Friday, March 16, 2007
The fairest review I will ever receive
It's a busy day at the Drezner household -- I have to decide which of my children to ship to the Economist in gratitude for their review of my book All Politics Is Global (now available at Amazon.com and other fine online retailers!!!). It's subscription only, but here's the good parts version:
Daniel Drezner's “All Politics is Global” is too nuanced and academic for easy reading—but ultimately much more rewarding. Mr Drezner, an associate professor of international politics at Tufts University, focuses on the international institutions and accords that regulate trade. Such regulation, though seemingly arcane at first, in fact determines “how to treat workers, how much to pollute, what can go into our food, what can be accessed on the internet,” and “how much medicine will cost”.Hmmmm.... the boy is toilet-trained but the girl has dimples. It's gonna be tough to figure out which one to give away.
Hey, it's been two years -- let's talk about gender and op-eds again
One of the assignments for my Stafecraft class this term is that the students must draft a cogent op-ed submission on a policy issue they care about. "In this case,"cogent" not only means well-written, but written in such a way that would actually pique the interest of an op-ed page editor.
Uproars over the sparse numbers of women in newspapers, or on news programs, in magazines, and on best-seller lists regularly erupt every couple of years. A doozy occurred in 2005, after the liberal commentator Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley, then editor of The Los Angeles Times’s opinion pages, got into a nasty scuffle over the lack of female columnists. That dustup is what motivated Ms. [Catherine] Orenstein to take her op-ed show on the road, which she has done with support from the Woodhull Institute, an ethics and leadership group for women.Two thoughts. First, after describing the assignment to my Fletcher School students -- who are generally perceived as a group of idealistic, altruistic overachievers -- their immediate reaction to the prospect of publishing an op-ed was, "How much do we get paid for it?" I might add that this query transcended gender. Small sample issues aside, I'm very dubious about the notion that women don't seek out the things that Orenstein says they don't seek out.
Second, think about that "Little Red Robin Hood" line in the excerpt, as well as this paragraph:
A bunch of women joined together on one side of the table to discuss an op-ed piece by Ms. Orenstein that appeared in June 2004 in The New York Times on the remake of the movie “The Stepford Wives.”Orenstein's expertise raises a question about the ways in which women seek to get op-eds published. Is the problem that women write on topics similar to men but face a glass ceiling at the op-ed desk? Is it that women do not write about "hard news" issues that are generally discussed in op-ed pages (politics, economics, foreign policy, social policy, ec.)? Or is the problem that what is defined as appropriate for the op-ed essays overly gendered? I tend to think it's the middle one (does Orenstein seriously think that op-eds about Little Red Riding Hood or the Stepford Wives will influence any White House?), but I'm open to suggestions from the readers.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Is it the idea or the execution of the idea?
If someone pointed a gun to my head today and demanded that I say who I think will be the president in 2009:
1) I'd be pretty annoyed, because I thought I had moved to a safe neighborhood;This hunch -- and that's all it is -- makes me want to know how Obama thinks about foreign policy. Which leads me to Michael Hirsh's cover story in the Washington Monthly about this very question:
There’s no doubt that Obama has the intellectual curiosity and self-confidence—not to mention the ideal public persona—to fundamentally reconsider American foreign policy. But at this point, for all his promise, he’s still, in some sense, a cipher. After eight years in the Illinois Senate and two in Washington, his foreign policy thinking, unsurprisingly, remains largely unformed. That [Obama advisor Samantha] Power and [Anthony] Lake—both hard-bitten political veterans, not starstruck newcomers—each found themselves gravitating toward Obama on the basis of a speech, a dinner, or a phone call suggests the level of despair to which both had sunk. Bush, it appeared, had so destroyed what was left of the existing system of international security that both Power and Lake, through their separate journeys, had reached a point where they sought a leader who might offer not a return to that system—as John Kerry cautiously did in 2004—but a wholesale reimagining of it.Read the whole thing. As Kevin Drum points out, "He's actually making one of the most difficult kinds of argument of all, an argument that the current system is fine and doesn't really need big changes [except the people running the show]." Of course, this bears more than a passing resemblance to the argument made by many neocons that the ideas underlying Operation Iraqi Freedom were equally sound, but the Bush administration botched the execution.
I agree with Kevin that it's worth checking out -- but I'm less sanguine with Hirsch's argument that because the system worked well in the past, a recommitment to its structures means it will work well in the future. As I pointed out recently, some difficult adjustments are going to be necessary.
[Hey, aren't there parts of Hirsh's essay that bear an awfully strong resemblance to your Washington Post essay from December 2006?--ed. Well, it seems like that to me, but that could just be an incipient sign of overbearing egotism. Besides, Hirsh's underlying thesis is dissimilar from mine, so I'm willing to let it slide.]
UPDATE: I'm fascinated that some of the commenters to this post infer that because I think Obama will win implies that I think Obama should win. Let's just say that I reserve some doubts about Obama as the candidate for me.
The thousand nations of the Persian empire are pissed off about 300
Government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham said Tuesday that the movie called `300' insults the culture of world countries.Though Matt and I have had some differences on Iran, I agree with correct lesson he from this tidbit of information:
It's interesting that even Iran's contemporary theocrats regard themselves as the heirs to all the pre-Islamic Persian empires. Which goes to show how misleading it is to frame US-Iranian disputes as part of an apocalyptic struggle with "Islamofascism" rather than a sort of banal (but not unimportant!) situation issue where the government of Iran is seeking to assert its interests in the neighborhood where governments of Iran have traditionally sought to assert themselves.UPDATE: Azadeh Moaveni suggests in Time that ordinary Iranians are equally ticked off about the movie.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Nothing to do but scream?
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been diagnosed with a cracked skull from a government beating, according to his spokesman. According to the Washington Post's Craig Timberg, this might be the trigger that actually unifies Zimbabwe's opposition movement:
Two harrowing days in police custody have left Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai with serious physical injuries but also renewed standing as head of an anti-government movement that is showing more energy than it has in years....The problem is that a unified opposition will be insufficient for Mugabe's government to fall. The regime has repeatedly displayed a willingness to use its coercive apparatus to maintain power -- a unified opposition will have little effect on that apparatus so long as they are willing to kill.
There need to be members of the ZANU-PF government who are willing to turn their back on Mugabe -- and that will not happen until Zimbabwe's neighbors demonstrate a willingness to ostracize the country and its leadership.
So why don't they? Alec Russell has an excellent analysis of the regional situation in the Financial Times:
Just two days before Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested, the Zimbabwean opposition leader delivered a trenchant ultimatum to the region’s leaders over their policy of “quiet diplomacy” towards President Robert Mugabe.The probability of joint SADC action is low. This leads Fletcher student Drew Bennett to despair:
I was in Zimbabwe a little less than a year ago and saw first hand that the political and economic elite in Zimbabwe, though a miniscule cabal, managed their portfolios just fine in a surreal economy dominated by the black market. Clearly, there are ways around sanctions when the international community has abandoned you.So, to review -- a unifiying opposition, but little effect on government power without regional action, which is highly unlikely.
Developing.... in a very uncertain way.
President Robert Mugabe on Thursday told Western countries to "go hang" after international outrage over charges his government assaulted the main opposition leader in police detention.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Gideon Rachman, security risk
Over at his FT blog, Rachman points out that excessive regulation for admitting both foreigners and foreign capital is posing some problems for the United States:
[T]he survey for the Discover America partnership – a group of big businesses that seeks to promote tourism – also suggested that 39 per cent of regular travellers rate the US “worst” for immigration and entry procedures; the Middle East came second on 16 per cent. Discover America complains of a “climate of fear” and a “travel crisis”. It cites a “near 20 per cent drop in the United States share of overseas travellers since 2000” and claims that this has cost 200,000 jobs and $93bn in revenue.You'll have to read his whole post to understand the title of this post.
A conversational waltz with Garance Franke-Ruta
Topics include whether Barack Obama and John McCain would pursue similar interventionist foreign policies; why GOP candidates are "Hollywood whores"; the death of neoliberalism; and how liberal journalists are coping with this.
Go check it out.
UPDATE: One small note: if it seems like I did not pick up on every point Garance made, this had to do with our phone connection. I could not completely hear all of her points.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Open U.S. Attorneys thread
I've been remiss in not posting about the brewing brouhaha about the role that Republican members of Congress, as well as the White House, played in the removal of several U.S. Attorneys in December 2006. Comment away.
If this New York Times story is accurate, then this story has the perfect storm of tidbits to fuel numerous news cycles: Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, White House overreaching, and the kind of investgation that promises regular tidbits of new information.
UPDATE: Ah, the Washington Post's Dan Eggen and John Solomon feed the storm:
The White House suggested two years ago that the Justice Department fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, a proposal that eventually resulted in the dismissals of eight prosecutors last year, according to e-mails and internal documents that the administration will provide to Congress today.
Does Zimbabwe support or weaken the smart sanctions argument?
Last week Michael H. Cognato blogged at Passport about the fact that smart sanctions seemed to be having an effect in Zimbabwe:
[The International Crisis Group] found that targeted sanctions have played an important role in undermining Mugabe's support:Sounds promising... until we get to more recent events. Like today's AP report:Targeted EU and U.S. sanctions on senior regime figures are working. ZANU-PF leaders cite their personal financial situations as motivation for wanting Mugabe out. “We have businesses which we worked hard over years to set up which are collapsing. It is about time we change course”, said a senior politburo member.The possible implications stretch far beyond Zimbabwe. Targeted sanctions, which limit the activity of specific regime members, rather than the entire country, are a relatively recent innovation. The hope has been that they would better pressure a target government while sparing its citizens needless suffering. Officials in Sudan, Iran, and North Korea are currently on the receiving end of these appeals to their unenlightened self-interest. The news out of Zimbabwe is reason to hope they might be similarly persuaded.
Top opposition leaders were assaulted and tortured by police who broke up a prayer meeting planned to protest government policies, colleagues of the activists said Monday.There are two ways to interpret this kind of repression. One way is that this is the last gasp of a dying regime. You can find this interpretation in this Washington Post story by Craig Timberg:
[Former member of parliament Roy] Bennett, speaking in Johannesburg after consulting with other opposition figures by phone, said Sunday's gathering was the beginning of mass protests against Mugabe's government under a newly formed Save Zimbabwe Coalition.The thing is, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign has been around for six months now, and prior efforts to mobilize have not panned out.
So there's another, gloomier possibility: smart sanctions are insufficient, and the state's ability to repress will not be tamed anytime soon.
A subtle look at the academic bias question
While the HERI [Higher Education Research Institute] does an annual survey of incoming college freshmen that includes questions about political beliefs, no one has tried tracking changes in student political beliefs over the college years. One interesting glimpse is provided by HERI's 2004 report on political attitudes among freshmen and college graduates. In 1994, 82 percent of students in the class of 1998 agreed that "the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns" and 61 percent agreed that abortion should be legal. In 1998, these opinions were held by, respectively, 83 percent and 65 percent of college graduates in that cohort.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
There's lazy reporting and then there's lazy Sunday analysis
Over the past few years, the Boston Globe Ideas section has generally been considered one of the best treats of theirs or any Sunday paper. Which is why I was surprised when I read this Matt Steinglass article on the intellectual trendiness among economists of preaching capital controls:
When the Shanghai stock index dropped 9 percent on Feb. 27, touching off sharp slides in markets across the globe, many were quick to recall the Asian financial crisis of 1997. That crisis was triggered not by a drop in stock prices, but by a collapse in the value of the Thai baht, brought on by currency speculators. But the reason the crash of '97 spread from one country to the next, savaging the economies of Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and ultimately non-Asian countries like Russia, was a broad loss of investor confidence in such so-called "emerging markets."Now, the bolded sentence is clearly supposed to be the takeaway point of the piece, so I was curious which economist or economists Steinglass found to echo Stiglitz's views on capital controls. It turns out that the economist Steinglass found was.... Joe Stiglitz:
In the decade since the crisis, many economists have come to share these views -- including some within the IMF itself. "In 2003 their chief economist came to the conclusion that the empirical evidence did not show that capital market liberalization worked," Stiglitz says. "It did not lead to more growth, it did not lead to more stability. They still believe it's true, but what they now say is they can't prove it." In some cases, the IMF is actually telling countries that "soft" capital controls, such as tax measures and banking regulations, may be a good idea.Stiglitz might be correct in his assertion, although in 2003 at least one chief IMF economist was pretty disparaging of capital controls.
Still, that's not the point. If Steinglass' assertion is correct, one should expect to see a quote from at least one other economist. Hell, Steinglass probably could have raided Brad DeLong's archives and probably found something useful.
We don't get either of those things, however. Instead, we get Stiglitz and more Stiglitz. This is insufficient for the assertion that's made in the essay.
Bad Ideas section. Bad, bad, bad.