Saturday, April 10, 2004
Will there be a Tet Offensive effect?
David Brooks says that everyone needs to take a deep breath on Iraq:
Let's assume this is true -- and let's further assume that these uprisings will be put down. My question is, will this have the same effect as the 1968 Tet Offensive? Tet was a military disaster that nevertheless exposed a vulnerable administration to (accurate) charges that it had micharacterized how the conflict was proceeding -- and therefore a long-term victory for the North Vietnamese [You're comparing this to Vietnam!! Bad Drezner!!--ed. No, I'm asking a more specific question].
My tentative answer is that the political effect in the United States will not echo Tet. However, a Tet effect might kick in outside the United States -- in allied countries that have troops in Iraq, and within Iraq itself. In alled countries, countries that dispatched troops had restive populations to begin with -- this only makes it easier to mobilize mass action. In Iraq, those who oppose but fear insurgents are less likely to take positive action.
The Financial Times has stories on both phenomenon. In one article, they observe that, "Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's prime minister, faced the severest test of his decision to send troops to Iraq as his government sought support for a rescue of three citizens kidnapped by an Iraqi militia group." In another article, the FT reports:
Friday, April 9, 2004
What to read about the Iraqi uprisings
Noam Scheiber converts some of these lemons into lemonade:
Virginia Postrel typically has smart things to say:
A substantive debate
One of the underlying criticisms of the Bush administration's prosecution of the War on Terror has been that it came into office with a realpolitik mindset and that -- even after 9/11 -- it has focused too much on states rather than non-state actors (i.e., Al Qaeda) in its anti-terrorism policy.
Spencer Ackerman identifies this key fissure in his latest TNR article. The political ramifications for the Bush administration could be problematic. The crux of the article:
Ackerman does miss one important detail in his argument, which is that in world politics, powerful states do much better at influencing the actions of other states than influencing the activities of non-state actors.
Which raises a question -- is it better to pursue an anti-terror strategy with productive strategies that only indirectly affect the terrorists themselves, or to pursue an anti-terror strategy with less productive strategies that directly affect the terrorists themselves?
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Open Rice thread
Comment on how well Condi does in her testimony in response to various queries here.
Open Iraq thread
No time for substantive blogging -- but comment on the mounting insurgency from radical Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq here. In particular, will international cooperation over Iraq be eroded as a result?
It was a stupid thing to say, but then again, given Dodd's position on outsourcing, it's far from the only stupid thing he's said recently.
The thing is, unlike Lott, I'm not sure Dodd has a leadership position to resign from.