Saturday, December 4, 2004
Back to offshore outsourcing
Keen readers of danieldrezner.com may have noticed that I haven't blogged much about offshore outsourcing since my NYT op-ed in late September. This has been for several reasons:
Well, the election is over, the book manuscript is off my desk, and a few months have passed since I've blogged about the topic. So... I'm back, baby!!
So what's been written that's worth reading on the topic since I've been away?
A couple of selections:
Friday, December 3, 2004
It's the 2004 Weblog Awards!!
I urge any and all readers to click over to the 2004 Weblog Awards and vote among the myriad categories. Unbeknownst to me -- thanks to R.H. for the link -- I see that I'm nominated for "Best of the Top 100 Blogs".
So... vote for me, dammit!! I've never won one of these awards, and if at all possible I'd like to avoid becoming the Harold Stassen of the blogosphere. And, looking at the voting to date, I appear to be getting my ass kicked. UPDATE: Ah, now I see why I'm getting my ass kicked -- Megan McArdle is playing dirty -- really, really dirty.
Logicians among the readership are invited to reconcile the conundrum of how the Best of the Top 100 Blogs would not therefore better than the Best Overall Blog -- since all of them are Top 100 blogs.
It's up to Putin now
The Ukrainian Supreme Court has now declared the presidential runoff election results invalid -- and has ordered that a repeat of the runoff be re-staged throughout the entire country on December 26. The Ukrainian parliament speaker has already urged the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling.
All of this comes less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the idea of holding a runoff election. (click on this San Jose Mercury News timeline for the backstory.] After President Bush made a rhetorical push-back, Putin responded today by muttering dark warnings about the unipolar world:
What's becoming clear is that the correlation of forces within Ukraine are tilting in favor of a runoff election that would presumably lift Viktor Yushchenko to power. The emerging question is whether the correlation of forces outside Ukraine will permit this to happen. Will Putin tolerate the blow to his reputation that would come with a Yushchenko victory (remember, he and his administration campaigned hard for Yanukovich)?
It looks like the Bush administration has reached the same conclusions as danieldrezner.com about the cost of taking the Boeing/Airbus dispute to the World Trade Organization. Edward Alden reports on the U.S. decision in the Financial Times:
As the story suggests, this could heat up again early next year. But it's good to see the administration attempt another bilateral accomodation.
December's books of the month
I initially feared that the general interest book for December may not necessarily of general interest, since it's Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King. However, then I remembered that this would be the pefect stocking stuffer for anyone who hates the Yankees, which accesses a broad spectrum of Americans. Publisher's Weekly says that, "Of all the books that will examine the Boston Red Sox's stunning come-from-behind 2004 ALCS win over the Yankees and subsequent World Series victory, none will have this book's warmth, personality or depth." That's good enough for me! Well, that plus the awesome cover photo.
The international relations book this time around is an oldie but a goodie -- Kenneth Waltz's Man, The State, and War. In my Classics of International Relations Theory class this year, this book easily sparked the most animated discussion. The reason is that this text -- in combination with Thomas Schelling's The Strategy of Conflict -- transformed the way people (or at least Americans) studied international relations.
Prior to Waltz, the great books in international relations either had a strong teleology embedded in their theory (Kant, Lenin) or came at the problem of international relations from a normative cast that colored their positive analysis (Hobbes, Angell, even Morgenthau).
After Man, The State, and War, the discipline underwent two changes -- first, it took on a much more positivist cast. The question of how to stop war was supplanted by the analysis of determining the causes of war. Although there is a normative explanation for this -- it is foolhardy to try and prevent war without understanding the causes of the phenomenon -- it has led to the discipline as a whole to shrink away from making policy prescriptions. Second, the field of study slowly shifted its explanations away from individual or even domestic-level approaches. Instead, the "system of states" -- i.e., the implications of anarchy at the global level -- became the overriding concern.
[Why not recommend Waltz's even-more-influential Theory of International Politics?--ed. As Henry Farrell points out, the price gouging on that book is pretty appalling.]
Another reason for recommending Waltz is this October address by Mitchell Reiss, the Director of Policy Planning for the State Department. The speech tries to place the Bush administration's foreign policy within the context of Waltz's Man, The State and War. It's certainly an interesting intellectual exercise -- though Reiss diplomatically elides Waltz's attack on assertive Wilsonianism -- the neoconservatism of its day.
Eleven years ago in Ukraine....
Amanda Butler has an amusing post at Crescat Sententia about what it's like to celebrate Thanksiving in an ex-Soviet republic. That, plus the high stakes in Ukraine, caused me to open up the electronic diary I kept of the year I spent in Ukraine as a Civic Education Project lecturer to see how we celebrated Thanksgiving circa 1993.
Long diary entry after the jump...
11/27/93: I'm typing this in the Palace Hotel in Yalta. The trip here was interesting. Yalta is in the Crimea, which is supposed to be the garden spot of Ukraine. After a pleasant overnight trip, we got of at Simferapol and were greeted by a biting wind, snow blowing everywhere, and a temperature colder than in Donetsk. We were met by a guy from the local Renaissance foundation, who proved useless. We asked him where we could get tickets back to Donetsk; he answered that it was in the city centre. We then asked him repeatedly if there was an Intourist office at the train station; he said that you could only buy tickets there for the next day. It turned out later that he was of course wrong. It's real pathetic when I know more about how the system operates than the locals.
1) Macaroni and Meat
11/27/93: Whew, Lord, where to begin. Yesterday we went back to the Hotel Yalta to use the sauna. It was about ten of us. We get to the service desk, and they tell us it's not possible, the saunas are reserved now. I got very angry in Russian at him, and we started arguing. Finally, in a fit of pique, he said, "What is it with you Americans?! Why do you think that if you come you can do something immediately?"
Thursday, December 2, 2004
More than just a trend?
Link via Tom Sullivan. From an international relations perspective, I'm intrigued to see that "sovereignty" came in ninth by their metric of popularity.
UPDATE: If Microsoft has its way, you will become one with the blog.
Musings on blogging and scholarship
I believe I am officially the last scholar-blogger in America to point out that Gary Becker and Richard Posner have decided to start a blog together. It's a testimony to their intellectual heft that their "test" post already has sixteen trackbacks. Having participated in workshops with both of them, all I can say is that the rest of the blogosphere is in for a treat.
Henry Farrell makes a keen observation about the legitimation effects of senior scholars taking up blogging:
Hmmm.... this leads to a small problem for Henry and myself. As one of the commenters to Henry's post points out, "I’ve noticed this lack of blogging from big names in my own field of political science." Indeed, perusing Crooked Timber's list of poli sci bloggers, I certainly do not see anyone approaching the stature that Becker or Posner have in their fields. To go further,
[Insert sound of lonely wind blowing here--ed.]
To which I say.... shame on my tenured brethren!! To be sure, a lot of blogging (and some of my blogging) is entirely unrelated to matters of scholarship -- but that doesn't mean it has to be this way. Tyler Cowen has an excellent post in response to Eszter Hargittai on how blogging and scholarship are compliments rather than substitutes. Surely these reasons must be persuasive to
Readers both in an out of political science are hereby invited to suggest which senior political scientist they would like to see start a blog. Must be someone who holds a Ph.D. in political science and holds a full-time tenured position at a Ph.D.-granting institution [Doesn't that impose some ideological constraints?--ed. Feh -- as Jonah Goldberg put it, "wrong and liberal are not synonymous terms."]
UPDATE: Hey, it turns out there is a tenured political scientist at a top twenty institution who's a blogger. Michael Munger -- chair of the department of political science at Duke, former president of the Public Choice Society, a prolific scholar who lists his occupation as "professional wrestler" in his Blogger Profile -- has had a blog since June of this year.
[He also appears to be threatening you with bodily harm--ed. Oh, yeah??!! Like I'm really scared of some newbie, candy-assed, penny-ante North Carolina blogger who calls himself "KGrease"? Bring it on, Duke boy!!! I'm not sure this kind of discourse is going to encourage other tenured faculty to start blogging--ed.]
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Whatever shall global civil society do?
It's dangerous to ascribe a common set of preferences to the heterogeneous collection of NGOs, social movements, activist networks, charities, churches, and even some individual philanthropists that comprise "global civil society." But most people who study these entities would acknowledge a rough consensus among these groups that a) genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) should be regulated to within an inch of their existence; and b) land mines are evil and should be banned.
So I wonder which side of the fence these groups will fall on when they read about this tidbit blogged by Warren Ginn:
Link via Virginia Postrel.
Aresa's web site has this to say on how these GM products would accelerate land mine removal:
Please, anything but cheap shrimp!!
Thank God the Bush administration is protecting me and other consumers from.... cheap seafood. Jeffrey Sparshott explains the Bush administration's heroic act of protectionism in the Washington Times:
One wonders... if consumer prices won't be affected, why would the Southern Shrimp Alliance seek protection in the first place?
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Boeing, Airbus, and the WTO
The Economist has an update on the brutal competition between Airbus and Boeing. The highlights:
I suspect the Economist is correct. The trouble with this case is that the fixed costs for commercial aircraft are high enough to ensure increasing returns to scale for the entire market. Which means that this may be one of those situations where strategic trade theory applies.
Which means that the WTO is ill-suited to resolving this dispute.
It's all about the goats
Andrew Martin has a fascinating front-pager in today's Chicago Tribune about how rising immigration from less developed countries into the United States is altering the mix of goods that American farmers cultivate:
Since goat meat is better for you than other forms of meat -- the fat content is 50%-65% lower than similarly prepared beef while the protein content is roughly equal -- someone should be promoting the Goat Diet.
Monday, November 29, 2004
It was either Secretary of Commerce or the new face of Avon
I don't have much to say about President Bush's announement that he intended to nominate Kellogg chairman Carlos M. Gutierrez as the new Commerce Secretary, beyond the observation that this is Bush's first post-election selection that did not spend the first term in the White House.
However, this sentence in Washington Post writer William Branigin's story about the appointment did leap out at me: "Latino Leaders magazine named Gutierrez as one of the nation's 10 most-admired Latinos last year (others included actress Salma Hayek, singer Julio Iglesias and baseball player Sammy Sosa)." (emphasis added)
The staff here at danieldrezner.com, ever eager for gratuitous references to Salma Hayek, applaud Mr. Branigin for finding a completely gratuitous excuse for mentioning the lovely and talented Ms. Hayek -- who, incidentally, recently became a spokesperson for Avon products:
Hat tip to Baseball Crank.
It's a beautiful day in China's neighborhood
One of the themes of the book I've been working on (and on... and on, and on...) is that great powers create regional intergovernmental organizations that allow these states to advance their regulatory and political preferences among the most vulnerable states they can find. I label these kind of international governmental organizations as "neighborhoods."
Looks like China is trying to create its own neighborhood, according to the AP:
No need to hyperventilate -- as the story notes, the U.S. remains the primary economic presence in the region. This is more interesting as a harbinger of the future.
Just one more Ukraine post for today...
As my previous posts suggest, I've been very wary of what happens if Ukraine blows up. Fred Weir and Helen Womack's piece in the Christian Science Monitor encapsulates these fears pretty well.
That said, it's cheering to see signs that maybe Ukraine won't blow up -- this week.
AFP reports that President Kuchma has come out in favor of new elections in the disputed regions (Donetsk and Luhansk):
That last quotation is significant, because Yanukovich has stated his preference all along for strictly legal solutions.
Yanukovich has acceded to Kuchma's preferences, according to Reuters:
Meanwhile, the Kyiv Post reports that the secessionist threat has freaked out some of the oligarchs:
On Akhmetov, check out Tom Warner's story in the Financial Times.
Encouragingly, Interfax reports that Ukraine's defense minister has rejected the idea of a state of emergency.
What's going on? There are three possibilities:
Comments are back on
Apologies for the lack of comments over the past 24 hours -- there was a massive spam attack that caused the good people at Hosting Matters to shut things down temporarily.
The Ukrainian opposition rolls the dice
Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and his supporters are now making demands of president Leonid Kuchma. Here's the Reuters report -- but Maidan has an English translation of the actual demands:
That 24 hours thing is funny, because according to the Post-Modern Clog, "Kuchma has given the protesters blockading the Cabinet building a 24-hour deadline to clear out."
Actually, it's not funny. Supporters of Yushchenko want to believe that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich commands little support, even in the Eastern part of the country - but Reuters reports that "an estimated 150,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Donetsk" in support of Yanukovich. Yanukovich may be a toady of Kuchma and potentially Vladimir Putin, but he's not wrong when he says, "If only one drop of blood is shed, we won't be able to stop the flow." The thing is, both sides have now dug in, and although the Ukrainians are masters at muddling through, it's becoming increasingly difficult to see how this can be resolved through non-violent means.
[Why can't there be a velvet divorce between the regions, a la Czechoslovakia?--ed. Erin Arvedlund explains the myriad economic problems with this idea in the New York Times, but it's even more problematic than that. Yushchenko's response to the eastern threats of autonomy show that nationalists are, well, nationalist -- they don't want only half the country.]
I have to think Yushchenko is gambling on Kuchma lacking the ability to use force. However, Mark Franchetti reports in London's Sunday Times that:
(link via NRO's Andrew Stuttaford)
The other thing to worry about is the Russian response to any escalation in the crisis. What will Putin do? Helen Womack reports in the Christian Science Monitor that, "The likelihood for a fresh poll increased when a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Russia, which had overtly backed Yanukovich, said Moscow also now favored a rerun." However, Askold Krushelnycky and Mark Franchetti report in London's Sunday Times about a more disturbing possibility:
Developing... and not in a way that I'm at all sanguine about.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
So is Fleet Street on crack or what?
The British press has some very interesting takes on what's happening in Ukraine.
In the Guardian, Ian Traynor thinks the "Orange Revolution" is made in the USA:
Laughland is associated with the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG), which should not be confused with British Chapter of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. BHHRG has posted two scathing reports about the Orange Revolution -- one on Yushchenko's "Shadow of Anti-Semitism" and this report on the election's second round, in which they conclude, "BHHRG finds no reason to believe that the final result of the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine was not generally representative of genuine popular will."
Well, now it's clear to me -- the Bush administration has carefully crafted a crisis in Ukraine to force western Europe back into our arms while finally installing an anti-Semitic government in Ukraine.
[Seriously?--ed.] Seriously, there are a couple of things going on here. Let's deal with BHHRG and Laughland first -- well, let's reference this Chris Bertram post first, since it encapsulates where this line of criticism is coming from. Basically, if a cartoon version of Edmund Burke were divined into existence and asked to monitor elections in regions outside Western Christendom, the result would be BHHRG. In the former Soviet bloc, this means they expect voters to prefer Slavophiles over Western reformers -- and if they prefer the latter, it must be because of perfidious Western interference. Their suspicion of outsiders, particularly poor outsiders, is also at the roots of Unwin's fears of Ukrainan entrance into the EU.
Their charge of anti-Semitism seems partially blunted by the fact that a) Principal elements of the Jewish community support Yushchenko; and b) As someone who's travelled all around that country, let's be clear that a mild form of anti-Semitism is probably one of the few traits that unites the different regions.
As for Traynor's allegations, they are both true and vastly exaggerated. It's probably true that the groups identified by Traynor have helped fund opposition groups in the countries listed. That said, to suggest that the U.S. government was the architect behind the massive demonstrations that ousted Slobodan Milosevic, Eduard Shevardnandze, and are threatening Leonid Kuchma overlooks a) The genuine resentment these leaders have generated among their populations; and b) The ability of the U.S. government to "coordinate" such a disparate bunch of organizations (Traynor's thesis requires the Bush administration to be in league with George Soros). There's an element of the paranoid style in these reports that sounds... vaguely familiar. [UPDATE: This charge of American orchestration of events seems particularly amusing after reading Bradford Plumer castigate the Bush administration over at the Mother Jones blog for not planning enough for these contingencies. From what I've read, this is a case where all the planning in the world wasn't going to change what happened.]
Finally, as to the charge of corruption among Yushchenko's supporters -- particularly Ms. Tymoshenko -- click here, here, and here for more background (and here's a link to Tymoshenko's web site). I have no doubt that Yushchenko and his supporters are not as clean as the driven snow. However, while Tymoshenko's stage of primitive accumulation seems well past, Yanukovich's supporters are still in their prime and show no signs of changing tack.
Which is pretty much the way to evaluate the current lay of the land in Ukraine. Yushchenko and his supporters are not innocent democrats -- but I'm not sure that anyone who has ever held political office (save maybe Vaclav Havel) fits that description.
For another corrective to these reports, see Nick Paton Walsh's article in the... er... Guardian.
As to Unwin's realpolitik concerns, those can not just be dismissed away, and I'll try to blog about them soon.
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias makes some excellent contrarian points. To be clear -- I find the arguments made by Laughland, Traynor, and BHHRG to be badly slanted and grossly exaggerated -- but some of the points they are making not completely devoid of truth.
Today's Ukraine update
Richard Balmforth reports for Reuters that multiparty talks among the parties with a stake in last week's disputed election aren't going well in Kiev:
Yanukovich was in eastern part of the country to rally regions and elites loyal to his cause:
In a somewhat ominous development, the AP's Anna Melnichuk reports that Kuchma is calling for an end to the protestors' blockade of government buildings in Kiev, calling it a "gross violation of the law." In Kiev, Post-modern Clog posts that, "Everybody is buzzing right now about martial law." To be fair, he also notes, "at this point it's only a report of discussions and nothing more solid than that." Still, Yushchenko now seems more cognizant of this possibility. UPDATE: SCSU Scholars is keeping track of this thread of scuttlebutt.
Meanwhile, Time has its Ukraine package, which has three interesting tidbits of information. The first suggests the depth of the protest at the vote-rigging:
The second tidbit suggests the extent to which Putin wants to keep Ukraine within its orbit:
Finally, the Time writers note that should the Ukraine problem fail to resolve itself, the Bush administration would find itself in a pickle:
This puts Bush's comments from this Friday in the proper perspective.
UPDATE: This BBC report has a good summary of the developments to date.