern us, we need to help others defeat the perils that most concern them. Targeted and effective expansion of investment, assistance, trade, and debt relief in developing nations can improve the climate for peace and democracy and undermine the recruiters for terrorist plots.

    Sounds like a great idea -- you know, a plan to expand economic opportunities in developing nations through greater access to U.S. markets. I'm sure Dean would support that. Oh, wait a minute....

    posted by Dan at 06:42 PM | Comments (93) | Trackbacks (4)

    Drezner's leading indicator gets results!!

    Howard Dean will deliver a major foreign policy address today in Los Angeles (The Boston Globe has a preview).

    I'll blog about the speech once it's delivered [UPDATE: here's the text]. For now, what's more interesting is who's advising Dean on the speech.

    Back in February, I blogged the following about how to predict the eventual Democratic nominee:

    [O]ver the next year (and before the actual primaries), there's a better harbinger for who will be the eventual nominee -- which candidate picks up the elite foreign policy advisors?

    From Sunday's Washington Post story on Howard Dean's foreign policy positions:

    Dean has begun to pull into his campaign a team of senior foreign policy advisers, many of whom served in the Clinton administration. His campaign will announce the members of this "kitchen cabinet" Monday when he makes his speech, which along with a planned economics speech is intended to lay out his major themes before the New Hampshire primary Jan. 27.

    During the interview, the former governor of Vermont appeared at ease handling questions that hopscotched across global trouble spots. One of his foreign policy aides, Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution, sat at his side as he tackled back-to-back newspaper interviews on foreign policy. Dean and Daalder, a former Clinton aide, huddled for five minutes after The Washington Post interview to review Dean's comments before beginning the second session....

    In addition to Daalder, campaign aides said, Dean's core foreign policy team includes former national security adviser Anthony Lake; retired Gen. Joseph Hoare, a former chief of U.S. Central Command; retired Gen. Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak, former chief of staff of the Air Force; two former assistant secretaries of defense, Ashton Carter and Frank Kramer; former assistant secretary of state Susan Rice; and political theorist Benjamin R. Barber. Danny E. Sebright, a former Defense Department civil servant who works for the consulting firm headed by Clinton defense secretary William Cohen, is Dean's foreign policy coordinator.

    Dean has also reached out to leading members of the Democratic foreign policy establishment as he tries to fill in the gaps in his foreign policy approach. "Dean certainly represents continuity with the bipartisan centrist line that has characterized American foreign policy from 1948 until shortly after 9/11," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. Brzezinski reviewed a draft of Dean's speech but has not endorsed any candidate.

    And from Sunday's New York Times:

    His planned speech on Monday is the product of many hands, including former Vice President Al Gore, whose consultations on the text were a prelude to his recent endorsement of the Dean candidacy. (Dr. Dean will not say which parts Mr. Gore edited.)

    He also plans to announce on Monday that a host of advisers — including W. Anthony Lake, former President Bill Clinton's first national security adviser; Adm. Stansfield Turner, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Adm. Charles Larson, the former commander of all forces in the Pacific — have signed on to the campaign. Like several of the other Democratic candidates, he also consults Samuel R. Berger, who succeeded Mr. Lake as national security adviser.

    Be sure to read the WaPo piece for a priceless quote from Dean about France.

    Caveat paragraph: Not everyone listed above is a foreign policy heavyweight. Tthere are other heavyweights -- Ken Pollack, Richard Holbrooke, Ron Asmus, Michael McFaul -- who have not committed to Dean. Furthermore, I have it on good authority that some of the people on Dean's list have consulted with other campaigns.

    Still, this is a pretty powerful signal.

    UPDATE: Dean's web site now has the list of advisors. Among the names that weren't mentioned above: Morton H. Halperin, Clyde Prestowitz, and Jeffrey Sachs.

    posted by Dan at 10:30 AM | Comments (27) | Trackbacks (2)

    Sunday, December 14, 2003


    U.S. forces capture Saddam Hussein.


    Iraqis react:

    When videotape of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was shown at a coalition news conference Sunday, several Iraqi journalists jumped to their feet, waved their arms and shouted "Death to Saddam!" in Arabic.

    Iraqi officials hailed the news and promised to bring Saddam before a special war crimes court.

    Shortly after word leaked out about the capture, hundreds of Iraqis flooded the streets of Baghdad, firing guns into the air, singing, dancing and throwing candy into the air -- celebrating the apparent capture of the man who had ruled their lives with terror and repression for more than three decades.

    "I'm very happy for the Iraqi people. Life is going to be safer now," said 35-year-old Yehya Hassan, a resident of Baghdad, told The Associated Press. "Now we can start a new beginning."

    Earlier in the day, rumors of the capture sent people streaming into the streets of Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi city, firing guns in the air in celebration.

    "We are celebrating like it's a wedding," Kirkuk resident Mustapha Sheriff told AP. "We are finally rid of that criminal."

    "This is the joy of a lifetime," said Ali Al-Bashiri, another resident. "I am speaking on behalf of all the people that suffered under his rule."

    Congratulations to all those involved in the capture.

    More blogosphere reaction from Glenn Reynolds, the Command Post, and Indepundit. And Josh Chafetz links to this video of Iraqi reaction.

    One last thought: in dealing with the insurgency within Iraq, it's much better that Saddam was captured in this fashion rather than killed. It goes to a point I made in March with regard to Al Qaeda:

    In general, embarrassment is a much more effective method than decapitation to destroying terrorist networks. The key to destroying such groups is to eliminate recruitment by spreading the perception that the group is ineffective. Capturing terrorist leaders and publishing photos that make them look like death warmed over is the most effective way to do this.

    Lee Harris makes a similar point:

    As fallen dictators go, Saddam is lucky. He was not strung up and spat upon by the mob, as Mussolini was, but taken out of his squalid little hole, cleaned up and shaved, and is now, no doubt, sitting somewhere quite warm and safe, and most of all, alive.

    Thank God.

    I say this, not because I have a soft spot in my heart for ruthless tyrants, but because only a living, breathing Saddam Hussein has the power to destroy the illusionary Saddam Hussein that, like The Wizard of Oz, seemed so vastly greater than life size to those whom he had so long terrorized. Just as Dorothy and her friends needed to see the small and insignificant little man feverishly manipulating the switches and pulleys behind curtain, in order to free their minds once and for all of the image of the omnipotent and angry Oz, so the Iraqi people needed to see the small and insignificant little man who had haunted their collective psyche, and who would have continued to haunt it for as long as it was possible for the Iraqis to imagine that, one day, he would return. That fantasy is now dead, once and for all.

    Too bad they shaved his beard. Well, this anecdote makes him look cowardly as well.

    UPDATE: Time is all over this story. Here's their cover story package -- with lots of detail about the capture. There is a follow-up report on the first day of interrogation. Some intriguing details:

    Along with the $750,000 in cash, two AK 47 machine guns and pistol found with Saddam, the U.S. intelligence official confirmed that operatives found a briefcase with Saddam that contained a letter from a Baghdad resistance leader. Contained in the message, the official said, were the minutes from a meeting of a number of resistance leaders who came together in the capital. The official said the names found on this piece of paper will be valuable and could lead to the capture of insurgency leaders around the Sunni Triangle.

    The official said it may soon be clear how much command and control over the insurgency Saddam actually had while he was in hiding. “We can now determine,” he said, “if he is the mastermind of everything or not.” The official elaborated: “Have we actually cut the head of the snake or is he just an idiot hiding in a hole?”

    Finally, President Bush gets the final words today, from his address to the nation:

    I also have a message for all Americans. The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated.

    We've come to this moment through patience and resolve and focussed action. And that is our strategy moving forward. The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United States of America will not relent until this war is won.

    posted by Dan at 10:02 AM | Comments (64) | Trackbacks (5)

    Strike two for the EU

    Three weeks after the collapse of the European Union's growth and stability pact, it looks like the proposed EU consitution is dead on arrival. From the Washington Post:

    Negotiations on a new European constitution collapsed in acrimony Saturday, with the 25 current and future members of the European Union failing to find a formula to satisfy medium-size countries worried that their voices and votes would be swamped by larger countries in an expanded union.

    The failure left the EU facing one of the most critical crises of its history and could formalize an already visible split in the organization. Diplomats said several of the founding EU members, including France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, could soon issue a statement saying they were prepared to proceed on their own fast track, with deeper integration and shared policies.

    French President Jacques Chirac raised the idea of a two-speed Europe immediately after the talks failed. He said a smaller "pioneer group" could go forward on areas of common agreement. "It would be a motor that would set an example," Chirac said. "It will allow Europe to go faster, better." He did not specify policy areas where the core group might move forward.

    EU leaders, normally given to diplomatic language and positive "spin," did not try to mask their failure. "It has not been possible to reach agreement on all points," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The meeting could have continued, Blair said, but "there's no point in negotiations going on through the night. It's better to wait and get the right agreement."

    Blair's hit the nail on the head. Much of European integration has been based on the "bicycle theory" -- the idea that if integration does not keep moving forward, the whole project will topple over. This has led to the implementation of some less-than-ideal policies/governance structures on the logic that they were "too big to fail."

    A reappraisal might be the best thing for the European Union, and its member states.

    As for Chirac's proposal, it's tough to see how it could be applied towards the proposed constitution. The two-track EU works by dividing up issue areas. The constitution is about process. That's slightly more difficult to parse out.

    posted by Dan at 12:14 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (1)