Saturday, April 23, 2005
Regarding The End of Poverty
Loyal readers of danieldrezner.com may recall that I blogged about Jeffrey Sachs and his book The End of Poverty last month. Well, I should confess that one reason for my interest in the book was because I was reviewing it for the New York Times Book Review.
The review is now available online. Go check it out.
[No excerpt?--ed. Not with this review. Besides, I'm busy prepping for the inevitable reply from Professor Sachs. What makes you think there will be a reply?--ed. Well, let's see:
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Alex Tabarrok on political bias in the academy
Last night the Georgetown IR group took me out to a fabulous dinner, and naturally the conversation turned to whether there was a bias in academia against political conservatives.
I was all prepared to expound on this in a post, but fortunately for me,
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
So about this new Pope....
From an institutional perspective [And an institutional perspective only!!--ed.], there is more than a passing resemblance between the Catholic Church and the now-extinct Soviet Communist Party. So, after reading this Associated Press report by Nicole Winfield, I'm still trying to figure out whether Pope Benedict XVI will be Yuri Andropov or Konstantin Chernenko:
So either the Pope is healthy enough to reinvigorate and cement the Catholic Church for a short time, or he's going o get sicker and sicker very quickly.
Andrew Sullivan raises an interesing point about how John Paull II changed the rules to make it easier for Ratzinger to be chosen -- which raises an interesting question: will Benedict XVI similarly change the rules or stack the
As a non-Catholic, I have no dog in this fight -- but I'm curious about what will happen.
Should John Bolton be the next UN ambassador?
With more Republicans wavering yesterday over John Bolton's nomination, I think it's worth asking the question: should he be the next UN ambassador?
[Wait, weren't you defending him last week?--ed. No, I was defending the substantive point he made -- there's a difference. So is he a good choice?--ed. I actually have many thoughts on this, but insufficient time to post. Check back later in the day.]
UPDATE: The commenters have actually done a decent job of framing most but not all of these issues. First, does Bolton have the right temperment? There's echoes in the testimony of the Bob Blackwill case from late last year. However, there is a difference between being an effective SOB who's a hothead and being an SOB who's a hothead and seems comfortable with punishing subordinates who disagree with him on facts (as opposed to policy disputes -- if that's the arena of conflict between Bolton and subordinates, then Bolton has a right to punish subordinates who sabotage his decisions).
This is a big problem. It's countered by two arguments in favor of Bolton. First, the President deserves broad leeway in selecting his/her subordinates, even if they're not the greatest choices in the world.
Second, and not discussed as of yet in the comments, is related to a point Matthew Yglesias identified earlier in the week:
I think Yglesias is probably correct but it raises a point beyond his. Even if the UN Ambassador job is a booby prize, it's a pretty nice booby prize that probably mollifies one camp within the Republican Party. If Bolton doesn't get the job, will this lead some Republicans to act in an obstructionist fashion when Bush puts forward foreign policy appointments more symptico with, say, Condi Rice?
As a moderate Republican, this is the question with which I'm wrestling.... is it worth swallowing hard and letting Bolton get the UN job in order to preserve the ascendance of the moderates in the Bush foreign policy apparatus?
I'm not sufficiently plugged into the Beltway to answer that question in a satisfactory manner.
Gone talkin'.... so go read Brad Setser
I'm on the road in DC giving a talk at Georgetown, so blogging may be limited for the next few days.
However, be sure to read this Brad Setser post that follows up on my previous post regarding tactical issue linkage with China on the exchange rate question. Brad offers some additional possibilities, some of which I had thought of and some of which I hadn't and find very intriguing.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The paranoid style in the New York Times Magazine
The Volokh Conspiracy en masse -- and Orin Kerr in particular -- is going to town on Jeffrey Rosen's New York Times Magazine cover story on the libertarian cabal that allegedly threatens the judiciary (you gotta love the sinister photographs that accompany the piece).
This Kerr post in particular triggered a strong sense of déjà vu:
As one (of many) who has been on the receiving end of a Richard Epstein rant about the ills of the Bush administration, let me just reaffirm the fact that Epstein is hardly a trusted confidant of this president.
The reason for the déjà vu was that there is a strong parallel between this meme and the hysteria that gripped many in 2003 about the Straussian cabal that was allegedly running U.S. foreign policy during the first term of the Bush administration. As I wrote in TNR online back then:
If there is any link between the Bush administration and libertarian judicial theory, I suspect it's of akin to the bolded sentence of the paragraph. And it's worth thinking about how the neocons are doing now (see Bolton, John). This administration on the whole uses ideas more often (though not always) as hooks for policies they prefer for material or political reasons rather than as a guiding star for the future. In other words, they're like every other administration that ever occupied the White House.
So why the return to conspiracy theories? I'll quote again from the master, Richard Hostadter:
Monday, April 18, 2005
Why my head hurts right now
Alex Mindlin recounts an apparently real dispute about what constitutes fiction between the writers Michael Chabon and Paul Maliszewski in the New York Times. The highlights:
So if I understand this correctly: A writer that has frequently fudged facts for fun has fingered a fellow fabulist for fictionalizing facts for fortune, even though that fabulist foretold his fictions before his oration. [Now my head hurts--ed. If I'm going down, I'm taking people with me!]
Seriously, it seems like Maliszewski is off his rocker.
Charles Krauthammer misses the best part
I know this is a lighter column for Krauthammer, but it's almost criminally negligent for him to go from discussing his passion for the Sox to his interest in the Nats without mentioning how he felt being on the outside looking in at the Red Sox successful 2004 season.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
The difference between economists and political scientists
Sigh..... let's clear up a few misconceptions.
Brad's assertion is that political scientists think that "getting serious" about something is dispatching an ambassador -- as opposed to the economists who want to fix the problem. Actually, to a political scientist -- more specifically, one who studies international relations -- you "get serious" about an issue like the currency when you engage in tactical issue linkage to change other government's policies in such a way as to change the balance of returns and risks facing those buying and selling in foreign exchange markets. If one can arrange for other countries to bear a greater portion of the costs of adjustment from the current set of macroeconomic imbalances, then political scientists will predict that governments will prefer this policy option ten times out of ten -- even if the long-term economic picture would be improved by listening to economists. [Yes, but doesn't this still leave the U.S. with some long-term macroeconomic problems?--ed. I believe it was an economist who pointed out what happens in the long run.]
This leads to Matthew's appropriate question about leverage -- what does the U.S. have to offer? What is the tactical issue linkage that could be put in play here?
Looking at the state of play, here's whats on the bargaining table:
Finally, the reason I said the Bush administration was "getting serious" about the trade deficit after reading the FT article was twofold: a) the administration shifted from talking about the Chinese revaluing their currency to China setting up a floating rate system. That was a shift in their position; and b) Treasury officials spoke about this to the FT in the first place -- to date Treasury officials had been sticking very close to official statements on this issue. My unspoken and unstated assumption in the previous post was that these statements to the FT as a signal that the U.S. had their ducks lined up with the other G-7 countries, and was going to start deploying tactical issue linkage. However, I'm afraid that in the wake of what actually happened, Joseph Britt is correct to point out that, "'getting serious' is not normally so easy to confuse with 'flailing ineffectually.'" So I've gone back and amended the title of the original post
So did the Bush administration get serious about the dollar?
Well, the meeting of the G-7 finance ministers happened. Did the U.S. and the G-7 ratchet up the pressure on China, as was previously suggested?
This appears to depend on who you ask. In the Washington Post, Paul Blustein says "no":
In this case, both the FT and WaPo are correct. It's clear that the latest G-7 statement doesn't differ much from previous ones, and I have no doubt Japan acted as the brake on any change in the language. However, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow also delivered a statement after the communique that was reasonably clear in its intent:
Of course, the U.S. can insist that China is ready all it wants -- whether Beijing will hop to is another question. Until and unless Japan changes its tune, it would appear that China doesn't face a huge incentive to change the status quo.
On the other hand, this Bloomberg report by Tim Kelly suggests that Japan recognizes the political lay of the land: