Saturday, November 5, 2005
So Friday was a pretty good day....
Friday was a great day for two reasons. First, a 70 degree day in Chicago in November is a rare treat and needs to be properly savored.
[Wow, you're keeping up such a brave face after getting denied tenure--ed.] Well, that leads to the second and more important reason why Friday was a pretty good day.
I have formally accepted an offer to be an Associate Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, starting in the summer of 2006. Next year at this time, I will be teaching students pursuing a M.A.L.D. (Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy) or a Ph.D. at Tufts University in Medford, MA.
[Wait a minute. Wait just a friggin' minute. What exactly does "Associate Professor" mean?--ed.] It means that, subject to the approval of Tufts University's Board of Trustees, I will be a tenured professor.
[Why Fletcher? Did you have any other options?--ed.] I received a number of inquiries (at various levels of seriousness) from academic and non-academic institutions -- the latter including government, think tank, and publishing opportunities. This was both gratifying and useful. Gratifying because it's always nice to be wanted. Useful because it gave me the chance to ponder whether the academy was for me. In the end, Fletcher was the best choice for a combination of personal and professional reasons.
[So how are you feeling now? Still bitter at the University of Chicago?--ed.] I'm feeling pretty good, actually. Fletcher is an excellent public policy school for what I study, and they actually like the fact that I write for a wider audience on occasion. Oh, and Tufts seems to be doing an excellent job of facilitating policies I like.
As for the U of C, no, I'd say the bitterness level is down to a very tiny nub. Mind you, I still think they screwed up, but they've screwed up other decisions even worse. Anyway, that's the department's problem now, not mine. I will always have very fond memories the institution, the students, and many of my colleagues. We will miss Hyde Park's rumored restaurant renaissance -- but this will be more than compensated by the plethora of supermarket choices in the Boston 'burbs.
[So how do you feel about the blog now? Now that you're tenured, can you really cut loose?--ed.] No, it's just the opposite, I'm afraid. Brian Weatherson hit the nail on the head in Scott Jaschik's Inside Higher Ed story on blogging and academia:
[So you'll be tenured, huh? Well, there goes the last shred of any connection you have with the "real world" in which other American workers must cope!--ed.] You've been reading the comments too much. I don't want to go off on a rant here, but the meme about academics having no connection to the real world is a crock of s$#*. Yes, tenure equals lifetime employment. However, consider the following:
[Yeah, but you academics don't have to deal with your jobs being outsourced!--ed. Er... no, that doesn't wash. The premier positions in American academia have has a global labor market for decades now, so the effect is analogous to offshoring -- though The long-term effect of professorial podcasting will be interesting, because it suggests an inexpensive way to commodify aspects of teaching.]
[Man, a lot has happened to you since you started the blog -- you're going to need to update that "About Me" page--ed.] Yeah, I already thought of that.
[So you'll be moving to the Boston area, huh? How much NESN will you be allowed to watch?--ed.] My wife and I are deep in negotiations about this very question. With the Red Sox management currently imploding, however, this may not be much of an issue.
Friday, November 4, 2005
November's Books of the Month
The international relations book this mo--- [Hold it!! Didn't you forget October's book selections?--ed. Um.. look, a lot happened in October. Cut me some slack? Just this once. You get denied tenure again, though, and I'm walking--ed.]
Er... where was I? Oh, yes, the book recommendations.
This month's books both deal with international relations. In fact, both deal with the use of language and rhetoric in IR and foreign policy. Both of them also have interesting things to say about the Bush administration's foreign policy. However, it's safe to say that they take veeeeerrrrry different approaches to the problem.
The first book is Anne Sartori's Deterrence by Diplomacy. The book's precis:
Sartori's thesis is interesting for theoretical reasons because it recasts the literature on extended deterrence. Deterrence theory usually boils down to questions of how leaders can demonstrate a reputation for "resolve." Saartori suggests that the reputation that matters is one of honesty. In making this switch, Sartori also challenges game theorists who argue that diplomacy is "cheap talk" because there are no costs to words (as opposed to action). If an honest reporation matters at the global level, then diplomacy is not cheap talk -- lying is costly.
Sartori's arguments apply in interesting ways to the Bush administration's diplomatic style. On the one hand, it suggests that the administration has overemphasized the importance of demonstrating resolve as a means of advancing its interests. On the other hand, this approach also suggests that the administration's bluntness has greater value than mainstream foreign policy analysts have previously suggested.
The other book of interest is Jeff Legro's Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order. Legro asks a different question than Sartori: when do great powers engage in radical rethinks of their grand strategies? Why are such rethinks so rare in world politics? A summary of Legro's answer:
Rethinking the World helps to explain the administration's grand strategy remains the status quo, despite limited success in Iraq and declining public support for the big neoconservative ideas. For there to be shifts in grand strategy, it can't just be the case that the current strategy is failing. There must also be a viable alternative around which others can rally -- one that can generate immediately attractive solutions to current problems.
At present, both realism and liberal internationalism have their champions. However, my suspicion is that the realists have the upper hand because their recommendations for Iraq (as graceful a withdrawal as possible) seem more compelling than liberal internationalism. Still, Legro's framework helps to explain why it remains an open question whether there will be a radical shift away from the current grand strategy.
Go check them out!!
The immigration wave hits New Orleans
Yesterday Michael Martinez wrote a front-pager for the Chicago Tribune about the influx of Latinos into New Orleans looking for post-Katrina reconstruction work. Today, Leslie Eaton has a similar story in the New York Times.
Some highlights from Eaton's piece:
This is interesting stuff, but for my money, the Martinez piece in the Tribune is of greater interest because of two points not mentioned by Eaton. I've highlighted them below:
This story raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions about immigration, race, and the economy.
For me, the big question remains -- if New Orleans was such a stagnant economy that those displaced to Houston don't want to return, just how much money should be committed to reconstruction efforts?
Over at The Plank, Jason Zengerle castigates the Times and other national outlets for not reporting on Nagin's remarks. Props to Martinez and the Tribune for catching it.
Thursday, November 3, 2005
No one let Alan Wolfe study international relations
I see that Alan Wolfe has an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education decrying the state of the political science discipline.
Wolfe makes a few well-worn but not completely worthless points -- and then we get to this paragraph:
I have two reactions to this suggestion. The first is to stop and gaze with awe at Wolfe's ability to unconsciously mimic those Guinness-in-the-bottle ads that were all over television last year:
My second reaction is to ponder the logical implications of Wolfe's suggestion. Surely Wolfe must be aware of the dangers that come from generalizing from the study of a single case -- there are too many possible explanations. Wolfe would likely respond that the way to compensate is to assemble as many relevant examples of the category of interest as possible, and then determine what combination of factors is important.
Now there's a name for this kind of approach in political science -- behavioralism. Such an approach can be useful (see, for example, the CIA's State Failure Task Force from the 1990's) but presents two rather important problems.
First, these approaches -- just like any other social science technique -- generate methodological controversies (see, for example, Gary King and Langche Zeng's methodological rejoinder to the State Failure Task Force, or this summary of the debate in Nature). Methodology doesn't just matter for its own sake -- there are real world implications.
Second, pure behavioralism of the kind suggested by Wolfe is tricky without any theoretical guidance. Throwing a kitchen sink of variables at a question is not of much use unless the researcher has a good grasp of the relationships among these seemingly independent causes. Rational choice approaches are one useful tool, but there are others as well.
If Wolfe had provided an American politics example, I probably wouldn't have written this post (and, to be fair, Wolfe is riffing off of Ian Shapiro's latest book, The Flight From Reality in the Human Sciences, which I haven't read but is likely worth reading). But the IR example he offers is a powerful suggestion that Wolfe hasn't peered into the pages of either International Organization or International Security in quite some time. There are case studies -- as well as statistical analyses, formal models, social theory, and other types of analysis -- in those journals.
If the rest of the discipline wants to copy international relations more closely, fine with me. But I don't think Wolfe has lookec closely at how IR is actually studied.
I think that I've demonstrated my subfield's close attention to the real world, so if you'll excuse me, I have to run to hear a paper presentation.
[What's it about?--ed. Sovereignty and the UFO. You're f#@%ing kidding me!--ed. No, I'm really not.]
So what's going on in the Parisian suburbs?
OK, so the French appear to be experiencing some domestic disquiet in recent days. The Guardian has some details:
[Wait a second -- there's a ministry of social cohesion in France?--ed. Well, sort of.]
Comment away -- but I am curious about the accuracy of the press analysis on the riots. After the reportage on Katrina, my radar is up about any exaggeration of chaos and mayhem.
Offshoring tales from across the land
Writing about offshore outsourcing for a public audience carries many, many perks. One of them is getting e-mails like this one:
OK, I'm confused -- are my facts wrong, or is it that I don't have any of them? Really, it's very hard to keep track.
Seriously, I also get more interesting anecdotes about those who experience outsourcing first hand. Consider this e-mail from a colleage who is in the middle of getting a book published:
This is pretty interesting, in that the process that's described is not only about offshore outsourcing -- it's also about the fact that what used to be considered a complex task (the cottage industry of copyediting) has been segmented into a lot of very simple tasks (the person whose sole job it is to shorten the spaces after a sentence, for example). It's both high-tech AND low-tech.
This reminds me of something.... oh, yes, Karl Marx's Wage Labour and Capital (1849):
Sounds very dire.... except that Marx, for all of his understanding of the forces behind technological innovation, never really got the idea that such innovation also creates entirely new categories of complex, high-skill jobs. It took Schumpeter to figure that one out.
[Er.... what about the demise of copyediting jobs? Doesn't that mean that offshoring leads to a net loss of employment?--ed.] Not according to AFP:
[That's the number of jobs; what about wages?--ed.] The Global Insight page offers this tidbit on wages:
Click here to read the executive summary of the Global Insight report -- and click here to read my take on the 2004 version of the report.
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Kristol errs in predicting Bush's bottom
William Kristol, "George W. Bush's Not So Terrible Week," Weekly Standard, 28 October 2005:
CBS News, "Poll: More Bad News For Bush," 2 November 2005:
UPDATE: Hmm.... maybe I'm being unfair to Kristol. Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics points out that the weighting for the poll is a just a bit off. Unweighted, Bush's approval is still less than 38% though.
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
The Syrian regime doesn't face a tough choice
Nicholas Blanford and Rhonda Roumani have a story in the Christian Science Monitor entitled, "Syrian regime faces tough choices." Why? Read on:
That's not a tough choice, that's the easiest call ever -- Assad will fail to cooperate fully.
Why? First, the Syrian regime can try to obfuscate matters by feigning cooperation but not making any material concessions.
Second, while compliance would require Assad to weaken his own regime, defiance in the face of an external threat will strengthen the regime -- at least in the short term. So, for that matter, would diplomatic and economic sanctions. Syria has already set up a sanctions crisis team. The FT's Ferry Biedermann quotes the Syrian in charge of this team saying, "to be honest, sanction busters are everywhere."
Third, as this companion CSM story by Chris Ford makes plain, it's not clear that the Security Council will even agree to impose economic sanctions in the face of Syrian non-cooperation:
For Bashir Assad, this is the easiest call in the authoritarian playbook.
Dr. Doom vs. the soft landing
As long as this blog has been in existence, Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach has been pessimistic about the U.S. economy. His latest missive is in today's Financial Times:
I'm a bit more sanguine than Roach. The U.S. has already absorbed several energy shocks in the last year, and the reaction by financial markets to Greenspan's successor has been pretty smooth. I'm just as worried as Roach about US protectionism, but it's not clear to me that the situation is going to worsen in the next twelve months, and the Doha round is still moving forward -- albeit very slowly.
[Yeah, but what about the housing market?--ed.] Mary Umberger writes in today's Chicago Tribune that the National Association of Realtors sees a soft landing rather than a hard one:
I'm not saying the chances of a hard landing are zero -- let's just say I'm twice as optimistic as Roach.
UPDATE: Kash at Angry Bear is more pessimistic -- and he has some persuasive reasons. The real question, to me, is not whether the economi
Say it ain't so, Theo!
Part of my faith in the Red Sox's future rested with general manager Theo Epstein and the brain trust he had assembled. In contrast to the byzantine organizational structure of George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees.
Alas, this week has scrambled those expectations. Steinbrenner managed to retain Brian Cashman as his GM, and Cashman managed to shift the center of gravity on decision-making away from Tampa and towards New ork.
Meanwhile, Red Sox wunderkind GM Theo Epstein has declined the Red Sox's offer of a new three-year contract. The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman explains why:
Epstein's innovation as a GM wasn't to use sabremetrics to analyze baseball players -- though he was part of the first wave of GM's to do so. No, Epstein's real gift was to think about the 40 man roster as a portfolio that needed to be diversified, and to exploit the healthy payroll he was given to the hilt. In positions where the Red Sox did not have an All-Star, Epstein managed to sign multiple players whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Think of Pokey Reese and Mark Bellhorn at second base in 2004, or the troika of Jeremy Gimbi, David Ortiz, and Kevin Millar at 1B/DH in 2003, or Millar and John Olerud this year at first base. Not every signing paid off, but Epstein hit the jackpot way more often than he crapped out. And he did this without trading away all that much in the way of young talent.
Methinks Celizic is way too pessimistic. A rebuilt farm system is going to be providing the Red Sox with a bevy of fresh arms and speed over the next few years. And I think the current owenership is still pretty interested in winning another World Series or two. That said, it's still going to be a very bumpy off-season -- but was true the year they won it all (remember A-Rod?).
However, the staff here at danieldrezner.com wishes the best of luck to Mr. Epstein in any of his futute career pursuits -- so long as they don't entail taking over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' GM job.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Hey, Karen Hughes!!! Over here!!! It's about Pakistan!!!
Dear Underscretary of State Hughes:
Anyway, I wanted to write you about Pakistan. You may or may not know that they've suffered a pretty devastating earthquake there recently. The U.S. has already dispatched aid to the region, but the amount that has been allocated pales in comparison to the aid dispersed after the tsunami in late 2004/early 2005.
The reason I bring this up is that the tsunami aid brought about a tremendous amount of goodwill in places like India and Indonesia. There's already some evidence that the aid sent to Pakistan is helping to burnish America's image in a distinctly anti-American portion of the globe. Anne-Marie Slaughter reprinted one letter on America Abroad that makes the point in a plain manner:
This is one of those instances where the U.S. can do good and do well by following through with significant relief and humanitarian efforts. It's the best kind of public diplomacy you could ever buy. And bear in mind that the costs of inaction here would be considerable. As Zahid Hussain reports in Newsweek International:
In the New York Times last week, Alexander Saunders put forward a very interesting aid proposal:
This sort of proposal needs someone at the deputy or principal level for it to fly.
How about it, Karen?
Open Alito thread
Feel free to comment here on President Bush's nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court.
[Well, what's your take?--ed. I don't know anything at all about Alito. That said, my legal bellwether is the Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr, and he seems pretty pleased with the choice. After reading this David Bernstein post, however, one wonders how the KKK will react.]
UPDATE: Julian Sanchez has a post up at Hit & Run that deconstructs some of the ThinkProgress/Center for American Progress/Daily Kos criticisms of Alito.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Tell me something I don't know about pre-war planning
In the Financial Times, Stephanie Kirchgaessner report on a finding that will not surprise loyal readers of danieldrezner.com:
Here's a link to Bowen's actual report.
[C'mon, you're not hiding behind the incompetence dodge, are you?--ed.] Rosenfeld and Yglesias make some provocative points but in the end are unpersuasive. As Fareed Zakaria points out in today's NYT Book Review in his review of George Packer's The Assassins' Gate:
The trouble with European Muslims....
One of the central tenets of the global war on terror and the National Security Strategy is that the primary source of ant-American terror comes from the Arab Middle East. Some, like Peter Bergen, challenge this assumption, arguing that the bigger threat comes disaffected Muslims living in Western societies.
Bill Powell has a long, disturbing essay in Time for Europe that makes Bergen's point for him. The nut paragraphs:
The most disturbing aspect of Powell's story is that the turn to radicalism appears to be inculcated among second-generation Muslims: