Friday, March 07, 2003
IS BOEING GIVING UP ON CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT?: There are two ways to interpret the news that Boeing is trying to acquire BAE Systems PLC, the British aerospace firm that is a 20% owner of Airbus, Boeing's rival in the passenger plane market.

The first is that Boeing is trying to make life difficult for Airbus by threatening to absorb one of its owners. This doesn't make any sense, however, since the European Union Competition Commisioner can veto any merger on antitrust grounds -- which was why the GE-Honeywell deal was scotched three years ago. The British government also owns a golden share that could block any deal.

The second is that Boeing is trying to enhance its core competency in defence manufacturing. BAE is "the largest Euopean defense company," but its civilian sales have been flat as of late. One wonders, however, if markets -- and airline companies -- wouldn't take this as a signal of Boeing's surrender to Airbus on commercial airliners.

One final, subversive thought -- a good Leninist would argue that Boeing will try to increase its superprofits by exploiting current transatlantic tensions. An increase in those tensions would lead to increased defense spending on the continent. If Boeing acquires BAE, it becomes a vital player in any European arms buildup. Boeing CEO Phil Condit is going all out to woo key EU officials.

I'm most certainly not a good Leninist, though.
NOTE TO SELF -- DO NOT GET ON WILLIAM SALETAN'S BAD SIDE: Either Saletan got up on the wrong side of the bed today, or he's just fed up with the Franco-German international shuffle. Either way, he eviscerates their diplomatic stance during today's UN Security Council debate in this Slate piece. The highlights:

"In Friday's council debate, they made two arguments against a U.S. invasion of Iraq. First, they said it was unnecessary because Iraq has begun to comply with U.N. inspections. Second, they warned that an attack on Iraq without U.N. approval would ruin the credibility of the United Nations, on which the security of every nation, including ours, depends.

Are inspections more effective than force? Is the United Nations a better guarantor of U.S. security than American power is? Both questions are fraudulent. Inspections depend on force, and the United Nations depends on the United States. The French and Germans are telling us not to mess with the status quo, when the status quo is us....

Nice try, Joschka and Dominique. We aren't fooled. We're touched by your pleas for relevance. And we're flattered that the only rival you can put up against us is ourselves."

WHAT ABOUT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES?: David Adesnik over at OxBlog has a series of informative posts on how many civilian casualties the U.S. military has caused during the past decade or so of armed conflicts. Click here for Kosovo; here for the first Gulf War; and here for Afghanistan (plus a smackdown of Marc Herold). Key findings:

1) While any loss of life is tragic, these numbers are smal compared to other wars that have taken place in these countries.
2) The more that precision-guided munitions are used, the smaller the casualty count.

It should be noted that much of Adesnik's info comes from the good people at Human Rights Watch.
MEMO TO DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT: Apparently you've all decided that it's necessary to publicly comment on important foreign policy matters. On Iraq, you may be tempted to spout the standard line about Bush as a unilateralist, blah, blah, blah.

Here's a suggestion: read Michael Walzer's op-ed in today's New York Times. Walzer recognizes that simple opposition to a big war is not a viable policy option:

"The American march is depressing, but the failure of opponents of the war to offer a plausible alternative is equally depressing. France and Russia undoubtedly raised the diplomatic stakes on Wednesday by threatening to veto a new Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. But they once again failed to follow up the rhetoric with anything meaningful.

What would a plausible alternative look like? The way to avoid a big war is to intensify the little war that the United States is already fighting. It is using force against Iraq every day — to protect the no-flight zones and to stop and search ships heading for Iraqi ports. Only the American threat to use force makes the inspections possible — and possibly effective.

When the French claim that force is a 'last resort,' they are denying that the little war is going on. And, indeed, France is not participating in it in any significant way. The little war is almost entirely the work of American and British forces; the opponents of the big war have not been prepared to join or support or even acknowledge the work that the little war requires."

So he offers one of his own, which confronts both Saddam Hussein and Jacques Chirac:

"First, extend the northern and southern no-flight zones to include the whole country. America has already drastically restricted Iraqi sovereignty, so this would not be anything new. There are military reasons for the extension — the range of missiles, the speed of planes, the reach of radar all make it difficult for the United States and Britain to defend the northern and the southern regions of Iraq without control of central airspace. But the main reason would be punitive: Iraq has never accepted the containment regime put in place after the gulf war, and its refusal to do that should lead to tighter and tighter containment.

Second, impose the 'smart sanctions' that the Bush administration talked about before 9/11 and insist that Iraq's trading partners commit themselves to enforcing them. Washington should announce sanctions of its own against countries that don't cooperate, and it should also punish any companies that try to sell military equipment to Iraq. Third, the United States should expand the United Nations' monitoring system in all the ways that have recently been proposed: adding inspectors, bringing in United Nations soldiers (to guard military installations after they have been inspected), sending surveillance planes without providing 48 hours' notice, and so on.

Finally, the United States should challenge the French to make good on their claim that force is indeed a last resort by mobilizing troops of their own and sending them to the gulf. Otherwise, what they are saying is that if things get very bad, they will unleash the American army. And Saddam Hussein knows that the French will never admit that things have gotten that bad. So, if they are serious, the French have to mount a credible threat of their own. Or better, they have to join the United States in every aspect of the little war."

Will this work? I doubt it. But it's the best and most concrete counterproposal to the current policy that I've seen yet. Plus, it allows Democrats to simultaneously talk tough and advocate for peace.

P.S. Go to &c for some more advice on this matter.
DREZNER GETS RESULTS FROM THE ECONOMIST!: The Economist has just reviewed Fareed Zakaria's new book, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. Their critique is eerily reminiscent of another review of Zakaria's thesis that appeared last month. Some key paragraphs from the Economist review:

"America is not Mr Zakaria's main focus: the developing world is. And it is here that his Big Idea begins to get bogged down. He argues that countries need a history of building liberty and an income per head of at least $5,000 if they are to begin sustaining liberal democracy. That gives him just nine candidates, and a strange batch they are—Romania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran. Yet many countries have managed the trick without meeting those preconditions, including Japan, Costa Rica and, despite his strictures, India. [Hey, didn't you provide the exact same list of countries?--ed. Yes, but I mentioned Botswana and the Baltic states as well.]

He writes rather as if countries face a simple choice between establishing democracy or maintaining incremental reform. In practice, new democracies have often begun because the previous regime had collapsed and there was no other way of establishing legitimacy.....

Illiberal democracies are volatile. That does not necessarily make them worse for themselves or the world in the long run. It is a matter of timing: they get the bad news out early. Reforming autocracies leave tough political problems until later, in the hope they will be more manageable. That is not necessarily an argument against rapid democratisation. Mr Zakaria's book is not an attack on democracy, but on its over-extension. He calls the problem 'too much of a good thing'. The same might be said of this book."

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Hmmm.... Influencing the zeitgeist..."
IMAGINE IF WE WERE FOCUSED: Another blow to Al Qaeda, according to Reuters:

"Two sons of Osama bin Laden were wounded and possibly arrested in an operation by U.S. and Afghan troops in Afghanistan which killed at least nine suspected al Qaeda members, a Pakistani official said on Friday.

The operation took place on Thursday in the Ribat area, where the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran meet, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, home minister of the western province of Baluchistan, told Reuters....

A U.S. official in Washington could not immediately confirm or deny the report of bin Laden's sons' capture. 'We don't have any information to substantiate that,' he said."

Remember, the conflict with Iraq is supposed to be distracting us from the war on terrorism.

ADVANTAGE: VOLOKH!!: Michael Kinsley's columns in Slate have been getting stranger with each passing week. This week's effort -- which suggests that Bush doesn't mind rising oil prices because it helps his friends -- is the most inchoate yet. I was going to blog a rebuttal, but Eugene Volokh has done a nice job of dismantling it. And also check out Joesph Grieco's insightful essay on the exact relationship between war and oil. [FULL DISCLOSURE: I know Joe pretty well, as we do research in the same area.]

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a fisking of Kinsley on his site.
THE SPORTS DESK THOUGHT HIS AUDIENCE WAS THE CUBS' PITCHING STAFF: The first paragraph of Michael Tackett's "news analysis" of Bush's press conference in today's Chicago Tribune:

"On some occasions when the subject has been Iraq, President Bush clearly has been speaking to the world. This time, as he signaled more firmly than ever a path toward war, he seemed to be speaking pointedly to the American people."

The first paragraph of today's lead editorial in the Tribune:

"At the beginning of his televised press conference Thursday night, President Bush spoke less to the American people than to the 14 other nations that sit on the United Nations Security Council. The question the council faces now, Bush said, is whether Saddam Hussein has complied with international demands that he fully disarm."
Thursday, March 06, 2003
ANOTHER SCHOLAR-BLOGGER: Amitai Etzioni, a distinguished sociologist and a godfather of communitarian thought, just started a blog. He's disgusted with anti-Americanism.

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Professor Etzioni.
PRESS CONFERENCE MUSINGS: In the immediate wake of President Bush's press conference:

1) This is not personal; it's strictly business. For all of the claims that Bush is acting like a cowboy, what struck me was how sober, how somber he sounded. It was clear that in his calculations, "the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action." There was no anger in his voice or his words, either at Iraq or our erstwhile allies. Instead, there was sadness and a heavy heart about the decision that lies ahead of him.

2) The President understands the value of protestors. I thought one of his best responses came on his reaction to the protestors. He -- quite rightly -- made the connection between the current anti-war protests and prior anti-globalization protests. The illogic of the anti-globalization movement makes Bush's implication clear: even if millions of people say that 2 + 2 = 5, it doesn't make it so.

3) Bush believes in "honest multilateralism." Consistent with what I wrote last month, Bush thinks that multilateralism is a means to an end. He's not afraid of discord -- he'd rather have any disagreement out in the open. It is this quality above all that flummoxes an Old Europe that prefers a false display of consensus to principled differences of opinion.

UPDATE: Kieran Healy has a nice roundup of the Blogosphere reaction. Shockingly, those on the left found it uninspiring while those on the right found it straightforward. Jonah Goldberg has a good point on which audience Bush was targeting.
THAT'S A LUCKY MAN: You know, I could blog nonstop, 24/7/365, and I don't know if I could top Asparagirl's thoughts about The Lysistrata Project. My favorite part:

"It's not enough for these "feminists" that sexuality, or even specifically female sexuality, be used as an oxymoronic anti-war weapon, but that it must be denial of female sexuality that is the weapon, that very special tool for keeping their social order and their status quo intact. Sex, after all, should only be given up in the appropriate manner and to the appropriate person, and woe to they who disagree...waitaminute, this is starting to sound kinda familiar...

What also galls me is that these women are claiming not only sex, but femininity itself as a uniformly passive, gentle, loving, pacifist attribute. What rubbish. I shouldn't support waging war on a mass-killing dictator because as a woman, my place is to elevate discourse and consensus and eschew 'manly', messy action? They're even implying that if I am not a peaceful, good-mannered, right-thinking woman like them, a woman for peace, then perhaps I am not really a woman at all? And these are the women who are telling me this?"

Read the whole thing. The whole f@%$ing thing. It explains the title to this post.
THE COARSENING OF DIPLOMACY: 2003 has not been a good year for diplomatic niceties. Donald Rumsfeld compares Germany to Cuba and Libya; Jacques Chirac telling Eastern Europe to shut up; Canadian MPs calling Americans "bastards"; Congressional representatives threatening a U.S. withdrawal from the WTO, or comparing Osama bin Laden to Ethan Allen. Clearly, the prospect of war is making everyone testy, causing people who should know better to shoot their mouths off. Some of these statements fall into the "Kinsley gaffe" category, while others are simply beyond-the-pale, offensive, stupid tripe.

Compared to Middle Eastern diplomacy, however, the above examples are pretty tame stuff.

A Kinsley gaffe first: At last Saturday's Arab League summit, Libyan leader Muhammar Khaddafi [Is that how you spell it?--ed. Don't start] accused Saudi Arabia of making a pact with the devil by allowing U.S. forces to be stationed in the region. Crown Prince Abdullah responded -- on live television, mind you -- with the following:

"Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and not an agent of colonialism like you and others. As for you, who brought you to power? Don't talk about matters that you fail to prove. You are a liar, while the grave is ahead of you."

Khaddafi has responded by withdrawing his ambassador from Riyadh and threatening to withdraw from the Arab League.

Now the beyond-the-pale tripe: With that effort at establishing Arab comity a failure, the countries of the region tried again at yesterday's Organization of the Islamic Conference. That meeting -- broadcast live on satellite TV -- didn't go so well either:

"After Kuwait's foreign minister used his speech to the summit to call on Saddam to step down to avert war, Iraq's Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri accused the Kuwaiti minister in his own speech of 'threatening Iraq's security at the core' by allowing U.S. troops on Kuwaiti soil.

Sheik Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, another Kuwaiti minister, interrupted al-Douri, calling the Iraqi's remarks lies.

Al-Douri responded: 'Shut up, you monkey. Curse be upon your mustache, you traitor.' 'Mustache' is a traditional Arabic term for honor.

'This is hypocrisy and falsehood,' Sheik Mohammed shot back."

Needless to say, much of the Middle Eastern press is upset at these displays of ill temper and Arab disunity [Yes, it must distract from directing their vitriol against Israel--ed. You said it, I didn't]
THE DECISION: According to Matt Drudge, last night was decision night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

"President Bush on Wednesday night was to make the ultimate call whether to strike and invade Iraq with military force, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A top White House source offered few details, but did reveal the president would make a 'defining decision' by morning....

Plans for a major speech on Iraq next week by the president were under review. Bush might give Saddam a very short time period to disarm completely, perhaps as little as 72 hours, before military action."

In related news, I just finished Richard Brookhiser's cover story in the Atlantic Monthly . It's not available on line, but it's a pretty good read -- if nothing else, it puts into perspective the role of Bush's faith in his decision-making. This summary is accurate:

"He [Brookhiser] concludes that Bush's greatest strength is the clarity of his strategic and personal vision. His greatest weakness? Imagination."
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
GOOD FOR OPRAH: Oprah Winfrey is restarting her book club -- with a twist:

"Winfrey sent a jolt of excitement through the publishing world last Wednesday when she revealed plans to resume her phenomenally successful book club after a 10-month hiatus.

This time, though, she plans to shine the spotlight on literary classics. She will try to bring to life books and authors that many people haven't attempted to read since high school or college, if ever.

For the club, tentatively titled 'Traveling with the Classics,' Winfrey said she expects to make three to five picks a year. In addition to on-air discussions of the chosen work, she will take the show to locations around the world related to the books' plots or their authors' lives."

Given that Winfrey was able to convert all 46 of her previous book-club picks into best sellers, it will be interesting to see if she has a similar effect on more "classical" works.

The reason I like this is that it's bound to lead to roiling debates about whether Oprah is destroying, simplifying, or revitalizing the "canon." The article is a bit vague on what Winfrey considers a "literary classic", although one tipoff is her observation: "I can't imagine a world where there is no Shakespeare, where there's no Tolstoy or George Eliot or Toni Morrison or Proust or Hemingway or Steinbeck."

I'm sure that the debate, plus people actually reading Winfrey's suggestions, will have an edifying effect.

Oh, and publishers love it.
A DEPRESSING DAY FOR U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: Regular readers of this blog know that I strongly support an attack on Iraq, even if the United Nations doesn't go along. However, I will admit that today, the spillovers of that policy are dragging me down. I've already discussed the significant opportunity costs of keeping Iraq on the front burner indefinitely. Today is one of those days when the costs are front and center while the benefits seem like a distant mirage. Consider:

1) Michael Tomasky on the deteriorating state of Mexican-American relations (I think he's exaggerating things, but not too much).

2) The Los Angeles Times on the Bush administration's apparent acceptance of North Korean nuclear proliferation (link via Kevin Drum, who has more to say on this).

3) Slate's Fred Kaplan, who's been extremely sympathetic to an invasion of Iraq, assessing the month of diplomacy since Powell's UN speech: "It is becoming increasingly and distressingly clear that, however justified the coming war with Iraq may be, the Bush administration is in no shape—diplomatically, politically, or intellectually—to wage it or at least to settle its aftermath. It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign-policy crisis or been so distrusted by so many friends and foes as a result."

Do I agree with everything that's said in these links? No. Do I think these pieces exaggerate? Yes. Is there something to what they're saying? Alas, I believe so.

The U.S. has to deal with the resentment that comes with being the global hegemon, China, Germany, France and Russia acting like spoiled teenage brats, and a lot of trouble spots in the globe. The Bush administration has not been dealt the best of diplomatic hands. That said, today is one of those days when I think the administration could be husbanding its hole cards a little better.

UPDATE: This Washington Post analysis captures a bit of what I'm feeling:

"The Bush administration this week has become increasingly isolated in the world over its determination to topple the Iraqi government, leaving it in a diplomatically difficult position in advance of a critical U.N. Security Council meeting Friday.

By contrast, Iraq has made great headway in splintering the Security Council, making it less likely it will approve a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing military action. Iraq over the weekend began complying with a demand to destroy missiles that exceeded U.N. restrictions, provided unrestricted access to seven scientists and promised to answer inspectors' questions on its weapons programs."

However, if you read further, it's clear that the foundation of this week's events was laid weeks and months ago:

"A number of foreign diplomats said they were taken aback -- even betrayed -- by what they perceived as the administration's rush to war. They seized on any evidence of Iraqi cooperation to argue that the inspections were working and that imminent military action was not necessary. Positions were so hardened by early last month that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's extensive presentation of Iraqi misdeeds to the Security Council failed to sway many minds."

The $64,000 question is the last paragraph of the piece:

"The administration has frequently threatened that the United Nations would become irrelevant if the United States is forced to wage war without U.N. backing. But that argument has been turned on its head. France and other nations increasingly appear to believe a rejection of the U.S. position would rein in an administration they feel has been consumed with hubris."

I strongly suspect that France has grossly miscalculated the administration's willingness to act regardless of what transpires at the Security Council this week.
THEY NEVER LEARN: A disturbing rite of passage for new Treasury secretaries is, within the first weeks of office, to make a Kinsley Gaffe -- accidentally speaking the truth when silence would suffice. I suspect this is because they simply can't comprehend the notion that a single offhand remark can move markets -- until they utter an offhand remark that moves markets.

For reasons that remain a mystery, the Bush appointees inevitably screw up on the "strong dollar" policy:

"Mr Snow's remarks that he was not concerned by the recent fall in the dollar - which he said was within normal ranges - made perfect economic sense. Unfortunately, they also betrayed a worrying lack of market savvy and an inability to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor, Paul O'Neill....

If Mr Snow is to follow the example of one of his predecessors, then Robert Rubin or Larry Summers would be much better choices than Mr O'Neill. Both realised little could be gained by expressing an opinion on the dollar's moves. If Treasury secretaries express concern at a fall in the dollar and then do nothing they lose credibility. If they appear unconcerned, they risk fuelling the move. As a result, whenever asked about the dollar Mr Rubin and Mr O'Neill simply intoned the mantra that they supported a strong currency, and left the market to draw conclusions about what this meant."

As a result of Snow's comments, the dollar is now at a 4-year low against the Euro.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, both Robert Rubin and Larry Summers did make similar gaffes when they first came to the Treasury department. However, they quickly learned on the job. Paul O'Neill did not learn on the job. Let's hope Snow is a fast learner.

[Why should the U.S. support a strong dollar? Doesn't this worsen our balance of trade?--ed. Yes, but it has compensating benefits. A strong dollar helps to keep inflation low (by keeping the price of imported goods down) and interest rates low (by attracting capital inflows). Low interest rates and low inflation contribute to robust economic growth]
DEMOCRATIZATION AND IRAQ: Can democracy flourish in Iraq? The answer depends on which expert you ask.

Historians are skeptics. They do not like analogies to the U.S. occupation of Japan, in part because they don't like historical comparisons, period.

Regional historians believe that the ethnic cleavages and long history of authoritarianism within the country makes the notion of a successful Iraqi transition to democracy absurd.

Middle Eastern experts are skeptics because the term "Arab democracy" appears to be an oxymoron.

Experts in comparative politics are skeptical because Iraq is an oil exporter, and these "rentier states" are traditionally correlated with authoritarianism (click here for a dissenting view).

In other words, lots of experts agree that the local conditions for a liberal democracy in Iraq are not good.

These people make solid arguments, but overlooks one crucial detail -- international factors are more important than domestic factors in determining the success of democratic transition and consolidation.

The international dimension matters in two ways. First, to quote one standard text on democratization:

"the most frequent context within which a transition from authoritarian rule has begun in recent decades has been military defeat in an international conflict. Moreover, the factor which most probabilistically assured a democratic outcome was occupation by a foreign power which was itself a political democracy." (my italics)

This argument has already been out there, and is usually countered by citing the myriad domestic roadblocks combined with the point that military occupation alone does not guarantee a democratic transition. Here's where the second part kicks in -- transitions to market democracy are easier when your neighbors are market democracies. One study has found this to hold for the post-communist countries (click here for more) and there is no reason to believe that the effect is limited to that region.

It would seem that Iraq would fare poorly along this dimension, but consider:

1) Turkey is a democracy and borders Iraq to the north.
2) Iran might not be liberal, but it is a democracy, and borders Iraq to the east.
3) Jordan is more democratic than most Middle Eastern governments and borders Iraq to the west
4) There is promising evidence of democratic institutions in Kurdish Iraq

So, I'm optimistic.
THE QUINTISSENTIAL BUCKPASSING ARGUMENT: I've blogged previously about the phenomenon of other states buckpassing their international responsibilities so as to free ride of the United States. However, Stuart Taylor is both more fiery and more eloquent about the topic:

"The point is to underscore how the Europeans, South Koreans and others who have become so anti-American depend on American power -- unthinkingly, ungratefully, and completely -- for their well-being. Abdicating their own responsibilities to help maintain world order, they are free riding, as my colleague Clive Crook noted last week, on the same U.S. polices that they publicly denounce. Like a spoiled teenager who expects her parents to support her even though she refuses to do any work around the house and constantly mouths off to them, these nations enjoy the benefits of U.S. global policing while refusing to share in the costs and trashing the policeman....

The tidal wave of anti-Americanism has multiple wellsprings, of course.... But underlying them all is the implicit calculation that the safest course for European nations (and others) is to obstruct American policies while free riding on American power.

It may be too much to expect the European and Arab publics, who are fed grotesque caricatures of Bush and America by their media and intelligentsia, to grasp their own interests in helping the United States defang Iraq. But wise leadership is about seeing one's national interest in the long term, and educating public opinion instead of pandering to it. The superficially clever Chirac and Schroeder are not wise leaders. They are fools. And they are helping to bring the world closer to a dark era of nuclear anarchy."

Read the whole piece.
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Y A-T-IL UN MOT FRANÇAIS POUR "WEBLOG"? JE N'AI PAS PENSÉ AINSI: Apparently the French are losing another battle. The European Union is increasingly becoming an English-speaking zone:

"The Union's public voice is increasingly anglophone. For a brief period earlier this year the spokesmen for all three major institutions in Brussels—the commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers—were British. Jonathan Faull, the commission's chief spokesman, will be replaced this month by Reijo Kemppinen, a Finn. But for French-speakers the change is a double-edged sword. The good news for them is that this high-profile job will no longer be held by a Briton; the bad news is that Mr Faull's French is rather better than Mr Kemppinen's....

A recent study by the EU's statistical arm showed that over 92% of secondary-school students in the EU's non-English-speaking countries are studying English, compared with 33% learning French and 13% studying German....

As one would imagine, this sort of English imperialism scares the French. The Economist story provides two specific reasons for French concern, one of which is completely logical and one that is absurd:

"the rise of English within EU institutions particularly alarms the French elite because for many years the Brussels bureaucracy has been a home-from-home, designed along French administrative lines, often dominated by high-powered French officials working in French. Moreover, the emergence of English as the EU's main language gives an advantage to native English-speaking Eurocrats. As Mr Dethomas notes: 'It's just much easier to excel in your own language.'

Some French officials argue that there are wider intellectual implications that threaten the whole European enterprise. In a speech at a conference in Brussels on the French language and EU enlargement, Pierre Defraigne, a senior official at the commission, argued that 'it's not so much a single language that I fear but the single way of thinking that it brings with it.' When French was Europe's dominant language in the 18th century, French ideas were the intellectual currency of Europe. Voltaire was lionised at the Prussian court; Diderot was fêted by Russia's Catherine the Great. These days, however, ambitious young Europeans need to perfect their English and so tend to polish off their education in Britain or the United States, where they are exposed to Anglo-Saxon ideas. For a country like France, with its own distinct intellectual traditions in economics, philosophy and law, such a trend is understandably galling. The commission's Mr Defraigne worries aloud whether 'it is possible to speak English without thinking American.'”

Thinking American? Mon dieu!!

P.S. For a translation of the post title, cut and paste the text into Babel Fish.
OVERSTATEMENTS ABOUT GERMANY: The debate about Iraq is starting to debilitate people's good judgment. For example, suddenly everyone is making loopy statements about German history that perhaps should be reconsidered.

On the antiwar side, Mark Kleiman finds what he believes is the "stupidest, most offensive argument" in the entire debate in this Guardian lead editorial from last Friday:

"German men won the vote as far back as 1849, albeit subject to a property qualification, at a time when Mr Bush's country practised legalised slavery. Bearing in mind that America only became a full democracy in 1965, and Germany in 1946, there is a case for saying that Germans have at least as strong a democratic tradition as Americans."

On the other hand, methinks Andrew Sullivan may be indulging in some hyperbole in his latest post on the real agendas of various international actors in the Iraq debate. Most of them make sense, but this line on Germany is over the top:

"For the Germans, it's about a new national identity. The Germans have never been able to sustain a moderate polity on their own. They veer from extreme romantic militarism to romantic pacifism. Their current abdication of all strategic responsibility for Europe or the wider world is just another all-too-familiar spasm from German history."

Bloggers, commentators, protestors, I beg you... no more abuses of German history!
Monday, March 03, 2003
WHY I LOVE STUDYING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: One of my favorite parts of teaching IR is when I tell students anecdotes about international crises that they didn't know.

Like how during the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. warplanes came close to firing air-to-air, nuclear-armed missiles over the Soviet Far East.

Like how President Reagan actually did send a signed Bible and birthday cake to Iranian leaders in an effort to win the release of American hostages in Lebanon.

Like how Kim Jong Il has offered political asylum to Saddam Hussein

You just can't make this stuff up.
WHY THIS SHOULD BE YOUR #1 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS BLOG: Does OxBlog, Stephen Den Beste*, or Tim Blair have the latest on Anna Kournikova and her secret marriage? According to Reuters:

"Detroit Red Wings forward Sergei Fedorov has admitted that he and tennis player Anna Kournikova were married but are now divorced and no longer talk.

The 33-year-old, rated as one of the top players in the NHL, confirmed his relationship with 21-year-old Kournikova in the Hockey News, which went on sale on Monday.

'They are true,' said Fedorov, when asked about rumors concerning their wedding. 'We were married, albeit briefly, and we are now divorced.'"

Here's the original Hockey News article. I'm quite confident that these other -- alleged -- foreign affairs blogs have also failed to observe that Kournikova's official web site has nothing to say about this -- her latest diary entry is about her trip to Memphis.

I pledge to continue providing the most thorough coverage of this ongoing story... at least until the African members of the Security Council start their rose ceremony regarding the Iraq resolution.

Daniel Drezner -- your source for all aspects of international relations! [Won't this pathetically desperate ploy to attract more hits fail when it's revealed that you think Salma Hayek is much more interesting than Kournikova?--ed. No, I think that would only happen once it's revealed that I think Ashley Judd is a better conversationalist than Kournikova]

*Even if Den Beste did have this news, wouldn't it take you more than an hour to read through his post on it?

UPDATE: For those readers who would find Colin Farrell more interesting than any of the aforementioned ladies , click over to Farrellblogger for a pretty amusing anecdote involving a BMW, a pub, and some tight shorts.
IS THE FINANCIAL TIMES RECYCLING ITS STORIES?: According to the FT, the liberalization of European Union economies is failing:

"European diplomats are warning that the European Union's liberalisation programme, intended to make Europe the world's most competitive economy by 2010, has run out of steam.

An EU summit this month, scheduled to review and inject new impetus into the liberalisation process, is instead set to be dominated by the crisis over Iraq and the problems of the EU's stability and growth pact....

But diplomats from other countries caution that progress at the summit is likely to be merely symbolic. 'The problem is Germany and France and it is clear that Schröder and Chirac are not willing to take the necessary measures,' said one EU diplomat. 'There are also worries about the watering down of the stability pact.'"

I fear this story will be recycled endlessly as long as Schröder and Chirac remain in power -- although, given the way the EU operates, it might just be endemic to the institution.


COULD BE WORSE -- COULD BE AN "INSIGNIFICANT MICROBE": According to N.Z. Bear's Blogosphere ecosystem, I'm a "crawly amphibian," in contrast to the "higher beings" of Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, or Stephen Green.

Sorry, I'm flashing back to high school again. I'll be able to post again in a few hours, I'm sure.
HOW TO DEMORALIZE AL QAEDA: Today's picture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after his capture by U.S. and Pakistani agents is precisely how to puncture the allure of Al Qaeda in the Arab community. This guy looks like a pathetic slob. That's the lasting image you want of Al Qaeda.

In general, embarrassment is a much more effective method than decapitation to destroying terrorist networks. The key to destroying such groups is to eliminate recruitment by spreading the perception that the group is ineffective. Capturing terrorist leaders and publishing photos that make them look like death warmed over is the most effective way to do this.

Empirical example: the most successful anti-terror campaign against a network of suicide terrorists was Turkey's successful battle against the Kurdish People's Party, or PKK. A turning point in this battle was Turkey's capture and trial of Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK leader. Öcalan's behavior after his capture helped knock the wind out of the PKK's sails, as this analyst notes:

"During his 1999 trial, PKK leader Öcalan apologized to the Turkish people for the PKK's 'historic mistake' of waging a war against the state, debriefed Turkish intelligence on the organization's activities, sold out every demand the PKK had ever made, and urged his followers to lay down their arms. To most observers, it was obvious that Öcalan was simply trying to save his own life."

I'd spring for the pay-per-view fee if the U.S. can get Mohammed to behave the same way.

UPDATE: Click here for one of my esteemed colleagues' takes on the strategic logic of suicide terrorism and how to fight it.
MY GEEKIEST POST YET: Two quick thoughts after scanning InstaPundit this morning:

1) A remake of Battlestar Galactica? Yes!! An underrated sci fi series, in no small part because it actually took the concept of logistics seriously [Oh, yes, because logistics always sells--ed. Look, I said this was going to be a geeky post].

Casting the new Starbuck as a woman? Hmmm... risky but intriguing. The original Starbuck character was your classic scoundrel-with-a-heart-of-gold. Apollo, on the other hand, was the ultimate goody-goody. If -- a big if -- they let the female Starbuck be just as scoundrel-like, it would be a great twist. If they turn the female Starbuck into another Apollo, I won't be watching.

2) Note to self -- by 2004, get wife to wear baby-doll t-shirt with blogname on it. Almost as good as tenure.

UPDATE: Contrary to what David Adesnik fears, I have no intention of posting any pictures of my wife on the blog. Although David is correct in postulating that she "is so stunningly beautiful that we will be forced to ogle her for days on end." David, I would never stoop to posting about attractive women in order to attract attention.
Sunday, March 02, 2003
MEMO TO LIBERAL HAWKS: Dear Kevin Drum, Kieran Healy, and Matthew Yglesias:

As self-proclaimed "liberal hawks," I see you're debating whether to hope against hope that a war with Iraq will be called off due to a lack of multilateral support (even though you all support multilateral action against Iraq), leading to Bush's political downfall in 2004. You object to the absence of strong multilateral support, due to "the more-or-less inept manner in which the Bush administration has handled the build-up for war," combined with evidence that the Bush administration's plan of democracy promotion looks haphazard at best and phony at worst. Kevin Drum sums it up:

"So if I thought that opposing the war had a chance of hurting Bush's re-election, it would probably be all the nudge I'd need to actually switch sides and oppose it. I've never thought that Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat, so postponing war for a while would have little downside, while getting rid of Bush would have a big upside."

OK, as someone who's to the right of y'all, let me try to provide you with one substantive point and one cynical point while you continue your debate:

The substantive point is that when push came to shove, internationalist Republicans did support President Clinton when he used force in both Bosnia and Kosovo. In the case of Bosnia, Bob Dole supported Clinton even though it was not in his political interests to do so. They supported the President because, corny as it sounds, it was the right thing to do [C'mon, not every Republican acted this responsibly--ed. No, but most of the ones the media took seriously on foreign policy matters -- Dole, McCain, Lugar -- did act responsibly]

These "conservative hawks" supported the administration even though they also -- justifiably -- disagreed about process and planning matters. If you read Richard Holbrooke, David Halberstam, or Samantha Power, it's clear that the Clinton foreign policy team took far too long to act in Bosnia. When they did act, it was in a largely ad hoc manner to avoid the shame of deploying U.S. forces to cover a withdrawal of French and British peacekeepers. In the case of Kosovo, there was such a lack of consensus about the means that Clinton decided on his pledge not to use ground troops a few hours before his televised speech in response to an offhand comment from an ex-NSC staffer. Altruism and democracy promotion were not high up on the priority list.

I dredge all of this up not to argue that the Bush team is better than the Clinton team, but rather to point out that crafting foreign policy is like making a sausage -- you really don't want to know exactly how they do it, but the end result is usually pretty tasty. The interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo were not the result of carefully crafted decisions in line with an overarching philosophy of foreign relations -- they were messy and clumsy and, in the end, did much more good than harm.

Whatever you think of Bush's intentions or his decision-making process, Tom Friedman is correct: “Anyone who thinks President Bush is doing this for political reasons is nuts. You could do this only if you really believed in it.” Even if you don't like the process by which the U.S. currently finds itself, the cause is just and the outcome in Iraq ikely to be a dramatic improvement over the status quo.

The cynical point is simple: politically, the best outcome for Democrats is for the war to take place sooner rather than later. The "no war" outcome is a nonstarter, for all of the domestic political reasons Matthew outlines. However, the longer a war is delayed, the more it benefits Republicans, for two reasons:

1) The rally-round-the-flag effect will be stronger. A successful war now will fade from memory quicker than one taking place in the fall or next spring. We're approaching the exact point in the electoral cycle when Bush 41 was riding his after the Gulf War victory. Eighteen months is a liftetime in politics. Twelve months or shorter, and Bush will be better poised to use the war to bolster his electoral chances.

2) The economic rebound will be stronger. It's clear that what's depressing business investment and consumer confidence is the uncertainty over the Iraq situation. If an attack occurs now, the economy will probably experience a short-term rebound from the reduction of uncertainty. Over the longer term, macroeconomic fundamentals like the size of the budget deficit and interest rates will kick in. Now, if you're a Democrat, you have to believe that in the long term, the "bizarrely destructive " domestic policies of the Bush administration will trigger a downturn. So, if you're a Dem, when do you want the short-term uptick in the economy to take place -- 2003 or 2004?

Have fun with your debate!

UPDATE: Kevin Drum e-mails to say I missed his biggest beef:

"my biggest issue is less competence than vision: does Bush genuinely believe in using this as a springboard to promote democracy in the Mideast? If I thought he did, I'd bury my personal discomfort with him and stay on board. But more and more it really doesn't look like he cares much about that."

I think Bush's speech last week is pretty convincing evidence that he does care about democracy in the Middle East. However, this NYT Sunday Magazine story suggests the possibility that the neocon position won't necessarily win out. In any event, my main point is that even if Iraq turns out to be like Bosnia is now, that's still a dramatic improvement over the status quo, which is just wretched.

Also, be sure to read Kevin's entire post on this. My quote makes him sound more cynical than he actually is.

More on the liberal hawk debate from Dmitriy Guberman.
A COMEDY OF ERRORS ON A SHIP OF FOOLS: An apology is in order. In a previous post, I labeled as "fatuous and cynical" those individuals going to Iraq to be human shields. After reading Tim Blair's post and his collection of links regarding the latest developments, I'm afraid I must take back the words "fatuous and cynical" and replace them with "stupid and naive."

This Daily Telegraph article about the departure of eleven British human shields is just hysterical. The best parts:

"During one cold, rainy night in Milan, we were left without our sleeping bags after an Italian went AWOL with the support bus. Later, a £500 donation from a well-wisher in Istanbul was squandered on boxes of Prozac in a misguided attempt to cheer up the war-weary Iraqi civilians....

After a propaganda lecture from Dr Hashimi, one young American told me: 'It's so interesting to hear what is really going on in this country.' He scoffed at any suggestion that their good intentions might be misused by Saddam's regime: 'All we have seen here is continuous kindness and hospitality.'

Bruce, a 24-year-old Canadian wearing a T-shirt saying 'I don't want to die', was one of a group of tanned young men who were drafted into protect a grain store. Initially, he, like others, had concerns about the sites, which included an oil refinery, a water purification plant and electricity stations. He was won over when the Iraqis provided televisions, VCRs, telephones and a Play Station.

'Dr Hashimi has explained that we help the population more by staying in the "strategic sites",' he explained. His friend added: 'We play football in the afternoons and the Iraqis bring us cartons of cigarettes. It's just like summer camp.'"

Read the whole piece -- it's quite droll.

Kudos as well to Sweden's anti-war movement, which, according to the AP, has the good sense to repudiate the human shields:

"On Friday, the head of Sweden's largest peace organization urged human shields to leave Iraq, saying they were being used for propaganda purposes by Saddam Hussein.

Maria Ermanno, chairwoman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, cited reports that Iraqi officials were arranging transportation, accommodations and news conferences for the human shields.

'To go down to Iraq and live and act there on the regime's expense, then you're supporting a terrible dictator. I think that method is entirely wrong,' Ermanno told Swedish Radio."
Saturday, March 01, 2003
THE KIESLING LETTER: When a high-ranking Foreign Service officer publicly resigns because of a policy disagreement, it makes one take notice. There may be private-sector opportunities for those who leave government service, but don't kid yourself -- almost no one outside the government can shape policy as much as those in the executive branch. To leave that for reasons of principle is significant -- as the International Herald-Tribune notes, "It is rare... for a diplomat, immersed in the State Department's culture of public support for policy regardless of private feelings, to resign with this kind of public blast."

So I took the resignation of John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Athens and a 20-year veteran of the Foreign Service quite seriously. Until I read the resignation letter. Here's the key paragraph:

"The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?"

I hope he's right about Al Qaeda's strength (this should help), but the bombings in Bali, Kenya, and Tunisia suggest that this group remains a potent force and that Kiesling is exaggerating.

Which is the problem with the whole missive. There is some measure of truth in what Kiesling writes, but there is so much gross exaggeration and simplification that it makes it hard to take seriously.

Kiesling started his career at the Foreign Service in 1983 -- a year in which Ronald Reagan was receiving mass condemnation abroaf for branding the Soviet Union an "evil empire." The U.S. was applying extraterritorial sanctions against its NATO allies because of their cooperation with the Soviet gas pipeline. Hundreds of thousands of protestors were pressuring Western European governments not to install Pershing II missiles as a counter to Soviet intermediate-range missiles, instead pushing for a nuclear freeze. A much larger budget deficit (as a share of GDP) was ballooning, in part because of an increase in military spending that makes today's increases look like chump change.

Maybe he wrote this in a distraught state of mind, but in the end the letter reads like a 16-year old protesting his curfew to his parents.
Friday, February 28, 2003
WHY CAN'T DICTATORS ASPIRE TO BE LIKE MUSSOLINI?: A fascinating FT op-ed on what Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein have in common:

"On the 50th anniversary of his death, the two paramount threats to world peace today, Saddam Hussein and President Kim Il-Jong of North Korea, openly base themselves and their regimes on Stalin. When Kim Il-Jong recently visited Moscow on a surreal train journey, he proudly informed Vladimir Putin he was travelling in the armoured train given to his father as a present by Stalin. As analysts of the regime agree, this merely illustrates the extraordinary, reverential detail with which Kim and his founding father Kim Il-Sung have maintained a complete Stalinist state into the 21st century: the Korean Workers Party is a replica of the Bolsheviks. In both North Korea and Iraq, the absolute political control of a tiny oligarchy, the propaganda state, economic centralisation, the interlocking labyrinth of security forces, and the preposterous cult of personality are self-consciously Stalinist....

Stalin, like Saddam, survived in power because he so terrorised his people that however great his blunders, there was no opposition left alive. But whatever his origins, Stalin turned himself by will and dynamic intelligence into a gradualist, patient, often restrained statesman, as well as a well-read history-buff who could debate the virtues of Marlborough and Wellington with Churchill. However well he plays western democracies, Saddam rules a divided and diminished realm which he may soon lose due to his own blunders....

the parallels are useful: the queasy cocktail of leftists and useful idiots who protest against war with Iraq truly resemble the muddleheads who supported Stalin's awful experiment. Kim is a Stalin heir with nuclear weapons, a living argument for stopping the Stalin of Mesopotamia before he acquires his."

Read the whole piece.
DESCRIBING MY POLITICAL BELIEFS: When asked about my political beliefs, I usually respond by calling myself a "pragmatic libertarian." But what exactly does that mean?

I can't provide an answer to that question. I can, however, provide Brink Lindsey's definition of pragmatic libertarianism, which I like a great deal.
JUST WAR AND IRAQ: I said below that I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer on why a quick war with Iraq would not be more just than the status quo of immiserating sanctions.

Now Glenn Reynolds links to a Michael Walzer essay on a war with Iraq that provides one response. The key grafs:

"Defending the embargo, the American overflights, and the UN inspections: this is the right way to oppose, and to avoid, a war. But it invites the counter-argument that a short war, which made it possible to end the embargo, and the weekly bombings, and the inspection regime, would be morally and politically preferable to this "avoidance." A short war, a new regime, a demilitarized Iraq, food and medicine pouring into Iraqi ports: wouldn't that be better than a permanent system of coercion and control? Well, maybe. But who can guarantee that the war would be short and that the consequences in the region and elsewhere will be limited?"

That's a fair point, but it's worth asking whether the consequences of the "permanent system of coercion and control" -- which includes the embargo, no-fly zones, and the stationing of large numbers of troops on Saudi soil -- are more limited. One can argue that containment has substantially contributed to instability in Saudi Arabia and the growth of Al Qaeda.

That said, Walzer's point about the uncertainties of conflict are worth contemplating. So is the rest of his essay. He is intellectually honest enough to admit the following:

"Today, the UN inspection regime is in place in Iraq only because of what many American liberals and leftists, and many Europeans too, called a reckless US threat to go to war. Without that threat, however, UN negotiators would still be dithering with Iraqi negotiators, working on, but never finally agreeing on, the details of an inspection system; the inspectors would not even have packed their bags (and most of the leaders of Europe would be pretending that this was a good thing). Some of us are embarrassed to realize that the threat we opposed is the chief reason for the existence of a strong inspection system, and the existence of a strong inspection system is today the best argument against going to war.

It would have been much better if the US threat had not been necessary —if the threat had come, say, from France and Russia, Iraq's chief trading partners, whose unwillingness to confront Saddam and give some muscle to the UN project was an important cause of the collapse of inspections in the 1990s. This is what internationalism requires: that other states, besides the US, take responsibility for the global rule of law and that they be prepared to act, politically and militarily, with that end in view."

SHAME, SHAME: As Michael Green and Jacob Levy have already pointed out, "No War in Iraq, the University of Chicago group devoted to actively opposing the war in Iraq," which receives funding from multiple university accounts, has published a brief collection of opinion pieces from professors regarding the merits of a war with Iraq.

According to the group
:

"No War in Iraq... has chosen to put together this journal of essays because we recognize the grays in the world, and because we still oppose a war in Iraq.... We wanted to put together a journal with opinions both supporting and opposing a war in Iraq.

We wanted readers to get both sides, to see the complexity and come to an educated decision, as we had. When we started soliciting essays, we realized that this task would be more difficult than we had originally thought. While it was fairly easy to find faculty who opposed the war, finding faculty who supported it was a much more difficult task. We followed every lead we had and in most cases learned that the faculty we were told probably supported a war really were not sure where they stood (This is with the exception of Richard Posner of the Law School, whoes (sic) contribution and willingness to participate despite the lack of other pro-war essays we greatly appreciate). While we were trying to convey the honest disagreement within the academic community at the University, we found it difficult to find many professors who supported a war in Iraq. Our impression was that there may not be so much disagreement after all, and that there is general skepticism surrounding the Bush administration's policies on Iraq." (my bold italics)

If this is their story, then these individuals have displayed neither the research skills nor the intellectual curiosity to merit being University of Chicago students. Go to Jacob Levy's post to see particular individuals on campus that believe an attack on Iraq would be justified. They most certainly did not follow every lead.

If this group was serious in its endeavor to present a balanced debate, all that was needed was a mass e-mail to solicit faculty positions on the war. At a minimum, such an e-mail should have been sent to faculty affiliated with the Political Science department, Middle Eastern Studies, International Studies, Public Policy, and/or Philosophy. No email was sent.

The only conceivable defense I can think of for their error was a belief that the contributors had to come from different departments in the university and didn't want too many political science professors. However, the fact that they were able to squeeze in two English professors suggests that perhaps I'm being too generous.

Let me make it clear that if No War in Iraq had only wanted to publish a collection of antiwar pieces, that would have been perfectly appropriate, given the group's raison d'etre. What offends me is their initial claim that they wanted to publish a collection of diverse opinions and then their subsequent claim that they were unable to find any diversity of thought on campus. At the University of Chicago, if you can't find diversity of thought among the faculty, you're not looking hard enough.

It gives me no pleasure to write about this. I don't like publicly criticizing undergraduates on campus. Being at college is all about going on an intellectual journey, one that usually has its share of embarrassing stops along the way.

However, I find the incident I've just related so contrary to this university's principles of open debate that it's worth blogging about it.


Thursday, February 27, 2003
A LEADING INDICATOR FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION: Mickey Kaus, &c, and The Note are all a flutter about Bob Shrum's decision to join the John Kerry campaign as an indicator of Kerry's chances to become the Democratic nominee.

However, over the next year (and before the actual primaries), there's a better harbinger for who will be the eventual nominee -- which candidate picks up the elite foreign policy advisors?

Why these people? Because foreign policy analysts might care about a candidate's philosophy of governance, but they care about being Secretary of State more. Therefore, unless their foreign policy views are sharply in contrast with the candidate's ideology (no pro-war analysts would work for Howard Dean, for example), these people will pick the candidate most likely to win -- and therefore most likely to appoint them to choice cabinet, subcabinet, and White House positions.

[But wouldn't these people just wait until the primary season is over?--ed. Not necessarily. There are clear first-mover advantages to latching onto candidates. In 2000, remember, George W. Bush assembled an impressive list of Republican foreign policy experts -- the "Vulcans" before the first primary or caucus. But why wouldn't domestic policy advisors operate under the same guidelines?--ed. The ideological constraints are more powerful for domestic issues. Since domestic policy is the bread and butter of presidential campaigns, candidates usually take great pains to articulate their policy proposals in a way that acts like a brand for their ideological stripe. This branding narrows the range of domestic advisors who can plausibly join a particular campaign. Because foreign policy is usually reactive rather than proactive, plain-old experience is more valued for its own sake in international relations].

Who are the elite advisors? As a public service, this blog provides the following list. I divide it into two categories -- those with sufficient gravitas to become Secretary of State, and those with enough know-how to qualify as National Security Advisor. The latter group will likely commit to a candidate first, because they have more rungs up the achievement ladder:

Secretary of State-level advisors (A depressingly short list -- readers, feel free to e-mail those I may be forgetting):
Sandy Berger
Richard Holbrooke
George Mitchell
Lawrence Summers
Strobe Talbott

National Security Advisor-level advisors: (A larger and more impressive list -- but then again, I actually know most of these guys):
Ivo Daalder
Leon Fuerth
Bruce Jentleson
Charles Kupchan
Kenneth Pollack
James Steinberg
Stephen Walt

(Interesting side note: It was difficult to locate anything like an personal web page for the first category of people. It was easy to complete the same task for the second group. That says something, but I'm not sure what.)

To my knowledge (which is appallingly slim in inside-the-beltway stuff) none of these people have publicly committed for any candidate. Yet.

Developing....

UPDATE: I've amended this post to respond to Kevin Drum's excellent question.
WHEN WAR IS THE HUMANITARIAN OPTION: Mark Kleiman raises a very uncomfortable question for anti-war advocates:

"If the alternative to war is continued sanctions, and if sanctions (and the Iraqi government's response to them) are killing about 90,000 Iraqi children per year -- which would come to roughly 1 million in the twelve years since their adoption -- in what sense is war a more violent option than continued sanctions?"

I raised this question back in September and have yet to hear it answered to my satisfaction. Here's another link arguing that force can be more just than sanctions.

P.S. In fairness, I should point out that Kleiman's figure of 90,000 deaths per annum is a gross exaggeration -- the UNICEF study relied on Iraqi government information that was never released to other researchers and fails to distinguish between deaths attributable to sanctions and those attributable to the Gulf War. The best study I've seen on the topic puts the estimate at around 25,000 deaths per annum.
THE ART OF APOLOGIES: A Canadian MP has apologized for calling Americans "bastards.":

"A Liberal MP has apologized for saying about Americans: "I hate those bastards."

MP Carolyn Parrish was speaking to reporters about Canada's diplomatic initiative on Iraq. At the end of her comments, after most of the cameras were turned off, Parrish said, 'Damn Americans … I hate those bastards.'

CBC reporter Susan Lunn, who heard Parrish make the comment, said the MP then laughed as she was walking away....

'My comments do not reflect my personal opinion of the American people and they certainly do not reflect the views of the government of Canada,' she said in her written statement.

Late last year, the prime minister's communications director, Françoise Ducros, resigned after calling U.S. President George W. Bush 'a moron' during a conversation with a reporter in Prague."

Parrish's statement is probably false -- the "bastards" comment was -- obviously -- her personal opinion. Maybe she changed her mind later, but she can't claim aliens made her say it. As one American e-mailed the CBC in reaction to the story: "If she hates us, I'd rather her say it and at least have the guts to stick to it... I'd rather be aware of honest hate rather than the smarmy lies of a pretended friend."

This kind of story makes me flash back to 1985, when Reagan was heard muttering "sons of bitches" into a microphone as the press was leaving a Cabinet meeting. Reagan never apologized -- his press spokesman said, with a straight face, that what Reagan had really uttered was "It's sunny and you're rich." In handling it that way, Reagan was able to back away from what he said. He used an obvious lie to avoid telling a more insidious lie.
COULD BE WORSE... COULD BE "BLUNT AND UPTIGHT": The New Republic Online has given a name to the contributions from Jacob T. Levy and myself -- "Chicago School." Their extraordinarily erudite editor goes on to note:

"Levy and Drezner are members of a small but growing clique of 'scholar bloggers'--scholars who share their insights with wider audiences on their respective web logs. They will be bringing a similiar brand of sharp but informal commentary on politics and foreign policy to TNR readers."

Jacob's latest effort is now available -- and should give some pause to those praising the Bush administration's commitment to Iraqi democracy.
ASSESSING AFGHANISTAN: President Bush's declaration that the U.S. will build a free and stable Iraq is causing both supporters and critics to take another look at Afghanistan to see how things are there. Evidence of increasing stability and democracy supports the assertion that Iraq can be remade -- evidence of lawlessness and authoritarianism would suggest more humility.

So what's the situation? Depends on who you ask. Hamid Karzai thinks the Afghan situation is continually improving -- of course, he has a strong political incentive to advocate that line of thinking . That same Chicago Tribune story shows that Democratic Senators believe the situation is deteriorating -- of course, they have strong political incentives to advocate that line of thinking.

Journalistic accounts are also split. This Washington Post story, hyped by Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, and Josh Chafetz, offers some comfort about the improving situation:

"In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold....

According to Commerce Minister Seyyed Mustafa Kazemi, the number of foreign firms setting up shop in Afghanistan is growing fast.

He said that in the past six months, his ministry has approved 2,600 business licenses, compared with 2,045 in the 45 years before. Many were given to foreign firms, he said, or those headed by Afghans living abroad who want to return to their homeland. These licensed businesses are the large ones that will pay all taxes and other government fees; most Afghan businesses still open without registration and beyond the reach of central government tax collectors."

However, that report only deals with the situation in Kabul. This Knight-Ridder story suggests much more pessimism about the situation outside the capital:

"More than a year after U.S. forces toppled the Taliban government that sheltered Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan is a fractured country torn by ethnic strife and divided regional loyalties. Its roads are impassable and unsafe, plagued by bandits. Opium production is surging. Regional armies owe no allegiance to the national government, and neither do political leaders who run their provinces like little countries....

'The central government is very weak and can't unite the country because it can't obtain the financial support from the international community,' said Abdul Razak, director of commerce in the southern city of Kandahar."

The truth probably lies somewhere in between, though I always trust the report coming from the sticks more than the report coming from the capital. Two final thoughts on this, however.

First, comparing Afghanistan to Iraq is as unfair as comparing it to post-W.W.II Japan. Afghanistan is the toughest test imaginable for post-war reconstruction. The fact that any demonstrable progress has taken place in a society with no sizeable middle class, economic infrastructure, or stable governance for the last 25 years is worth celebrating. Iraqis are not nearly so impoverished, uneducated, or factionalized as Afghans.

Second, for all of the criticism being levied at the U.S. for not doing enough to rebuild the country, it's pretty clear that the U.S. is doing more than others. This Iranian news story paints a slightly discouraging picture of Afghanistan, but not so bad as the Knight-Ridder story. The key line:

"'The US has been true to its pledge much more than the rest of the global community in providing financial assistance to Afghanistan,' said [Tehran representative of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan Qolam-Hussein] Nasseri.

'Of course, Afghanistan has technical problems in receiving the aid, since these grants are usually distributed by the NGOs. It has been over a year since the Taliban regime collapsed but colossal problems persist in Afghanistan.'"

Considering the source being quoted, and the organization doing the quoting, it's tough to argue that the U.S. has fallen down on the job in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: This Washington Post op-ed definitely comes down on the negative side. Of course, I have no idea where they get their info.
A VERY SAD DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Fred Rogers is dead of cancer at 74.

As a small child, I still remember watching -- in order -- Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and then Electric Company. Now, I'll admit that my favorite was Electric Company -- it had Spiderman and Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader -- but my afternoon was incomplete if I didn't see Mr. Rogers take off his jacket and tie and put on his cardigan.

Rest in peace, good sir. Millions of middle-aged Americans will never be able to forget you.

UPDATE: Virginia Hefferman's obit captures what I think about Mr. Rogers.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
FRENCH CONSISTENCY ON MULTILATERALISM: The French Prime Minister made it clear today that if the U.S. decides to go ahead with an attack on Iraq without a 20th UN Security Council resolution regarding Iraq, "would divide the international community" and "be perceived as precipitous and illegitimate." Clearly, the French have a strong belief in multilateralism.

Unless, of course, such multilateral cooperation would actually require them to make material sacrifices for the greater good. In that circumstance, the French appear to be rank unilateralists:

"France launched the most serious challenge yet to the European Union's economic rules yesterday, by vowing not to take austerity measures to plug its growing budget deficit....

Paris's response to its likely breach of the stability and growth pact - the stringent economic rules underpinning the euro - will test the credibility of EU economic policy.

A defiant stance by France, which has recently clashed with other EU members on issues such as Iraq and Zimbabwe, would make it easier for other countries to disregard the pact."

I'm shocked, shocked at this sort of behavior.... not.

UPDATE: Oh, yes, they're also threatening to break up the current round of WTO negotiations.
THOSE FATUOUS AND CYNICAL HUMAN SHIELDS: Tapped has admirably and appropriately scolded the antiwar protestors now heading to Iraq as "human shields," with the idea of thwarting U.S. bombing raids: "If you're opposed to war at any cost, risking your life to protest it has a certain nobility and purity to it. But by our lights, a line is crossed when citizens go from engaging in the political process to prevent a decision to go to war to actively impeding prosecution of the war once that decision has been made."

The situation is even worse than Tapped (or Salon) suggests. According to this Chicago Tribune story, the human shields aren't risking their lives.

Here's the key section of the article:

"'We are here for the people, not the government,' said Katarina Soederholm of Norway. She said she objects to the group being used for 'propaganda.'

The Iraqi government has given the volunteers unprecedented freedom to organize their protests, which have included a blood drive and several marches. The government pays for their hotels and provides other services such as phone lines and Internet access.

Soederholm was not part of the group going to the power plant.

'Too risky' was her assessment. 'I will go to a hospital,' she said, 'I don't want to be someplace where my life will really be in danger.'

Despite being called 'human shields,' many activists aren't prepared to die.

'I am not saying I will see this thing through to the bitter end,' said [Godfrey] Meynell, the leader of the group at the power plant. Most plan to leave before any attack starts."

If these protestors don't intend to be human shields when the war actually starts, why are they going to Iraq? What possible purpose could this activity serve other than to boost the Iraqi regime? How can these people be called anything but fools or traitors? [You do know that many of these people aren't Americans--ed. How about traitors to Western civilization? That works!--ed.]

The hypocrisy of these protestors' actions is so rank that they can do nothing to further their alleged cause of peace. There are unsavory members of both sides of this debate, but these people are lower than either Noam Chomsky or ANSWER on the food chain of stupid ideas.

[I thought you weren't going to write about the protestors again--ed. These people are far, far more insidious than run-of-the-mill protestors.]

UPDATE: I take back what I said about Chomsky -- click here for why.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Lawrence, Virginia Postrel, and Tim Blair have some further thoughts on these nitwits.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
WHO'S RUNNING THE FOREIGN POLICY STORE?: John Judis has an interesting but incomplete analysis of the different administration foreign policy factions. He divides up the administration into hard-core unilateralists (Rumsfeld, Cheney), half-realist/half-institutionalists (Powell, Tenet), and neocons (Wolfowitz). It does a nice job of highlighting the divisions within the administration.

It's incomplete in that I have no idea on what basis Judis is making these assertions -- he provides no actual evidence, says it's "based on interviews with administration officials, press reports and, where necessary, speculation." That doesn't fill me with confidence. It's also incomplete in failing to locate all of the key players (where's Condi Rice?)

Most important, Judis is too willing to lump Bush with Rumsfeld and Cheney as hard-core unilateralists. As I've argued elsewhere, Bush is a multilateralist, but a results-oriented one.

However, the difficulty of locating Bush raises an interesting and somewhat troubling management question -- why hasn't President Bush done a better job of privately managing these publicly feuding factions? (NOTE: As Brad DeLong makes clear, this applies to the administration's economic policy as well). It's clear that this president likes an open and honest debate about foreign policy matters. However, there's a difference between a private debate and a public one.

This administration has been far too public in its disagreements. The result is that anti-American elites in the rest of the world can seize on public comments made by some factions in the administration and trumpet them as official U.S. policy even when they may be a minority view. In contrast, the first Bush administration clearly has policy splits, but they were never made piblic until Bob Woodward wrote about them.

In the end, only the president has the authority to rein in such public divisions. Given the stakes involved in the current debate over Iraq, this should happen soon.
Monday, February 24, 2003
SPRING TRAINING FOR DEMOCRATIC FOREIGN POLICY ADVISORS: Josh Marshall and Heather Hurlburt have pointed out the gravitas gap in foreign policy expertise among Democrats. This matters because foreign policy will be a critical factor in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Now, thanks to Foreign Policy, we have a chance to rate the main candidates (Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman) foreign policy platforms. How do they stack up so far? Here are my provisional grades, which are based on originality, coherence, and the ability to target Bush's vulnerabilities:

JOHN EDWARDS: I've liked Edwards' previous speeches on foreign policy, so I had high expectations. They weren't met, but there's some interesting stuff here.

He starts off well, explaining the need for a "comprehensive strategy for domestic security." This point manages to underscore his policy emphasis and attack Bush. However, he then goes on to note: "the administration stubbornly clings to permanent tax cuts that will benefit mainly the top 1 percent of Americans while arguing that the government can’t afford vital measures to protect the American people." Note to Edwards staff: I understand what you're going for here, but try to avoid having your candidate sound like Al Gore.

The rest of the essay is too generic. It's not that there's anything wrong with what's being said, it's just lacking in specifics [Be fair, Edwards has given two major foreign policy speeches, and they do have more specifics--ed. Fair point]. I liked the line, "We’ve proved that we have firepower. Now we must show the world that we have staying power." But there's nothing about how exactly an Edwards administration would do this.

The essay does end well: "Getting serious about political reform and human rights in the Middle East will require specific strategies in specific countries, but it will also depend on achieving energy security. Presidents of both parties have tolerated and even supported authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, in part because the United States depends on them for oil. A real commitment to energy independence—which the Bush administration clearly lacks—would not only strengthen the U.S. economy but free the United States to promote American values." The linking of these two issues is both smart politics and smart policy. Overall, Edwards did the best job of linking foreign policy to domestic policy issues, which one would expect of a good Democrat.

Overall grade: B A good start, but room for improvement.

RICHARD GEPHARDT: There's a passage in Primary Colors about the difference between legislators as compared to politicians in the executive branch: "Legislators were a different, somewhat less interesting species." The point was that legislators may be steeped in policy minutae, but leaders have the capacity and the curiosity to innovate.

Gephardt's problem is that he is the quintissential legislator.

This shows up in his essay, which manages to be both bland and wrong, a unique combination. There's an interesting undercurrent about using private sector and civil society forces as a way of generating goodwill abroad, but it's not developed at all. However, he does say, "I am determined to further this tradition of committed leadership and have pursued such a course in international affairs throughout my career."

BWAH HAH HAH HAH !!! Oh, wait, he's trying to be serious. Sorry, I was just flashing back to his 1988 presidential campaign, you know, the one that stressed trade protectionism for one and all.

Beyond that, Gephardt's essay seems blissfully unaware or current events. He attacks the administration for not being pro-Israel enough (?!!). Then he blasts Bush for not doing enough to fight AIDS in Africa. He must have submitted this in early January. Whoops.

Overall grade: F Not ready for prime time.

JOHN KERRY: A pleasant surprise. He starts off by blasting Democrats who believe that foreign policy matters won't be pivotal in the next campaign:

"Democrats must resist a new orthodoxy within our party—a politically stagnating shift that does a disservice to more than 75 years of history. That is the new conventional wisdom of consultants, pollsters, and strategists who argue that Democrats should be the party of domestic issues alone.

They are wrong. As a party, Democrats need to talk about all the things that strengthen and protect the United States. We need to have a vision that extends to the world around us, and we should remember that this vision is as old as our party.... It’s our turn again to talk about things that are hard."

He then does a nice job of advocating more resources for the intelligence services, with specific anecdotes to highlight why such increases are necessary. He muddles through on Iraq, but then gives the best partisan spin on North Korea of all four of the candidates:

"the Bush administration has offered only a merry-go-round policy: Bush and his advisers got up on their high horse, whooped and hollered, rode around in circles, and ended up right back where they’d started. By suspending the talks initiated by the Clinton administration, asking for talks but with new conditions, refusing to talk under the threat of nuclear blackmail, and then reversing that refusal as North Korea’s master of brinkmanship upped the ante, the administration sowed confusion and put the despot Kim Jong Il in the driver’s seat. By publicly taking military force, negotiations, and sanctions off the table, the administration tied its own hands behind its back.

Now, finally, the Bush administration is rightly working with allies in the region—acting multilaterally—to pressure Pyongyang. It’s gotten off the merry-go-round; the question is why one would ever want to be so driven by unilateralist dogma to get on in the first place."

This is a harsh assessment, but I admire the tactics.

Like Gephardt, he stresses the role of non-state actors in assisting U.S. foreign policy. Unlike Gephardt, he actually devotes more than one sentence to it. Ending with a Teddy Roosevelt quote was a nice touch.

Overall grade: A- He's got the chops

JOE LIEBERMAN: The 6th grade English teacher in me liked the crisp and coherent organization of this essay. The foreign policy wonk was either bored or uncertain whether Lieberman knew what he was talking about. Beyond the usual platitudes, his suggestion to "refocus NATO, the world’s greatest military alliance, to apply its might to uproot terrorism." sounds good, but when you think about it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Exactly how is the Belgian Army going to be of use in fighting Al Qaeda?

Then there's this goal: "maintaining the global balance of power must be as high a priority as countering threats from terrorists and rogue nations." Now, surely he doesn't mean that the U.S. should become weaker so that an actual balance exist?

Lieberman deserves some credit for discussing his legislative proposals on democracy promotion and economic liberalization. He seems to get the fact that foreign policy isn't just about guns and bombs. He's unclear on the environment -- read the essay and see if he's advocating rejoining the Kyoto Protocol or not, because I'm still not sure.

Overall grade: C+ An OK first draft, but not fully thought out. Revise and resubmit.

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