Friday, October 5, 2007
A small question about trade and parties
If you believe that trade liberalization benefits both the U.S. and global economy, which party is the party for you?
When I came of voting age, the answer was pretty obvious -- the GOP.
Obviously, it is slightly unfair to compare advisors with voters -- and the WSJ article linked above points out that the GOP frontrunners are still talking the talk on trade.
I'm beginning to wonder, however, whether either party will walk the walk.
Question to free traders -- which party do you think is likelier to promote trade liberalization?
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Getting back into the op-ed game
In my last bloggingheads with Matthew Yglesias, we agreed that it is tough to excel at the op-ed format.
Naturally, I have now agreed to contribute to Newsweek International on a monthly basis.
My first effort, "Calling Miss Manners," is now online. Go check it out. The concluding paragraphs:
It would be a cruel irony indeed if rising powers learned the wrong lessons from Bush's mistakes. The United States has received more flak for its diplomatic mistakes than other countries because the glare of the spotlight is at its harshest for the hegemon. As these countries acquire more power, however, they will also garner more attention. So far, their behavior is worrisome. Russia, for example, has had some prior experience with being a great power. Their current diplomatic style, however, makes the Bush administration's first term look like a paragon of propriety and decorum.The column has its roots in this blog post from a few weeks ago.
The 2008 foreign policy wonk list
I think of these advisers as falling into two broad categories: Those providing legitimacy and those seeking legitimacy. The two camps aren't always mutually exclusive. But it's a useful framework for analyzing the list, and may help us sort out any conflict-of-interest charges that may arise in the course of the campaign.Kevin Drum is unimpressed (hat tip: Ilan Goldenberg):
Of course, what would be more genuinely useful is a list of the people who actually have each candidate's ear on foreign policy, not a telephone book of every single foreign policy wonk who's made an endorsement. I want to know which ones are figureheads and which ones are likely to have West Wing offices in 2009.It's tricky to do that, because a) wonks will often advise more than one candidate; and b) sometimes wonks from losing campaigns rise to success during the general election (see: Jim Baker).
This is a blog, however, so it seems like fun to take a stab at answering Drum's question. My answers are based entirely on scuttlebutt, half-assed speculation, and some simple rules of thumb. First, ambition goes up, not down -- i.e., Madeleine Albright's not going to be the NSC advisor when she's been Secretary of State. Second, the national security advisor position usually goes to someone who has a longtime relationship with the candidate.
Going through the list:
1) HILLARY CLINTON: Foggy Bottom would go to Richard Holbrooke. National Security Advisor: Lee Feinstein.Readers are strongly encouraged to disabuse me of any of these predictions with really good inside dirt.
UPDATE: Blake Hounshell informs me that, "Anthony Lake has said in no uncertain terms that he will not return to government and is happy as a Georgetown professor."
Assuming that this statement is genuine and not boilerplate, the only other name on Obama's list that might come up for Foggy Bottom would be Dennis Ross, though it's a major step up.
For every op-ed action, there is an out-of-proportion blogosphere reaction
Intentionally or not, Roger Cohen has some fun with the netroots in his New York Times column today:
A few years back, at the height of the jingoistic post-9/11 wave, the dirtiest word in the American political lexicon was “liberal.” Everyone from President Bush to Ann Coulter was using it to denote wimplike, Volvo-driving softies too spineless for dangerous times and too given to speaking French....This has prompted some acerbic replies. Here's one example:
I assure you, we liberals are smart enough to know that [Paul] Berman is not Wolfowitz. No one, except for you, Berman, and other liberal hawks is confused about this (and Feith, but he's confused about everything). Certainly your critics aren't, because if they were, you'd give an example, and you don't....Meanwhile, Yglesias doesn't seem thrilled with being quoted in the New York Times:
I'm not sure if I'm meant to be included within the scope of those nameless Jew-haters who appear to be criticizing an ideological movement of the American right while actually criticizing a shadowy Zionist conspiracy, but if you're interested in the post from which Cohen drew those quotations, it's here and you'll see that neither Israel nor Zionism actually comes up.
Um... OK, a few things:
1) Seriously, how do netroots types attain this level of cognitive dissonance? Perhaps
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
And the Joe Bob Briggs award goes to...
Fifteen years ago Joe Bob Briggs wrote a scathing essay on the phenomenon of Sunday morning talk shows -- which, mysteriously, does not appear to be online anywhere (the one line I will never forget: "[Robert] Novak is the only human being in history who, on his IRS 1080 form, fills out, "Occupation: Obnoxious").
Since cable news has become a 24/7 version of these talk shows on every subject imaginable, there's a crying need for a new version of Briggs' kind of satire. So click below and enjoy.
What color is the sky in Joshua Muravchik's world?
In any event, the decisions about troop levels and about abolishing Iraq's existing administrative structure had nothing to do with neoconservative ideas. The most that can fairly be said is that Rumsfeld was an ally of neoconservatives and that some among them, enamored of military technology or influenced by the Iraqi dissident Ahmad Chalabi, endorsed his choices. Besides, whatever measure of responsibility may be placed on neoconservatives in this one matter, it pales in comparison to the errors of the realists in the George H.W. Bush administration who in 1991 chose to leave Saddam in power, and of the liberals in the Clinton administration who allowed Saddam's defiance of his disarmament obligations to swell steadily over eight long years. Together, these failures left the problem of Saddam Hussein festering for George W. Bush to confront in the aftermath of 9/11, when it appeared in a more ominous light.I agree with Muravchik on one point -- some neoconservatives (Kristol, Brooks, Kagan) did want the U.S. to use more troops in the initial invasion, and it's possible that such a troop presence at the start of the invasion could have averted the chaos that has ensued.
Many neoconservatives, however, (Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith) were just fine with this arrangement. And while the costs of not ousting Saddam Hussein in 1991 were not insignficant, I'd like to know the empirical grounds upon which Muravchik can make this assertion.
How to deal with Myanmar
Michael Green and Derek Mitchell have an unbelievably timely piece in the next issue of Foreign Affairs that discusses how to deal with Myanmar. The piece is oddly framed, however:
[N]either sanctions nor constructive engagement has worked. If anything, Burma has evolved from being an antidemocratic embarrassment and humanitarian disaster to being a serious threat to the security of its neighbors. But despite the mounting danger, many in the United States and the international community are still mired in the old sanctions-versus-engagement battle. At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed the former Nigerian diplomat and UN official Ibrahim Gambari to continue the organization's heretofore fruitless dialogue with the junta about reform. The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Congress have fought over control of U.S. Burma policy, leading to bitterness and polarization on both sides. Although the UN Security Council now does talk openly about Burma as a threat to international peace and security, China and Russia have vetoed attempts to impose international sanctions. And while key members of the international community continue to undermine one another, the junta, which renamed itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in 1997, continues its brutal and dangerous rule.So Green and Mitchell aren't saying that sanctions and incentives don't work -- they're saying that uncoordinated sanctions and incentives won't work.
[A] new multilateral initiative on Burma cannot be based on a single, uniform approach. Sanctions policies will need to coexist with various forms of engagement, and it will be necessary to coordinate all of these measures toward the common end of encouraging reform, reconciliation, and ultimately the return of democracy. To succeed, the region's major players will need to work together.Contact groups like this do make some sense when dealing with pariah regimes. Their utility is twofold -- they make it easier to present a common face to the undesirable regime, and they also reassure each of the contact group's members that another member of the contact group is not cutting a deal behind their back.
Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Blip or surge?
The Iraqi government reported on Monday that civilian casualties dropped by more than 50 per cent in September, a month in which US casualties also declined to their lowest level in 14 months.
I bet Sinead O'Connor is a great mother
I can't resist one bit of Britney-blogging -- namely, that I'm not sure how good high-falutin newspapers are at covering the down and dirty. From Mireya Navarro's account in the New York Times of the custody decision that went against Ms. Spears:
The ruling was the culmination of a rash of bad news for Ms. Spears, whose erratic behavior on and off the stage, including shaving her head and diving into the ocean from a public beach in her underwear, had cast doubt on her fitness as a mother. (emphasis added)Note to self: alert DCFS authorities about these women immediately.
Seriously, there are plenty of reasons on the table to explain why K-Fed is the more responsible parent.... hold on a sec, my keyboard just burst into flame for some reason.... there, it's out now.... but do head-shaving and ocean-diving really belong on the list? I'm going to go out on a limb and say the drug and alcohol abuse and the bad driving might be more relevant.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Your mock music video for today
Hat tip: Garance Franke-Ruta: "Soft power, at its finest, baby."
Those college kids today, with their ambition....
Yesterday was the New York Times Magazine's ballyhooed college issue, which includes a Rick Perlstein essay that seems like a shorter version of David Brooks' "Organization Kid" essay from six years ago (to Perlstein's credit, he does cites Brooks' piece in his essay).
If you want something really provocative, however, check out Jake Halpern's "The New Me Generation" in the Boston Globe Magazine. His opening:
Nicole Mirabile, who is just 15 years old, has a clear vision of her future, and it doesn't involve a boss. The prospect of working at a Fortune 500 company – and landing the sort of well-paying job that Americans once regarded as the benchmark of success – holds zero allure for her. "It would be hard compromising with a lot of different people whom I might clash with," she speculates. Mirabile, a sophomore at North Quincy High School, would be far happier running her own company. "I have the time, I have the brains, I have the patience to do it, and I am not going to give up if I fail once," she vows.I'm not entirely sure Halpern's correct -- but I'd rather argue about his essay than Perlstein's warmed-over copy.
[What's your beef with Perlstein?--ed. Really, it's not intentional -- he's just published two pieces in the last week that have annoyed the crap out of me.]