Saturday, April 17, 2004

The New York Times solicits my opinion

On my "about me" page, one of the reasons I give for blogging is that "since the New York Times op-ed page mysteriously refuses to solicit my views, the blog lets me scratch that itch."

Well, that still holds. But a different section of the paper -- the New York Times Book Review -- decided, in its infinite wisdom, to solicit my view on Jagdish Bhagwati's In Defense of Globalization. The result is in this Sunday's Times. Here's the first paragraph:

Globalization impoverishes developing countries while undercutting middle-class living standards in the United States. The reduction of trade barriers encourages the exploitation of child labor, fosters a race to the bottom in environmental standards, tears women in third-world nations away from their families, homogenizes disparate indigenous cultures and strips the gears of democracy in favor of rapacious multinational corporations. It also causes cancer in puppies.

Take that, Gail Collins!

[Hey, wasn't In Defense of Globalization one of your March books of the month? Isn't there a conflict of interest here?--ed. I'd finished the review back in February -- the NYT Book Review had built up a slight backlog.]

It should be noted for the record that despite strong temptation, I elected not to mention the fact that Bhagwati misspelled my name in the book (though, weirdly, he gets it right in the footnote, even though it gets screwed up again in the index).

[Foreign Affairs and the New York Times in just the past month. You're becoming quite the public intellectual!--ed. Oh, yes, if it wasn't for that Jessica Simpson, I'd be racking up the magazine covers. Racking, I tell ya.]

posted by Dan at 05:23 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (3)

The neocon mea culpas

James Joyner observes that multiple neo-conservatives have published op-eds today critical of the Bush Administration’s handling of Iraq. The kicker is David Brooks' New York Times column. Brooks still thinks the invasion was the right thing to do, but allows:

The first thing to say is that I never thought it would be this bad. I knew it would be bad. On the third day of the U.S. invasion, I wrote an essay for The Atlantic called "Building Democracy Out of What?" I pointed out that we should expect that the Iraqis would have been traumatized by a generation of totalitarianism. That society would have been brutally atomized. And that many would have developed a taste for sadism and an addiction to violence. On April 11, 2003, I predicted on "The NewsHour" on PBS that we and the Iraqis would be forced to climb a "wall of quagmires."

Nonetheless, I didn't expect that a year after liberation, hostile militias would be taking over cities or that it would be unsafe to walk around Baghdad. Most of all, I misunderstood how normal Iraqis would react to our occupation....

Despite all that's happened, I was still stirred by yesterday's Bush/Blair statements about democracy in the Middle East. Nonetheless, over the past two years many conservatives have grown increasingly exasperated with the administration's inability to execute its policies semicompetently.

When I worked at The Weekly Standard, we argued ad nauseam that the U.S. should pour men and matériel into Iraq — that such an occupation could not be accomplished by a light, lean, "transformed" military. The administration was impervious to the growing evidence about that. The failure to establish order was the prime mistake, from which all other problems flow.

Matthew Yglesias doesn't accept Brooks' argument that invading Iraq was still the right thing to do:

The trouble, however, is this. When George W. Bush is president and is advocating a war and you, too, are advocating for war, then the fact of the matter is that you are advocating that the war be conducted by George W. Bush. That Bush would botch things was a perfectly predictable consequence of said support, based on -- among other things -- the fact that he'd botched everything else he'd ever done....

In the interests of full candor, let it be said that I did something very similar. The difference here being that, as I will now admit, I was wrong. Neither the policies being advocated by Bush nor the policies being advocated by the anti-war movement (even at its most mainstream) were the correct ones. What I wanted to see happen wasn't going to happen. I had to throw in with one side or another. I threw in with the wrong side. The bad consequences of the bad policy I got behind are significantly worse than the consequences of the bad policy advocated by the other side would have been. I blame, frankly, vanity. "Bush is right to say we should invade Iraq, but he's going about it the wrong way, here is my nuanced wonderfullness" sounds much more intelligent than some kind of chant at an anti-war rally. In fact, however, it was less intelligent. I got off the bandwagon right before the shooting started, but by then it was far too late -- this was more a case of CYA than a case of efficacious political dissent.

Now I am not an important person, and at the time I was even less important. Nevertheless, the block of opinion of which I was a part included some very influential people. In the aggregate, we were never a very large block of public opinion. We were, however, the all-important swing group. Some of us (represented in the blogosphere by me, Kevin, Josh, etc.) swung too late. Some of us never swung at all. If we had swung earlier (not just the bloggers and the journalists and hawkish Clinton administration veterans, but also the regular folks who had similar opinions) there probably would have been no war. We should have swung earlier.

Now, since back in the day I wrote a memo to liberal hawks urging them to support the war, I suppose Matt could blame me, except that I doubt my arguments tipped the scales either way.

Like Yglesias, I care about process issues. I've been saying for some time that the Bush administration has f@#&ed with the foreign policy process in serious ways. That said, I still side with Brooks over Yglesias -- provided the United States sees Iraq out to the end. If Bush -- or Bush's successor -- were to turn tail and withdraw from Baghdad without leaving a stable popular government in its wake, then I'm afraid Yglesias would be correct. From a humanitarian perspective, invading Iraq was the right thing to do. From a national security perspective, invading Iraq and then withdrawing in the face of insurgent attacks would be far worse than not invading in the first place.

And this point, I suspect, is what drives so many of Bush's mainstream opponents around the bend. It's one thing to have opposed the Iraq invasion -- that's a reasonable position to hold, and I said so at the time. However, responsible politicos recognize that it's irresponsible to advocate withdrawal after the invasion. The damage to the United States of pulling out in the midst of insugent violence would be severe. This is why Howard Dean, even when he was riding high in the polls, advocated sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.

During this campaign season, Bush's mainstream opponents are forced to support staying in a country that most of them did not want to invade in the first place. They didn't want to break the country -- but they're nonetheless stuck with the proof of purchase.

UPDATE: Niall Ferguson compares the Iraq of 2004 with the Iraq of 1920.

posted by Dan at 05:03 PM | Comments (32) | Trackbacks (4)

NATO deepens its cooperation

Transatlantic tensions have not prevented NATO from taking defense cooperation to the next level -- procurement. According to the New York Times: With NATO member states just days away from awarding a military contract for 4 billion euros to a trans-Atlantic consortium of aerospace companies, a new era of joint procurement may be dawning for the alliance, defense experts said on Thursday.

A group of six companies, led by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, known as EADS, and Northrop Grumman of the United States, looks set to win the contract, worth $4.8 billion, to build a mixed fleet of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft for the alliance by 2010, said a NATO official close to the selection process....

Against a backdrop of violence in Iraq and heightened concerns that terrorists may be aiming at Europe after the Madrid train bombings, pragmatism may be gaining the upper hand over the political procurement decisions of the past, analysts said. While some major European governments continue to disagree with the United States on a wide range of issues, including the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the willingness to deepen their cooperation within NATO may herald a renewed commitment to the alliance.

James Appathurai, a spokesman for NATO, called the decision "historic,'' confirming a report on Thursday in The Financial Times.

"This is only the second time in NATO's history that members join forces in procurement on this scale,'' he said. The first time, he said, was the Awacs surveillance system developed in the 1960's.

"The decision was reached pragmatically on the basis of price, capability and scheduling considerations - not necessarily three factors that have determined procurement decisions in the past,'' Mr. Appathurai said.

posted by Dan at 12:30 AM | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, April 16, 2004

Yes, I'm at a conference again

This time it's the Midwestern Political Science Association, which is traditionally held in the gorgeous Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.

I'll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, critical readers can re-read what I wrote a year ago about what the anti-war advocates got right and wrong about Iraq. [How well does it hold up?--ed. Opponents of the war were largely wrong about the ramifications outside of Iraq, but have a much better track record of what would happen inside of Iraq.]

posted by Dan at 02:20 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

When is it good to be explicit?

David Adesnik writes a lengthy, must-read post about why the George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon's joint press conference became the lead story yesterday:

[W]hat's changed isn't the substance of the American position but the articulation of it. But when it comes to diplomacy, articulation matters. That's why today's announcement really is a big story. By staking out a clear position in advance of final-status talks, Bush is essentially saying that important aspects of Israel's demands are simply non-negotiable. If the Palestinians negotiators accept those demands, they will now come across as giving in to American pressure rather than compromising in the name of peace. Thus, if you think that only a negotiated accord can end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then Bush and Sharon really have thrown a wrench in the works. Clearly, that is the premise on which the NYT and WaPo correspondents are operating.

But there is another premise out there which also deserves a fair hearing: that a negotiated settlement is no longer possible and that Israel simply has to find the best way to let go of the occupied territories. That is why Sharon wants to pull out of Gaza. That is why he is building a massive wall to separate Israel from the West Bank. While one can argue that good fences don't make good neighbors, a strong majority of Israeli voters have taken Sharon's side on this one.

See Josh Marshall's post on the matter for an opposing view. The Chicago Tribune's story underscores Adesnik's point:

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. State Department adviser, said U.S. officials had previously taken similar positions to those stated Wednesday by Bush.

They have acknowledged that a future border would have to be adjusted through land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians, he said, and they have also cautioned that there could be no unlimited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.

Bush "made explicit what had been implicit," Miller said, adding that the White House had announced the policy without any negotiations under way.

Normally, "we would provide assurances to both sides," said Miller, who is now head of Seeds of Peace, a non-profit group that brings children from conflicts around the world together as a way of fostering reconciliation. (emphasis added)

Here's the question -- in matters of diplomacy and world politics, is it always the right thing to make explicit what had been implicit?

One can make the case that an end to hypocrisy is an intrinsically good thing in world politics. However, international relations is also an arena where -- in the short term -- perception matters just as much as reality. While consistency and clarity can bolster an actor's reputation in world politics, ambiguity and, dare I say, nuance also have their advantages in bargaining and power projection. There are clear tradeoffs at work here.

I don't have a good answer to this question -- well, I don't have an answer that could be condensed into a blog post. I will therefore leave it to my readers to try to hash out.

posted by Dan at 11:35 AM | Comments (78) | Trackbacks (0)

Trading with China

Glenn Reynolds links to good news about trade -- exports are growing at a strong clip. According to Reuters:

U.S. exports leapt four percent -- the highest monthly increase since October 1996 -- to a record $92.4 billion, while imports rose 1.6 percent to a record $134.5 billion.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China fell nearly 28 percent in February as imports from that country slipped to $11.3 billion, the lowest level in nearly a year, and exports to China rose 17 percent to $3.0 billion.

The lower dollar appeared to help all categories of exports, as shipments of industrial supplies and materials and autos and auto parts both set records. Exports of consumer goods were only slightly below the record set in November and exports of capital goods, such as aircraft and industrial machines, were the highest since May 2001.

Exports of services, which include travel, also set a record. (emphasis added)

So much for being inundated with a tidal wave of services imports due to outsourcing.

[But what about China? Surely their undervaluation of the renminbi is leading them to run such whopping trade surpluses?--ed.] Actually, as Nicholas Lardy pointed out last month in Congressional testimony, this narrative doesn't hold up:

A reader of the [AFL-CIO's] petition [for section 301 trade sanctions to be applied against China] might gain the impression that Chinese labor costs are so low that foreign goods could not be competitive in China's market. That impression would be fundamentally mistaken. Over the past decade, Chinese imports quadrupled from $104 billion in 1993 to $413 billion last year. Since China joined the WTO in late 2001, its imports have increased by 70 percent. Last year alone, China's imports rose by 40 percent, and China surpassed Japan to become the world's third largest importing country. China's global trade surplus last year was only $25 billion. This surplus was only 1.8 percent of China's gross domestic product, one of the lowest ratios in Asia. In the first two months of this year, imports rose 42 percent over the same period in 2003, and China incurred a trade deficit of almost $8 billion. China's import growth has been so rapid that it has become a major source of economic growth in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and countries in Southeast Asia. China is also far and away the fastest growing among the large export markets of US firms. The petition makes no reference to the creation of jobs in US manufacturing as a result of our growing exports to China.

Read the whole thing. This page has some relevant charts and graphs.

posted by Dan at 10:54 AM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (1)

Al Qaeda offers a carrot to Europe

Looks like the European Union isn't the only entity practicing divide-and-conquer tactics on the global stage. The Financial Times reports that Osama bin Laden wants to cut a deal with Europe:

Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, sought to split the US-led coalition in Iraq by offering European countries a three-month respite from terrorist attacks if they withdrew their forces and left the US to fight alone.

The audiotaped message, whose authenticity has yet to be verified by intelligence services, was aired by Arab television channels on Thursday

The statement said: "I offer a truce to them (Europe), with a commitment to stop operations against any state which vows to stop attacking Muslims or interfere in their affairs, including (participating) in the American conspiracy against the wider Muslim world."

It went on to say that the truce would start "with the withdrawal of the last soldier from our land," and said that the offer to implement it would last for three months from the date of Thursday's statement. "Whoever rejects this truce and wants war, we are its [war's] sons and whoever wants this truce, here we bring it," it said.

The offer to European countries is being seen by some security officials and analysts as a sign that the al-Qaeda leader is not only closely following western public opinion, but is also determined to exploit the political impact of the March 11 terrorist attacks in Spain.

In a reference to the fall of Spain's Popular Party at the March 14 election as a consequence of its handling of the Madrid attacks, as well as to the strong objections of many Europeans to the war in Iraq, Mr bin Laden addressed his message to "our neighbours north of the Mediterranean Sea with a proposal for a truce in response to the positive reactions which emerged there."

I doubt this will have any immediate effect on European countries that are committed to keeping their troops in Iraq. The disturbing question is whether that resolve would waver if another Madrid-style attack were to take place.

UPDATE: Here's Al Jazeera's report on the tape, which contains this odd quote from bin Laden:

"President (George) Bush and leaders in his sphere, big media institutions, and the United Nations.. all of them are a fatal danger to the world, and the Zionist lobby is their most dangerous and difficult member, and we insist, God willing, on continuing to fight them."

Well, now I'm confused -- is the United Nations a tool of Zionist lackeys or an anti-Israeli institution?

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports on the widespread European rejection of bin Laden's offer.

posted by Dan at 10:42 AM | Comments (24) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004 vs. the blogosphere

James Marcus, a former senior editor for, has an amusing essay in the Washington Post on the varying quality of Amazon's customer reviews:

Imagine that you're circulating from room to room at an enormous cocktail party, with millions of guests, eavesdropping. Undoubtedly you will be treated to some gems, some brilliant bits of repartee, the occasional burst of intellectual fireworks. Most of what you hear, however, will be pretty mundane, given the law of averages and the general human tendency to lose track of our thoughts halfway to completing them. Well, the same rule applies to customer reviews, both at Amazon and elsewhere. There's plenty of wheat amid the chaff -- but there's lots of chaff, acres and acres of it, much of it lacking coherence, clarity, charity and punctuation. In a sense, it's now the audience, not the editor, shouldering the burden of culling out the good stuff. Whether this represents a seismic shift in the cultural terrain or merely a fresh division of labor remains to be seen.

If only there were some way to combine the speed and democracy of the Web with the more meditative character of traditional criticism. Oh wait, there already is: blogging. In some cases the convergence is quite literal -- witness the case of Terry Teachout, reviewing for such Bronze Age bastions as the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Commentary with his left hand while blogging like mad with his right at his site, But even those bloggers who never venture into print have something in common with their opposite numbers in the traditional media: a name to besmirch, a reputation to smudge. It keeps them honest in a way that anonymous, duck-and-cover reviewing never can. It also encourages a kind of snarky civility, very welcome in our polarized era.

This may change, of course, as the blogosphere moves further into the mainstream. Already there are turf wars, low-level spats. No doubt a pecking order will gradually materialize, since even cyberspace operates according to the familiar logic of Animal Farm: All bloggers are created equal, but some are more equal than others. There will be stars, contract players, boffo traffic numbers. There will be a proliferation of advertising on the most visible sites -- there is already, in fact -- and a defiant tug-of-war between the early bloggers and their entrepreneurial successors.

Here's a provocative thought -- does Marcus' assessment of Amazon's customer reviews also apply to the comments posted on blogs? Because bloggers lack the administrative resources/capabilities of, will this lead to the end of comment features over time?

I'll be further amused to see the customer comments on Marcus' forthcoming book, Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut

posted by Dan at 06:45 PM | Comments (16) | Trackbacks (2)

The next stage of campaign ads

The Onion amusingly identifies the next fake trend in negative campaign ads -- blasting voters rather than the other candidate. Here are some samples:

A controversial 30-second TV spot for Kerry that aired throughout the Midwest Monday blamed the country's ills not on Bush's policies, but on the "sheer stupidity" of America's voters.

"In the past four years, America's national debt has reached an all-time high," the ad's narrator said. "And who's responsible? You are. You're sitting there eating a big bowl of Fritos, watching TV, and getting fatter as the country goes to hell. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Over a series of images of America's senior citizens, the narrator of another 30-second spot says, "The Medicare drug bill is a triumph of right-wing ideology masquerading as moderate reform. The pharmaceutical-drug and insurance industries are tickled pink. Guess who's paying for it? You. Congratulations, moron. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message."

The Bush-Cheney 2004 camp recently began airing an anti-voter ad in 20 major urban areas nationwide.

"Are you going to vote for a candidate whose campaign promises would cost America $1.9 trillion over the next decade?" the ad asks. "Of course you aren't. You aren't going to vote at all. In the last election, half of you didn't even show up. So, on Nov. 2, just spend the day right there at your dead-end office job, talking to your coworkers about your new sweater and e-mailing your friends photos of your stupid 2-year-old daughter you shouldn't have had."

The ad concludes: "You make me sick."

I have to think that late at night, after a few beers, both the Kerry and Bush campaign teams fantasize about airing these kind of ads.

posted by Dan at 04:22 PM | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)

The EU's divide-and-conquer strategy on agricultural trade

The Financial Times reports that the European Union has a strategy for getting its egregious Common Agricultural Policy through the Doha round to WTO talks unscathed -- buying off Mercosur:

The European Union plans to splinter opposition to its Common Agricultural Policy this week by offering members of Mercosur, the Latin American customs union, a deal aimed at winning their support in the Doha trade round.

The move is designed to weaken pressure on the EU to lower its farm trade barriers by, in effect, buying off Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay with the offer of preferential trade concessions. These countries have been among the fiercest adversaries of Brussels in the global trade talks.

The EU proposals, if accepted, risk splitting the Cairns Group of 18 agricultural exporters as well as the Group of 20 developing countries, led by Brazil, which want the rich nations to reform their farm policies....

The proposals are expected to anger other developing country farm exporters, such as Chile and Thailand, which belong to both the Cairns Group and the G20, as well as richer countries including Australia and New Zealand.

As well as placing their exports to the EU at a disadvantage, a preferential deal for Mercosur would undermine their efforts to present a united front in the Doha round.

Politically, this is a clever move on the EU's part, though it puts Brazil in the awkward position of simultaneously trying to act as a leader of the Global South while cutting most of these countries out of any EU benefits.

Economically, the perpetuation of the CAP is, as always, unambiguously stupid.

Meanwhile, the FT also reports that Oxfam has "accused the European Union on Tuesday of employing 'economic sophistry' to conceal the true costs of its controversial sugar regime, saying the policy inflicted big losses on poor countries and reduced the value of EU development aid." Here's a link to the press release and full version of Oxfam's report, "Dumping on the World."

posted by Dan at 02:06 PM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (1)

Are campus crimes exaggerated?

Anne Hendershott has a provocative Chicago Tribune op-ed arguing that a University of Wisconsin-Madison student's bogus claims being abducted at knifepoint and enduring a five-day "imprisonment" are more common on campuses than many would think:

Duke University, Eastern New Mexico University, Northwestern University, San Francisco State, Guilford College, Miami University of Ohio, Iowa State and the University of Georgia are just the most recent campuses dealing with serious crime fabrications.

And, while most campus hoaxes involve "student-victims," the elite Claremont McKenna College recently found itself a victim of a faculty-perpetrated fraud when Kerri Dunn, a visiting psychology professor at the school, claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime. According to Dunn's initial crime report, someone had spray painted "shut up" on the hood of her car as it was parked in a college lot. She claimed that she was being silenced for speaking out against racism on the campus and that racist and anti-Semitic slurs on the roof and sides of her vehicle were proof of the racism that pervaded the Claremont campus.

Dunn received all the accolades that victims receive on college campuses. Campus administrators shut down the Claremont consortium of colleges for a day of anti-hate rallies and called in the FBI to investigate. By the time two eyewitnesses said that Dunn had damaged her own car, she had become a campus heroine.

Read the whole article -- Hendershott addresses rape cases as well.

posted by Dan at 09:09 AM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (3)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The trouble with indices...

Every index can be challenged on the quality of the data that goes into it, and the weights that are assigned to the various components that make up the overall figure. A lack of transparency about methodology is also a valid criticism. For example, in my previous post on the competitiveness of different regions in the global information economy, the company responsible for the rankings provides little (free) information on how the index was computed. That's a fair critique.

Even when the methodology is transparent, there can still be problems. Gregg Easterbrook, for example, fisks the Kerry campaign's "middle class misery index." Easterbrook points out:

Suppose I announced an Easterblogg Happiness Index with these indicators: mortgage interest rates, crime rates, rates of heart disease, life expectancy at birth, rates of car ownership, median home size, air quality, water quality, highest educational degree earned, rates of accidental death, percentage of workforce employed in white-collar professions. Needless to say, I've chosen these because all trends in these categories are favorable. My happiness index would not be a fair assessment of society, because I've excluded the negatives. (Maybe I should throw in "accuracy of NBA jump shots" just to have one negative.) My all-positive index wouldn't tell you the larger trend just as Kerry's all-negative index does not....

You may not like W.-onomics--I don't like his tax policy for the top bracket--but you've got to have a pretty badly jiggered index to hide the favorable current status of the unemployment/inflation comparison, always one of the best measures of the economy. If inflation were as out of whack as it was under Carter, or unemployment as out of whack as it was in the first Reagan term, current misery would be far more pronounced. Give me the "misery" of the George W. Bush numbers any day.

Real Clear Politics has dueling graphs, comparing Kerry's misery index with the actual misery index. Check them out for youself.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Page 2 devises a much more controversial misery index for baseball teams. Why controversial? Because some Boston Red Sox fans will be shocked to learn that their beloved Olde Towne Team is only the sixth most immiserating team (Montreal was first):

If you listen to the wailings in Boston, no one outside of a Mel Gibson movie has endured the pain of Red Sox fans. And while it's true they've had more agonizing moments than any other team -- the Ruth trade, Ed Armbrister, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, Grady Little ... well, you get the point -- they've also been one of the best, most consistent teams in baseball since the Impossible Dream season.

Sure, autumn is always painful but summers in Fenway are about as good as it gets. And really, is there a single Red Sox fan who would trade places with a Brewers fans?

I agree with ESPN, but I'm probably in the minority among Sox fans. Already, some Sox fans are outraged.

So, indices seem to serve one useful purpose -- the fostering of debate. So debate away!

posted by Dan at 05:16 PM | Comments (16) | Trackbacks (1)

San Francisco 1, Bangalore 0

The Financial Times reports on a survey of global regions and their competitiveness in the knowledge economy. The results are interesting:

San Francisco has the most competitive knowledge economy in the world, as investment in both technology and people continues to boost the city's productivity, according to a report published today.

The world knowledge competitive index, collated by Robert Huggins Associates, a British-based economics consultancy, found that the world's top 14 knowledge economies were all in the US....

Only 10 regions outside the US made it into the top 50, with Stockholm taking 15th place and Uusimaa in Finland 19th, rising by three and 18 places respectively from the previous year .

"Europe continues to struggle to bridge the knowledge gap that would enable it to compete with the US regions," said Robert Huggins, the report's author.

"The location of high- technology clusters in Europe continues to be concentrated in a few regions."...

[F]or now, regions of China, India and eastern Europe dominate the bottom rankings of the index. Bangalore fared the worst, although its index score has increased by almost 300 per cent since last year, while Mumbai and Hyderabad were also at the bottom. (emphasis added)

Click here for Huggins Associates' press release on the survey, and here for the list of all 125 regions included in the survey.

UPDATE: The ever-alert Robert Tagorda finds Reuters making explicit the point I was being implicit about:

Chinese, Indian and Eastern European regions were at the bottom of the competitiveness league table, with Bangalore the lowest at 125th despite improving its index score by almost 300 percent since 2003.

Such results should allay concern in developed countries that high-skilled jobs would move to cheaper locations, the study suggested.

"Off-shoring is, and will continue to be, mainly restricted to a very particular type of employment requiring only a set of basic, generic, and transferable skills, rather than those high-level skills that create added value."

Check out Robert's post for more.

posted by Dan at 02:02 PM | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (2)

Thrilling for a grilling

I'm very curious to see how the 9/11 Commission treats former FBI director Louis Freeh at today's hearings. Even more than the Bushies, Freeh was Richard Clarke's nemesis in Against All Enemies. Freeh launched a pre-emptive strike laying out his position in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. The key paragraph:

Short of total war, the FBI relentlessly did its job of pursuing terrorists, always with the goal of preventing their attacks. But the FBI's pre-9/11 Counter-Terrorism (CT) resources were finite and insufficient--3.5% of the entire government's CT budget. In 1993, we had fewer than 600 special agents and 500 support positions funded for CT. By 1999, we'd more than doubled our personnel and trebled the FBI's CT budget to $301 million. We knew it wasn't enough. For Fiscal Years 2000, 2001 and 2002 the FBI asked for 1,895 special agents, analysts and linguists to enhance our CT program. We got 76 people for those three critical years. FY 2000 was typical: 864 CT positions at a cost of $380.8 million requested--five people funded for $7.4 million. This isn't a criticism of the DoJ, White House or Congress--that's how Washington makes its budgets, balancing competing needs against limited resources. The point is: The FBI was intensely focused on its CT needs but antebellum politics was not yet there. By contrast, after Sept. 11, the FBI's FY 2002 Emergency Supplemental CT budget was increased overnight by 823 positions for $745 million. The al Qaeda threat was the same on Sept. 10 and Sept. 12. Nothing focuses a government quicker than a war.

This is an able defense, but Clarke makes repeated assertions in his book that Freeh failed to follow through on counterterrorism, failed to update the FBI's antiquated computer systems, and reallocated resources officially allocated to the task towards more traditional FBI crime-fighting. [Could Clarke be leaving anything out because of his desire to exact his measure of bureaucratic revenge?--ed. Certainly -- And Freeh is correct to cite the marked increase of FBI legal attaches in U.S. embassies abroad, which were/are useful in combating terrorism.] Bush's official campaign blog is touting the op-ed, but I'm not sure that's the best thinking. The Bushies have the understandable defense of only having been on the job for eight months. Freeh has less of an excuse.

The questioning of Freeh is also a test for the 9/11 Commission to see just how much partisanship will affect their judgment. It would be very fishy if the Dems are not as hard on Freeh as they were on Rice.

UPDATE: Reuters has the precis of the Commission's staff report on the FBI. A "culture resistant to change" figures prominently.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Pandagon links to an old Tim Noah piece in Slate that blasts Freeh's handling of counterintelligence. Noah links to this New Yorker profile of Freeh's role in the Khobar Towers bombing.

posted by Dan at 12:36 AM | Comments (36) | Trackbacks (1)

Should U.S. courts listen to international law?

Tim Wu pens an interesting but incomplete Slate essay on a growing trend -- the citation of international law and foreign law in U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The highlight:

Legal "comparativism" in the Supreme Court is staging a comeback. In Atkins v. Virginia, the 2002 decision in which the court barred the execution of the mentally retarded, the following sentence appeared in Justice Steven's opinion: "Within the world community, the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by mentally retarded offenders is overwhelmingly disapproved." And Lawrence, last year's sodomy decision, also used foreign materials, albeit to refute international claims made in an earlier case. In 1986, then-Chief Justice Warren Burger (a great xenophile) had argued in Bowers v Hardwick that bans on gay sex were "firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards." In Lawrence, Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out that whatever ancient practice might have been, England in particular (perhaps under the influence of David Beckham) and Europe in general had changed their minds. Even the current chief justice, William Rehnquist, has dabbled in comparativism—discussing the Dutch experience in the course of rejecting a right to assisted suicide in 1997's Washington v. Glucksburg.

It's become a bit of a Punch and Judy show: Just about every time the court cites foreign materials, Scalia and/or Clarence Thomas dissent. In the words of Scalia, "The views of other nations, however enlightened the Justices of this Court may think them to be, cannot be imposed upon Americans through the Constitution." Or, to quote Thomas on the subject, "This court should not impose foreign moods, fads, or fashions on Americans."

Wu argues that Scalia and Thomas are overreacting, comparing the citation of foreign experiences as the legal equivalent of a 50 Cent shout-out to Bob Dre:

[The Supreme Court] has not deferred to or followed foreign cases in statutory or constitutional cases. Scalia and the House Republicans, for effect really, are mixing up the difference between listening to foreign ideas and obeying foreign commands. Scalia is like the prohibitionist who confuses drinking with alcoholism. His narrowly correct point stigmatizes a range of reasonable, indeed salutary, judicial behavior.

Wu has a valid point to make -- the Supremes aren't in the thrall of Eurocrats. Still, one suspects that Wu is sanguine in part because the Court is citing foreign law that is consistent with modern liberalism. One wonders what the reaction would be if the foreign legal shout-outs were for less desirable principles the conservatism of the Official Secrets Act or the more statist bent behind U.N. treaties on economic and social rights.

The citation of foreign legal norms is not merely decorative -- it's strategic as well.

As further evidence that Slate has cornered the popular market on interesting Supreme Court writing, go read Dahlia Lithwick's quickie on the Supreme Court's federal marshals.

UPDATE: Jacob Levy reminds me that he penned an excellent TNR Online essay five months ago on this very topic. Levy draws an appropriate distinction between appropriate and inappropriate citations of foreign law:

[I]t seems perfectly reasonable to... allow decisions from other common law jurisdictions (England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, etc.) to act as persuasive precedent--which is subordinate to any on-topic binding precedent from one's own jurisdiction--just as a decision from a Delaware court can influence a decision on a similar question in New York. American law, including the American constitution, is built on common law concepts; and part of the common law mode of reasoning is for judges to be persuaded by interpretations and arguments offered by other judges....

To look at how other comparable systems address "a common legal problem," and at their reasons for doing so; to consider whether they are right or wrong, whether their reasons are persuasive; to engage not with the alleged sentiments of the world community but with the judicial arguments of other courts trying to interpret constitutional principles--this is the right way to proceed.

Check out Ken Kersch's "Multilateralism Comes to the Courts" in the Winter 2004 issue of Public Interest (hat tip to Jeff Singer)

posted by Dan at 12:05 AM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, April 12, 2004

Robert Maranto appropriates my line

Political scientists sometimes do think alike. I've argued repeatedly that the way to understand Richard Clarke's position vis-à-vis the Bush administration has been that of a pure bureaucratic actor:

Richard Clarke is the perfect bureaucrat. I mean that in the best and worst senses of the word. In the best sense, it's clear that Clarke was adept at maximizing the available resources and authority required to do his job, given the organizational rivalries and cultures that made such a pursuit difficult. In the worst sense, Clarke was a monomaniacal martinet whose focus on his bailiwick to the exclusion of everything else is phenomenal....

The result is that what's in Against all Enemies is certainly the truth, but as I said before, I doubt it's the whole truth.

Robert Maranto, who teaches political science and public administration at Villanova University, makes some similar observations in today's Wall Street Journal:

Good bureaucrats--not an oxymoron--spend all their days thinking about the highly specialized mission of their agencies, whether protecting the homeland or protecting the snail darter. Bureaucrats want all resources going to their work, with only crumbs left for the rest of us.

Good politicians, on the other hand, must ration their time and money to many competing interests. They can never give their hearts to just one thing....

As the NSC staffer in charge of monitoring al Qaeda, Mr. Clarke spent 12 hours a day trying to get inside Osama bin Laden's head--an assignment sure to warp anyone. Indeed, Mr. Clarke advocated pre-emptive attacks on Afghanistan in the 1990s, years before reasonable people (much less the U.N.) came on board.

In contrast, Ms. Rice, in visibly angry testimony before the 9/11 commission last week, insisted that she and President Bush had to manage competing threats. Just as Mr. Clarke named al Qaeda the top foreign threat, NSC Korea experts thought that North Korea, which murdered two million people and threatened to spread nuclear weapons, deserved the title of global enemy No. 1. Still others saw China, with a billion people, hundreds of nukes, and threats to incinerate Los Angeles, as America's biggest nightmare.

Then there's this point:

While Mr. Clarke now recalls having good relations with President Clinton's political appointees, the Washington Post reports that Clintonites "despised" him because, as then-NSC staffer James M. Lindsay recalls, they "thought he was exaggerating the threat" and "always wanted to do more" than higher-ups approved.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has more on some revisionist elements of Clarke's book.

posted by Dan at 06:20 PM | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (0)

Sunday, April 11, 2004

How I spent the last four days

I was in Washington, DC for the last four days at a Liberty Fund conference organized by Tyler Cowen that included several bloggers -- Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok, Asymmetrical Information's Megan McArdle, FuturePundit's Randall Parker, and Cronaca's David Nishimura. A fine time was had by all the bloggers -- although those participants who had no friggin' idea what a blog was before they arrived probably heard more than they cared to hear about the blogosphere.

Among the more memorable moments:

1) The opening night of the conference, I'm riding down to the lobby when the elevator doors open and a statuesque Megan McArdle walks into the elevator, looks at me, smiles, and says, "You're Daniel Drezner!"

2) The debate over whether sex with dead chickens is morally or legally defensible (see chapter fifteen of Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate to understand why that question came up).

3) Having Tyler and Megan urge me to change the picture on my front page -- for diametrically opposing reasons. (Tyler though the picture made me look like a weightlifter; Megan thought it made me look stringier than I actually am.)

4) Speculating with Megan over our ideal group blog participants. Consensus picks included James Joyner, Jacob Levy, and Virginia Postrel.

5) Coming to the delightful realization that my fellow bloggers were just as charming, witty, and sharp in real life as they are on their blogs.

UPDATE: Jeez, I go away for two weeks and Glenn Reynolds redesigns his site.

posted by Dan at 06:29 PM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (2)