Thursday, September 28, 2006
Is it possible to forge a world of liberty under law?
You can add another grand strategy to the pile of candidates proffered in recent months -- "progressive realism," "ethical realism," "realistic Wilsonianism," etc. The Princeton Project on National Security released its final report, Forging A World Of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security In The 21st Century.
One factor that distinguishes the Princeton Project from these other approaches was the degree of consultation. UPI's Martin Walker provides a nice precis:
The new strategy seeks to absorb the rising powers like China, India, Brazil and others into a law-based global economic and diplomatic structure that avoids open conflict by making them stakeholders within the system, and thus encouraged in their own interests to play by the rules.A lot of bloggers were involved in the project -- Steve Clemons, Christopher Preble of Across the Aisle, everyone at TPM's America Abroad, a couple of the Democracy Arsenal gang, Nikolas Gvosdev, and yours truly. To be clear, however, none of us would necessarily endorse everything that's in this report. I do, however, agree with the point Anne-Marie and John make about the multiplicity of threats.
Read it and debate away.
What could be done on farm subsidies?
If the Doha round is ever to be resuscitated, it will require the United States to rethink its agricultural subsidies. The Financial Times' Doug Cameron reports on one possible rethink:
The US should offer to end distorting farm subsidies within five years in a bid to revive global trade talks and avoid a clampdown by the World Trade Organisation, according to a report released on Wednesday by an influential group of economists and agriculture officials.Here's a link to the report from the Institute for International Economics and
We propose that the entire grouping of product-specific, tradedistorting income and support programs, including countercyclical and loan deficiency payments, price supports, and federal crop insurance and disaster payments, be replaced with a new portfolio of approaches that are nondistorting and compliant with WTO greenIf it was up to me, I'd transfer more money away from agricultural progams, but that's a political nonstarter. The Chicago Council ask force has a lot of pragmatic ideas. Unfortunately, given the American Farm Bureau's happiness with the status quo and opposition to any change in subsidies prior to Doha's completion, I fear this approach is a nonstarter as well.
Why are there no anti-Borat riots in Kazakhstan?
The New York Times' Steven Lee Myers looks at a question that I've wondered about from time to time -- what do the people of Kazakhstan think about Borat? The answer appears to be surprisingly liberal:
There is no Running of the Jews here. No one greets you with the expression “Jagshemash,” which is either nonsense, garbled Polish or mangled Czech; it’s hard to say. The country’s national drink is not made from horse urine, though fermented horse milk, or kumys, is considered a delicacy. (It tastes like effervescent yogurt.)It is interesting that this Muslim country can take Borat with a grain of salt, whereas other jibes at Middle Eastern values provoke a more... frenzied response.
[Borat does not poke fun at Islam, whereas Mohammed cartoons do. You're comparing apples and oranges!!--ed. Maybe... except that nationalism can provoke just as much passion as religion, so I think the similarities are more important than the differences.]
Oh, and you can see the trailer for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan by clicking here. As for Borat's reaction to the Kazakh government's denunciations, click here.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Open NIE thread
The two obvious sections to highlight:
We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized, lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse. New jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups....Shorter NIE fragment: The good news is that Al Qaeda is a less viable network than it was before 9/11 -- because of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, moves to combat financial networks that assist terrorist groups, and improved homeland security and counterintelligence. The bad news is that the groups looking for Al Qaeda's imprimatur have a whole bunch of new reasons on top of the old ones to attack the United States -- because of Iraq.
Based on this NIE fragment -- and according to Jane Harman, this fragment is "broadly consistent" with the overall thrust of the document -- there is simply no way to claim, ceteris paribus, that the invasion of Iraq has made the United States more secure against terrorist attacks.
UPDATE: Props to Ghost in the Machine for coming up with the best post title on this subject.
ANOTHER UPDATE: David Ignatius' column in today's Washington Post makes an important point:
The issue raised by the National Intelligence Estimate is much grimmer than the domestic political game. Iraq has fostered a new generation of terrorists. The question is what to do about that threat. How can America prevent Iraq from becoming a safe haven where the newly hatched terrorists will plan Sept. 11-scale attacks that could kill thousands of Americans? How do we restabilize a Middle East that today is dangerously unbalanced because of America's blunders in Iraq?Kevin Drum is nonplussed by this argument. .
The dog that is not barking in financial markets
Amaranth blows up following a trading strategy that either had no method at all to it or was a failed attempt to corner next spring's natural gas market.
So what's our Iran policy right now?
I blogged in the spring about my puzzlement and confusion regarding U.S. foreign policy towards Iran. On the one hand, it was clear that certain elements of the Bush administration were not big fans of either direct or indirect dialogue.
On the other hand: [E]ven if this skepticism (towards negotiations and incentives) is warranted, exactly what is the hawkish set of policy options on Iran? Is there any coercive policy instrument that is a) publicly viable; and b) would actually compel Iran into compliance without negotiations?I'm even more puzzled today.
First, Bill Gertz has a Washington Times exclusive that is clearly designed to torpedo one diplomatic option:
Iran is close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment but wants the deal to include a provision that the temporary halt be kept secret, according to Bush administration officials.I have to wonder if Gertz asked his editors to headline his article, "A Story That By Its Very Existence Will Alter The Facts Reported In Said Story."
OK, so clearly diplomacy is not the policy du jour of this administration when it comes to Iran. How about sanctions? Here we come to Condoleezza Rice's comments to the Wall Street Journal editorial board:
QUESTION: What do you think about a gasoline embargo on Iran?If you read the whole interview, it's clear that Rice favors financial sanctions ("Iran is not North Korea. It’s not isolated and it is pretty integrated into the international financial system. And that actually makes its potential isolation more damaging to Iran than for instance North Korea which, as you notice, has not been too thrilled with even the rather modest financial measures that we’ve taken against North Korea.").
That said, rejecting the gasoline embargo strikes me as a huge mistake. Iran is also not like North Korea in that there's actually a middle class in Tehran and environs that like their cheap gasoline very much, thank you. I concede that the possibility of a nationalist backlash is there -- but just because Ahmadinejad is painting the conflict as a civilizational one does not mean that Iranians are buying it. There's a decent possibility that of a lot of Iranians taking out their economic frustrations against Ahmadinejad's government -- especially after Iran's government spends so much on Hezbollah.
So, to review: there are administration efforts to sabotage the available diplomatic option, and the most powerful economic sanction has been rejected in the near term. I don't think financial sanctions will bite as much as the secretary, in part because it always takes a long time to implement and after the 1979 asset seizures the Iranians have moved down the learning curve on evading those kind of strictures.
What's left in the policy tool kit besides force?
UPDATE: Fareed Zakaria offers some suggestions that I am quite sure will be ignored by the Bush administration.
Just a little of the old media bias
What does this distribution of cover stories imply about how Americans get their information about the world?
Hat tip: Passport's Carolyn O'Hara
Monday, September 25, 2006
The latest step in scholar-blogging
Glassbead will exemplify what academic book publishing should be in another sense: namely, healthy public intellectual culture. We will purvey a wide variety of content—ranging from academic specialist works to journalism to critical editions of public domain fiction to new fiction. But we aim to make our mark with works that solve intellectual circulation problems—within the ivory tower and without. We will make books that are maximally available, searchable, usable—by the public and by academics. We will make books the general reader (not so mythical as sometimes reported) and the academic reader will want to make use of.There are several interesting implications of this project. Among the more obvious:
1) It's another means through which blog outputs can be translated into scholarly capital, as it were;Over at Open U., Jacob Levy is also enthusiastic.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Must.... stop.... consuming.... ideological analogies
IDEAS: How do you understand radical Islamism? Is it, as some say, the successor to Marxism?Two quick thoughts:
1) Maybe, just maybe, radical islam is a kind of sui generis phenomenon tha would be best understood on its own terms rather than desperately trying to glom it onto secular totalitarian ideologies of the past;
The blogosphere as a labor saving device
Alex Tabarrok deconstructs how the mainstream media covers Wal-Mart's drug initiative -- so I don't have to.