Saturday, June 4, 2005
June's Books of the Month
If last month's selection theme was books written by U of C faculty, this month's theme is threefold:
The international relations book for this month is my colleague Robert Pape's Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Pape has collected data on all events of suicide terrorism over the past three decades and distills from that data several interesting hypotheses and policy recommendations. [Why not go into more depth?--ed. Because I've blogged about Pape's work on this subject before -- click here, here, and here for my thoughts about Pape's argument, methodology, and policy pronouncements.]
The general interest book for the month is... on the same topic -- it's Mia Bloom's Dying To Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror. In contrast to Pape, Bloom conducted field research in conflict zones where suicide terrorism took place -- including Israel and Sri Lanka. The assessment from Publisher's Weekly:
Combined, Bloom and Pape offer a lovely refutation to claims that the academic study of international relations does not care about policy relevant research.
Go check them out.
Thursday, June 2, 2005
Run away!! run away!!!
Throughout my life there have been activities that I have shied away from, not because I disliked them but because I feared liking them so intensely that they'd impinge on the rest of my life. This was why I never played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid. My brain starts sounding like a Monty Python voice yelling, "Run away!! Run away!!!"
Occasionally, despite my mental efforts, one of these addictive activities sneaks its way through my defenses. I'm convinced that had I not gotten hooked on Sid Meier's Civilization II game, I'd have another article somewhere on my cv. Thankfully, I kicked that habit five years ago -- all that's left is a non-functional icon on my desktop.
[What about blogging?--ed. A more complex answer -- I'd probably have another article or two, but on the other hand the articles on outsourcing and blogging would not be there either.]
Which brings me to (if, as you're reading this, you know what I'm talking about and don't want to be hooked into another diversion, just click away now)...... sudoku!!!
What you see above you is a sample game of sudoku in an Economist article I stumbled onto while traveling last week. The rules of the game are very simple:
The Economist thinks this is the Next Big Thing in puzzles -- apparently the broadsheets in Great Britain are falling all over themselves to create the winning New-York-Times-crossword-style brand.
Stevenson goes on to analyze whether sudoku will be just as addictive as the NYT's crossword. His conclusion:
Proceed to the London Times sudoku page at your own risk.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Closer to home, Josh has managed to rustle up some high-profile international relations scholars and policy wonks for TPMCafe's foreign policy blog, America Abroad -- contributors include G. John Ikenberry, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Ivo Daalder. As Henry Farrell put it, "The IR-academic corner of the blogosphere has been relatively underpopulated up until very recently.... it’s experiencing a bit of a population boom. Nice to see."
Yes it is -- now let's get to the fun part of critiquing the posts.
My very mixed reaction to this post:
A fnal query to readers. America Abroad and Duck of Minerva are the two recent blogs I've seen to be run by international relations scholars. Beyond them, Rodger Payne, and March Lynch (a.k.a. Abu Aardvark), readers are encouraged to clue me in to other IR scholar-blogs out there.
The Dutch say nee but not non
The Dutch were more emphatic than the French in saying no to the EU constitution -- but their reasons for saying no were not precisely the same. Oh, there were some surface similarities -- Emma Thomasson and Paul Gallagher explain for Reuters:
This rationale strikes me as different from the French fear of Turkey, which seemed predicated on both economic and cultural fears. In the Dutch case, I think the assassinations show it to be more of a direct concern with the threat to the Dutch commitment to liberal values (in both the classical and modern sense).
Marlise Simons of the New York Times provides more motivation behind the Dutch decision:
I'm more sympathetic to motivations behind the Dutch 'no' than the motivations behind the French 'non.'
If anyone can find a link to the actual exit poll results, post them in the comments.
I do wonder if this is another part of the master plot to prevent the euro from ffurther appreciation against the dollar.
As for the Netherlands, Dutch blogger Arjan Dasselaar asks a simultaneously provocative but obvious question:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Max Boot has an excellent analysis of the EU in the Los Angeles Times. The paragraph that must vex those in Brussels:
The housing market: foam or no foam?
I don't normally blog about the housing market (see here for an exception), but since everyone from Alan Greenspan to Brad Setser has been talking about whether the U.S. is experiencing a housing bubble right now, I thought it might be useful to link to this Chicago Fed Letter by Richard Rosen that suggests the answer is no. The highlights:
Do note the big caveats in the article, namely:
For a summary of the report, see this Chicago Tribune story.
No one trashes guido the killer pimp on my watch!!!
Any movie with the line, "Joel, get off the babysitter" deserves better treatment than that. Heresy, I say!! Heresy!!
On a slightly more serious note -- I haven't seen the movie in some years, but my memory is that it's quite a good flick. The interesting question is whether this is true because I first saw the movie when I was roughly the protagonist's age. It's possible -- not probable, but possible -- that I'm viewing this film through rose-colored glasses. There are movies that occupy a more prominent place in our personal pantheons because of when we see them, and the good memories we associate with that time. There are "generational" movies that are valued because they click on some level with one's entire peer group -- The Shawshank Redemption for Generation Y or Rebel Without A Cause for baby-boomers, for example.
Readers are encouraged to debate the merits of Risky Business, or to confess the movies that they adore but recognize may not be as good as they originally thought. Oh. and this seems as good a time as any to link to Time's "All-Time 100 Movies."
UPDATE: Hey, apparently this concern of mine has a name -- the Tron effect.
I wonder if Bangkok will take a check?
Note to self: no matter how much money they offer, never, ever accept an offer to become the governer of Thailand's central bank.
Adding insult to injury, the Bangkok Post reports that on top of the 186 billion baht, "The court also ordered Mr Rerngchai to pay 7.5% a year interest, retroactive to July 2, 1997, the date of the central bank's last currency transaction, although the court limited total interest charges to 62 million baht." I wait with bated breath to see if there is a Far East Economic Review story reporting that the court has also ordered Rerngchai's girlfriend to dump him.
Kidding aside, the Economist pointed out three years ago that, "The whole exercise seems grossly unfair, in that many other officials and politicians must have had a hand in the policy, as well as pointless, in that Mr Rerngchai seems unlikely to stump up the 186 billion baht he is alleged to owe." Actually, I think it's worse than that -- surely this will dissuade competent people from taking the job -- no matter how big Thailand's foreign exchange reserves are right now.
UPDATE: Brad Setser has semi-serious thoughts about whether the head of China's central bank needs to worry about this.
Don't hold your breath on TAFTA
Glenn Reynolds links to a John O'Sullivan column on the fallout from the French rejection of the EU constitution. It's an odd column, in that carries a lot of normative appeal to me but doesn't make complete sense.
O'Sullivan correctly brings up a worrisome byproduct of the French rejection -- the effect on Turkey:
No disagreement with that analysis. Then things get very strange:
Okaaayyyyy.... just a few questions for O'Sullivan:
To be clear, I think O'Sullivan's proposal has a lot of merit on substance -- I just don't think it has any hope of succeeding at the current political moment.
I am curious whether there would be support in the U.S. for something a bit simpler -- a free trade agreement with Turkey. Comment away!!
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Among the things I never thought I'd see
It's very easy to get jaded if you study international relations -- the powerful tend to triumph over the less powerful with regularity, and small states are the playthings of bigger powers. So when thhe ordinary rules of world politics don't hold -- say, the first Lebanese elections free of "Syrian domination," it's worth savoring.
Which brings me to Alex Rodriguez's story in today's Chicago Tribune:
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Open 'non' thread
Yeah, good luck with that, Monsieur Chirac -- it's not that the French don't want to act in their national interest -- it's just that the French are quite split about defining that national interest
The BBC analysis by Kirsty Hughes provides four reasons for the rejection:
Given reason number two, I'm skeptical of the Christopher Adams' speculation in the Financial Times that, "Britain is likely to use the result, particularly if the Netherlands also votes against the treaty on Wednesday, to push its case for economic reform across the EU more vigorously." Or, rather, Britain can try, but I doubt their efforts will fly.
In advance of the referendum, Greg Djerejian and Henry Farrell had very good analyses about the politics and prospects of the European Union in a post-'non' environment -- so go click on them and then come back here and post your comments. And check out Glenn Reynolds' collection of links.
UPDATE: Wow -- go check out the Ipsos breakdown of exit poll questions on the referendum. It makes for fascinating reading. [But it's in French--ed. Then enter the URL in Babelfish and read it anyway.] Two things stand out immediately: