Friday, July 8, 2005
Grad students: no blogs allowed
I've expressed trepidation in the past about whether graduate students or untenured faculty should start a blog.
An essay by "Ivan Tribble" (a pseudonym) in the Chonicle of Higher Education doesn't make me feel any more sanguine. The highlights:
How to respond? One fellow scholar-blogger puts it this way:
I was all set to defend the utility of academic blogging, but I see that Robert Farley was kind enough to do it for me -- literally:
I'll close with two pieces of advice:
1) To "Ivan Tribble": Click here before you condemn blogging to the academic dustbin. But if you or your colleagues still truly believe your assertion that, "Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum," then here's my advice -- do not hire anyone ever again. As you say, "We've all... expressed that way-out-there opinion in a lecture we're giving, in cocktail party conversation, or in an e-mail message to a friend." Therefore, it doesn't matter whether potential future colleagues have a blog or not -- all it takes is five minutes to set one up. The only foolproof way to "guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum" online is to have no colleagues. Come to think of it, you should also ban any current colleagues from using any computer hooked up to the Internet -- it's the only way to preserve decorum.
2) To graduate students: I'd like to say that Ivan the Tribble is your classic piece of outlying data, but I can't. The default assumption you should make is that the academy has a lot of people who share the Tribble worldview of the blogosphere. I seriously doubt that any amount of reasoned discourse will alter this worldview. So think very, very, very carefully about the costs and benefits of blogging under one's own name.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum says something that had occurred to me as well:
To be fair, however, there are short-run and long-run countertrends:
Sunday night, or what you will
Readers are free to interpret the story as an example of:
Me, I'm still trying to stop laughing.
Raising the Union Jack
If the State Department can do it, so can the good folks who put together danieldrezner.com:
Thursday, July 7, 2005
Why support CAFTA?
In an e-mail, Slate and New York Times contributor Daniel Gross asks a fair question: "unless you're a really, really, passionate free trader--which few congressional members, republican or democrat, are--why would you vote for CAFTA?"
Actually, it's not like free traders are terribly enthusiastic about the deal. In NRO, Bruce Bartlett conveys a free trader's feelings about the deal pretty well:
In the end, there are three reasons I can give to support CAFTA:
There are many things I don't like about this agreement -- but there are even more things I don't like about the policy environment for trade if CAFTA goes down.
UPDATE: As God is my witness, I did not coordinate this blog post with Donald Rumsfeld.
One final reason for supporting CAFTA if you're from the Midwest -- CAFTA puts an ever-so-slight dent in the wall of sugar protectionism, which would help to staunch the flow of candy manufacturers across the border.
The new bipartisanship
Kal Raustiala has an excellent piece in TNR Online about whether bipartisanship is on the decline. His basic thesis -- traditional centrist bipartisanship is down, new bipartisanship across a vast ideological chasm is up:
Read the whole thing.
With regard to foreign affairs, This kind of bipartisanship leads to a wholesale rejection of realpolitik. A foreign policy that appears to lack values is anathema to ideologues on both sides. As Raustiala points out, however, it can also lead to greater internationalism of a sort -- on debt relief or Darfur, for example.
The shifting politics of trade and immigration are another, more prenicious example of this new bipartisanship, by the way. Trade was your classic centrist issue that generated support from centrists on both sides of the aisle. Today, liberal Democrats oppose trade expansion and relatively open immigration because they fear the effects on unions and the working class. Conservative Republicans oppose trade expansion and relatively open immigration because of fears about global interdependence and the loss of sovereignty.
The result: a weakening Congressional support for an open economy.
UPDATE: Hmmmm.... John Thacker posts a comment that makes me wonder if I've overstated the case on trade. I'd be curious if his evidence applied to the House, however -- which is really the chamber I was thinking about with regard to trade.
Al Qaeda in Europe
CNN reports on the group claiming responsibility for the London transport bombings:
The clumsy-sounding name (at least in English) of this group makes me wonder if this is another of Al Qaeda's local subcontractees.
UPDATE: Stephen Flynn has some thoughts at the Council on Foreign Relations home page that sound this theme as well. Some highlights:
Read the whole thing.
LAST UPDATE: Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser make a similar point to Flynn's in the Washington Post:
Open London transport thread
Comment here on the London Transport bombings.
Tom Regan at the Christian Science Monitor has a link-filled article.
A friend from London sends the following e-mail:
UPDATE: Patrick Belton has more on the timeline of events, adding:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Djerejian ponders the aftermath:
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Those passionate Brits
London has won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. The city defeated Paris in the final vote -- since 1992, the French capital has lost out three times in a row (to Barcelona, Beijing, and now London).
This Associated Press report suggests that the International Olympic Committee was swayed by the passion of the British boosters:
Which is not to say that the French weren't passionate -- it's just that the passion of their president, Jacques Chirac, might have been directed at the wrong targets:
Free trade democrats, R.I.P. (1934-2005)
Beginning with the passage of the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, there has always been a signifcant contingent of Democrats who supported the expansion of foreign trade -- even when Republicans were mostly protectionist.
Look, CAFTA is not perfect, and if you read the article in its entirety, you'll see it wasn't only Democrats behaving badly.
However, neither of those points negates the fact that this trade deal is a no-brainer in terms of both economics and foreign policy.
Yglesias' two primary objections to CAFTA are that the agreement "is an effort to impose low labor standards and a misguided intellectual property regime on Central American nations." The first objection is, well, horses**t -- CAFTA doesn't force the Central American countries to lower their labor standards. I'm somewhat sympathetic to the excessive IPR argument - but click here to read a Chicago Tribune editorial about why the "Brazilian solution" preferred by Tyler doesn't necessarily work well either.
ANOTHER UPDATE: In the comments, Steve points out that Republicans control all the branches of government, so why blame the Dems? Brad Setser points out that Republicans have been acting protectionist with regard to the proposed CNOCC takeover of Unocal. Daniel Gross makes this point on his blog as well:
So am I unfairly bashing Dems?
In a word, no. True, the Republicans currently control the executive and legislative branches -- however, the same was true of the Democrats when NAFTA was under debate. Because of Democratic defections, however, the Clinton administration needed the cooperation and support of Republican leaders to secure its passage -- and Clinton got that support (indeed, if memory serves, more Republicans voted for NAFTA than Democrats). Nancy Pelosi sure as hell ain't playing that game today.
And while it's undoubtedly true that one can point to protectionist Republicans who are members of Congress, one can't say that the entire party is behaving in a protectionist manner. That's no longer true of Congressional Democrats.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Brad DeLong asserts that I'm misreading the Weisman story: "Drezner's wrong. And the story he cites does not say what he claims it says. It does not say that free-trade Democrats are gone." He thinks the relevant sections of the Post story are as follows:
Two final points. First, while I didn't address these points head-on in my original post, it was very cute of DeLong to elide my statement that, "if you read the article in its entirety, you'll see it wasn't only Democrats behaving badly."
Second, let's say DeLong is correct -- Clinton got 102 Democratic votes for NAFTA in the House, and then only 73 Democratic votes with the China WTO vote. At present, there is a whopping total of "50 pro-trade Democrats" in the House now. No matter how you slice it, that's not an encouraging trend line.
[Maybe free trade Congressional Democrats aren't dead -- they're just in a persistent vegetative state!--ed. Don't go there.]
I'll have more to say about CAFTA soon.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Gonna be a fun takeover battle
Peter S. Goodman reports in the Washington Post that the Chinese Foreign Ministry hasn't taken too kindly to Congressional doubts about the proposed CNOCC takeover of Unocal:
Look, I'm probably more sympathetic to the proposed takeover than most Americans, but that highlighted passage even made me laugh out loud. As the Economist pointed out two weekso ago, 70.6% of CNOOC's stock is owned by a "state-owned, unlisted parent company." Furthermore, "The Chinese offer is in cash—the shares even of a well-run Chinese firm are not yet acceptable as takeover currency." A separate story points out:
There's nothing "normal" about this particular commercial exchange -- from the Chinese side of things, there is government intervention all over the friggin' place. The Chinese government's suggestion otherwise just makes them look ham-handed.
The irony, of course, is that regardless of the Chinese government's idiocy, the Congressional concerns about the takeover are pretty much bogus. Goodman's story quotes Rep. William J. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, saying last week that, "We cannot, in my opinion, afford to have a major U.S. energy supplier controlled by the Communist Chinese." However, as Paul Blustein noted in last Friday's Post, the concerns about China's market power from a Unocal purchase affecting U.S. energy prices and supplies are absurd:
July's Books of the Month
This month's international relations book is David Rothkopf's Running The World: the Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. Rothkopf's history of the NSC starts with the National Security Act of 1947 and continues to the present Bush administration. I've blogged about Rothkopf's arguments in the past (click here as well) and I'm very sympathetic to his arguments about the flaws in the NSC process.
A former Clinton administration official, Rothkopf was still able to interview a number of Bush foreign policy principals, including Condoleezza Rice. Go check it out.
The general interest book comes from a U of C book group that I'm participating in on Carl Schmitt's Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. However, the book I would recommend first is Schmitt's The Concept of the Political. That book contains perhaps the most accessible and thought-provoking critique of the Western liberal tradition. Alan Wolfe, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education last year, provides a decent summary of Schmitt's argument (link via Ted Barlow):
Wolfe goes on at one point to suggest that American conservatives have embraced Schmitt's dialectic:
In this section, Wolfe succumbs to the very friend-enemy trope that Schmitt embraces. However, a conservative political operative of some reknown recently embraced this dialectic as well:
I believe that Schmitt's understanding of the classical liberal tradition to be deeply flawed -- indeed, Wolfe himself would have a hard time reconciling that paragraph from his Chonicle of Higher Education essay with his recent New York Time Book Review essay on Louis Hartz's The Liberal Tradition in America.
However, Schmitt remains a useful guidepost. Indeed, Schmitt's friend-enemy distinction will likely be the best way to view the brewing fight over Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement (see Ann Althouse for more on this).
Go check them out.
The big Russian elephant in the room
Alex Rodroguez has a front-page story in the Chicago Tribune about a new challenger to Vladimir Putin in Russia:
It's an OK article, but Rodriguez ignores the elephant in the room when discussing Kasparov's political fortunes in Russia: he's Jewish. Iin fact, Kasparov changed his name from Weinstein after his father's death. To put it gently, I seriously doubt that two-thirds of the Russian population oppose his presidential aspirations because of his politics.
Monday, July 4, 2005
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
In honor of America's birthday, go read the Declaration of Independence. Like most of America's founding documents, it's remarkably succinct.
And then go read Andrew Sullivan's "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Sullivan's closing paragraph:
Sunday, July 3, 2005
I've got my reading material for the week
The World Trade Organization has just issued its annual trade report. Beyond an update of recent trade developments, the document -- like its IMF and World Bank counterpart -- also provides more extensive analytic essays on various trade topics.
Oh, and there's also a shorter essay of offshore outsourcing. In which you can find the following:
Yeah, I'm not interested in this report at all.
Frances Williams has a nice summary of the offshoring sections of the WTO report in the Financial Times.