Saturday, September 17, 2005
What I've been up to this weekend...
I've been playing host to a small conference on the political power of blogging. Although some of the participants got a bit stressed prepping for the conference, on the whole it led to some very stimulating discussions
Ethan Zuckerman has a round-up of some of the papers. And those interested in international relations should check out his blog anyway.
UPDATE: Laura McKenna has some kind words -- "it was quite excellent talking to people whose blogs are part of my daily consumption and who are just as freakishly obsessed as I am."
And Eszter Hargittai has pictures!
Friday, September 16, 2005
The subfield split on the dollar
Brad DeLong has a very good post up detailing the split among economists at a Jackson Hole conference (poor Brad) about what will happen when the dollar falls in value:
Read the whole thing.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Follow up on the commercial peace -- Gartzke replies to Rummel
Erik Gartzke sends along his reponse to R.J. Rummel's critique of his chapter "Economic Freedom and Peace" in Cato's 2005 annual report on Economic Freedom in the World. (click here and here for my previous blog posts on this topic.
I've put Gartzke's reply after the jump, because it's on the longish side and may bore non-IR types. I will, say, however, that the reply addresses many of the concerns I had about the study.
[So did you send it out for external review?--ed. Alas, no -- Erik can't count this as a refereed publication. It should count for something, though.]
UPDATE: Rummel replies here.
REPLY TO RUMMEL
by Erik Gartzke
In a recent blog post titled “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong” posted on his webpage, Dr. R.J. Rummel presented some rather intense criticism of my recent chapter “Economic Freedom and Peace” in the 2005 edition of Economic Freedom of the World. I offer this note as a reply.
Dr. Rummel claims that I am wrong to write that “researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally.” This is what other researchers have found. In fact, it is what most proponents of the democratic peace claim to show. Dr. Rummel knows that the majority of studies by democratic peace proponents do not support the assertion that democracies are generally less warlike (Rousseau, et al. 1996). Indeed, he has advocated the strong claim that democracies are generally pacific, in opposition to other proponents of the democratic peace. This difference of views within the democratic peace research community is not made clear in Dr. Rummel’s comments and may confuse his readers.
The comment that Dr. Rummel objects to thus simply summarizes the dominant view among democratic peace researchers. As Huth and Allee put it “patterns of military conflict between democracies and non-democracies are not very different from patterns of military conflict among non-democracies” (page 1, 2002). Bruce Russett, the dean of quantitative democratic peace researchers acknowledges that there is “little systematic evidence” in support of the claim that democracies are generally less warlike (page 11, 1993). Together, Russett and his research partner John Oneal, state that, “Our analyses clearly reveal the separate peace among democratic states” (page 288, 1997). There are many other examples. I quote the wikipedia encyclopedia:
Thus, even if one admires Dr. Rummel’s research, it is simply not correct for him to suggest that I have mischaracterized the literature. Further, he does not make clear why I should adhere to his version of democratic peace when he has failed, despite vigorous efforts, to persuade other democratic peace researchers to do so. As a critic, I must address the most widely used version of an argument, or risk being attacked for setting up a “straw man.” In fact, by using the special dyadic claim of democratic peace, I am able to acknowledge that the study in question does not directly contradict the claims of dyadic researchers, though of course my findings also do not support the assertions of those who make the strong claim that democracies are generally more peaceful. (In other research, my results seem to show that even the weaker, dyadic version of democratic peace is not sustained when any of several measures of capitalist development and market integration are included in the analysis, but this is a discussion for another time.)
Dr. Rummel argues that I am doing democratization injustice by using the term “impose.” He suggests no alternative term, but references another blog post titled “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy.” Certainly, “unchaining” sounds more affirmative, just as “freedom fighter” sounds more affirmative than “terrorist.” By “imposed,” I meant situations like Iraq, where democracy has not evolved endogenously. In Iraq, for example, unless democratic peace exists and is general (monadic), there can be no robust effect of democratization because other states in the region (besides Israel and Turkey) are not democracies. Research by Hegre (2004) shows that increasing democracy when few states are democratic tends to increase, not decrease, conflict. Even many advocates of democratic peace doubt that democratization in the Middle East will lead to peace in anything but the very long run. This, of course, also requires that we assume that US efforts to democratize Iraq will succeed, a debatable claim in its own right.
Dr. Rummel takes my study to task because I point out that the democratic peace observation has recently been limited to prosperous states. Here again, I am simply reporting the evolving consensus of democratic peace researchers themselves. Mousseau (2000) and Hegre (2000) report that an interaction term between variables for democracy and economic development leads the democracy term to become no longer statistically significant. In a newer study, John Oneal himself collaborates with Mousseau and Hegre in further substantiating this conclusion. As the result makes clear, democratic peace, if it exists, is conditioned by economic development. My view is that it is development itself, along with economic liberalization, that explains the peace.
Dr. Rummel claims that my assertions are falsified in my own data. As evidence, he argues that there are no “wars” between democracies. The specific claims that I make, and the data that I use involve militarized interstate disputes (MIDs), a broader category of conflict behavior. Wars are very rare. There are just 44 state participations in wars beginning in 1970, the earliest date for which the Index of Economic Freedom supplies data. Less than 1% of state years (think “man hours”) involve a war. For this reason, democratic peace researchers and others studying conflict among nations have overwhelmingly preferred in recent years to examine MIDs.
Still, it is not difficult to have a look. I examined the Correlates of War project listing of wars (conflicts involving at least 1000 battle deaths per year per participant). I find no statistical relationship between either the index of economic freedom, or the democracy variable, either separately or together, using these data. The effect of capitalism is either more subtle, reducing conflicts only over a lower intensity, or the sample of wars is too small, or both. In any case, democracy does not have the effects Dr. Rummel claims in these data, even when it is left by itself in the regression. As a further check on these findings, I also examined data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). These data report conflicts involving at least 25 fatalities. Thus, they are clearly conflicts involving “violence.” Using SIPRI conflicts as the dependent variable, I am again unable to find a statistically significant relationship linking democracy and peace. I can, on the other hand, find weak support for the suppression of major violence by the economic freedom variable. This variable is just short of the 5% significance threshold in a quick statistical comparison of democracy and capitalism as determinants of peace.
So, to summarize, Dr. Rummel’s critique that I should look at wars seems unfounded, though it did not hurt to check. The claim that democracy generally causes peace is again unsupported.
Dr. Rummel claims I am using the wrong data and that my study “confounds nonviolence with violence.” I am not sure what this means. Every Correlates of War Project MID involves threats or acts of a militarized nature, almost all of which involve violence (the threshold for inclusion in the dataset is high, resulting in relatively few threats and more “uses of force”). Again, I rely on the same data as democratic peace researchers, the most widely used and referenced data, in fact, in the quantitative study of international relations. For Dr. Rummel to claim that the MIDs data are not an appropriate framework for testing the democratic peace is to reject most studies of democratic peace out of hand, something I, and most other researchers, are unwilling to accept.
Still, it would be nice to establish that my findings do not depend on a particular kind of data source. MIDs, COW wars, and the SIPRI data code conflict behavior of a given intensity level or higher. The Interstate Crisis Behavior dataset, on the other hand, examines crises. This can be useful because some conflicts, even relatively violent ones, do not involve direct leadership decisions. Suppose some sergeant decides to lob mortar shells at the enemy, perhaps because he is tired, irritated, or afraid. This would be a MID, and possibly a SIPRI conflict, depending on casualties, but it would not be an ICB crisis if the actions of the sergeant were not initiated by national leaders. The ICB data have also been used in studies that support the democratic peace (Hewitt and Wilkenfeld 1996), and potentially better reflect some of the arguments made about why democracies should be more peaceful. If democracies are more peaceful in any context, it should be in situations where decision making is explicit, conscious, deliberate, and not the result of accidents on the front lines. Results using the ICB dataset, however, are largely the same as those I report for MIDs in my chapter in the 2005 edition of Economic Freedom of the World.
Dr. Rummel argues that collinearity between economic freedom, other variables, and democracy interfere with the effect of democracy on militarized disputes. As Dr. Rummel almost certainly knows, but did not explain to the reader, multicollinearity is not a severe problem in multivariate analysis until correlations are quite high, on the order of 0.9 (he argues they are 0.7. I find that the two key variables correlate at 0.4135). Similarly, the idea that democracy creates capitalism is, I think, questionable. Few, if any, of the archetypal laissez faire economies of nineteenth century Europe would be considered democratic by contemporary standards, though they became democratic in time. Similarly, in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and elsewhere in recent decades, capitalism and development gave rise to pressures to democratize, not the other way around. Rather than treat democracy as a gift of the gods or something that landed from outer space, it seems more reasonable to recognize that democracies formed out of the same soup as did contemporary capitalism and economic development. In any event, the claim that capitalism and democracy are correlated does not obviously lead to the conclusion that democracy should be given preference (or deference) as the key contributor to liberal peace. If the two processes are related, then why treat one as if it is important and the other as if it does not exist?
Yet, again to be safe, I remove all of the variables from the regression model, except democracy. Democracy is not remotely statistically significant, even with no competitors (P value 0.448). Maybe economic freedom gets “help” from the other variables? I ran the regression model with just democracy and the freedom index, and find that economic freedom is statistically significant (P value 0.001), while democracy is insignificant. The claim about sampling is debatable, and is debated, in the literature. Whether we observe all possible states of the world, or just the ones that came to pass in this iteration of history hinges on issues outside the realm of the knowable. Democratic peace researchers have consistently used the statistical significance of democracy as evidence of the validity of their claims. How else can I challenge the conventional wisdom?
At several points, Dr. Rummel notes that “there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries.” This sounds persuasive, but note that the claim treats as a conclusion that which is presumably the subject of this debate. Is it democracy that makes peace or something closely associated with democracy? Dr. Rummel emphasizes that capitalism is correlated with democracy, but refuses to treat seriously the possibility that it is capitalism that causes peace. The “two-centuries” claim is also misleading. Democratization is a recent phenomenon in world affairs. How many two-centuries old democracies are there? Indeed, we can also say that over the same period, no advanced free market economies have gone to war with each other, either.
Dr. Rummel asks “How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report?” Clearly, this is a rhetorical question, but let me answer it as honestly as I can. The study conforms as closely as possible to the state of the art in democratic peace research. Rather than being “incompetent,” I adopted the same variables and evaluation standards, and a similar research design to those of the most widely cited research program on the democratic peace. That this happened to be the approach of Oneal and Russett and not Rummel is unfortunately a consequence of the greater popularity of the former among researchers and the wider public. Dr. Rummel does not like the choices I made in my analysis, but he does not like the choices made by other democratic peace researchers either. Differences between Dr. Rummel’s views and those of the larger democratic peace research community were not made clear in his comments, a possible source of confusion.
At the same time, I do not claim that my findings are definitive. They are a cautionary tale that gives some backing to those who are concerned that enthusiasm for the democratic peace has exceeded good judgment. No doubt this is not the end of the debate, though I hope Dr. Rummel and other interlocutors will cease from impugning my professional reputation every time I offer evidence that differs from their conclusions. Science is a perpetual learning process, in which we gradually whittle away at uncertainty. The fervor with which researchers on the subject hold to their respective visions of democratic peace should itself lead intelligent observers to caution.
Let me add in closing that, while the study Dr. Rummel critiques does not directly contradict the dyadic version of the democratic peace, my other research does. I have replicated the major dyadic studies of Oneal and Russett and others, using several indicators of capitalism, including but not limited to, the Index of Economic Freedom. I find that democracy does not sustain a dyadic effect on conflict either (there is not even a special peace among democracies), when appropriate measures of global market integration and economic development are introduced. I have shared these findings with democratic peace researchers (John Oneal, Bruce Russett, Erik Weede, Patrick James, James Lee Ray, to name a few), and expect that they will soon be available in print. Of course, I will also provide copies to Dr. Rummel, if he wishes.
The Wrath of Tribble
Three months ago I and many others blogged about Ivan Tribble's Chronicle of Higher Education essay on blogging and academic hiring. Shorter Tribble: "Don't blog, because it's kind of strange, my colleagues and I don't quite get it, and your online self might come off as an unstable git."
Tribble responded to his critics yesterday in the Chronicle. He appears a touch miffed:
Read the whole thing. My biggest disappointment in the piece is this section:
That's funny, because what what truly annoyed me in Tribble's initial essay were the motivations he assigned his committee members -- and the concern then was pretty much the medium itself:
I'll just repeat what I said back in June, because it echoes Tribble's last few paragraphs:
My only post about the Roberts confirmation
On Monday, I has assumed that Dahlia Lithwick was probably overreacting in her Slate appraisal of the first day of John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation hearing day. After all, weren't the Senators getting some of their questions from the blogosphere?
Then I actually heard some of the hearings.
To be specific, it was Tom Coburn's spiel about looking at Roberts' body language -- "[Using] my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under." As Ann Althouse put it, "I'm under some stress over here, listening to this nonsense."
Admittedly, it's Tom "Schindler's List is obscene" Coburn, so you have to grade it on a curve. But still....
So I was all set to write a wildly satirical post about the bloviating capabilities of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But I don't think I could top what David Brooks wrote in his column today. Killer quote: "We're not here to argue among ourselves and ignore the nominee. We're here to deliver 30-minute speeches disguised as questions and ignore the nominee."
"Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Northwestern!!"
I explained to my wife that Northwestern is, technically, in Evanston. She continues to insist that they smoke it.
Virginia Postrel shows me the way of the world
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
A good news post about New Orleans
I hope in the ensuing days and weeks there are more stories containing this kind of good news.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Is the U.S. losing out on science and math education?
And what about the U.S.? We're constantly fretting about the decline in our educational system -- does the OECD data support this anxiety?
Yes and no. If you rifle through the executive summary of Education at a Glance, you come away with three observations about the U.S. performance:
Is the U.S. losing out on foreign students?
Jon Boone writes in the Financial Times that the United States and United Kingdom have competitors in the global marketplace for university education:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe the decline in foreign student enrollment is because the American academy in general -- and the University of Chicago in particular -- is staffed by nutjobs.
Is George Will reading Megan McArdle?
Megan McArdle, "The poor really are different," Asymmetrical Information, September 9, 2005:
George Will, "A Poverty of Thought," Washington Post, September 13, 2005.
What's interesting is that McArdle and Will end up at somewhat different places with the same basic starting point.
Other reads relevant to this conversation for today: Jon Hilsenrath's Wall Street Journal piece on what economists think about rebuilding New Orleans. Money quote from urban economist Ed Glaeser: "Given just how much, on a per capita basis, it would take to rebuild New Orleans to its former glory, lots of residents would be much [better off] with $10,000 and a bus ticket to Houston."
Then there are these Washington Post poll numbers:
Is Enron responsible for weak job growth?
Tyler Cowen links to this informative Daniel Gross article in the New York Times about possible explanations for the relatively weak job growth the economy has experienced over the past few years:
Gross then summarizes an NBER working paper by Philippon and his colleague Simi Kedia. Their abstract:
I agree with Tyler: "It is too early to evaluate this research, and let us not get carried away by monocausal theories, but today I felt I learned something."
Let's see, where can I publish next?
This week marks my third blogging anniversary. [Three years??!! So when do you plan on going back to just pointless, incessant barking?--ed]
And, by a freakish coincidence, I have two articles on the web today. In either case, I doubt I would have been approached were it not for the blog.
The first, in honor of the United Nations' 2005 World Summit (and, gee, those preparations are going swimmingly) is a review in the Wall Street Journal of Pedro Sanjuan's The UN Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat . My varnished opinion:
My unvarnished opinion -- after reading this book, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that there's something a little bit loopy about Mr. Sanjuan.
Remember when Robert Reich published his memoir Locked in the Cabinet, and then Jonathan Rauch discovered that Reich had either made up or exaggerated certain events and quotes? Reich’s defense was that this was how he viewed the events at the time. The UN Gang suffers from the same defect.
Let's put it this way -- if I was a lawyer trying to indict the UN, there is no way in hell I would call Sanjuan as a reliable witness.
One last little irony about The UN Gang. Sanjuan continually (and justifiably) lambasts the UN Secretariat for being a hothouse of nepotism. All well and good -- but his editor at Doubleday was Adam Bellow, the accomplished author of... In Praise of Nepotism (though, to be fair, after reading this precis, Bellow would probably classify the UN as an example of "old nepotism" and not the "new nepotism" that is the subject of Bellow's praise).
The second piece is a companion essay to WNET's Wide Angle documentary on how offshore outsourcing is affecting Indian society, entitled "1-800-INDIA" -- which will be aired this evening. I was asked to provide a background briefing -- entitled "Offshore Outsourcing: Perceptions and Misperceptions."
Go check them out!!
Monday, September 12, 2005
What's the value-added of think tanks?
There's another international relations blogger out there -- R.J. Rummel, one of the godfathers of quantitative research in international relations. Rummel is also a persistent and oft-published voice arguing for the monadic version of the democratic peace -- in other words, it's not merely that democracies don't fight each other, but that democracies are generally less war-prone than other states. [How much evidence is there for this version of the democratic peace?--ed. Rummel -- as well as Paul Huth -- have generated some interesting findings, but it's not the majority position of the field, and there are a lot of studies out there arguing that Rummel is wrong.]
Rummel is also a libertarian and therefore one would expect him to be sympathetic to Cato's latest study on economic freedom and conflict. However, he is far from keen on the study -- go check out his scathing assessment of the Cato report. He closes with this assessment of Cato: "After reviewing the one study on what I know something about and finding it so poor, it provokes a questioning of their other studies in areas I know less about."
Without signing on to all of Rummel's critique, it opens the door to a larger question about the value-added of think tanks. This past Friday I was at a meeting in DC on how academics can better transmit foreign policy-relevant ideas to those in the government. One obvious transmission belt is think tanks -- the experts who staff these institutions can consume academic research and then generate more policy-specific research based in part on that more abstract research.
However, several participants enmeshed in the think tank culture argued that this wasn't the direction thik tanks were going. Instead, several of them -- and Heritage, Cato and the Center for American Progress were the leading examples -- had switched their focus from churning out deep policy proposals in favor of op-eds. Indeed, the staffing at many think tanks had shifted, with the communications and PR sides receiving a much larger share of the pie relative to the policy wonks.
Anyone who knows anything about organizations recognizes that all bureaucracies like to use quantifiable metrics, and surely op-eds would be one example. And it would be insane to argue that think tanks should forswear the op-ed. But the overall point was that the cost of this change in direction for think tanks was fewer in-depth monographs or books, and more output devoted to the 24-hour news cycle. Some would like this trend to accelerate -- one of Matt Yglesias' themes is that think tanks need to blog more.
There was no real discussion about whether this is something that can or should be fixed -- so I'll leave that to the commenters.
UPDATE: Yglesias e-mails the following:
China 1, Yahoo! 0
As China holds its annual "Internet summit" today, it's worth reflecting that last week Reporters Without Borders broke a story revealing that Yahoo! provided information to China's government that helped them to identify and detain a dissident reporter (link via Rebecca McKinnon).
In today's Chicago Tribune, Evan Osnos provides a recap of what's happened, including Yahoo!'s response:
Well, this New York Times story by David Barboza suggests that Yahoo! did tie its hands when it agreed to invest in Alibaba.com, because "as part of the deal, Yahoo even agreed to hand over its Yahoo China operations" to Alibaba.
The larger problem is that this falls under the "China contradicting the liberal paradigm" [And don't forget Singapore!!--ed.] I've said before that after weighing the scales the liberal side still wins in the long run -- but everyone should check out Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and George Down's essay "Development and Democracy" in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. They argue that, "savvy autocrats have learned how to cut the cord between growth and freedom, enjoying the benefits of the former without the risks of the latter."
Katrina is all Alan Greenspan's fault
No, I'm just kidding. But as much of the blogosphere is focused on the New York Times autopsy of what went wrong with Katrina. However, for sheer weirdness, Tina Susman's account in Newsday has better anecdotes. Consider this snippet, for example:
Bizarre as it sounds, this job description does in fact mention that, "Federal Reserve Police Officers may also serve on our emergency response or emergency medical teams."
Anyway, read both accounts and then see if anyone deserves to be removed from -- or added to -- Belle Waring's list of shame.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Koizumi wins in Japan
Both the exit polls and the early returns suggest that Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi has won a handy victory in parliamentry elections -- reversing a decade-long decline in the fortunes of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and paving the way for privatization of the postal savings system, which has been a corrupt albatross on the Japanese economy.
From a U.S. perspective, this is a huge win. A staunch U.S. ally has been re-elected, and if Koizumi's proposed reforms are implemented, then Japanese growth could finally escape its 15-year doldrums. Since Japan is a natural market for U.S. exports, a growing Japanese economy would be a very good thing.
Some reporters will credit Koizumi's charismatic leadership as the key to victory.
The New York Fed tackles offshore outsourcing
The following is excerpted from Erica L. Groshen, Bart Hobijn, and Margaret M. McConnell, "U.S. Jobs Gained and Lost through Trade: A Net Measure" in the August 2005 edition of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Current Issues in Economics and Finance:
This is the part I found of particular interest: