Friday, June 9, 2006
Drezner gets results from Richard Lugar!!
Senator Richard Lugar has an op-ed in the International Herald-Tribune that sounds a theme familiar to readers of danieldrezner.com -- high energy prices hurt the developing world a hell of a lot more than the developed world:
As we in the West contend with spiraling world crude prices, we must remember that they can be devastating to developing countries, blunting the effectiveness of foreign aid and the push for democracy. This is more than a humanitarian issue - it is also a global security concern that demands our urgent attention.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
The role of partisanship in American politics
It's been a busy day for the partisanship meme today.
In The American Prospect, Marc Schmitt points out what many have observed in the past -- the rising ideological purity of both Democrats and Republicans:
If there is a voter backlash against the GOP this November, it will be aimed at the far-right Republicans who've been running the party. But, like a quail-hunting Dick Cheney, it will instead take out an unintended target—the so-called "moderate" Republicans who are somewhat pro-environment, more or less pro-choice, and sometimes labor-friendly leftovers of the genteel GOP tradition. Generally speaking, these are the only Republicans in vulnerable districts.Oddly enough, partisanship is also the theme of Tom DeLay's valedictory address to the House of Representatives. I've never been a big fan of DeLay, but his address offers an interesting rejoinder to Schmitt:
In preparing for today, I found that it is customary in speeches such as these to reminisce about the "good old days" of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie, and to lament the bitter, divisive partisan rancor that supposedly now weakens our democracy.Two cavils to DeLay's farewell address. First, the defense of "higher principles" would have a better ring to it if the Hammer hadn't played such a large role in policies that served no ideological purpose other than dishing large slabs of pork to favored constituencies.
Second -- and this is where I break ranks with both DeLay and Schmitt -- I don't think Democrats and Republicans disagree on the first principles of governing. I'm not even sure they disagree on second principles. There are policy differences, to be sure -- but Carl Schmitt (not relation to Marc) does not travel well to these shores -- no matter what Alan Wolfe says.
If Marc Schmitt is correct, then the next few years will be an interesting test of my beliefs.
Open Zarqawi thread
Accoding to both U.S. and Iraqi officials, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike today.
Question to readers: what effect, if any, will this have on the security situation in Iraq?
UPDATE: I do like this AP headline: "Around the world, al-Zarqawi death praised"
ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has some instant analysis that is worh reading.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Is Mark Malloch Brown really a diplomat?
Yesterday Kofi Annan's deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, gave a speech in which he asserted the following:
[A]s someone who has spent most of his adult life in this country, only a part of it at the UN, I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is meant: as a sincere and constructive critique of US policy towards the UN by a friend and admirer. Because the fact is that the prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another....Democracy Arsenal's Suzanne Nossel was at the conference where Brown gave his speech, and it even made her cringe a little:
He argues that the UN's role is a secret in middle America because of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh's disinformation campaigns. That's true, but its been true for years despite efforts by organizations like the UN Foundation and UN Association to address the ignorance and publicize the UN's important contributions. What we need is creative and new ideas for how to turn this around, not more ranting about why American perceptions of the UN aren't what they should be.So, if Nossel thinks the speech was overblown, how do you think John Bolton is going to react?
It was a rare instance of a senior U.N. official directly and openly criticizing a member state. An unwritten U.N. rule says high-ranking officials don't name names or shame nations.I wager to say that Bolton is hopping mad about this. How do I know? Because I, a lowly blogger, was e-mailed this story by Bolton's deputy press secretary. And I'm guessing others were as well.
Bolton might be mad, but he's also right -- the speech will hurt the UN more than it will help it in this country. Brown's speech will do for U.S. attitudes towards the UN what Mearsheimer and Walt's "Israel Lobby" article did towards elite attitudes towards U.S. policy towards the Middle East -- it will roil everyone up, but the kernels of insight contained in the speech (Brown makes a good point about the merits of UN peacekeeping) will be safely ignored because of the rhetorical and conceptual overkill.
There is one big difference, however -- Mearsheimer and Walt were academics trying to be provocative -- Brown is ostensibly a UN diplomat. He says his speech was meant as, "a sincere and constructive critique of US policy towards the UN by a friend and admirer," but in characterizing Middle America as moronic xenophobes, he's creating the very attitude he seeks to change.
UPDATE: Kyle Spector at FP's Passport points out that Bolton's reaction might be equally overdramatic:
Brown's speech, including the criticism that the US uses "the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics" was, for Bolton, the "worst mistake" in 17 years by a UN official.
What is new and essential in international relations?
Tyler Cowen worries that after a burst of innovation in the late eighties, economics has gone a bit stale:
I see mid-1980s as the end of a great era in economic theorizing. Take game theory, principal-agent theory, and the economics of information, and apply them to everything, for better or worse. This was an exciting, indeed intoxicating, time to learn economics. While applications continue, we have run out of new ideas on those fronts. Experimental economics is completely Nobel-worthy, but it is now over forty years old. What are the next breakthroughs or the breakthroughs which have just been made?Readers have requested more IR theory posts, so let's take Tyler's question and apply it to international relations. What has been written in the past decade that is essential reading for an up and coming IR grad student?
[What do you think?--ed. I'll add my picks in a few hours. For now I'll just observe that my thoughts run to books rather than articles, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.]
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Davos has so jumped the shark
Rob Long has a very amusing piece at ForeignPolicy.com on how celebrities can maximize their star poweer to pursue foreign policy agendas:
Welcome to the fascinating world of foreign policy! It’s wonderful that Hollywood has taken such an interest in world affairs—the hotel lobbies and corridors of Davos have never been so glittering, and hotspots in Africa and the Middle East are sprinkled with stardust. Boffo kudos, as we say in the business.Apparently, going to the Davos Economic Forum is a no-no:
Honestly, Davos is a no-win situation for you. You won’t be the most famous person there; that honor will inevitably go to Bill Clinton. You won’t be the richest; that honor will go to Bill Gates. You won’t really get the respect or the attention that you deserve. It’s sort of like going to the Oscars when you’re not nominated. No matter how famous you are, people will wonder what, exactly, you’re doing there. You’ll be photographed in a swank hotel lobby with a lot of short men in dark suits. Someone will try to hire you to appear in a commercial in Bahrain. The scientists and techies will ignore you. The Economist will print something snarky about you. Davos is a terrible costar.Read the whole thing.
[Do you have any more advice?--ed. Oh, yes... lots of very valuable advice... but I'm saving myself for a particular Academy award-nominated actress.]
Has Al Qaeda acquired a new base?
I've occasionally riffed about how Al Qaeda acts like the
Which brings me to Somalia, and the takeover of Mogadishu by an entity called the Union of Islamic Courts. There are some very disturbing parallels between what's happening in Mogadishu, Somalia right now and what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over Kabul. Consider this BBC report:
The Islamic Courts say they want to promote Islamic law rather than clan allegiance, which has divided Somalis over the past 15 years.This July 2005 report from the International Crisis Group about Somalia does not make me feel any more sanguine.
"Now you've got a safe haven for al-Qaida," said a defense intelligence official monitoring the country that was used as a base to stage attacks on two U.S. embassies and an Israeli resort in East Africa. "It's definitely a concern."Developing.... and not in a good way at all.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
So long, Chicago
As of today, my family and I are no longer residents of Chicago.
It is a bittersweet departure, for obvious reasons. However, it's also a good time to reflect on what I will miss and what I won't miss about the place....
WHAT I'LL MISS ABOUT CHICAGO:
1) The workshop system. This will always be the U of C's comparative advantage. The paper workshops -- especially PIPES -- were a place where ideas and theories were ripped apart and then stitched back together by the faculty and graduate students. I will sorely miss the looks of shock and awe from visiting presenters when they see their paper expertly dissected by a 2nd-year graduate student.WHAT I WON'T MISS ABOUT CHICAGO:
1) The Co-op supermarket. There is one supermarket in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and it is just awful. How awful? We stopped shopping there after our first few years in Chicago -- as this Chicago Maroon essay points out, "how can a supermarket chain that charges higher prices and offers lower quality products sustain itself?" Never have I seen a better advertisement for the evils of barriers to entry than that sorry excuse of a store.Time to turn the page. On to Boston!!