Saturday, February 23, 2008

Your 2008 Oscar predictions!!

The Oscars are upon us yet again, and yet the writers strike deprived us of all the pre-Oscar campaigns by the various nominees. In other words, it's the best of both worlds!! And what better way to provide this blog's sixth (!!) annual Oscar predictions!!

Except the nominated movies are mostly downers. You know you're looking at a depressing set of films when the conclusion to Michael Clayton ranks as one of the happier on-screen endings among the Best Picture noms.

The pressure is on your humble blogger -- I got absolutely creamed last year, a fact that the Official Blog Wife has lorded over me for quite some time now. This time, it's personal.

OK, same rules as always -- predictions of who will win followed by who should win. Once again, I'm pleasantly surprised that the wife and I got to see many of the top-nominated films:

Best Supporting Actor
Will win: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Should win: Chris Cooper, Breach

Bardem and Daniel-Day Lewis are vying for the Official Mortal Lock this year, and he gives a great performance. But I'm truly flummoxed why Breach got no love from the Oscars. If the film had been released in October instead of February, it would have earned a slew of them -- and none more deserving than Cooper's portrayal of the bewildering Robert Hanssen.

Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Should win: Jennifer Garner, Juno

Chicks playing dudes + Blanchett's ability to mimic anything and anyone = Oscar love as a general rule. However, Garner pulls off an astonishing turn in Juno. When you first see her, she seems like your stereotypical uptight yuppie professional. As the movie progresses, however, Garner is able -- sometimes with little more than a widening of her eyes -- to show the very valid reasons for her outer shell. In a movie filled with dead-on characterizations, it was Garner's character that provided the most surprising and yet thoroughly believable arc.

Best Actor
Will win: Daniel-Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Should win: Anyone but Daniel-Day Lewis Matt Damon, The Bourne Ultimatum.

Cards on the table -- I loathed There Will Be Blood . [See the Boston Globe's Ty Burr for a defense of the movie] I've had it up to here with Paul Thomas Anderson movies that hint at interesting themes before taking the most obvious metaphor and whacking you on the head repeatedly until you "get" it (also, I find it interesting that Anderson's film scores are always praised. As a general rule I find that when critics praise the soundtrack, it's because the director is going all Brechtian and making things obvious to the movie-goer. It's the ultimate backhanded compliment of the director. Contrast the overbearing music of There Will Be Blood with the silence of No Country for Old Men -- the latter is much more affecting). The final reel of There Will Be Blood is far worse than the frogs from Magnolia, in part because the promise of this movie was greater -- and because the final scene in this movie is so impossibly ludicrous that the "I drink your milkshake!" line deserves to be debased in every way imaginable.

As for Lewis' performance, it's the same thing as the movie -- quite good at the start and then descending into utter hamminess by the end of it (see this David Spade spoof and tell me he doesn't nail Lewis' shtick). He's already received every pre-Oscar award, and clearly knows how to give a good acceptance speech.

However, to repeat my objection from last year:

One of the absudities of Hollywood's value system is that someone who can sing or dance can win an Oscar for one show-stopping number, whereas stars in action films are thought to be tawdry and commercial.
Damon's performance in all of the Bourne movies, but especially Ultimatum, highlights the contrast between Bourne's coiled physicality and his repressed emotions.

Best Actress
Will win: Julie Christie, Away From Her
Should win: Laura Linney, The Savages

I haven't seen Away From Her, but if the trailer is any clue, Christie is no doubt the winner. Linney, however, was just sublime in this serio-comic role of frustrated writer/liar who is forced to deal with the institutionalization of her senile and mostly unloved father.

Best Director
Will win: Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Should win: Anyone but Paul Thomas Anderson Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men

With the exception of the ending (a problem way too many of the nominees had this year), No Country for Old Men had the best combination of camerawork, cinematography, sound, pacing and acting of any live action movie I saw this year.

Best Picture
Will win: No Country for Old Men
Should win: Ratatouille

Unless Oscar-voters really care about endings, No Country for Old Men will win (if they do really care, then Juno pulls off the upset).

I liked No Country for Old Men a lot, but like State's Dana Stevens, there's something about a Coen brothers' movie I just can't love. Brad Bird, on the other hand, has me eating out of the palm of his hand. And the simple fact is that none of the nominated movies contains anyting in it that compares to the scene in Ratatouille when the critic Anton Ego tastes the titular dish for the first time. Nor is there anything in any other movie that can top this speech a few minutes later:

So there.

posted by Dan at 05:05 PM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

Tyler Cowen thinks I'm rational

In his New York Times column, Tyler Cowen articulates my basic attitude towards evaluating presidential candidates:

[T]he public this year will probably not vote itself into a much better or even much different economic policy. To be sure, the next president — whoever he or she may be — may well extend health care coverage to more Americans. But most of the country’s economic problems won’t be solved at the voting booth. It is already too late to stop an economic downturn. Health care costs will keep rising, no matter who becomes president or which party controls Congress. China is now a bigger carbon polluter than the United States, so don’t expect a tax or cap-and-trade rules to solve global warming, even if American measures are very stringent — and they probably won’t be, because higher home heating bills are not a vote winner. A Democratic president may propose more spending on social services, but most of the federal budget is on automatic pilot. Furthermore, even if a Republican president wanted to cut back on such mandates, the bulk of them are here to stay....

[I]f you’re still worrying about how to vote, I have two pieces of advice. First, spend your time studying foreign policy, where the president has more direct power, and the choice of a candidate makes a much bigger difference. Second, stop worrying and get back to work. (emphasis added)

posted by Dan at 09:23 AM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hello, pot? It's Hillary Clinton's kettle calling!!

Hillary Clinton, February 21, 2008 debate with Barack Obama: "You know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox."

Hillary Clinton, later on in the same debate: "You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

Jack Stanton speech, in Primary Colors (New York: Random House, 1996), p. 162: "Y'know, I've taken some hits in this campaign. It hasn't been easy for me, or my family. It hasn't been fair, but it hasn't been anything compared to the hits a lot of you take every day."

I can't find the actual 1992 Bill Clinton speech upon which this fictional version was based, but I suspect there are some strong similarities. [UPDATE: Thank you, Josh Marshall -- "The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time."]

Josh Marshall picked up on this as well:

9:46 PM ... That was an interesting final moment to end on for Hillary. Candy Crowley is on CNN now saying how it was a good connect moment for HIllary, which I suspect it may have been. But we all do remember that those words were borrowed from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, right?

UPDATE: Politico's Ben Smith picks up some more lifted lines.

posted by Dan at 10:06 PM | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)

Grading the candidates on trade

The Cato Institute has a new handy-dandy website: "Free Trade, Free Markets: Rating the Congress," in which you can grade members of Congress on their attitudes towards trade barriers and trade subsidies.

Just for kicks, I figured it would be worth seeing how the presidential candidates stack up:

Hillary Clinton: interventionist (votes in favor of barriers and subsidies);

John McCain: free trader (opposes both barriers and subsidies)

Barack Obama: never met a subsidy he did not like

[So where's your Obama love now?--ed. This would seem difficult to rebut. The only caveat on Obama's score is that the support of subsidies is based on a whopping two votes -- so we're talking small sample size.

Otherwise, Ohio and Pennsylvania should love both the Democratic candidates.

UPDATE: Thanks to the anonymus commenter who linked to Lael Brainard's January 2008 Brookings brief that compares the major candidates on trade. There's not much difference at all between the two analyses.

posted by Dan at 02:11 PM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eagle soaring... for the moment

International relations scholars are/should be familiar with a series of edited volumes on U.S. foreign policy entitled Eagle ________. Eagle Entangled, Eagle Defiant, Eagle Resurgent, Eagle in a New World, etc.

With all the talk of lost hegemony, my latest column for Newsweek International points out that even if U.S. power is waning, it hasn't exactly disappeared. It's called, "The Eagle Still Soars." The take home point:

There is a difference between forming expectations about future trends and believing that the future is now. If anything, recent events reaffirm the primacy of American power....

Longtime observers of international relations will have a sense of déjà vu in reading about America's decline. Two decades ago international-relations scholars were enmeshed in a debate about American decline. Replace China with Japan, and the current gnashing of teeth sounds like a replay of debates from the 1980s. Over the long term, however, the demographic and economic vitality of the American economy is difficult to dispute compared with possible peer competitors. For decades to come, the United States will be first among equals. So don't believe the hype. By most measures, the United States is still the hegemon.

This does not mean, of course, that the declinists don't have a point. Power is a relative measure, and the robust growth of the BRIC nations guarantees that U.S. influence will decline in the future. The really important question for America—and the world—is how Americans will manage this adjustment.

Go check it out.

posted by Dan at 08:18 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

McCain vs. Obama.... oh, right, and Clinton too

John McCain went right after Barack Obama in his victory speech tonight. A few thoughts:

1) Matthew Yglesias beat me to the punch on this point -- it's a bit strange for McCain to critique Obama for saying the U.S. should unilaterally use force against terrorists in Pakistan on the same day the Washington Post reports that the U.S. is using unilateral force against terrorists in Pakistan.

2) On MSNBC, Howard Fineman reported that the Clinton people were delighted that McCain went after Obama. Over at TNR, Christopher Orr ponders whether this really works to Clinton's advantage: "the more McCain treats Obama as his general-election foe, the more the public (and Democratic voters) may begin to think of Obama as his general-election foe, which could be more bad news for Hillary Clinton."

I'd go one even further. If John McCain is making the same criticism of Obama as Clinton -- flowing rhetoric but no experience and weak on national security -- then Hillary Clinton becomes superfluous in this campaign. Obviously, Clinton and McCain differ on policy, but does anyone seriously think that Hillary Clinton can credibly claim to be more experienced than John McCain? Would Clinton try to argue that McCain wasn't ready to be commander-in-chief from day one? Why does Clinton need to be in the race if McCain is parroting her line of attack?

POSTSCRIPT: Mickey Kaus relates a possible anti-momentum theory that could help Clinton:
Hillary does best when Democratic voters sense she's about to get brutally knocked out of the race, as in New Hampshire. That prospect taps a well of residual sympathy for a woman who has devoted her life to politics, etc. But when Hillary is triumphant she seems arrogant and unbearable, and voters feel free to express those perceptions at the polls. It follows that Hillary will do better in the crucial states of Ohio and Texas if she loses in Wisconsin and has her back to the wall.
The problem with this logic is that.... if it were true, she would have actually won Wisconsin. Clinton's back was already against the wall after eight straight losses, and there had been a week for these losses to sink into the electorate. The cable nets delighted in discussing her massive losses in the Potomac primaries. That combined with more favorable demographics should have pushed her to victory in the Badger state -- and yet it didn't.

ANOTHER POSTSCRIPT: Jamal Simmons observes the eerie similarities between the 2008 campaign and the fictional 2006 campaign that played out on The West Wing. My only quibble -- Hillary Clinton isn't Abby Bartlett -- she's John Hoynes.

LAST POSTSCRIPT: Worst... surrogate... ever:

The most painful part is the background derisive laughter you can hear at the tail end of the clip.

posted by Dan at 11:40 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

Musings about the Obama backlash

It's just so three hours ago to talk about how an Obama cult member gets through the day or how Barack Obama can help sustain marriages that cross party lines or how Obama is feeling the love in Japan and Europe. Right now it's all about the backlash!!

Kevin Drum is all over this meme. Deep within the Obama cult, The New Republic's Christopher Orr implies that Republicans like David Brooks were just waiting for Obama to surge... so they could then pull the super-secret double-cross and drag him down into the mire.

As a potential Obama-can, I'm still on the fence. This is not because of Brooks' column today though he is clearly one spur for this conversation. Rather, Clive Crook got at it a bit better in his Financial Times column:

Mr Obama is a paradox, as yet unresolved. His plan and his votes in the Senate show that he is a liberal, not a centrist. And he is no wavering or accidental liberal. His ideas are of a piece. He sees – or convinces people that he sees – a bigger picture. And yet this leftist visionary is pragmatic, non-ideological and accommodating of dissent. More than that, in fact, he seems keen to listen to and learn from those who disagree with him. What a strange and beguiling combination this is.

It makes him an electrifying candidate – one the Democrats would be crazy not to nominate – but also, to be sure, a gamble. If Mr Obama is elected, it might turn out that there is no “there” there. Indecision, drift and effete triangulation are one possibility. Equally disappointing would be if the office wore away the pragmatism and open-mindedness, to reveal an inner dogmatist. Perhaps, though, Mr Obama really can transcend Washington’s partisan paralysis and build support for one or two big important reforms – starting with healthcare. Voters (and commentators) have the better part of a year to decide whether this pushes the audacity of hope too far.

Now, on the one hand, Steve Chapman soothes my anxieties here when he compares Clinton's mortgage plan with Obama's:
Obama is not a staunch free marketeer, but he grasps the value of markets and shows some deference to economic laws. Clinton, however, tends to treat both as piddly obstacles to her grand ambitions.

You don't have to take that from me. Some on the left see the Illinois senator as suspiciously unenchanted by their goals and methods. Robert Kuttner, an economics writer and co-editor of The American Prospect, scorns Obama's advisers as "free-market guys who want to use markets to somehow solve social problems, which is like squaring a circle." New York Times columnist Paul Krugman denounced Obama because his health-care and fiscal stimulus plans "tilted to the right" and concludes Obama is "less progressive" than Clinton.

If progressive means issuing dictates that prevent informed people from entering into mutually agreeable and economically valuable transactions, that is undoubtedly true. Many liberals prefer to rely on command and control. Nowhere is the contrast between the Democratic contenders more vivid than on how to deal with the fallout from the epidemic of mortgages gone bad.

Clinton has a stunningly simple solution, as stated in one of her TV ads: "freeze foreclosures" for 90 days and "freeze rates on adjustable mortgages." Those are a perfect answer, assuming this is the question: How can the government reward irresponsibility, discourage mortgage lending and increasing the cost of financing a home?....

Obama is not willing to let this turbulent market sort itself out without the intervention of government, but he offers nothing remotely as alarming as Clinton's dual freeze. Among his main proposals are tougher enforcement of laws against fraud and deception and mandates for "easy-to-understand information" for borrowers -- ideas few advocates of economic freedom would find objectionable.

More important than what he advocates is what he doesn't. His chief economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, told me that Obama thinks "we shouldn't have a blanket policy of bailing out everyone." In formulating remedies, Goolsbee said, "you have to think how not to reward bad behavior."

On the other hand, we get to what Obama is saying right now, and I start to get very worried. The Financial Times' Edward Luce explains:
Barack Obama on Monday made an aggressive pitch at Ohio’s blue-collar workers by proposing a “Patriot Employers” plan that would lower corporate taxes for companies that did not ship jobs overseas.

The proposal, which came two weeks before the critical Ohio primary and just before on Tuesday’s nominating contest in Wisconsin, is the most radical any presidential candidate has put forward so far to mitigate the perceived effects of globalisation on US manufacturing....

Mr. Obama’s plan met instant scepticism from otherwise sympathetic Democratic economists who said it would require a large regulatory apparatus to put into practice. They also said that companies could “game the system” by spinning off overseas subsidiaries in order to reduce the offshore-onshore workforce ratio.

“I would say that this plan is borderline unimplementable,” said a Democratic economist in Washington. “It is also puzzling. Normally presidential candidates only come up with plans that are unrealistic when they are losing. But Obama is now the favourite.”

Clive Crook, correctly, concludes that this plan is, "on its economic merits, remarkably stupid." And I haven't even gotten to Obama's NAFTA-bashing.

So what's a possible Obama cultist to think? I can offer four words of solace in considering whether to embrace a President Obama:

1) Part of this is the remaining primary schedule. Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are all fertile ground for economic populism, and this is presumably why Obama has been tacking in this direction. As John Broder and Jeff Zeleny point out in today's New York Times:
[B]oth candidates appear to be looking for ways to avoid taking positions that would give them problems in the general election or expose them to a business backlash....

“Revolutions in communication and technology have made it easier for companies to send jobs wherever labor is cheapest, and that’s something that cannot be reversed,” Mr. Obama said. “So I’m not going to stand here and say that we can stop every job from going overseas. I don’t believe that we can — or should — stop free trade.”

2) Chapman is still right -- compared to Hillary, Obama remains the more market-friendly candidate. Indeed, this might even remain true if Obama is compared to McCain. The latter's first instinct on other issues (campaign finance) has been to regulate.

3) One wonders if, right now, Obama wants conservative criticism. Assuming he manages to continue his victory streak, this allows Obama to counter-punch while still being on top. This subtly signals to other Democrats that a) he really is a Democrat; and b) Hillary Clinton's not the only only one taking pot-shots from the right.

4) Matthew Cooper makes an excellent point in Portfolio -- if one judges economic competency based on how one runs a campaign, then Obama deserves superior marks:

Obama's sheer abilities as a C.E.O. haven't received much attention. There was no reason to think that a lawyer who had never run anything larger than a Senate office would really have been able to build such an amazing campaign organization. Yes, he was a community organizer, but you wouldn't expect orchestrating street protests to necessarily translate into assembling a machine that stretches from coast to coast and spends tens of millions. One benefit of the endless primary season is that it tests not just the mettle of candidates but also that of their organizations. Obama's campaign is a testament to his abilities. It's flexible. It's fast. And it got built quickly, unlike the Clinton machine, which has been assembling itself for years, like a conglomerate that keeps acquiring new companies. (Disclosure: My wife is a senior adviser to Clinton.) Unlike other insurgent campaigns that have found themselves suddenly within striking distance of the nomination, Obama's rose in a way that was simultaneously revolutionary and orthodox. On the orthodox side, he actually raised the money and secured the endorsements and built the ground operation. Unlike, say, George McGovern or Jimmy Carter, who defeated established front-runners to win the Democratic Party's nomination but faced frantic, last-minute, anybody-but movements led by party elders determined to snatch it from them, Obama did it the old-fashioned way, only in record time. Mitt Romney is the businessman in this race, but Obama may just turn out to be the real C.E.O.
Contrast this with the Clinton campaign, which seems uninformed about the rules in Texas and couldn't name enough delegates in Pennsylvania. Indeed, is it wrong to compare Clinton's "shock and awe" approach to the primaries with prior uses of that tactic.

posted by Dan at 02:18 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

Best title for an economics paper.... ever

Peter T. Leeson, "An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization," Journal of Political Economy, vol. 115, no. 6 (December 2007): 1049-1094.

Here's the abstract:

This article investigates the internal governance institutions of violent criminal enterprise by examining the law, economics, and organization of pirates. To effectively organize their banditry, pirates required mechanisms to prevent internal predation, minimize crew conflict, and maximize piratical profit. Pirates devised two institutions for this purpose. First, I analyze the system of piratical checks and balances crews used to constrain captain predation. Second, I examine how pirates used democratic constitutions to minimize conflict and create piratical law and order. Pirate governance created sufficient order and cooperation to make pirates one of the most sophisticated and successful criminal organizations in history.

posted by Dan at 10:58 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Castro's final revenge

I have only two three reactions to Fidel Castro's decision to step down as Cuba's leader:

1) Good riddance -- the man succeeded at little beyond creating repressive state structures designed to stifle individual thought and perserve his power;

2) That said, the manner of his departure is a final twisting of the knife to the Cuban community in the United States. I'm pretty sure the expectation in this country was that Castro would hold onto power until his last breath, and that the country's government would collapse following his demise.

The way Castro has orchestrated his departure from office, however, belies that scenario. Maybe Havana will be in chaos tomorrow, but the orderly transfer of power suggests that those repressive state structures will be in place for a good while.

This Reuters report suggests that Little Havana is dimly aware of this fact:

The news that Castro would not seek a new term as president and military chief sparked no immediate celebrations in the streets of Little Havana, the community west of downtown Miami that is home to many of the city's 650,000-strong exile community.

"It's very good that Fidel resigns. But if Fidel dies, it's better," said Juan Acosta, a Cuban who left the Caribbean island in 1980, as he stopped for a newspaper on Calle Ocho, Little Havana's main street.

3) Steve Clemons thinks that, "this is a huge potential pivot point in US-Cuba relations" and urges Obama and Clinton to announce what steps they would take to improve the bilateral relationship. If I were them, unless I was reeeeeeaaaaaallly trying to woo Wisconsin farmers, I'd wait a week or two to see how things shake out. [UPDATE: Obama's reaction strikes me as the proper one at this point in time:
If the Cuban leadership begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change, the United States must be prepared to begin taking steps to normalize relations and to ease the embargo of the last five decades. The freedom of the Cuban people is a cause that should bring the Americans together.
That's a pretty good formulation, actually -- an olive branch with large amounts of wiggle room.]

That said, Clemons is doing his party no favors by blogging:

One interesting US presidential race tidbit involves Fidel Castro.... Castro said that the "unbeatable" US presidential ticket would have both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on it.
Wow, that is an awesome endorsement. I eagerly await Hugo Chavez's announcement.
UPDATE: You can hear my thoughts on the Cuba embargo over at Radio Free Megan.

posted by Dan at 09:23 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, February 18, 2008

With my deepest apologies to Abraham Lincoln....

My latest commentary for Marketplace concerns whether the penny should be abolished. In light of plagiarism accusations currently running rampant, I should acknowledge that I was "inspired" by a previously published work. Here's how it opens:

Four score and nineteen years ago, our national mint brought forth on this country a new coin, conceived to honor Abraham Lincoln, dedicated to the proposition that all coins bearing his image would be worth exactly one penny.

Now we are engaged in a great spike in the price of zinc and copper, testing whether this nation, frankly, can afford the penny any longer.....

You know it just gets worse from there.

Click here to listen to it... we were going for stentorian.

posted by Dan at 08:01 PM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

Reviewing the reviews of The Israel Lobby

I have a subscriber-only essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week that takes a critical look at the public critiques of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Longtime readers of the blog will not be surprised to learn that I have a mixed take:

Does the public understand how political science works? Or are political scientists the ones who need re-educating? Those questions have been running through my mind in light of the drubbing that John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt received in the American news media for their 2007 book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007). Pick your periodical — The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, National Review, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World — and you'll find a reviewer trashing the book.

From a political-science perspective, what's interesting about those reviews is that they are largely grounded in methodological critiques — which rarely break into the public sphere. What's disturbing is that the methodologies used in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy are hardly unique to Mearsheimer and Walt. Are the indictments of their book overblown, or do they expose the methodological flaws of the discipline in general?....

There is no doubt that Mearsheimer and Walt have captured a disproportionate meas-ure of criticism because they have targeted a high-profile dimension of American foreign policy. The public reviews of their work have been scathing, and some of them have been unfair. Nevertheless, in terms of methodology, The Israel Lobby has earned much of its criticism. Some of the criticism, however, applies not just to Mearsheimer and Walt, but to the discipline as a whole.

Space constraints prevented this section of the essay from appearing in the final version, so it seems worth putting it here:
What [Mearsheimer and Walt] do not do, however, is systematically compare Israel to similarly-situated countries in order to determine if the U.S.-Israeli relationship really is unique. An alternative, strategic explanation for the bilateral relationship would posit that Israel falls into a small set of countries: longstanding allies bordering one or multiple enduring rivals. The category of states that meet this criteria throughout the time period analyzed by Walt and Mearsheimer is relatively small: South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and Pakistan.

Compared to these countries, the U.S. relationship with Israel does not look anomalous. All of these countries have been designated as major non-NATO allies (except for Turkey, a NATO member). Mearsheimer and Walt acknowledge that Turkey receives its aid in a similar manner to Israel; the New York Times recently revealed that Pakistan has received favorable terms as well. In the past decade the United States orchestrated IMF bailouts of South Korea and Turkey that dwarf annual aid flows. Sizable numbers of U.S. troops help to guard the demilitarized zone against North Korea, and the United States Navy takes an active interest in the Taiwan Straits. All four countries have prospered economically in recent years, and they have all frustrated the Bush administration in policy disputes. Despite this, the United States has demonstrated a willingness to expend blood and treasure to provide security for all of these countries – despite the wide variance in the strength of each country’s “lobby” in the United States.

On a related topic, Kevin Drum has an excellent post about conducting research on the web that political scientists and non-political scientists alike should read.

posted by Dan at 08:33 AM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)