Tuesday, November 12, 2002

# Posted 10:48 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OCCUPATION AIN'T EASY: A WashPost editorial describes the challenges of keeping the peace and holding elections in Bosnia. Pessimists might see it as an argument for abandoning the Bush administration's declared interest in a democratic Iraq. I see it as an indication of just how important extensive planning is for an effective occupation.

Note: Don't expect the Iraqi opposition to make Tommy Franks job any easier.
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# Posted 10:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

STUPID ARAB MEN: Did Saddam think no one was going to notice his effort to buy a million doses of an antidote to his Sarin and VX type chemical weapons?
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# Posted 10:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BALLISTIC FINGERPRINTS: The NY Times reconsiders its position on the matter.
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# Posted 10:33 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME: I thought I'd use my limited knowledge of the Western canon to add a note to Josh's reading list. While I agree that Thucydides' Peloponnesian War belongs on the list, readers should be warned that the latter four-fifths of it are incomprehensible (or worse, boring) without the aid of an informed commentary. Having had the privilege of studying Thucydides with Donald Kagan, the world's foremost historian of ancient Greece, I find myself compelled to recommend his commentary. Unfortunately, it is four volumes long. I assure you, however, that the effort is worth it, since Kagan's brilliance will make you realize why Thucydides work is a classic that has endured through the millenia.

In the meantime, I will e-mail Prof. Kagan and ask him which one-volume commentary on the Peloponnesian War he recommends. Alternately, just read the first volume of his work, which by itself will enhance one's appreciation of Thucydides' significantly. Be warned, however. You may find yourself unable to resist the next three volumes once you start...
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# Posted 10:24 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BOOK REVIEWS: I just finished reading all the books Josh recommended on the basics of Western political thought. Yeah right. But I did read Stupid White Men, which Dan mentioned briefly.

To a degree, Moore's book is very "September 10th". However, the fact that his publishers tried to stop publication of the book after September 11th demonstrates that there were, in fact, some efforts to supress legitimate dissent as a result of the attacks. Legimitate dissent should not be confused with intelligent dissent, however. First of all, the book is filled with unforgiveable factual errors, as documented by Spinsanity in Salon. (Example: Bush has proposed a $1.6 trillion increase in the Pentagon budget.) Even worse is the fact that Moore provides footnotes to sources which don't even come close to saying what he does in the book. The fact that Stupid White Men made an impressive run at the top of the New York Times bestseller list is a disturbing indication of just how unelite America's intellectual eltie are.

Even if one forgives Moore's poetic license with the facts, the book fails on the grounds that its arguments are incoherent. While Dan is right that there are ad hominem attacks on Bush throughout, Moore does not present his book as an anti-Bush polemic, but rather one against the dominance of white males. This is race- and gender-baiting at its most crude. In his chapter on why white Americans are to blame for the nation's troubles, Moore does little more than argue that whites are too eager to hold blacks responsible for the vast majority of crimes. Perhaps. But since Moore blames white Americans for everything from pollution to pork-barrelling, he needs to do a lot more than show that black people are statistically less dangerous than some might think.

As for women, Moore observes that America denied them the right to vote until 1920. Afterwards, white men tricked them into voting for white men who would continue to hold them down. So basically, Moore's argument is that women are too stupid to recognize what's in their own interest. Not impressive for someone who claims to be against sexism. Moreover, Moore declares that all of the women in Bush's cabinet are honorary white males. In other words, all women and non-whites should have political opinions identical to Moore's. Again, not impressive for someone who claims to be against racial stereotypes.

To sum it up in one word, Stupid White Men is an embarrassment.
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# Posted 6:53 AM by Dan  

Regardless of the inspection regime, the prospect of finding what he does not want us to find is very limited without help from those in Iraq who know where the most sensitive work is being done. And unfortunately, the message that partial disclosure will be tolerated is hardly likely to encourage them to step forward -- even if the inspectors can insist on talking to scientists and others without their Iraqi minders. (Bear in mind that Blix has already indicated that he sees problems with bringing such Iraqi scientists, officials and their families outside the country.)

I agree that letting Hussein get away with partial disclosure of his programs after 30 days could lead to disastrous consequences--it would send the signal that the UN is more interested in containment than disarmament. But how will we know if he is playing the cat and mouse game yet again? According to Ross, "President Bush has set the stage for disarmament. Now he must condition the French, the Russians and the rest of the world to understand that the moment of truth comes not with the inspectors' arrival but with the character of Iraq's disclosure on Dec. 8." Is there really a way to determine whether or not Iraq has fully disclosed its WMD programs?
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Monday, November 11, 2002

# Posted 4:57 PM by Dan  

MICHAEL MOORE. I enjoyed "Roger and Me" when I watched it in my 12th grade Economics course back in High School, so I decided to pick up his book "Stupid White Men" at the airport on Friday. It is definitely "September 10th" in its content--especially in its humorous rendition of the events surrounding Bush v. Gore. SWM is littered with the ad hominen attacks against Bush we have all heard hundreds of times. When Moore treads into post-September 11th territory, the book goes from entertaining to absurd. For example, Moore writes: "You say that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind begind the September 11 attacks. But numerous news reports have pointed out that this 'evildoer' was on dialysis at the time as he had failing kidneys." I'm speechless.
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Sunday, November 10, 2002

# Posted 7:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OUR POINT ELABORATED: OxBlog wasn't the only to notice the absurd hypocrisy of the State Department's assertion that the US can strike pre-emptively at terrorists in Yemen but that Israel can't do the same in the West Bank's. Max Boot points out in the current issue of the Weekly Standard that even Human Rights Watch has recognized that Israel cannot depend on Yasser Arafat to protect it from suicide bombings.
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# Posted 6:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ALL IN THE TIMING: Rachel Bronson from the Council on Foreign Relations writes in the NY Times that the Bush administration's late decision to embrace the UN has now left in the undesirable position of having only days to decide on military action once the arms inspectors report back in February, since it may be too hot afterwards to fight in the desert.

I have a feeling the Pentagon is aware of the issue. Expect the US to force the issue at the UN in January.
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# Posted 6:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

POWELL POWER: On Saturday, The NY Times ran a long article on Colin Powell's efforts to negotiate a workable UN resolution with both American hawks and UN doves. Unfortunately, the article did not absolutely nothing to explain how Powell managed to convert the French and the Russians to the US position. Did we buy them off? Were they afraid we'd go it alone? If there were an answer, it would say a lot about both Powell's ability as negotiator and the nature of our erstwhile allies.

The article also provided considerable substantiation for one of my favorite points, which is that the President never instructed the whole cabinet to support a single strategy, therefore provoking semi-open warfare within the administration that the the unfortunate effect of undercutting the effort of both sides.

UPDATE: Compare the NYT article with the WashPost article on the same subject. The Post avoids the issue of Russia and France, but provides a far superior account of Powell's effort to persuade the hawks to go along. Would someone please explain, then, whey the NYT costs three times as much as the Post?

Unless you read them online, in which case they're both free!
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# Posted 6:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THINKING ABOUT BUSH? I have no idea what made Jenn think that Trent Lott would be a good name for a porn star. If you are thinking about Congress and porn, your man is Dick Armey. After all, according to the man from Texas, ""Yes, I am Dick Armey. And if there is a dick army, Barney Frank would want to join up."
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# Posted 3:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MAKING PUTIN LOOK COMPETENT: According to Amrozi, the first terrorist arrested in connection with the Bali attack, the intended targets of the attack were American tourists. The choice of a nightclub popular with Australians was a tactical error, since the terrorists consider Australians and other non-Americans to be innocent.

In some ways, the mistaken murder of "innocent" Australians (and others) is an even more compelling demonstration of Islamic fundamentalists' brutality than their attacks on American citizens. The terrorists sincere belief that all Americans are "guilty" makes their violence comprehensible from a psychological perspective, if not from a moral one. The massive disregard for human life that led to the murder of the Australians and others in Bali shows how the all-consuming hatred of the terrorists leads them to abandon all concern even for the innocent, an ethical stance which exposes the unmitigated evil they represent.

PS If you still want to read more about Putin's incompetence, click here.
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Thursday, November 07, 2002

# Posted 2:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DOUBLE STANDARD: While the Bush administration authorizes "targeted killings" of terrorists in Yemen, it insists that Israel has no right to do exactly the same thing in the West Bank. According to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, it is because the situation of the United States and that of Israel are not comparable.

The WashPost defends the administration in an editorial whose acrobatic logic is quite impressive. According to the Post
Military action makes sense only when it is impossible to work through law enforcement or local authorities. Yemen clearly falls into that category: Its authorities tried and failed to capture numerous al Qaeda militants operating in remote parts of the country, and now they appear to have acquiesced in the CIA's use of missile-armed drones.
Does that mean Israel has to wait for Yasser Arafat to admit that his police forces are incompetent/complicit in terrorism and then invite the Sharon to help him kill the masterminds behind the suicide bombs?
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# Posted 1:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KARZAI GETS TOUGH: The Afghan government is cracking down on corruption and insubordination by provincial warlords. A long article, but well worth reading. Karzai seems to be putting his reputation on the line for a good cause. Noticeably missing, however, is any indication that the US supports Karzai and is committed to ending corruption and insubordination.

Nonetheless, Donald Rumsfeld said, in an interview with Jim Hoagland, that "U.S. troops [will] become more involved in civil-military projects that will create conditions for 'people to come home, to rebuild and resettle.'" I hope Rumsfeld recognizes that coming home, rebuilding and resettling will not be possible if Karzai can't wipe out corruption and warlord rule.
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# Posted 1:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BLOWING IN THE WIND: North Korea seems to be playing good cop/bad cop with the US. Yesterday we heard about the threats. Today we hear that North Korea wants to save its 1994 pact with the US. Someone ought to tell the North Koreans that good cop/bad cop isn't a smart game to play when your back is against the wall.

Also, see Clinton NSC chief Anthony Lake's op-ed on North Korea, which responds in a measured, non-partisan manner to much of the unfair criticism of his North Korea policy which filled editorial pages after North Korea's recent admission that it had a secret weapons program.
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Wednesday, November 06, 2002

# Posted 9:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG PRESENTS: BEER & BUSH. Beer -- a liquid. Bush -- a president. This Thursday at 4pm, in the legendary pub known as The Turf, OxBlog will host the first of its
weekly discussions of politics and current events. All are welcome.

Directions: The Turf is not easy to find. The best way to get there, starting from the Bodleian main entrance, is to walk under the Bridge of Sighs and then turn into the narrow alley on your left, right after the Bridge. Follow the alley to the end, and you're there.
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Tuesday, November 05, 2002

# Posted 10:54 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DARK HORSE PREDICTIONS: If I win the election-night prediction-fest, God save us all. Anyway, here goes:

Turnout: 100%
Spoiled Ballots: 0
Pregnant Chads: Their own damn fault.

Senate: Democrats -- 2, Republicans -- 1, Baath -- 97.
House: In permanent recess.

State by State Results:

Arkansas - W.J. Clinton (Baath)
Minnesota - Ventura (Baath)
South Carolina - Thurmond (R)
Missouri - Carnahan (D)
Georgia - McKinney (Baath)
Tennessee - A. Gore Jr. (Baath)
New Jersey - Torricelli (D)
Texas - Koresh (Baath)
North Carolina - E. Dole (Baath)

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# Posted 10:41 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

VLADIMIR PUTIN, TERRORIST: Foreign affairs pundit Fareed Zakaria has a razor-sharp op-ed in today's Post thrashing the Bush administration for its support of Russia. As I said in the opening days of the Moscow theater crisis, the Russia's state-sponsored terrorism has made that of the Chechens seem mild in comparison.

Zakaria finishes his piece with a damning reminder that, as a candidate, Bush called for an end to aid for Russia on the grounds that "The nations of the free world [must] condemn the -- you know, the killing of innocent women and children."

All in all, Zakaria's column is a nice to counterpoint to his earlier essay in the New Yorker, which I criticized for its amoral realpolitik.
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# Posted 10:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AND NOW THE BAD NEWS: Afghanistan is still a mess. According to Human Rights Watch, Ismail Khan is running a private dictatorship in the state of Herat. Rumsfeld has described Khan as "an appealing person . . . thoughtful, measured and self-confident."

US Commander Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill asserted that "for the near term, these regional leaders -- while they might appear unsavory to some, and some accuse them of having sordid pasts -- they are providing a degree of security and stability out and away from Kabul." In other words, if the Bush administration doesn't care enough about democracy to send US troops beyond Kabul, why the hell should McNeill give local dictators a hard time?
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# Posted 10:22 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TIME TO TALK TURKEY: Things are still looking good in Ankara, where the leader of the victorious semi-Islamic party in Sunday's elections has announced that he favors close relations with the United States and would, under the right conditions, participate in war against another Muslim state, i.e. Iraq.

While hardly evidence of my wisdom, I will note that the NY Times supports my position on Turkish politics exactly. The Post was somewhat less enthusiastic.
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# Posted 10:11 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PREDATOR DRONES KICK ASS: Josh observed that yesterday's attack on Al Qaeda forces in Yemen indicates that the War on Terror hasn't lost out to the War on Iraq. I hope. My real concern, though, is that the Bush administration has also forgotten about the War on Iraq. The UN negotiations have taken far too long, even if the optimists are right and they will be over soon.
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# Posted 10:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: The upcoming NATO summit in Prague is set to approve a rapid reaction force which would enable the Alliance to play a significant role in future crises. The summit is also set to approve membership for seven new nations in Eastern Europe. Take that, Putin!

Bonus fact for European history buffs: The German ambassador to NATO is named "von Moltke".

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# Posted 6:12 AM by Dan  

THIS THIRD PREDICTS: I don't want this to be like the second Presidential debate of 2000 where everyone agrees. So here is where I part ways with Josh:

Minnesota - Mondale (D)
Colorado - Strickland (D)
New Hampshire - Sununu (R)

Like Josh I am making the bold prediction that the Republicans will keep the House. It's a shame that so few House races are competitive--Iowa does it right with an an independent bureau that is not allowed to take political considerations such as voting patterns and party registration into account when it draws boundaries.
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Monday, November 04, 2002

# Posted 10:39 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I WISH I WEREN'T IGNORANT: Amnesty International has released a report which asserts that there is "clear evidence" of Israeli war crimes committed in the West Bank. While I wish I knew enough to evaluate the validity of such charges, I'm willing to hazard a prediction about what we can expect in the next few days: 1) The American left, along with official spokesman for all sorts of Middle Eastern governments, will cite the Amnesty report as vindication of their views on Israeli brutality. 2) The European media, with a helping hand from the Times and the Post, will publicize such criticism to no end. 3) Investigative reporters will eventually reveal that Amnesty never had any evidence in the first place. Remember the Jenin "massacre"?
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# Posted 10:33 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AT LEAST THEY VOTE IN ISTANBUL: As expected, an Islamic party callling for moderation and tolerance won by a landslide in Turkish elections. Will the US recognize that it now has a chance to showcase a Muslim democracy at work? (And that it should all it can to make sure that it does work, rather than falling to another military revolt?)
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Sunday, November 03, 2002

# Posted 2:35 PM by Dan  

BIBI BACK? Rueters says so, as long as early elections will be held. The agreement would still allow him to challenge Sharon for Likud leadership.
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Friday, November 01, 2002

# Posted 2:26 PM by Dan  

SUPERIORITY COMPLEX. David Brooks, discussing the downsides of "democratized elitism," says that it creates a fragmented society characterized by an easygoing relativism, and leads to national stagnation. I think that's a bit too strong. Whether you agree or not, it's a thought provoking piece.
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# Posted 12:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KRAUTHAMMER VS. BUSH: Charlie K. asks "Why does the president, who is pledged to disarming Hussein one way or the other, allow Powell even to discuss a scheme that is guaranteed to leave Saddam Hussein's weapons in place?"

If you read OxBlog, Chuck, you would know that the President cannot control his own advisers, presumably because he does not even know what his own policy on Iraq is.
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Thursday, October 31, 2002

# Posted 10:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: So, is Osama alive or not? James Robbins tries to figure it all out. In the meantime, Happy Halloween!
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# Posted 10:50 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE CHALLENGES OF OCCUPATION: Daniel Benjamin, a top counterrorism analyst, has a sharply-worded editorial in today's WashPost challenging the Bush administration's assumption that the occupation can be modelled on the occuaption of Japan.

Reading between the lines, Benjamin's point is much the same as the one made by diplomatic historian John Dower last week: neither man believes Bush is committed enough to nation-building and democratization to make the occuaption work.

As I have made clear before, I am strongly for a postwar occupation and nation-building effort. But I do not believe it will be a guaranteed success. It will depend on the will of the US-led occupying forces more than it does on "deep historical forces" such as Islamic culture.
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# Posted 10:31 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TESTING BUSH'S SINCERITY: This Sunday, Turkey will hold national elections. Justice and Development, the party now leading in polls, has Islamic roots. The last time an Islamic party came to office, the army forced it out.

If the President is serious about bringing democracy to the Middle East, he will have to instruct the Turkish generals that the voters, and not the military, must decide who governs. If the United States lets the military return, it will have lost a critical chance to demonstrate to the Muslims everywhere that an American victory in the war on terror will liberate them as well.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

# Posted 3:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SEEN HIS SOUL LATELY? Just in case feelings of sympathy for Vladimir Putin have been welling up inside you, read this analysis of the hostage crisis by Russia expert David Satter.
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# Posted 2:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I'M A BAD RUSSIAN: According to a Russian poll mentioned in both the NY Times and WashPost, 85% percent of Russians support Putin's decision to raid the captured theater despite the human cost. How the Chechens managed to take the theater in the first place will remain a mystery, since Putin's allies in the Duma are resisting all efforts to launch an investigation.
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# Posted 11:51 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IMAGE CONSULTANT WANTED: Josh says Putin shouldn't have offered the Chechens even a "token" concession, since "it is very much for the good of the entire world that the terrorists came out of this so badly." First of all, if I were one of the 120 people who died because of the Russian government's incompetence, it would certainly have preferred if my president had made a token concession. As for the terrorists coming out of this badly, I have to disagree. Their objective was to show that Moscow is not secure and, if possible, reduce the Russian presence in Chechnya. Instead, they managed to show the entire world how brutal, incompetent, deceptive and undemocratic the Putin regime is. Talk about two for the price of one.

Moreover, in light of the fact that the Chechens' cause is justified -- even though its tactics are unacceptable -- I would have been glad if the hostage taking went as planned and Putin had to negotiate over Chechnya. What he has done there is far more brutal than what the Chechens did in Moscow. While I do not hesitate to refer to the Chechens as terrorists, I think there is no question that the Russian armed forces deserve that accolade ten times over.

Finally, I recognize that I jumped the gun when I wrote that the terrorists in question "are Chechen guerrillas, not Al Qaeda operatives." Such a rigid distinction is unwarranted in light of the London Telegraph's report that "'There were definitely Arab terrorists in the building with links to al-Qa'eda," [according to a] senior Western diplomat. Nonetheless, there was nothing in the Telegraph article which suggested that there were any actual members of Al Qaeda in Moscow or that Al Qaeda had any role in setting the objectives of the Moscow operation. Thus, I think my point that the Chechen terrorists could have been negotiated with stands uncorrected.
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# Posted 11:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SECOND IN THE MOTION: As Josh pointed out, Harvard has a great site compiling internal documents from Iraq.

One question, Josh: Why did you decide to the post the text of a document focusing on Iraqi brutality in the 1980s, instead of the 1990s? Surely, any competent idiotarian would point out that the United States was Iraq's formal ally at the time and showed no concern for his brutality.
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# Posted 11:29 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE ON JAPAN: In response to my post on eminent diplomatic historian John Dower, John Monasch sent in the following from Japan:
A month ago, NHK satellite was running some documentary [Approx. Title: "The Road to Pearl Harbor 1931-1941"] about some American Japanophile diplomat in the 1930's and his American-o-phile counter-parts and how their devotion to improving relations and understanding between the 2 countries at the time, tragically.....you get the picture.

It was pretty dull and I was only watching it because I was on stranded on the sofa with a fever. But they interviewed Dower to comment on the political atmosphere in Japan in the 30's. He talked about how it was impossible to criticize the government. Suddenly, Dower - at least according to the Japanese voice over - went off on a tangent and started talking about how America, after 9/11, had become the same way. Everyone was affraid to criticize the Bush administration in a similar fashion to Japan in the late 1930's. I couldn't find a transcript but I talked to a producer who confirmed what I thought I had heard (my Japanese is good but not native level).

Good God! Here is an award winning MIT professor (hey, wait a minute) telling all of Japan that post-9/11 America was the same as 1930's Japan...
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# Posted 9:33 AM by Dan  

THOMAS FRIEDMAN on "that democracy thing." He uses lots of cute catchphrases, but his overall point in his last few columns about democracy seems to be this: democracy is a necessary but insufficient step for reform in the Arab world.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

# Posted 9:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

STICKING UP FOR JIMMY: Josh linked to Daniel Drezner's fisking of Carter's op-ed in the NYT. I think a better idea might to be read Dan's defense of Carter's record as president, which is a must for those who tend to dismiss Carter out of hand because of his bad reputation. Carter was a flawed president, but we have him to thank for the Camp David accord, the Panama Canal treaty, and the elevation of human rights to global prominence. For those of you who want to read one solid book on Carter's foreign policy, check out Gaddis Smith's Morality, Reason, and Power. It's worth it.
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# Posted 8:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE EVIDENCE MOUNTS: The NY Times reports "disclosures that doctors were almost completely unprepared to treat the [Russian] hostages for gas-related problems." In addition,
there were no doctors on hand at the theater to provide emergency treatment to the most seriously injured hostages, a standard practice in disasters.
In fact, there weren't even ambulances on hand, so the hostages had to be taken to the hospital on city buses. BUSES! That is incompetence.

The Times also reports that Putin's justification for the raid -- that the terrorists were beginning to execute hostages -- was a transparent lie. Moreover, the raid was decided on almost immediately after the hostages were taken. All this is strong evidence that Putin thought he had a brilliant plan that would both save the hostages and avoid all negotiations. What went wrong? Incompetence.

As for your counterfactual, Josh, I'm less than convinced. Imagine if a Western government decided that it would sacrifice 100 of its own citizens to save another 700 before exhausting all options for saving the entire lot. Imagine the outcry if George Bush (or God forbid, Bill Clinton) decided that he had the right to decide who would live and who would die. Moreover, those most likely to die from the gas are the old, the sick, and the children. Sacrificing them seems particularly callous.

Finally, in comparative perspective, I think there is good reason to believe that such stand-offs can be resolved through negotiation. The typical deal involves safe passage for the terrorists to a foreign destination along with a token concession to their political agenda. Moreover, I question your [Josh's] assumption that the terrorists were willing to use their explosives. These are Chechen guerrillas, not Al Qaeda operatives. In other words, they are nationalists, not suicidal murderers. They have what to gain from negotiation.
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Sunday, October 27, 2002

# Posted 1:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RUSSIAN BRUTALITY: According to a major story in the Washington Post, all but one of the hostages killed in Russia this weekend died because their own government's reckless use of poison gas to incapacitate the Chechen terrorists holding them hostage. Moreover, the special forces who carried out the raid to liberate the hostages executed Chechen terrorists who had fallen unconscious because of said gas.

I wish I could say that this sort of brutality and incompetence were surprising. But they are not. Rather they are the signature of the Putin government, whose undemocratic behavior has rendered it ever more insensitive to the well-being of the citizens it is supposed to represent and protect.
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# Posted 1:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

JAPAN AND IRAQ COMPARED: John Dower, the foremost Western historian of Japan and U.S.-Japanese relations, has an in-depth column in today's NYT comparing the US occupation of Japan to a potential US occupation of Iraq. In short, he does not believe that a potential occupation of Iraq would be anywhere near as successful as the occupation of Japan was. However, he explicity rejects the idea that Arab or Islamic culture would prevent the democratization of Iraq. While Dower presents numerous arguments to support his point, it is clear that his pessimism rests on one central foundation: a refusal to believe that the Bush administration will be committed enough to democratization to make it work.

For those with a serious interest in the American occupation of Japan, I cannot recommend Dower's recent book on that subject, Embracing Defeat, highly enough. It is already classic, winning a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award and numerous other honors. His other works are well-worth reading as well.
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# Posted 12:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WOMEN VOTING IN THE MIDDLE EAST? As Tom Friedman reports, Bahrain held its first parliamentary elections yesterday. Women did not just have the right to vote, but were encouraged to do so by the government.
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# Posted 9:52 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANTI-WAR = ANTI-SEMITIC? From the Sunday Times of London:
"...around the edges of the [anti-war] rally [in New York], copies of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the classic forged document of nineteenth-century anti-Semitism, were being sold. According to a report in the New York Sun, this peddling of anti-Semitic tripe was not entirely accidental..."
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link. (Note: The text is only available on Andrew's site.)

If you need some cheering up after reading about anti-Semitism, read this. If I didn't know better, I'd say The Onion hacked into the NYT website.

Last but not least, how's this for irony: "Participants [in the anti-war protest] said the shootings in and around [DC] in the last three weeks had kept people from planning to visit Washington." Hmmm.... Al Qaeda supporter murders Americans at random and fewer people show up to protest the war against terrorism. Anyone have Sherlock Holmes' phone number?
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Saturday, October 26, 2002

# Posted 9:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SHUT UP, DAVID. Seven posts in a row. Time to give it a rest. If you want to read more about politics, why not visit Daniel Drezner's blog? I just read it for the first time today thanks to a link posted by Instapundit.

I think Josh must like Daniel's blog as well, since he added it to our favorites list just a while back. And someone at the University of Chicago must think Daniel is pretty smart, since they made him a professor in the department of political science. Just one question: Is his middle initial really "W."?
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# Posted 9:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HOMELAND SECURITY: Why not start by reducing the number of snipers? Unfortunately, the Bush administration seems dead-set against a simple method for identifying bullets found at crime scenes.
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# Posted 9:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE REAL PAPER TIGER: Thought Clinton was soft on North Korea? Then read Ryan Lizza's article in The New Republic about how the Bush administration sought to hold back from the American public information about North Korea's nuclear program.
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# Posted 8:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

REPETITION AGAIN: "...the liberal -- moral -- case for war. This case was made, in the best argument written to date on either side of the issue, in an article plugged in this space last week, but not plugged enough: Jonathan Chait's cover story in the Oct. 21 issue of the New Republic, 'The Liberal Case for War.'" (Michael Kelly, Oct. 23)

OxBlog couldn't agree more.
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# Posted 8:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE PAPER TIGER DIPLOMACY: Think the US should have been tougher on North Korea? Then why not get tough with the source of its nuclear technology? Yes, Pakistan. Even though it hasn't been much of an ally in the war on terror, Bush seems content to ignore Pres. Musharraf's dictatorial behavior, behavior which has the direct effect of promoting violent anti-American Islamic fundamentalism. Then again, maybe Bush just feels bad about being unable to remember Musharraf's name when he took that little foreign affairs quiz a few years back. (Apologies to Mike Daley for that low blow.)

But seriously, consider this:
"Elections rigged by Musharraf in his favor this month were praised extravagantly by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher as "an important milestone in the ongoing transition to democracy."
While supporting anti-Communist dictators during the Cold War undermined American interests, it at least had some short-term advantages. But supporting dictators like Musharraf has the potential to incite a fundamentalist revolution in a nuclear-armed state. Bad idea. Send a memo to the President.
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# Posted 8:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CRUEL AND UNUSUAL? WashPost columnist Colbert King writes that "to a special kind [of criminal], a special kind of justice is owed." No, not Kim Jong-Il. He meant the DC sniper. So here's my idea for special justice:

You start with a death sentence. But you don't carry it out in an electric chair or anything like that. Rather, one American will be selected at random to execute the sniper. He or she will be given a high-powered rifle and a prison guard uniform. He or she will then kill the sniper at a random time and place, of his or her choosing (within the relevant prison, of course). If he or she wanted, he could wait five or six years to take care of business. That way Mr. Muhammad can spend a very, very long time wondering whether he has only a moment left before his violent and bloody death.

If any of you out there are constitutional lawyers, please let me know if this idea is workable.
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# Posted 8:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ONE WORD: FRANCE. While I sympathize with you, Josh, I think it's important to recognize that the anti-Milosevic coalition was broader than the current anti-Iraq front in that it included France, Germany and other European states. There was little concern with winning UN support because the world's great democracies were behind the mission. Now that the great democracies are divided, the UN has assumed a role as a forum for debate. Unfortunately, this has entailed granting excessive authority to the semi-dictatorial governments of Russia and China. But that is a price that European opponents of the American president are willing to pay.

Still, one should note a certain hypocrisy on the part of France, Germany and those other European states who now insist that UN validation is necessary before using force. Moreover, those nations did have a concrete security interest in the Balkan crisis (as opposed to the United States' ideological interest). Thus, it might be best to say that France, Germany, et al. don't believe that interest-based missions demand greater multilateralism, but that the United States behaves recklessly when its interests are on the line (cf. "the Cold War"), thus leading them to be suspicious of it.
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# Posted 4:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PAPER TIGER DIPLOMACY: Yesterday, I took Charles Krauthammer and William Safire to task for criticizing Clinton's paper-driven North Korea policy without suggesting an alternative. Yet as Josh observed, the point that both authors was trying to make was not that we need a different North Korea policy now, but that Clinton should have been tougher back in 1994.

That said, I don't think that Josh's clarification takes much away from my point, i.e. that it is disingenuous to criticize either the United States' past or current North Korea policies without suggesting an alternative. According to Josh, Krauthammer and Safire implied "that, having engaged [North Korea] in 'paper diplomacy' so long, the problem is now a damned difficult one." I'm not so sure. Was there an alternative in 1994 that doesn't exist now? As Safire pointed out, North Korea deters the United States via its conventional threat to South Korea's civilian population. As should be self-evident, that threat was no less menacing 1994 than it is now. So what was Clinton supposed to do? The answer: exactly what Bush is doing now -- negotiating.
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# Posted 7:13 AM by Dan  

MAKE SURE to read this wonderful piece by Bill Holm about Senator Wellstone.
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# Posted 5:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"MR. WELLSTONE was one of the few senators who made the effort to meet and remember the names of elevator operators, waiters, police officers and other workers in the Capitol.

James W. Ziglar, a Republican who was sergeant at arms of the Senate from 1998 to 2001 and who is now commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, remembered today 'the evening when he came back to the Capitol well past midnight to visit with the cleaning staff and tell them how much he appreciated their efforts.'

'Most of the staff had never seen a senator and certainly had never had one make such a meaningful effort to express his or her appreciation,' Mr. Ziglar said. 'That was the measure of the man.'" (NY Times, Oct. 26, 2002)
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Friday, October 25, 2002

# Posted 7:53 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MEDIOCRE (AS ALWAYS) Krauthammer column on the difference between "paper diplomacy" and "power diplomacy". It's easy to bash Clinton for going soft on North Korea. But what does Krauthammer's suggest we should do instead? Nothing. He talks about getting tough, but has no idea how to actually do that. The same criticism applies to William Safire, who has also been bashing Clinton's North Korea policy without suggesting an alternative. However, Safire is honest enough to admit that using force against North Korea just won't work. As he observes:
America and its allies will not use our military to take out the Pyongyang gang for the simple reason that North Korea already has the conventional troop strength and artillery power to inflict horrendous casualties on the South (including 40,000 U.S. tripwire troops) as well as in Japan, which Pyongyang will soon be able to reach with nuclear missiles.
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# Posted 7:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CLINTON IN DISGUISE: The first time that the President revised his definition of "regime change", The New Republic described his announcement as "Clintonian". I wasn't as harsh since I thought that Bush's redefinition reflected policy drift rather than a flaw of character. But now that the farce has continued, I'm beginning to change my thoughts.

On Oct. 21, the President said
that the United States was trying diplomacy "one more time" to disarm Saddam Hussein "peacefully" and suggested that if the Iraqi leader complied with every United Nations mandate it would "signal the regime has changed."

The White House immediately said that Mr. Bush was not backing away from his past insistence that Mr. Hussein must leave office. His spokesman said he could not imagine a situation in which the Iraqi leader, after 11 years of defiance, would suddenly comply with the United Nations.
There is a certain logic to all this. One might say that Bush, in deference to the United Nations, is giving Saddam a chance to show that he has changed, but doesn't believe that he has. Even so, the President's inability/unwillingness to say this directly and openly is, well, Clintonian.
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Thursday, October 24, 2002

# Posted 10:39 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THINK BIG: A while back, I talked about the importance of long-term thinking, a.k.a. "grand strategy" in the design of US foreign policy. While the term "grand strategy" suggests a certain arrogance on the part of those who talk about it, I think it refers to an important concept which is extremely relevant to the United States at the moment.

In general, talking about grand strategy is something done by professors of international relations. In this post, I'm just going to provide a couple of links to recent essays on American grand strategy by prominent thinkers, so that anyone with an interest can start reading.

The one question to keep in mind while reading the following essays is this: "Is the author a moral relativist?" While the essays listed below are sophisticated enough to warrant extensive analysis, I think that analysis must begin with the exploration of the authors' moral foundation. As I see it, the authors' relativism compels them to recommend that the United States court allied opinion rather than striking out on its own and doing what is right.

That said, I'll shut up and give you the links:

Fareed Zakaria, "Our Way", The New Yorker, Oct. 14/21, 2002

G. John Ikenberry, "America's Imperial Ambition", Foreign Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2002

Michael Mandelbaum, "The Inadequacy of American Power", Foreign Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2002

John L. Gaddis, "A Grand Strategy", Foreign Policy, Nov./Dec. 2002

UPDATE/CORRECTION: John Gaddis' article doesn't really belong with the other three. While he seems somewhat equivocal in his positive assessment of Bush's democracy promotion strategy, there is no trace of the traditional realist line he has often advocated following.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2002

# Posted 1:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE DEBUNKING: Chances are, if you think the US has a double standard when it comes to Israel and Iraq, you also believe that the US wants to invade Iraq in order to control its vast oil reserves. But that's a load of bull. Here's why.
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# Posted 12:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ISRAEL VIOLATES UN RESOLUTIONS. It's not just Iraq, but the United States' cherished democratic ally in the Middle East that defies international law. How, then, can the United States consider Iraq's defiance of UN resolutions be a justification for war? Isn't that a double standard?

Even though I am strong supporter of both Israeli and US foreign policy, I have a had a hard time coming up with a convincing response to the accusations made above. But not anymore. Thanks to a brilliant article in The Economist, I can explain exactly why it is that Israel has not violated international law while Iraq has, and in a manner dangerous enough to necessitate war. Read on!
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# Posted 12:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

REMEMBER MICHAEL DUKAKIS riding in that tank? Liberals at war are not a pretty sight. But the actual principles of liberalism demand that one stands up for what is right, with force if necessary. In short, there is a strong liberal case for war with Saddam Hussein. Even though this article was published more than a week ago -- an eternity in the blogosphere -- I think it will be well worth reading long after Saddam settles into his prison cell at The Hague.
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# Posted 8:19 AM by Dan  

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI and Stuart E. Eizenstat put their spin on the Carter Presidency.
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# Posted 6:49 AM by Dan  

KOSHER CONSPIRACY. David Frum writes a great essay about the myth that "America is totally in hock to the Jewish lobby" in the Telegraph (registration required). Frum, who reportedly coined the phrase "Axis of Evil" is writing a series of articles for the newspaper in which he debunks myths about America. He is right that focusing on domestic politics and the "Jewish lobby" misses the role played by value affinity and ideology in U.S. foreign policy toward Israel. But his argument that "the force that sways American politicians' positions on Israel is not their hope for Jewish money or votes: it is ideology, conservative or liberal" really only applies to the executive branch. In Congress, I do think that members' hope for money and or votes affects their positions on Israel. Part of AIPAC's success is in steering pro-Israel money toward pro-Israel candidates. But at the end of the day, on large scale diplomatic and or political issues, it is the executive branch that matters. His section on the European political Left compared to the American conscience is excellent.
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Monday, October 21, 2002

# Posted 2:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SPEAKING OF INSPECTIONS, one ought to read today's WashPost op-ed by Mohamed El Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (and therefore the top international official responsible for arms inspections). Expecting a predictable defense of inspections that would sound convincing only to those who already agree with the author, I was pleasantly surprised by El Baradei's lucid writing and sharp observations.

El Baradei first reminds us that the President himself (in his Cincinatti speech) has recognized that "Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities." Even though I wrote a long post on the Cincinnati speech, I hadn't noticed that line. In short, I missed the fact that the official position of the Bush administration is that inspections can work.

El Baradei then lists the conditions necessary for success. In short, the inspectors will need unfettered authority backed by strong Security Council support. He also argues that success demands "active cooperation by Iraq". I can't figure out if El Baradei really means this, or if he is protecting himself from the likely failure of inspections in the face of Iraqi resistance. But if you just look past this one red flag, El Baradei's article is solid.
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# Posted 11:45 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AN INSPECTOR CALLS: Suddenly the US is concerned about implementing a rapid timetable for weapons inspections in Iraq. Time is of the essence because military action will be all but impossible once the winter ends.

As I see it, this is something the Bush administration should have thought about long ago. Instead of waiting until the last possible moment to cooperate with the United Nations, it should have made a decision early whether cooperation was desirable or not. Now, it faces the worst of both worlds: negotiating partners resentful of American high-handedness and a lack of time to launch military operations if necessary.

Why is the Bush strategy for Iraq lost at sea? The answer is one that OxBlog has mentioned often before: First, internal divisions within the administration. Second, an inability to think in grand strategic terms.
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Sunday, October 20, 2002

# Posted 8:27 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CALL BUSH A HYPOCRITE: If that is what you want, the time is now. When Saddam tries to develop weapons of mass destruction, we threaten to invade. When North Korea does, we send diplomats. Yet even top officials in the Clinton administration recognize that a more flexible stance on North Korea reflects strategic necessity, not hypocrisy. The bottom line is this: We can fight Saddam deep inside his own territory. Fighting North Korea means launching a war that would leave tens of thousands of South Koreans dead. At minimum.

The only real casualty of the North Korean crisis has been the administration's new National Security Strategy. Raising pre-emption to the level of official doctrine seems somewhat absurd if we can't apply it to two out of three of the members of the axis of evil.
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# Posted 7:56 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PITY JOSH CHAFETZ. Now that he has become the nation's foremost critic of Maureen Dowd, he has an obligation to read each one of her columns and provide a thoughtful response. In contrast, I can simply ignore anything she writes and spend my time reading the work of informative writers such as Tom Friedman. While I am still of the opinion that The Lexus and the Olive Tree was an exercise in self-absorbed pseudo-scholarship, Friedman has provided more insight into world affairs than most other columnists in recent months. Take today's column for example, which begins as follows:
A funny thing happened in Iran the other day. The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, published a poll on Iranian attitudes toward America, conducted by Iran's National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls. The poll asked 1,500 Iranians whether they favored opening talks with America, and 75 percent said "yes." More interesting, 46 percent said U.S. policies on Iran — which include an economic boycott and labeling Iran part of an "axis of evil" — were "to some extent correct."...you can imagine what happened next. Iran's hard-liners shut down the polling institute and threatened the IRNA official who published the results.
So if the government isn't responding to the people's wishes, why is it still in power? As Friedman observes:
The transition from autocracy to real democracy in Iran [has] dragged out much longer than in Europe for many reasons, but the most important is because the hard-line mullahs control Iran's oil wealth. What that means is that they have a pool of money that they can use to monopolize all the instruments of coercion — the army, police and intelligence services. And their pool of money is not dependent on their opening Iran's economy or political system or being truly responsive to their people's aspirations.
What does this mean for the United States?
If we really want to hasten the transition from autocracy to something more democratic in places like Iraq or Iran, the most important thing we can do is gradually, but steadily, bring down the price of oil — through conservation and alternative energies...Ousting Saddam is necessary for promoting the spread of democracy in the Middle East, but it won't be sufficient, it won't stick, without the Mideast states kicking their oil dependency and without us kicking ours.
And there you have it. A model column. It begins by reporting little-known facts, proceeds to analysis, and concludes with strong policy recommendations. Perhaps Ms. Dowd might take note. And if not her, than perhaps a number of congressmen should, since they seem more interested in talking about national security than doing anything about it. As the WashPost points out today, Congress' failure to pass the budget has forced
the nation must do without 570 new Border Patrol agents, 110 new FBI intelligence analysts, new bomb detectors at airports, security improvements at U.S. embassies, modernization of the Coast Guard fleet, and bioterrorism research. Ironically, many of the same members who abandoned their legislative responsibilities are running around their districts trying to convince voters that homeland security is dear to their hearts. In fact, it is pretty clear from congressional behavior that getting reelected trumps the war on terrorism.
While most of those who criticize Bush for putting the war of Iraq ahead of the war on terror fail to recognize that fighting Iraq is fighting terror, the President must also bear responsibility for Congress' failures. As commander-in-chief, he has to use his influence to fight the war not just abroad, but on the homefront as well.
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Thursday, October 17, 2002

# Posted 10:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AXIS OF OOPS! Two weeks ago, OxBlog took Bush to task for ignoring North Korea. Now the North Koreans suddenly announce that they have been secretly developing nuclear weapons for almost a decade. At the moment, it isn't clear whether this program has produced an actual weapon. While shocking, this isn't necessarily a setback for the United States. In fact, it may be Kim Jong Il's dysfunctional way of coming clean. Strangely enough, US diplomat James Kelly accused the North Koreans of having nukes, met with flat denials, but thengot a full admission the next day. What next? According to Joe Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment -- one of the best nuclear weapons analysts around -- the administration has two choices: "They either play 'gotcha' and cut off relations, or they can justifiably claim that their tough approach produced exactly the change in North Korean behavior we had been seeking." I'd say option number two is the way to go.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2002

# Posted 12:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TNR AFFIRMS OXBLOG SUSPICIONS: Just after the President's recent speech in Cincinnati, OxBlog called attention to Bush's apparent effort to water down the definition of "regime change" so that the US could accommodate allied objections to our declared policy. Two days later, TNR's Ryan Lizza reported that this apparent watering down had, in fact, taken place and that it was an indication of Colin Powell's staying power within the administration. Depending on one's assessment of the Iraqi threat, this may or may not be a good thing. But it underscores a critical point that I have sought to hammer home in the past month: that Bush is being pulled back and forth by competing advisors with competing agendas, rather than setting a clear course for American foreign policy.

The rest of Lizza's article is also well worth reading, especially the discussion of French motives for backing a two-resolution inspections regime at the UN. In light of the apparent inability of the Bush administration to decide what it wants from Iraq, the French have good reason to ensure that the US returns to the Security Council before invading, so that American hawks can't use minor instances of Iraqi non-compliance to bulldoze the doves. While I don't have all that much sympathy for the doves in this case, I have to admit that the French are behaving in a moderate and responsible manner, especially given their interests in avoiding war. In contrast, the US seems to be exhibiting the sort of temperamental behavior one usually associates with the French. Omigod, did I just say the French were rational? Next thing you know I'll be burning the flag. ;)
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# Posted 12:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I TOLD YOU SO: With the US intelligence establishment still reeling from revelations of incompetence before and after September 11th, it's good to know that it was at least able to predict the attack on Bali. The fact that listening to the United States could have saved hundreds of lives and billions of dollars should suggest to other Middle Eastern and Asian nations that supporting the war on terrorism might not be such a bad idea.

On the other hand, one cannot hold Pres. Sukarnoputri solely responsible for Indonesia's unpreparedness. With the brutal and corrupt military and security forces discredited after decades of dictatorships, there was little incentive to give such forces the sort of authority needed to reign in terror. As one expert on Indonesian politics observed in the NY Times, Sukarnoputri's rush to pass anti-terror legislation after the Bali attack has scared many Indonesians who know that internal security laws have become nothing more than a pretext for political repression in neighboring states such as Malaysia.

The bottom line: If the Bush administration wants Indonesia to become a firm ally in the war on terror, it has support civilian authority and democratic reforms within Indonesia. The war for democracy and the war on terror are inseparable. Just as tens of millions of Arabs believe the US and Israel destroyed the Twin Towers in order to justify a war on Islam, tens of millions of Indonesians believe the Bali attack was the work of the CIA. Why? Because where there is no freedom of expression, prejudice rules. In the democracies of the world, there was universal sympathy for the United States after September 11th and near-universal support for the war in Afghanistan. The truth works against Bin Laden.
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# Posted 8:26 AM by Dan  

TOM AT HIS BEST. Friedman's column from today should be read along with Dershowitz's essay to which Josh referred about two weeks ago. Friedman's is better because he addresses both sides of the issue in an extremely sensible manner. He is right that settlements are not the reason for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they certainly exacerbate it and make the occupation more permanent.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2002

# Posted 9:04 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BUT NOT THAT SMART: George Bush may be smarter than Osama bin Laden, but US foreign policy still finds itself without a secure foundation in democratic principles. Ethical points aside, this failure is simply dangerous. As the WashPost argues, Bush's failure to control Pervez Musharraf's dictatorial nature led to an extremely strong showing for Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistani elections. At the same time, the administration has done little to bring Indonesia into line with US foreign policy. With any luck, the Bali attack will change that.
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# Posted 8:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYPE: When Paul Krugman writes about the US economy, he writes as a professor, as an expert who pays careful attention to facts and figures. This is not to say that he is neutral by any account. Rather, he is up front about his political positions and then reinforces them with evidence. When it comes to foreign affairs, Krugman descends into the realm of irresponisble speculation. Today's column is a case in point. Consider the following quote:
In case you haven't noticed, the people running Al Qaeda are smart. Saturday's bombing in Bali, presumably carried out by a group connected to Al Qaeda, was monstrously evil. It was also, I'm sorry to say, very clever.
Krugman may be right that Al Qaeda chose Indonesia as a target in order to radicalize a vast Muslim nation. However, Krugman ignores the fundamental stupidity of an attack that killed approximately 200 tourists but only 2 or 3 Americans. If Al-Qaeda had any hope of resisting American firepower, it was the prospect of separating the United States from it allies in the war in terror. Killing Britons, Australians, and EU citizens does exactly the oppositie. Moreover, robbing Indonesians of one of their most lucratives sources of income -- tourism -- will breed opposition to Al Qaeda, not support as Krugman asserts. When it comes to radicalizing Indonesia, it will not be hard for the US to outbid Al Qaeda in the war of ideas. All we need is a White House committed to that objective.

If one broadens one's perspective, the absurdity of describing Al Qaeda's leadership as brilliant becomes even more apparent. Given its presumed objective was to eliminate US influence in the Middle East, the absolute worst strategy it could have chosen was the one it did choose: to attack the American homeland. Had the leaders of Al Qaeda possessed even the most limited knowledge of American politics and history, they would have known that nothing has a greater potential to unite Americans behind their president than a second Pearl Harbor.

If I were Osama bin Laden, I would have focused all of my efforts on attacking US forces stationed in the Gulf Region. If Al Qaeda could attack New York, it seems that it should have been able to attack targets in the Middle East as well. True, the absence of civil liberties makes such attacks harder to execute, but the homefield advantage of a sympathetic population should have more than made up for that.

But enough specuation. The bottom line is this: Al Qaeda attacked the United States, which then ousted the Taliban, forcing Al Qaeda to operate on the run and pursue desperate strategies such as killing toursits. I never thought it was possible, but someone has finally made George Bush look like the smart one.
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# Posted 6:41 AM by Dan  

YES OR NO. It should be a nailbiter in Iraq, where voters go to the polls today.
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Monday, October 14, 2002

# Posted 7:30 PM by Dan  

GOOD PIECE about American hegemony by Max Boot. His assertion that "power breeds unilateralism" goes a bit too far, however. Using Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq as examples to put Clinton in the same boat as Bush misses the fundamental differences between the two administrations with respect to the international community.
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# Posted 10:00 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DOOM ON THE EUPHRATES: MIT prof Barry Posen has a disturbing article on the hardships involved in taking Baghdad. The article is especially impressive because of its attention to detail, but nonetheless slips too comfortably into the assumption that the Iraqi people will risk their own lives to resist a US-led occupation. For an opposing view, also from a scholar with impressive credentials, see Michael Rubin's article on Iraqi morale in The New Republic.

There is also some good news from Afghanistan, whose government has apparently won the respect of international donors for its budget and development plans. Still, the government is so poor that unpaid soldiers and police officers are resorting to looting and robbery. The solution is obvious, Mr. President: Hire Afghan officers to find the DC sniper...
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Sunday, October 13, 2002

# Posted 2:28 PM by Dan  

Stephen Ambrose passed away today. He made history exciting and will be missed.
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