Saturday, December 16, 2006

My time on the F-list

My latest debate with Henry Farrell is now available. Among our topics:

1) Did the Iraq Study Group accomplish anything?

2) Why haven't there been mass protests against the war?

3) Is offshore balancing possible in the Middle East?

4) Krugman on income inequality... again.

5) Would you rather be Paul Krugman or David Card?

Highlights include me nearly choking on a glass of water, Henry coming up with the wonderful term "F-list celebrity" for bloggers, and free advertising for this establishment.

posted by Dan at 08:10 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

What's the grandest strategy of them all?

Remember that blog query I made about available grand strategies? Yes, I had an ulterior motive:

"The Grandest Strategy of Them All," Washington Post, December 17, 2006:

In this climate [of uncertainty], policy heavyweights from Washington to New York to Boston are grasping for the Next Big Idea, the grand strategy that will guide U.S. foreign policy in a post-Iraq world and earn its creator fame and, if not fortune, perhaps a spot on the next administration's foreign-policy team. So who will be the next George Kennan? The current strategies on offer in various books and articles include new buzzwords, promising ideas -- and miles to go before a consensus emerges.
Click on the article to see my take on the candidate strategies -- and which one I think has the best chance of winning out (though it's still a horse race). I even managed to talk about the dangers of economic populism again.

Obsessive readers of might find a few echoes of this piece embedded in various blog posts from the past, including this eulogy for George Kennan, this rave of Jeffrey Legro's book, this discussion of multi-multilateralism, and this critique of the Princeton Project over at TPM Book Club.

UPDATE: The Fletcher School owns the Washington Post Outlook section today. My colleague Lawrence Harrison also has an essay -- on whether free market democracy can travel across cultures.

posted by Dan at 08:20 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, December 15, 2006

The limits of political science

The November 2006 issue of the American Political Science Review is a special one: "The Evolution of Political Science." Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the APSR, it consists of about 25 short essays discussing how the APSR has treated various political phenomena.

There's something for everyone in this issue. History of political science is not as widely taught as history of economic thought, but those who are interested should check out the whole issue -- particularly Michael Heaney and Mark Hansen's take on "The Chicago school" of political science. Conservative critics of the academy will delight in laughing at Michael Parenti's rant about how political science is a conservative discipline.

World politics types will likely find Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's essay worth of perusal. The one that stands out for me is Andrew Bennett and John Ikenberry's "The Review's Evolving Relevance for U.S. Foreign Policy 1906-2006"

Bennett and Ikeberry go back over all of the IR contributions to the APSR. Their chief finding? Even in the "good old days" when the APSR actively publshed policy relevant work, political scientists did not appear to be clued in to the brewing problems of world politics:

To read early issues of the Review is to be reminded that aspiring toward policy relevance is quite different from achieving it, and that any policy influence the profession does achieve will not necessarily be in directions that future historians will find praiseworthy. Just as the Review and the political science profession in general failed to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Review before 1914 conveyed little sense that a cataclysmicworld warwas imminent.The journal did publish an article on the Balkans (Harris 1913), but it did not focus on the larger power transitions taking place in Europe until publication of a rather realist analysis of “The Causes of the Great War” after World War I had begun (Turner 1915). In this same time period, the Review was filled with articles putting a favorable emphasis on international law as a means toward peace.

After World War I, the Review played a role in the “idealism-realism” debate of the 1920s (Carr 1940), largely favoring the idealist side with more than a dozen articles through the decade on the League of Nations or international law. Former President William Howard Taft, for example, launched a staunch defense of the League of Nations in the Review (Taft 1919). Only one article in the journal in the 1920s included the term “balance of power” in its title, and this article strongly criticized balance of power politics and argued that the building of international institutions was the best answer to the problem of war (Hoard 1925). In the 1930s, a handful of articles began to focus on the issues that would precipitate World War II, including the Manchurian crisis, nationalism, and the geographic bases of states’ foreign policies, but no articles were fully dedicated to assessing the international implications of the rise of Hitler or Germany. Articles sympathetic to the League of Nations process, on the other hand, continued right up until the spring of 1939 (Myers 1939), although an article critical of international law appeared in 1938 (Wild 1938).

It is an interesting piece of trivia to know that not one, but two presidents have published in the APSR.

UPDATE: Commenters point out a possible selection bias question -- it might be that political scientists did generate useful predictions, but these predictions were simply not published in the APSR.

This is a valid point, but I think it applies better to the post-1945 environment than the pre-1945 one. Most of the major IR journals -- International Organization, World Politics, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution -- did not exist before 1945. All of the policy journals, except for Foreign Affairs, were not in existence. Therefore, prior to '45, the APSR would have been the predicted outlet for scholarly work on world politics.

On the other hand, Foreign Affairs might have siphoned off a few articles. I know of at least one person who received tenure at a major research institution, when their only publication was a Foreign Affairs article.

posted by Dan at 09:31 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (1)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The globalization of baseball

Like everyone else in New England, I followed Scott Boras' negotiations with the Red Sox over Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract with great interest. The roller coaster nature of the negotiations caused many who questioned the Red Sox strategy earlier this week to now offer hosannas to Theo Epstein and company now. Indeed, just scroll down the Boston Dirt Dogs site just to get a taste of what this week has been like for New England sports fans.

I write this, however, not to denigrate sports columnists and sports bloggers (hell, I even find Dan Shaughnessy amusing today). Rather, as someone with a passing interest in the international relations of sport, it is interesting to note that as big a story as this has been in New England, it's been an even bigger story in Japan. The AP reports that the Japanese Prime Minister was asked to comment on it:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that he is "so impressed" by Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, after reports that the Boston Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement with the right-hander on a US$52 million, six-year contract.

"I'm so impressed," Abe told a group of reporters at his office Thursday. "(Matsuzaka) is Japan's best pitcher, and his ability was fully evaluated."

"As Japanese national, I feel so happy to see our countrymen do well overseas, like in the Major League," he added.

Matsuzaka's agreement includes US$8 million in incentives based on awards that would bring the total to US$60 million over six years, and also includes award bonuses, the most expensive cultural exchange in Major League Baseball history.

As Bryan Walsh reports for, this is emblematic of a profound cultural shift among Japanese sports fans:
Most Japanese fans... are celebrating Matsuzaka's signing as further proof that Japan's best players can compete on baseball's premier stage. Japanese players who move to the majors are no longer seen as leaving Japan behind; they are seen as representing their country in the international game. It's a sign that the globalization of sport is finally penetrating this often isolationist country, that many fans here would rather watch an international game with the top players in the world than settle for a lessened domestic product. As one Japanese baseball blog put it: "Finally, all the dream matches will come true in 2007. Matsuzaka vs. Godzilla Matsui, Matsuzaka vs. Genius Ichiro, Matsuzaka vs. Igawa! I wish the MLB 2007 season would start soon." He's not the only one.
Of course, there remain some interesting cultural gaps. From Walsh's report:
Japanese fans may be a little fuzzy on Beantown's traditions, though. Toshiyuki Nagao, a lifelong fan, expressed concern that "there are many academic and white-collar people in Boston, who might not appreciate baseball's earthy passion."
No, Boston sports fans aren't obsessive about the Red Sox at all.....

UPDATE: For those Sox fans who want to know how to cheer on Matsuzaka and curse the Yankees in Japanese, click here.

For those Sox fans who want to know how the Red Sox can profit from the Matzusaka signing from the Japanese market, click here.

posted by Dan at 02:25 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drezner gets volunteered results on volunteerism!!

Last week I asked the following question about the spike in volunteerism: [

D]escribing the growth of teenage participation in these kind of activities as "volunteerism" stretches the meaning of the word a bit, since "service-learning programs" are often mandated at the high school level (that said, the growth of volunteerism at the high school level might also be a function of market pressures -- you want to get into a good college,you need to demonstrate volunteerism).

One question I'm curious about: these service programs have been in place for quite some time now. Does anyone know if hard data exists showing that participation in them triggers a life-long pattern of volunteerism?

I've now received an answer.

Mike Planty, Robert Bozick and Michael Regnier, "Helping Because You Have To or Helping Because You Want To? Sustaining Participation in Service Work From Adolescence Through Young Adulthood." Youth & Society, Vol. 38, No. 2, 177-202:

This article examines whether the motive behind community service performed during high school—either voluntary or required—influences engagement in volunteer work during the young adult years. Using a sample of students from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (N= 9,966), service work in high school is linked with community service in young adulthood. The findings show that participation in community service declines substantially in the 2 years following high school graduation but then rebounds slightly once members of the sample reach their mid-20s. In general, community service participation in high school was related to volunteer work both 2 and 8 years after high school graduation. However, those who were required to participate in community service while in high school were only able to sustain involvement 8 years after graduation if they reported that their participation was voluntary. Strengths and limitations of the analysis as well as implications for youth policy are discussed.

posted by Dan at 06:56 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Separated at birth?

Matthew Yglesias, meet Xavier von Erck.... or do you already know each other????!!!!:



UPDATE: Attack of the killer Yglesias!!

posted by Dan at 05:03 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Susan Schwab begins to answer my question

When we last left our gripping narrative about the Doha round, I asked a question without an answer:

ME: There seems to be a catch-22 on reviving Doha. Other countries won't negotiate seriously with the United States unless they believe that we can get TPA renewed. At the same time, the only way that TPA is likely to be renewed is if Congressmen seen the outline of a Doha deal. How does one escape this conundrum?

[USTR SUSAN] SCHWAB: Good question. [Long pause.]

In this Wall Street Journal story by Greg Hitt, I see that Schwab has a longer answer (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds):
The Doha round of global trade talks stalled after hitting numerous roadblocks over the summer. Now the White House is working to revive negotiations, even as a new barrier looms: a Congress much more skeptical of free trade.

Administration officials have stepped up the campaign to win support for its plan. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who spent years as an aide on Capitol Hill, is wooing the incoming trade czars of the new Democratic Congress. Speaking recently to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, she urged cooperation on trade and Doha. "We cannot let a strong, potential Doha deal slip through our fingers," she said.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is rallying support for Doha around the globe. In London, he said Doha remains the administration's "top trade priority," even with the change in control of Congress next year. In Geneva, U.S. negotiators, after months on the sidelines, are taking part in fresh talks with trading partners on thorny issues, such as cutting farm supports.

The administration is banking that all the political maneuvering will help inject some momentum back into the talks by the spring. The goal isn't necessarily to finish a deal then, but to show enough progress to persuade skeptics in Congress to extend the president's trade-negotiating authority beyond June, when it is set to expire. That authority lets the president negotiate deals with other countries, and put them to Congress for an up-or-down vote -- without amendment. As a practical matter, nations generally don't like to sign deals that could be changed in Congress, so extending that authority would buy U.S. negotiators some extra time to seal a Doha deal.

Whether the Bush administration is able to restart the Doha talks could serve as a measure of the muscle behind critics of free trade in the U.S. And if the impasse on Doha becomes permanent, it could herald the closing of the era of global economic integration that began after World War II.

"A failure of Doha really would signal a crisis of confidence in the multilateral trading system," said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, a free-market think tank in Washington. "The WTO would continue to exist. But there would be a big loss of its standing and its credibility." (emphasis added)

This isn't the worst idea in the world -- though I expect David Sirota to be popping a blood vessel sometime in the next week.

With regard to Bergsten's prediction, I actually think the crisis of confidence is already upon us, if this Economist Intelligence Unit survey is any indication:

[T]he Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a wide-ranging survey of 286 executives spread across the world’s main trading regions. The key findings from the research are highlighted below.

Protectionism is thought to be on the rise, particularly in the developed world. Just over 50% of survey respondents thought that protectionism was rising either significantly or moderately in developed markets, with only 16% believing that it was falling (30% regarded the level of protectionism in those markets as stable). A smaller proportion, although still narrowly the majority, of respondents (39%) thought that protectionism was increasing in emerging markets, whereas one-third reckoned it was declining. In practice, while protectionism is difficult to track, its impact on growth is significant.

The impact on business can be severe... Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts show that a relatively modest backlash against globalisation could shave nearly a full percentage point off world GDP growth over the period 2011-2020. One in five executives to express a view (38 companies in total) say their company has had an investment deal fail in a certain market owing to local trade and investment rules over the past three years. More happily, 25% of the overall sample have entered a new market in that same period because of changes in the rules.

posted by Dan at 02:59 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

I never get invited to the cool conferences

A perennial fear that plagues aspiring policy wonks and scholars is the concept that they will be shut out from all the high-powered conferences and projects that are going on in their field.

I thought I was over that fear, but, gosh darn it, I didn't get the invite to this cool conference in Tehran that's "debating" the Holocaust. I mean, this keynote speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks like a killer:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were numbered.

Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the killing of six million Jews in World War Two as a "myth" and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map", launched another verbal attack on the Jewish state.

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want," he said.

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated....

Delegates at the meeting earlier on Tuesday agreed to form a "fact-finding" committee to study the Holocaust.

The head of the new committee, identified as Iranian academic Mohammad Ali Ramin, said its members were "not racist or opposed to any particular group".

"Rather they are just seeking the truth to set humanity truly free," the ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying, without naming the committee members.

Apparently, some students were not too keen to hear this message, according to the Scotsman's Michael Theodoulou:
A conference of the world's most prominent Holocaust deniers opened in Iran yesterday amid international condemnation and protests by dozens of Iranian students, who burned pictures of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and chanted "death to the dictator".

Never has the hardline leader, who was giving a speech at a university in Tehran yesterday, faced such open hostility at home.

One student said the crowd was protesting against the "shameful" Holocaust conference - which was organised after Mr Ahmadinejad described the murder of six million Jews by Nazis a "myth" invented to justify the occupation of Palestinian land - and the "fact that many activists with student movements have not been allowed to attend university".

The conference "has brought to our country Nazis and racists from around the world", the activist added.

The protest will be deeply embarrassing for the president, who has portrayed Iran as champion of free speech in hosting the event, organised by the Iranian foreign ministry.

The two-day meeting has attracted "revisionist" historians with jail records in Europe, and David Duke, an American former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Professors and researchers from France to Indonesia arrived at the plush conference centre in an upmarket north Tehran suburb to give papers on topics such as "Irrational Vocabulary of the American Professorial Class with Regards to the Holocaust".

The conference has embarrassed many ordinary Iranians, who are aware of the damage such events are inflicting on their country's image.

Mr Ahmadinejad responded to the burning of his pictures by protesters at Amir Kabir University by saying: "Everyone should know that Ahmadinejad is prepared to be burned in the path of true freedom, independence and justice."

Hmmm... embarrassing does seem to be a word that keeps cropping up about this conference.

posted by Dan at 01:36 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

An Obama question that will make many people squirm and fidget

Skimming through the Obama-thon coverage from New Hampshire, this quote from a Newsweek story about Hillary vs. Obama by Jonathan Alter caught my eye:

"After seven years of the 'we kick a--, go it alone' foreign-policy response to 9/11, the American voter will be ready to try a leader who projects better on the world stage," says Jeh Johnson, a corporate attorney and former general counsel of the Air Force under Clinton. "Barack's multicultural heritage will represent that change."
Johnson's quote is fascinating, because while I have no doubt that there would be parts of the globe where Obama's heritage would be a plus, I'm not entirely certain that the effect is as global as Johnson claims. Racism is hardly a phenomenon that's unique to the United States, and without naming names there are some countries out there that are not too keen on dark-skinned people. Even in regions of the globe where reason and light ostensibly prevail, there are football fans who dissent from this view.

Here's an uncomfortable question to readers -- are there any regions, countries, or classes of the globe where Obama's African heritage might not be considered in a favorable light?

Just to be clear -- these kind of responses do not constitute a knock on Obama. But Johnson's quote got me thinking, and it's worth pondering all of the effects of Obama's media coronation candidacy.

posted by Dan at 09:12 AM | Comments (29) | Trackbacks (0)

Is offshore balancing possible in the Middle East?

In the New York Times, Eugene Gholz, Daryl Press, and Ben Valentino argue that the U.S. should switch to and offshore balancing strategy in the Middle East. They mean this as literally as possible:

The Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the United States withdraw its combat forces from Iraq reflects a growing national consensus that our military cannot quell the violence there and may even be making matters worse. Although many are hailing this recommendation as a bold new course, it is not bold enough. America will best serve its interests in the Persian Gulf by withdrawing its ground-based military forces not only from Iraq, but from the entire region....

In fact, many of the same considerations that led the Iraq Study Group to call for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq suggest that the United States should withdraw its troops from neighboring states as well — leaving only naval forces offshore in international waters. As in Iraq, a large United States military footprint on the ground undermines American interests more than it protects them.

Just as our troops on Iraqi streets have provided a rallying point for the insurgency, the United States military presence throughout the region has been a key element in Al Qaeda’s recruitment campaign and propaganda. If America withdrew from Iraq but left behind substantial forces in neighboring states, Al Qaeda would refocus its attacks on American troops in those countries — remember the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia?

Worse, the continued presence of our military personnel across the region will continue to incite extremists to attack American cities. Osama bin Ladin repeatedly stated that the presence of American forces on the holy ground of the Arabian Peninsula was a primary reason for 9/11.

Our presence also destabilizes our important regional allies. Not only do American bases make these countries a target for terrorists, but many of their citizens bristle at the sight of United States bases on their soil. Indeed, the most serious near-term threat to our energy interests is the overthrow of friendly governments by domestic Islamic extremists, a danger that is increased by the presence of our troops.

The good news is that the United States does not need to station military forces on the ground in Persian Gulf countries to protect its allies or to secure its vital oil interests....

You'll have to click on the link to see why they believe this to be the case.

I've got two concerns about this strategy. The first one is that much of its logic boils down to, "Osama wants us out, so we should get out to avoid further terrorist attacks." When does this logic stop? If Osama says Westerners should leave Spain because it's part of the ummah, do we heed his advice there?

This does not mean that we should therefore act in a perfectly contrarian manner either -- it just means that if the U.S. deems putting its troops in a country to be vital for the national interest, I'm not sure Osama bin Laden's objection should count for all that much. Concretizing the problem -- if, say, the governments of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, or the UAE want American troops stationed there, should we say no because of concerns about terrorism?

There's also the question about what regional aftershocks would take place when the U.S. withdraws from Iraq... which could require re-engagement. Would it trigger a wider war? Suzanne Nossel makes an interesting point about this over at Democracy Arsenal:

Many observers predict that if we do leave, the fighting in Iraq will escalate and ultimately reach some sort of stalemate. At that point, we should do whatever we can to facilitate a negotiated settlement through international involvement in mediation and ultimately peacekeeping. It is at this point that a Bosnia-style federal solution may become viable as a more organic outcome, rather than something the US would have to try to impose.
It's worth stepping back for a second and realizing that the U.S. position in Iraq is so bad that this constitutes the rosy scenario of U.S. withdrawal.

Nossel's scenario one way it could go, sure. I'm far from certain that this is likely, however. An open question: would any country in the region really be both willing and able to repulse a combined Iranian-Badr Brigade offensive across the country?

None of this means that Gholz, Press, and Valentino are wrong. It just means that I'm uncertain.

Commenters should probably weigh in at this point.

UPDATE: Daryl Press expands upon the comment he posted below with the following e-mail:

It's really hard to tell how [the Gulf emirates] feel about having us there, to be honest. They say all the right things about their close friendship with the Americans. At least when they're speaking to English-language news outlets. But they must feel pretty conflicted.

* The Iraqi MILITARY threat -- which was the reason they changed their decades-old policy and accepted a "permanent" US military presence, is gone for the forseeable future. What tiny residual MILITARY threat remains could easily be dealt with by "over the horizon" US forces. So the 2003 war means they don't need us for the reason they once did.

* The remaining (and very real) Iraqi threat is a threat of spilled-over domestic turmoil. Having hundreds of armed, experienced fighters return from Iraq to their homes in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Emirates, may create exaccerbated domestic security problems for those countries, which are further exaccerbated by the US military presence there b/c the angry, armed men returning from Iraq are not friends of the US.

* The Iranian threat -- which everyone says is growing b/c of Iraq's destruction -- is not a direct military threat, but a threat from internal subversion. Again this is exaccerbated by the US presence.

So I'm sure the small Gulf states see some advantage of the close, and visible relationship with the US government -- they must, or they wouuld have kicked us out already. But what that advantage is, it's hard to tell. What I would claim with some certainty is that the cost-benefit balance of having us there is shifting pretty substantially for the reasons above.

My hope is that a US withdrawal is win-win for us and the "pro-U.S." gulf states. The small Gulfies can pretend to be less-close with us than they are, and use their strengthened domestic position to REALLY go after their domestic AQ types within their country, who are targetting their regimes as well as us. And we'd still know we are the backstop in case the oil is going to be taken.

posted by Dan at 08:43 AM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Any other grand strategies out there... anyone?

For the next few days I'm going to be perusing the various grand strategies that have been put out there over the past year or so. So far I've got Francia Fukyama's "realistic Wilsonianism," Robert Wright's "progressive realism," Lieven and Hulsman's "ethical realism," and Slaughter and Ikenberry's "Liberty under Law."

Here's my question to readers -- am I missing anything? Are there other candidate grand strategies that have been proposed in recent years that I'm overlooking?

posted by Dan at 04:33 PM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)

Mendacity and stupidity are not a party-specific phenomenon

As my previous post might suggest, I'm just a wee bit fed up with the deteriorating and costly U.S. position in the world. It's annoying because, at so many points in time, the Bush administration could have avoided so many of these costs. Instead, we've received ample doses of Bush-endorsed mendacity and stupidity.

However, it should be noted that these qualities are certainly present on the Democratic side of the ledger.

Click here for mendacity.

Click here for stupidity.

posted by Dan at 02:46 PM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

It's a good news Monday.... not

Let's see, what's going on in the world today?

According to Carlotta Gall and Ismail Kahn of the New York Times, it now doesn't matter what happens in Afghanistan -- because Al Qaeda and the Taliban have acquired a permanent and unmolested base in Pakistan's tribal regions anyway:

Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.

The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year.

The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.

This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused “American spies” have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping “Talibanization.” Last year, at least 100 others were also killed.

While the tribes once offered refuge to the militants when they retreated to the area in 2002 after the American invasion of Afghanistan, that welcome is waning as the killings have generated new tensions and added to the region’s volatility.

“They are taking territory,” said one Western ambassador in Pakistan. “They are becoming much more aggressive in Pakistan.”

“It is the lesson from Afghanistan in the ’90s,” he added. “Ungoverned spaces are a problem. The whole tribal area is a problem.”....

After failing to gain control of the areas in military campaigns, the government cut peace deals in South Waziristan in 2004 and 2005, and then in North Waziristan on Sept. 5. Since the September accord, NATO officials say cross-border attacks by Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and their foreign allies have increased.

In recent weeks, Pakistani intelligence officials said the number of foreign fighters in the tribal areas was far higher than the official estimate of 500, perhaps as high as 2,000 today.

These fighters include Afghans and seasoned Taliban leaders, Uzbek and other Central Asian militants, and what intelligence officials estimate to be 80 to 90 Arab terrorist operatives and fugitives, possibly including the Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The tightening web of alliances among these groups in a remote, mountainous area increasingly beyond state authority is potentially disastrous for efforts to combat terrorism as far away as Europe and the United States, intelligence officials warn.

For more on the deteriorating situation, click over to the International Crisis Group's report, "Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants." They pretty much place the blame on the Musharraf government:
Badly planned, poorly conducted military operations are also responsible for the rise of militancy in the tribal belt, where the loss of lives and property and displacement of thousands of civilians have alienated the population. The state’s failure to extend its control over and provide good governance to its citizens in FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] is equally responsible for empowering the radicals. The only sustainable way of dealing with the challenges of militancy, governance and extremism in FATA is through the rule of law and an extension of civil and political rights. Instead, the government has reinforced administrative and legal structures that undermine the state and spur anarchy.

FATA is tenuously governed because of deliberate policy, not Pashtun tribal traditions or resistance. Since 1947, Pakistan has ruled it by retaining colonial-era administrative and judicial systems unsuited to modern governance. Repressive structures and denial of political representation have generated resentment. To deflect external pressure to curb radicalism, the Musharraf government talks about reforms in FATA but does not follow through. Instead, appeasement has allowed local militants to establish parallel, Taliban-style policing and court systems in the Waziristans, while Talibanisation also spreads into other FATA agencies and even the NWFP’s settled districts.

And then there's Iraq....

One of the few things the Bush administrationostensibly prepared for in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom was an expectation of massive refugee flows to neighboring countries. As Bush officials delighted to point out in first years after the invasion, that was one calamity that did not befall Iraq.

How times have changed. The Boston Globe has been doggedly reporting on the growing refugee problem. This story by Thanassis Cambanis does a good job of illustrating the regional problems Iraqi refugee flows will create. It cites a UNHCR report that points out,""Iraq is hemorrhaging. The humanitarian crisis which the international community had feared in 2003 is now unfolding."

Today's front-pager by Michael Kranish explains the dilemma for the Bush administration:

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.

The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon....

An effort by hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to resettle in the United States would put the Bush administration in an extraordinarily awkward position. Having waged war to liberate Iraqis, the United States would in effect be admitting failure if it allowed a substantial number of Iraqis to be classified as refugees who could seek asylum here.

Arthur E. "Gene" Dewey, who was President Bush's assistant secretary of state for refugee affairs until last year, said that "for political reasons the administration will discourage" the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the United States "because of the psychological message it would send, that it is a losing cause."

But Dewey said a tipping point has been reached that is bound to change US policy because so many refugees are convinced that they will not be able to return to Iraq. That tipping point was further weighted by Wednesday's report by the Iraq Study Group that called for the eventual withdrawal of most US forces.

"I think there will increasingly be a moral obligation on the part of the United States" to allow resettlement by Iraqis here, Dewey said. "That is the price for intervention. Similar to Vietnam, that obligation is just going to have to be fulfilled."

Here's a question for any remaining Bush-supporters -- is there any way you can still claim that this is all just an artifact of liberal media bias?

posted by Dan at 09:10 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)