Friday, December 19, 2003
Libya decides to bandwagon
Agree or disagree with the Bush administration, this is great news:
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:
So does the New York Times in a truly humble editorial:
When is American culture not American?
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 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:
My reaction is akin to how Montgomery Burns felt about Marge Simpson's portrait of him in "Brush With Greatness":
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:
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.
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."
Now Michael Kinsley goes after him as well:
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.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Who's going to be on trial?
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.
Let's go to the mailbag!!
The following is an (edited) collection of the most... "out there" responses I've received, and will be updated as the day goes along:
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:
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:
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?
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.]
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.
The future of neoconservatives
Marshall's take on Perle:
Greg Djerejian thinks Marshall might be overly sensitive on this point:
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)."
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.
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:
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Iraq after Hussein
Adeed Dawisha, a native Iraqi who teaches political science at Miami
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:
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:
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:
Unfortunately, some of the leading EU members have shorter tempers than Moravcsik would have liked, according to the Financial Times:
However, the FT also reports that these kind of tactics will have some blowback in Paris:
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:
Hey, that sounds familiar... oh yes, here it is:
2) Describing Dean as a pacifist would be a mistake:
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:
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....
Drezner's leading indicator gets results!!
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:
And from Sunday's New York Times:
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.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Congratulations to all those involved in the capture.
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:
Lee Harris makes a similar point:
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:
Finally, President Bush gets the final words today, from his address to the nation:
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:
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.