Saturday, August 14, 2004

Back on the clock

I'd like to thank Siddarth and Reihan for doing such an admirable job of blogging in my absence, and convincing me that I need to see Harold & Kumar go to White Castle. They've encouraged me to outsource the blog somewhat more frequently.

Well, it wasn't just them. I didn't go on vacation this past week -- I just took a break from blogging. And I must confess it felt like a vacation. The e-mail traffic declined, as did my web surfing -- leading me to polish off a few day-job side-projects and make some progress on my book. By the end of the week, my need to check out other blogs slowly faded away. It was very relaxing -- I even recovered from the Nomar Garciaparra trade.

More substantive posts later. In the meantime, check out Rand Beers' interview with Bernard Gwertzman over at the Council on Foreign Relations site. Beers is John Kerry's chief foregn policy advisor, and would likely become national security advisor in a Kerry administration.

Reading the interview, I was disappointed to see zero, zip, nada on democracy promotion. In fact, what was striking about the interview was the general lack of bigthink. On the other hand, there was a great deal of explication about the Kerry team's policy process -- pretty impressive for a campaign.

This leads to an disturbing question. Which is better: a foreign policy with a clearly articulated grand strategy but a f#$%ed-up policy process, or a foreign policy with no articulated grand strategy but a superior policy process?

UPDATE: Oh, I also took the opportunity to see Garden State -- and was pleased to see that it actually lived up to the trailer. Hands down, it's Natalie Portman's best performance since Beautiful Girls.

posted by Dan at 10:22 AM | Comments (80) | Trackbacks (9)

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Al Jazeera's Forced Vacation

The Iraqi government's decision to shut down the Baghdad office of al Jazeera seems sure to backfire. Allawi justified the decision saying that the network's practice of airing videotaped terrorist demands amounted to incitement. The primary problem with this decision is its futility: al Jazeera can still broadcast into Iraq and the insurgents have shown themselves capable of disseminating their gruesome footage via the web (cf. Nick Berg's beheading). Since there does not appear to be much of an upside, we ought to consider the downside, most notably a propaganda field day for those opposed to the nascent Iraqi regime. Clearly, they will say, the U.S. occupiers have forced their puppets to shut down the only station that was telling the truth about Iraq, and so on. I strongly doubt that the United States in fact had anything to do with the decision, particularly since Rumsfeld admitted on Friday that there was little he could do about negative coverage from al Jazeera. (Interestingly, he does note prior attempts by the Iraqis to clip al Jazeera's wings by denying them press credentials.) But none of this will deter conspiracists in the region and elsewhere.

Given this cost, it will be interesting to see if our man in Baghdad makes any attempt to get the Iraqis to reverse their decision on the grounds of the "forward strategy of freedom" and all that.

posted by at 01:10 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (1)

Outsourcing's Human Face

Hi everyone. I'm looking forward to trading ideas this week while Dan takes a well-deserved break. We must all respect a man who, however unwisely, has put his blog where his mouth is and outsourced it. One or two readers have complained that we're not actually located in Bangalore, something we'll try and rectify in the future. If we had done this next week, I could have blogged while on vacation in Asia, which with time difference would have allowed the blog to run 24/7, demonstrating how outsourcing can release the full potential of American capitalism (to say nothing of web-based opinion journalism). And don't worry too much about our willingness to blog for no wages--so is Drezner.

If you've read our bios, there will be no prizes for guessing who the straight man is this week. So, rather than asking Reihan, "Who's on first?", let me jump in with a news item...

posted by at 12:55 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)