Saturday, January 28, 2006
Those trade ministers mean business!!
Wow, some real progress was made at the Davos Economic Forum for pushing the Doha round of trade talks towards completion. Why, Alan Beattie reports for the Financial Times that trade ministers have agree to.... a new deadline:
Ministers on Saturday set themselves a tight new deadline of the end of April to come up with a framework deal under the faltering Doha round of global trade talks.Well, thank God -- the real problem with this round of trade talks had been the lack of deadlines.
Seriously, Bloomberg's Rich Miller provides some detail on what needs to be done:
Among their goals are resolving 33 differences over agricultural subsidies and 15 questions on industrial products by April 30th. "We've got a big number of topics to be addressed,'' Pascal Lamy, director general of the WTO, told reporters in Davos. ``Most of that has to be done in the first half of this year.''Portman is correct about the need for cross-issue linkage -- but until the ministers in Nath's camp acknowledge this fact, I'm not holding my breath waiting for progress.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Tom Friedman faux pas watch!
David Rothkopf is blogging about the Davos Economic Forum for Foreign Policy's web site. I bring this up because Rothkopf caught the ultimate moderator faux pas earlier this week:
Late this afternoon, there was a packed session chaired by Tom Friedman that included Queen Rania of Jordan, Pakistan’s President Musharraf, Afghanistan’s President Karzai, and Hajim Alhasani, President of the Iraqi National Assembly. The topic was Muslim societies in the modern world, but the discussion was wide ranging. There was a uniformly negative reaction to Iran getting nuclear weapons—UPDATE: Turns out Foreign Policy was in error, and it was Karzai and not Friedman who made the faux pas. See here for more.
Open Hamas thread
I'm at a conference all day today, which means I conveniently do not have the time to post deep thoughts on Hamas' electoral victory in Palestine. So I'll let me readers comment instead. Go to it!!
But click here and here if you want an inkling of what I think. And click here for Esther Pan's concise summary of the situaion at cfr.org.
Optimists argue that Hamas' participation in mainstream Palestinian politics will spur the group to moderate its radical goals and terrorist tactics. But history shows that political participation co-opts militants only under very specific conditions -- and almost none of those exist in the Palestinian Authority today.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
So what do people think about rebuilding New Orleans?
Some of my colleagues here at the University of Chicago have been conducting some veeery interesting public opinion research on post-Katrina New Orleans. Here are some snippets from the press release:
The process of deciding how to rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is undermined by sharp racial gaps between blacks and whites about what should be done, according to new research by political scientists at the University of Chicago.
Is the world really getting more pacific?
The report's main exhibit, Figure 1.1, is a graph showing the numbers of wars—international, civil, and colonial—from 1946-2002. The authors summarize this graph as follows:This sounds like a nice debunking, but it's pretty unconvincing to me, for two reasons:It reveals that the number of armed conflicts increased steadily decade by decade throughout the Cold War. Then in the early 1990s, a steep decline started that continues to this day.First, yes, the number of armed conflicts has declined since 1992—from 50 to 30. But this merely puts the world at the same level of turmoil as in 1976. I don't remember anybody thinking of that era as particularly tranquil.
1) If you look at the figure, it seems like the world was more peaceful 60 years ago -- but that's only because the total number of states in the system was much smaller than today. It's not surprising that the number of intrastate conflicts increased from 1946 to 1991 -- that's because the number of states in the system increased as well. What's interesting about the post-1991 system is that it's gotten more peaceful even as the number of states has increased. True, a lot of these new countries are microstates like Tonga -- but they also includes the former Soviet and Yugoslav republics.Kaplan is correct to point out that the current downturn in armed conflict might not be permanent -- but it's still a downturn.
UPDATE: Andrew Mack -- Director of the Human Security Centre at UBC and the one responsible for the report that's being debated -- has taken the time and trouble to post his response to Kaplan in the comments section. Go check it out.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Legalizing domestic surveillance
Mike Allen repots at Time.com that the Bush administration is looking to gain Congressional approval of its warrantless wiretapping
Even as the White House launches a media blitz to portray its controversial wiretapping program as a perfectly legal weapon in the war on terror, administration officials have begun dropping subtle hints—without explicitly saying so—that President Bush could go to Congress to seek more specific authority to listen in on U.S. citizens who are suspected of entanglement with terrorists. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales added to such speculation Tuesday by asserting during a series of television interviews that the law setting up an apparatus requiring warrants for such eavesdropping—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA—might be outmoded. "I think we all realize that since 1978, when FISA was passed, there have been tremendous changes in technology," he said on CBS's "The Early Show." "We are engaged in a debate now, a conversation with Congress about FISA and about these authorities."Three thoughts on this:
1) If I were a Bush political advisor, I'd advise him to ask for congressional approval. It's the smart political move, because it engages in political jujitsu -- it ends the debate about the legalit of what happened in the fall of 2001 and refocuses attention on the merits of amending FISA. The liberal bloggers I read have allowed that amending FISA to allow what the NSA is currently doing might be appropriate. Like the House vote on Murtha's withdrawal proposal a few months ago, this kind of vote forces Bush critics to put up or shut up.UPDATE: The initial title to this post was a misnomer -- apologies.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!
Following Professor Ignatieff's lead, there is no reason whatsoever why we in America cannot elect academics to Congress. Indeed, now that Daniel Drezner will be decamping to Massachusetts, and given the fact that Ted Kennedy will be up for re-election this year . . .Which is what inspired the title to this post. And also this link to a William Tecumseh Sherman quote.
[You're afraid of all the rumors involving you, Salma Hayek, and the butterscotch toppng, aren't you?--ed.] No, I've met politicians, and I know I'm not one of their breed.
I don't say this in a haughty, superior way, but rather with a sense of awe at the drive required to run for elected office in modern America. A few years ago I spent some time with a guy who was planning on running for Congress a year later. This guy wasn't a political legacy or anything, just someone who wanted to be a politician. What I remember about him was the focus, energy, and almost-animal appetite he brought to the task. He reveled in he things about campaigns that I would find infuriating. I found the experience akin to being in a room with the biggest, baddest alpha dog you've ever seen.
Sure, once you get elected, the advantages of incumbency are pretty powerful. But to get to that point, you not only have to desire the office, you have to desire making the journey as well. That's not me.
And so I teach instead....
[Wow, that was deep.... so what you're really afraid of are all the rumors involving you, Scarlett Johansson, and the buttersco--ed. Oh, give it up.]
A typology of glory walls
Slate's John Dickerson dissects the photos of George W. Bush with Jack Abramoff reported so breathlessly in Time. Far more important, however, is Dickerson's useful anthropological report about the hierarchy of Washington's "glory walls":
Are the photos the meaningless trinkets given out to big contributors? Or are they the meaningful trinkets that are a crucial part of the dance of influence between the White House and the lobbyists it uses to promote its agenda?
No more "buy American"
What with Ford planning to lay off a few people over the next few years, there's going to be a lot of navel-gazing this week about the state of the U.S. auto sector.
Rick Popely and Deborah Horan have a story in today's Chicago Tribune that points out one big problem GM and Ford have -- the "Buy American" campaign doesn't work at crunch time anymore:
When domestic automakers had their backs to the wall 25 years ago, they could count on a "Buy American" sentiment to keep some customers from defecting to fuel-efficient foreign cars.It's not only price that matters, though, as the story points out later:
Though domestic brands get on the shopping lists of two-thirds of car buyers, Spinella said 20 percent of those people wind up buying an import because of better styling, a lower price or a unique feature.
Michael Ignatieff.... elected official
Ten days ago I blogged about Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff's quixotic campaign for parliament seat in Canada, as a member of the Liberal Party..
Well, the elections were yesterday, and the Liberals didn't do so well, according to the Chicago Tribune:
Canadian voters, saying they were fed up with financial scandals and ready for a change, ended the 12-year run of the ruling Liberal Party on Monday, ousting Prime Minister Paul Martin in favor of a Conservative Party likely to steer a path closer to the United States.While this is bad news for the Liberal party, CTV reports that Ignatieff weathered the backlash against the party and is now an elected official:
Liberal Michael Ignatieff, touted as a potential future party leader, passed his first political test Monday, shaking off a campaign marred by accusations of opportunism and ethnic slurs to win a west Toronto riding.Ignaieff must now suffer the cruel fate of having political scientists talk about him in the media. [Could be worse..... could be bloggers!--ed.]
Monday, January 23, 2006
Bill Clinton is responsible for the Iran mess
Back in the George H.W. Bush administration the end of the Cold War broke the mold of world politics, and made new modes and orders of world affairs possible. George H. W. Bush and his advisors worked like dogs to establish two principles:Let's clear some brush here:1. Aggression and conquest across national borders would be rolled back by the world community.With these two principles in place, there was sound hope--well, some hope--that nonproliferation policy would succeed: diplomats could point out to countries thinking of developing nuclear programs that such programs (a) were expensive, (b) increased the chances that their citizens and cities would suffer thermonuclear death (are Pakistani and Indian citizens safer now that both have nuclear weapons? I do not think so), and (c) did not add to their national security--unless their government thought that it was so despicable and tyrannical that the entire Security Council would agree on its overthrow.
1) DeLong's principle number 2 has not and likely never will be a cardinal element of American foreign policy, and anyone who tells you differently is selling you something.There's a lot of blame to pin on the Bush administration for a whole bunch of policy sins. There's no need to invent nonexistent foreign policy doctrines for the administration to violate in the process.
UPDATE: Brad responds in good humor with this post. His key piece of evidence is a quotation from pp. 489-90 of Bush and Scowcroft's A World Transformed:
Trying to eliminate Saddam [Hussein in 1991], extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in 'mission creep,' and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.... We would have been forced to... rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy".... Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish...To which I must reply -- look at p. 356, Brad!!:
We would ask the [Security] Council to act only if we knew in advance we had the backing of most of the Arab bloc and we were fairly certain we had the necessary votes. If at any point it became clear we could not succeed, we would back away from a UN mandate and cobble together a independent multinational effort built on friendly Arab and allied participation. The grounds for this would be the initial UN resolution condemning Iraq, the subsequent resolutions, and Article 51, along with a request from the Emir of Kuwait. In the end, if sanctions failed and it came to using force, [Richard] Haass and [Bob] Kimmitt reminded us that our ability to rally the necessary political support, with or without UN endorsement, would be enhanced significantly if we were seen to have tried hard to make diplomacy work [with Hussein].I fear this intervention is turning into a quagmire for Professor DeLong :-)
That's some interesting Islam in Morocco
Der Spiegel's Helene Zuber has an interesting story about how Morocco's government recent efflorts to fuse Islam, modernization, and civil rights. So far, it seems to be working:
Religion is making a comeback in Morocco, and more and more young, well-educated Moroccans are devouring the Koran. The new piety, no longer limited to the mosque or prayers at home, is evident in full public view. More and more women are wearing headscarves, even in Casablanca's western fashion enclaves and Rabat's gleaming shopping centers. The designers of expensive caftans -- creations of brocade and silk, embellished with gold thread -- are now selling their products as luxury couture for the next party, and their clientele is no longer limited to wealthy tourists.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
The state of Afghan public opinion
The Program on International Policy Attitudes commissioned a survey in Afghanistan on how they feel about things. The results are pretty overwhelming:
A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of the Afghan public finds an overwhelming majority opposes al-Qaeda and the Taliban, endorses the overthrow of the Taliban and approves of the US military presence in Afghanistan.Click here for the topline results a a brief note on methodology.