Tuesday, February 24, 2004
# Posted 10:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
"France is the country of freedom which defends freedom to show the body and to be immoral and depraved. In France you're free to show yourself but not to dress modestly," [al-Zawahri] said in reference to the headscarf ban newly approved by parliament.Now, OxBlog never thought that the headscarf ban was a good idea. But it's not as if Mr. Chafetz and Mr. Belton are about to strap dynamite to themselves and get on the next train for Paris. So, thank you, Mr. al-Zawahri, for reminding us -- not to mention our friends in Europe -- which side we're all on. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The NYT also has a quote from Prevalis, who was arrested by the insurgents because of his suspicions he supported the governments. He says that he is just a bricklayer.
I guess I noticed the twin photos of Prevalis because of this post from Glenn, which catches the NYT quoting the same man-in-the-street Bush critic in separate articles published weeks apart. As Glenn says, journalists know exactly where to go to get the soundbites they're looking for. But with Lexis-Nexis, such backhanded practices are becoming more and more transparent.
So what is it about Prevalis that got the attention of so many photographers? That his face was bloody? I guess that's news. But somehow you have to wonder if the audience back at home is getting the whole story if we have multiple correspondents chasing the same victim. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:57 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Which is exactly why it is so delightful to see David Brooks rip into Huntington's latest book on all of our behalves. As Brooks aptly says, this is another book about the Clash of Civilizations, except this time the clash is on the homefront. And the enemy is from Mexico. Huntington's basic idea is that Mexican-Americans don't believe in the American dream. The more of the them there are, the closer they come to destroying the identity that made America great.
Now, I admit that I don't know the first thing about demographics or immigration. If Huntington has the evidence, he may be right. But it just sounds so cliche. In the early days of the Republic, they said the Germans couldn't be real Americans. Then they said the Irish couldn't be real Americans. Then the Italians. Then the Jews. Then the Chinese. Then the Koreans. And then the Pakistanis. But all of them seem to have adapted just fine and made America that much stronger. (OK, so I admit I'm not objective when it comes to evaluating the Jews.)
Anyhow, it will be interesting to see how all this plays out at Harvard. Will people challenge Huntington in the hallways? Will they remain silent out of deference? Or will they have the same reaction because of pity? I'll let you know. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, February 23, 2004
# Posted 1:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Dear Family,.UPDATE: OK, so I wasn't the first one to have the fake-letter idea... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, February 21, 2004
# Posted 4:21 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:31 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:22 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Don't get too confident now that you guys have got A-Rod. Your starting rotation has some questions...What happens if a starter goes down? Your farm system is pretty barren, so you won't get any help in-house. You have the money to take on bad contracts which will help in a trade-situation, but who knows what will be available...In all due honesty, I'd take Schilling-Pedro-Lowe-Wakefield-Kim over your rotation...More specifically on the subject of A-Rod, MF writes that
I'm a long-time Mariner fan who has always been impressed with pretty much everything A-Rod has done. That being said, despite all the money and the talent he was surrounded by in Seattle and the deep pockets of Tom Hicks in Texas, he has never led a team to the World Series. Maybe he will actuallyI never thought Jeter was all that good-looking, but that's probably not the point.
CORRECTION: As AD and GJ point out, Jeter is not Latino but rather half-black and half-white. There also seems to be some dissatisfaction with my low regard for Jeter's good looks, but no objective evidence that I am wrong on this count. In fact, I suspect that if I had $40 million and five World Series rings, a lot of people would think I was pretty good looking, too. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, February 20, 2004
# Posted 11:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Meanwhile on the homefront, some are beginning to wonder whether it's time for America to sharpen up the big stick. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:01 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:28 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:35 PM by Patrick Belton
And in turn, second-rate, to (correctly) describe the precise level of my academic accomplishment, derives, like all good things, from the Royal Navy. British naval vessels of the 18th and 19th centuries were classed principally according to the number of guns they carried. A sixth-rate ship was a frigate (i.e., as in Lord Nelson's exclamation from the quarter-deck of the HMS Vanguard before the battle of the Nile: "Frigates! Were I to die this moment, want of frigates would be found engraved on my heart!"); frigates carried between 22 and 28 nine-pounder guns and a crew of about 150, and measured between 450 and 550 tons. The Sophie of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey, and the Surprise of the real-life, and far more dashing, Lord Cochrane on which he was based, was a ship of the sixth rate. Ships of sixth rate and above were of sufficient size to qualify as ships of the line in naval battle. On the other hand, first-rate ships, such as Lord Nelson's HMS Victory (still, incidentally, in service), boasted a minimum of 100 heavy cannon (the Victory carries 104), carried a complement of about 850 (there were 821 on board Victory at Trafalgar), and were over 2000 tons Builder’s Measure. To place the Victory's scale in context: she was constructed from approximately 6000 trees, 90% of them oak (this equates to 100 acres of woodland), at a cost of £63,176 in 1765 sterling (the equivalent of a contemporary aircraft carrier in nominal currency), her hulls are two feet thick at waterline, and the total sail area of her 37 sails is 6,510 square yards.
On the other hand, the sixth-rate Sophie was good enough for Aubrey, and its equivalents for Nelson - so think I'd be quite embarrassed, actually, to be classed an unworthy four ratings higher. But in any event, being a second-rate nattering nabob sounds to my ears at least like a quite pleasant prospect. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:33 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:59 AM by Patrick Belton
Thursday, February 19, 2004
# Posted 11:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Along the way, Dean for America added a new word to [the] campaign lexicon -- "blog": It's a noun and a verb! The Dean Weblog, or Blog, helped inspire legions of young devotees. More than once I was reduced to tears when reading blog posts, as person after person told stories of how Howard Dean had inspired them to become involved in politics for the first time.And I suppose that Glenn Reynolds invented sliced bread. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
UPDATE: Well, it might violate the Monroe Doctrine... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:28 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:37 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:35 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:42 PM by Patrick Belton
Still, there will be an election, even if it has already been determined that its results will not reflect the preferences of the Iranian people, and the San Francisco Chronicle details the parties which will contest it. The Coalition of Builders of Islamic Iran, incidentally, is the party which has been designated to win, and it has said it will pursue a "Chinese" model of governance - presumably, economic development, authoritarian political control, and courting on its own terms of a West which does not truly care about human rights within its borders (see Kerry, below).
Here is the round-up of coverage: Washington Times, Agence France-Presse, Asia Times, Guardian, Radio Free Europe, Boston Globe, Al Jazeera, WaPo. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:21 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:35 AM by Patrick Belton
In that case, you may not want to go to the otherwise quite lovely people at the Alternative Tuck Shop. Everything else there, on the other hand, is quite good. On the other hand, you could just subsist on cookies from Ben's Cookies.
* Proof is by Soundness Theorem, and is to be found overleaf. Oh wait, blogs don't have an overleaf. Guess I got off easy. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:23 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:53 AM by Patrick Belton
We have read how you refer to the theocratic regime in Iran as a "democracy;" we have heard how, if elected, as the president of the United States you intend to "engage" this barbaric regime; this very terrorist regime that your own State Department lists as the most active "State Sponsor ofIt goes on for a bit (and on, and on, God love 'em), but the students' letter does raise the interesting question of what Senator Kerry's views are toward Iran, especially as he increasingly becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee - and, moreover, how these will evolve and change during the course of the campaign. Senator Kerry's spoken on Iran once before in a major foreign policy speech (at the candidates' obligatory courtesy call on the Pratt House):
Iran also presents an obvious and especially difficult challenge. Our relations there are burdened by a generation of distrust, by the threat of nuclear proliferation and by reports of al Qaeda forces in that country, including the leadership responsible for the May 13th bombings in Saudi Arabia.I can see how that would give the student protesters heartburn. It will be interesting, though, to see how Senator Kerry's views evolve during the course of the campaign, especially as he's often shown an admirable willingness to bend them to respond to the rough-and-tumble of politics.
UPDATE: A reader just called the Kerry campaign, and was told that the Iranian news agency received the Kerry position paper by subscribing to his website:
One of his staff (Heather can't-recall-last-name) explained that Kerry's campaign website offers visitors the ability to sign up to receive email from the Kerry campaign. Someone at the Iranian news agency signed up and THAT is how they received the position paper from Kerry. The article in the Tehran Times made it sound as though Kerry had emailed them specifically. That was not the case.Thanks! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:57 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
# Posted 6:35 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:20 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:23 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Democratic foreign policy in the 1970's was isolationist at worst, modest at best. Democrats eschewed flag-waving and moralistic language about the Soviets. Jimmy Carter talked about root causes like hunger and poverty. For many liberals, as Charles Krauthammer recently said, "cold warrior" was an epithet.This is revisionism at its worst. Jimmy Carter is the one who restored moralistic language to the American dialogue with the Soviet Union. While Carter may have talked about hunger and poverty, he always talked about them in the context of human rights, a fundamentally American concept. As Carter memorably said, "Because we are free, we cannot be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere."
Moreover, one must recall that it was Nixon and Kissinger who purged moralistic language from the US-Soviet dialogue in the process of pursuing an amoral realpolitik approach to all aspects of US foreign relations. Carter recognized the fundamental contradiction between this realpolitik and America's democratic ideals and used it to his advantage. While Carter's human rights policy may have lost its way on many occasions, there is no question that it restored idealism and morality to the American agenda. It is for exactly this reason that John Lewis Gaddis observes that
If you asked what was one of the distinctive features of Ronald Reagan's presidency as far as foreign policy was concerned, one of the most important aspects of it was that he actually agreed with Jimmy Carter on the promotion of human rights, that he was as serious about this as Carter was. That made human rights a priority on the conservative, Republican agenda, surely reflecting the early neoconservative influences on foreign policy.Once considered a realist, Gaddis' has been approaching neo-conservatism since 9-11. Months before Bush's February 2003 pledge to promote democracy in Iraq, Gaddis praised the President for his bold vision of a democratic transformation in the Middle East. [NB: Link is to a .pdf file. Download with caution.] While Gaddis might not identify himself as a neo-conservative, his most recent comments resemble those of Kristol, Kagan and Krauthammer more than they do any other foreign policy school of thought. (If Gaddis were Jewish, he'd fit right in with the neo-con crowd. Yet as someone who has known Gaddis for some time, I can assure you that he is one of the most goyish people you will ever meet. On the other hand, he is married to one of the nicest Jewish girls around.)
The purpose of establishing Gaddis' neo-con credentials is to show that Brooks' revisionism doesn't even make sense from a neo-con perspective. However, there are serious flaws with Gaddis' observations as well. What Reagan understood was democracy, not human rights. In theory, democracy was supposed to serve as the ultimate guarantor of human rights. Yet when Reagan prioritized democracy promotion -- most notably in El Salvador and Nicaragua -- he did so at the cost of the local populations' human rights.
Almost inevitably, promoting democracy entails a short-term risk to human rights. A dictatorship in the process of being overthrown often tramples on its subjects. Yet Reagan didn't simply trade off democracy for human rights. Rather, he showed a revolting callousness toward the ramifications of his chosen policies. Most notably, Reagan constantly defended the integrity of the Salvadoran military despite overwhelming and public evidence that it was responsible for tens of thousands of murders. Yet even declassified documents from both the CIA and the State Department show that the relationship between the Salvadoran military and El Salvador's notorious death squads was well-known and well-documented.
Moreover, one cannot even say that Reagan defended the Salvadorans in public out of political necessity. Declassified documents also show that Reagan defended them in private. This should not come as a surprise, however, since Reagan was never a liar. He simply believed the lies that he told. For these reasons, I find Gaddis' description of Reagan to be simply indefensible. More importantly, this oversight in Gaddis' comments points to an important similarity between himself and Brooks: both men want to write Carter out of the history of US foreign relations. Brooks gets rid of Carter by denying his idealism. Gaddis gets rid of Carter by declaring that his idealism was redundant.
Apart from the abstract importance of getting history right, these twin revisionisms point to important differences between liberal hawks and neo-conservatives. As some prominent liberal hawks have suggested, the problem with neo-conservatives isn't with what they believe but with how they believe it. In short, they aren't self-critical enough. This, of course, is a purely ad hominem attack. But it may be called for in light of Brooks' and Gaddis' disturbing effort to cleanse neo-conservatism of its Reagan-era sins.
After all, it is only by washing away such memories that Brooks and Gaddis are able to embrace Bush's foreign policy almost uncritically. As Gaddis writes, the Reagan-era pro-human rights
Trend has continued into this administration, which has moved even more radically and more firmly in this direction. So, ironically, this conservative Republican administration is really the most radical American administration we have seen in years in terms of its promotion of democracy abroad in places that were earlier regarded as inhospitable to it.I agree with Gaddis that the resemblance between Reagan and Bush is striking, but not always in a good way. Like Reagan, Bush seems to be far better at talking about his ideals than putting them into practice. Hence the troubled occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thankfully, Bush has done nothing to compromise human rights in the manner of his predecessor. For that reason, I find it far easier to accept Bush than to accept Reagan. Yet when this administration praises the democratic virtues of Vladimir Putin and Pervez Musharraf, I begin to wonder if Bush really understands a damn thing he is talking about. That is why I am a liberal hawk and not a neo-conservative.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
# Posted 7:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Unfortunately, I have no idea why the fatality and casualty tolls are out of sync. Perhaps the insurgents are focusing their resources on fewer but better attacks. Perhaps it's all just a statistical anomaly. Anyhow, while victory and defeat can't be measured with a body count, it is nice to know that fewer of our soldiers are having to sacrifice their well-being. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:03 PM by Patrick Belton
But unlike most commentators who've placed the onus on an on-time handover on the White House's desire not to carry the Iraq occupation into the autumn's elections, the Monitor argues it's the other way around - Bremer and the Baghdad-based contingent of officials are pushing a transfer of sovereignty on schedule in order to maintain credibility with the Iraqis (and with an eye to Sistani's response to a delay). On the other hand, it's the White House which is most wary of the prospect of a civil war, joined in this by the State Department. Secretary Rumsfeld, on the other hand, along with the ranks of the Pentagon (excepting the deputy secretary and officials in line with his line of thought), are reputed to be quite eager to pull out of Iraq, and hand responsibility over to Foggy Bottom in the bargain.
(Any southerners in the readership are welcome, if they like, to instead refer to a possible Iraqi civil war as a "war between the sheikhs.") (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:05 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:10 AM by Patrick Belton
As part of my own dissertation work at the moment, I'm reading through the Public Papers of the Presidents for the past two decades to see what various Presidents have said about China policy. I'm also doing the same thing in the Congressional Record - the idea is then in the end to be able to say something about how the President and Congress interacted in making China policy at important moments. (An early draft, if you're interested, is here).
So, over the next few days, I might be sharing a few funny moments with our readers out of the Public Papers and the Congressional Record. (The alternative is alcoholism.) So here's one amusing bit that appears in the "Remarks to the China and United States Women's Soccer Teams Following the World Cup Final in Pasadena, California, July 10, 1999," at p. 1185 of the second volume of presidential papers for 1999. I'd like to draw your attention in particular to the stage direction the editors include at bottom.
The President (to the China's women's soccer team). I want to say to the whole team how much we admire your performance in the whole World Cup. You were magnificent today, and we were very honored to have you in our country. You will win many more games.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:05 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:37 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:03 AM by Patrick Belton
The problem is that in fundamental ways relating to human rights and political repression, China today is not much different than it was a decade ago. Yes, China has been brought into the international community, if we define that phrase exclusively in terms of economics. But ordinarily the international community is not defined solely by membership in the World Trade Organization.From permitting the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit prisoners in its jails, to allowing unauthorised public meetings or making the smallest statement of remorse for using arms against its peacefully protesting citizens, the Chinese regime has not budged in the slightest toward international norms of decency and human rights. On the contrary, from 1989 on, it's the West that has positively run, under three consecutive US presidents, to erase from the public stage all criticism whatsoever of the way Beijing treats its subjects. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:40 AM by Patrick Belton
CORRECTION: 3,300 incidents involving dead priests weren't counted, rather than 3,300 dead priests. (Some dead priests may have been serial pedophiles.) Still, the point remains that even without taking a single dead priest into account over 4 percent of American priests have been accused of sexual assault of minors - an unforgiveably large amount of rape of children, and an unforgiveable betrayal of trust. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, February 16, 2004
# Posted 4:03 PM by Patrick Belton
We also have frequent meetings in Washington, New York, Chicago, the Bay, LA, Boston, and New Haven, and a think tank we're getting off the ground - please just drop us a note if you'd like to be kept in the loop!
UPDATE: And a friend in our San Francisco chapter was kind enough to suggest a few more, which we've added here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:49 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:51 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:58 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:41 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
one of the things that has long bothered me about Kerry is the fact that he seems to take such deliberately calculated positions on so many issues. This is a gut reaction on my part, not something I have documentary evidence of, but he often seems to be trying just a little too hard to simply come up with a position — any position — that won't piss off anyone on either side too badly.Still, Kevin thinks Kerry had solid-yet-complex rationales for all of his positions. And both Matt and Kevin like the fact that Kerry prefers knowledge to ideology when it comes to decisionmaking.
The one issue I really want to take up with Matt concerns Kerry's attitude toward reconstruction. As Matt correctly observes,
Kerry (and Dean and Edwards) all very clearly said at the time was that their "no" votes should not be interpreted as opposition to appropriating large sums of money for the reconstruction of Iraq. Rather, they felt that the $87 billion was being misappropriated and financed in an unsound manner (increased borrowing) and that if the request could be defeated in the Senate it would be possible to negotiate a different, better deal with the president.That's not a bad justification for voting against the bill. But what has Kerry done since then to show that he actually cares about nation-building and democracy promotion in Iraq? Edwards has at least made a serious effort to lay out a democracy promotion agenda. But with Kerry, you get the sense that he was doing exactly Kevin says he always does: looking for the position that will piss off the fewest people.
What I really want to hear from Kerry is this: "George Bush got us into the wrong war and prevented the UN from giving us any real help with reconstruction. But it is simply wrong to see the occupation of Iraq as a burden. Rather, it is a historic opportunity for the United States to address the root causes of terrorism by bringing freedom to the Middle East. The Bush administration is letting this historic opportunity slip away, but I can guarantee you that my administration won't."
Naturally, I disagree with the first sentence of that paragraph. But I put it in there to show that a sincere commitment to rebuilding Iraq is fully compatible with most Democrats' insistence that the war was wrong and that the peace is being lost. Do I expect John Kerry to say anything like this? No, not really. I think he really does see the occupation as a burden and does not want to antagonize those Democratic voters who share that view. But I do hope that Matt and Kevin, who have consistently emphasized the importance of doing Iraq right, will come out and say that if Kerry really cares about rebuilding Iraq he should say so unequivocally. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:12 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:29 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Sunday, February 15, 2004
# Posted 12:40 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:21 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Bush was unquestionably out of step with his generation and, as his mother has said, a late bloomer. While many of his 1960s contemporaries were openly challenging authority and convention, Bush held on to his father's values and ambitions, but with little success at the time. He partied and drank, clashing with his father after a night of carousing in 1972, and supported a war that many of his peers reviled.But don't those facts show that Bush was actually very much in step with his generation? He didn't want to go to Vietnam, he took drugs, and he didn't follow his parents' advice. Only compared to the rest of the Ivy League and the Northeast was Bush clearly outside of the mainstream. For better or worse, the same could be said today. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, February 14, 2004
# Posted 11:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
(NB: "Kristof Responds" is almost a blog. If it linked to other authors' work, it would be there. Still, there's no question that Kristof deserves considerable credit for interacting with his readers.)
I say that this is a victory for openness and transparency at the New York Times. Its own in-house critic has chosen to adopt the means of communication preferred by the Times' most inveterate critics. I think we are beginning to see a transformation in the way that journalists define their responsibility to their readers.
While journalists' have long -- and deservedly -- insisted that they serve the public by publicizing information about public figures and institutions, they have always hesitated to let anyone outside of the journalistic profession define how such service ought to be performed. As a result, journalists ensured that they themselves were largely spared from the oversight to which they subjected other influential men and women. But we may now be seeing the beginning of a day and age in which journalists acknowledge their responsibility to justify their methods and decisions to the reading public.
The reaction to such oversight is not surprising. As Okrent reports in his most recent column,
A lot of people here believe that The Times should be as open to examination as those The Times itself examines each day; their welcome has been generous and heartening. What's worse than I expected is the overt hostility from some of those who don't want me here...I think that this sort of reaction is indicative of many journalists' condescension towards the reading public they are supposed to serve. This reporters response is reminiscent of something that might have been said in the Nixon White House in the midst of Watergate. How dare the public insist on its right to know! That's not in the Constitution!
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the Times' staff has begun to assert its right to criticize Okrent in public. For example, NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller told the WaPo that one of Okrent's columns was "ill-informed". That is something that should happen more often -- a powerful journalist should be forced to empathize with all those who are constantly misrepresented by the news media. Perhaps, over time, this will teach journalists to respect their subjects a little more.
Even now, these initial moves towards transparency are forcing journalists to begin grappling with one of the most complex and explosive issues in the media world: bias. If Okrent's mail is any indication, the criticism he gets is predominantly from the NYT's left. To understand the following quotation from Okrent's column, you have to know that he wrote it as an imaginary interview with himself, i.e. he both asked and answered the questions. Hence:
Q. Speaking of editors, when are you going to write about the editors' evident pro-Bush, anti-Republican, Likud-sponsored, Israel-hating bias?Strangely, it seems that those who object most to the Times' coverage would like to see it become more like The Nation. Perhaps that is inevitable in a liberal metropolis like New York. Perhaps the majority to the Times' right has assumed that there is no hope for change. Which is why I am going to conclude this column with a salute to the one man whose unorthdox and brash journalistic style forced the Times to confront its own failures. His name is Jayson Blair.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:54 AM by Patrick Belton
On May 1...the European Union will grant full membership to 10 countries, including Cyprus.See also NYT:
According to the plan [agreed on Friday, under Secretary General Annan's brokerage], the two sides will reconvene on Thursday in Cyprus under a tight timetable calling for them to agree by March 22 on reunification language that can be put to simultaneous island-wide referendums in April.If the Secretary General is able to succeed in bringing this 40-year conflict to a peaceful close, it will be one of the great successes of his organisation in our decade toward public order and human dignity, and will win justly deserved praise even from this often sceptical quarter. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:43 AM by Patrick Belton
Friday, February 13, 2004
# Posted 6:34 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:01 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:18 AM by Patrick Belton
A former intelligence analyst, and current professor at the National Defense University, writes on intelligence community reform in Policy Review. Nicholas Eberstadt writes in the WaPo about the demographic emptying of Russia, and William Safire writes in FT about Russia's withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. Kaus has some wonderful stuff on Kerry, not all of which is about sex. John Gaddis, a friend of all the OxBloggers, goes for a Q&A session with the Council on Foreign Relations on Bush administration grand strategy. Brookings releases a report on global governance and shortcomings in the UN Millennium Declaration (as well as getting the Upstate economy going again). CSIS has loads of good stuff: on political trends in China, the Sudan peace process, AIDS in India, and Mid-East oil. Carnegie has pieces on women's rights in the Arab world (as well as liberalization and democracy promotion), proliferation strategy, and the effects of Nafta on Mexico.
TNR meanwhile runs a piece on France's idiotic veil law, while the Weekly Standard analyzes the administration's human trafficking policy. (The latter, incidentally, was also the subject of a talk here by Yale Law's Dean-Designate Harold Koh last night, who kindly stuck around to talk with some of us after his talk and again over lunch today). Also in the Standard, Jonathan Last writes a requiem for Clark, and neo-con-babe-turned-budget-geek Katherine Mangu-Ward analyzes the Bush budget. In New Haven, the Yale Corporation met and decided to jazz up Science Hill, reach out to China, and hike up tuition 5%. And here in Oxford, Oxford students are getting beaten up by townies left and right - incidentally, just days after a student newspaper printed a cover showing that basically every individual on every side of the BBC-Blair-Kelly-Hutton debacle had done some time in the local uni.
So - nothing to do for Valentine's Day? Don't want to duke it out with local hooligans, or visit a Parisian red light district? It's okay: cuddle up with OxBlog tomorrow. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:14 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:30 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
What this all reminds me of is a story my father used to tell about his ambitions. If memory serves, the son of one of my father's colleagues married the daughter of violinist Itzhak Perlman. In the NYT wedding announcement, it identified the bride by simply saying that "Her father is the violinist." My father said that he would know that he had hit the big time if one day I got married and the newspaper identified me by saying "His father is the scientist." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
A majority of Americans believe President Bush either lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.If you scroll down a ways, you find out that 21% believe Bush lied while 31% believe he exaggerated without lying. Putting those numbers together to create a majority seems rather suspicious. If the WaPo wanted, it could just as easily have run a headline that emphasized a different finding from its most recent poll: that 68% of Americans think Bush really believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The WaPo also reports that
the president's declining ratings related to Iraq were most striking. Approval of his handling of the situation there has fallen to 47 percent, down 8 percentage points in the past three weeks.Actually, there's nothing particularly striking about that. If you look at the supplementary data provided on the WaPo website, you discover that Bush's rating on Iraq is almost exactly where it was at the end of last October. His rating shot up when we captured Saddam and has slowly returned to where it was beforehand. The WaPo also observes that
The survey found that, for the first time since the war ended, fewer than half of Americans -- 48 percent -- believe the war was worth fighting, down 8 points from last month. Fifty percent said the war was not worth it.To put that number in perspective, you again have to go to the supplementary data. It turns out that 58% of American think that the war in Iraq contributed to the United States' long-term security. In addition, 57% believe that the war can be justified even if we don't find any WMD Iraq. In contrast, 24% think that finding the weapons is critical to justifying the war while 17% think the war simply wasn't justified. On a related note, 61% of Americans still believe Iraq had WMD, a 28-point drop since December. All in all, it seems hard to agree with the WaPo's conclusion that
Questions about Bush's use of prewar intelligence, in addition to feeding doubts about his honesty, have sent his performance rating plummeting.Given that Bush's overall approval rating has dropped 8% while his approval rating for handling the economy has dropped 7%, it seems a lot more sensible to conclude, as a great American statesman once said, "It's the economy, stupid." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, February 12, 2004
# Posted 11:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Iran is an interesting case for the concept of inspections because it seems to lie halfway between Libya, the willing participant and Iraq, the intransigent opponent. It seems that Teheran will do its best to keep inspectors in the dark, but compromise when confronted with evidence of its misbehavior.
Given that there is no military option on the table, it seems the best option for the United States to throw all its weight behind ensuring the seriousness of the inspections process. Then again, it may be best for certain top officials to say nothing about the issue, since they have a way of antagonizing the UN and the rest of NATO whenever they decide to speak out. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:42 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:45 AM by Patrick Belton
Also of interest are recent testimonies by executive branch officials on terrorist financing, Syrian support for terrorism, the state of counterterror operations in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and U.S. policy towards Iran, Central Asia and Colombia. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:55 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
# Posted 11:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Also, I didn't know that
Dr. [David] Kay, the former chief C.I.A. weapons inspector, has said that his team learned that no Special Republican Guard units had chemical or biological weapons — but that all of the officers believed that some other Special Republican Guard unit had them. He said it appeared that the Iraqi officers were the victims of a disinformation campaign by Mr. Hussein.It makes you wonder. Were all of Saddam's efforts to deceive UN arms inspectors just part of an effort to persuade his own government that such weapons existed? After all, if Saddam believed that Bush wasn't serious about going to war, then he had no reason to be concerned about committing the sort of material breach that would have been picked up by US intelligence agencies.
What I still want to know was whether Saddam thought the US wouldn't attack despite believing Iraq had WMD or whether he assumed that we wouldn't attack because we knew that the WMD were a fabrication designed to fool Saddam's own henchmen. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 5:53 AM by Patrick Belton
Will Baude and Amanda Butler's notes from the meeting are up here. Tonight, our Oxford chapter is meeting at 8 pm in the New Room in St Antony's (in Hilda Besse - ask the porters) for a talk by Zach Kaufman (Magdalen) on the history of war crimes tribunals from Nurenberg to the present, with a particular view toward the implications for an eventual trial of Saddam. His catchy title: "Dealing (with) the Ace of Spades." Many more events coming up soon in the Bay, LA, New York, DC, and Boston - please drop a note if you'd like to be kept in the loop! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 western directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Offhand, I don't think I've seen any John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart films before (which tells you a lot about how ignorant I am on the subject of film). So what you're getting here are the impressions of a total novice.
First of all, the vintage acting style in Valance struck me as extremely artificial and melodramatic. The characters didn't seem to interact with one another so much as deliver monologues while standing near one another. While this approach seems deficient from a 21st century perspective, I imagine that it has its own strengths which I'll come to appreciate over time.
That said, I still found Jimmy Stewart extremely annoying. He's like a WASPy version of Woody Allen, except not at all funny. While you pretty much know that Stewart, the hero, won't get shot and killed, that didn't stop me from hoping. On the other hand, I liked Wayne's performance a lot more, althought it was hard not to laugh when he ended every sentence with the word "pilgrim" (as in "You look mighty tired there, pilgrim.")
Anyhow, once I got past the culture shock of watching a 40-year old film I really began to like it. Valance is a story about a classic dilemma in American life: should we resist force with force, or strive to establish just laws that prevent others from using force unjustly? The scenario plays out as follows: Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) is a young Eastern-born lawyer headed for the frontier. On his way, he is robbed and beaten by the outlaw Liberty Valance. Upon arriving in the town of Shinbone, Stewart discovers that no one has the courage to make Valance pay for his crimes.
The only thing that prevents Valance from taking over Shinbone completely is the fact that Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) can draw a gun just as fast as the outlaw himself. Apalled by this situation, Stewart resolves to put Valance on trial. Stewart carries on even though Wayne insists that his approach is naive and will only result in Stewart's getting killed.
There is also a very strong political element in the film, since the territory is in the midst of a struggle to decide whether or not it wants to join the Union. At the same time that Stewart tries to bring Valance to justice, he is also trying to organize the townsfolk to vote for statehood. However, it turns out that Valance has been hired by rich cattle ranchers to scare the voters out of joining the Union.
From the perspective of February 2004, Valance seems to be a film about democracy promotion and nation-building. In academic circles, one often hears that democracy is about more than elections. It is about the rule of law. It is about having a free press. It is about ensuring that those with wealth cannot distort the political process.
As it turns out, Hollywood knew that 40 years ago. Thus it might be a good idea to have a special screening of Valance in the White House theater. It might remind George Bush that the challenges facing Iraq and Afghanistan today are similar to those Americans faced in the West 120 years ago.
However, the film might also serve as a reminder to critics of the administration that the use of force is often necessary in order to put American ideals into practice. As Stewart discovers, you can only take the high road in those lands where the law is already sovereign. On the frontier, you need a gun. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 1:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
# Posted 10:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:18 AM by Patrick Belton
Monday, February 09, 2004
# Posted 6:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But I think that this is a case of sheer incompetence, not bias, a possibility that Glenn acknowledges. If you read the article attached to the headline, its gets the story right. The headline just seems out of place, like some sort of accident.
Unfortunately, I can't even find the original story on the Netscape/CNN site. Instead, there is a similar report bearing the headline: "Letter: Bin Laden Has Recruiting Problems". Of course, that's somewhat misleading as well, but at least they're getting closer... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:21 AM by Patrick Belton
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:19 AM by Patrick Belton
If you fancy a quaint little number, then we have the perfect weekend break for you to impress. This delightful hotel located in the area of Montmartre and minutes from the Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge has to be a bit of a find.Area of Montmartre, by Moulin Rouge - so basically, you're saying that it's right plunk in the middle of Paris's red light district? (Unless this is a fairly heterodox species of British "Valentine's Day special"?) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, February 08, 2004
# Posted 9:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While Russert certainly could have been nastier and interrupted the President more often, there is an expectation (perhaps unjustified) that even journalists will show a certain amount of deference to the Commander-in-Chief when talking with him in person. Besides, Bush is usually willing to hang himself if you just give him enough rope.
Anyhow, Russert did get to ask the tough questions that everyone expected. For example:
The night you took the country to war, March 17th, you said this: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."...Or:
Can you launch a preemptive war without ironclad, absolute intelligence that he had weapons of mass destruction?And:
Looking back, in your mind, is it worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction?Finally:
The Bush-Cheney first three years, the unemployment rate has gone up 33 percent, there has been a loss of 2.2 million jobs. We've gone from a $281 billion surplus to a $521 billion deficit. The debt has gone from 5.7 trillion, to $7 trillion, up 23 percent. Based on that record, why should the American people rehire you as CEO?While relatively tough, those questions are also relatively predictable. How much you wanna bet that Bush's prep team asked him almost exactly the same questions in their rehearsals for the Russert interview?
Of course, the fact that the questions were so predictable makes the President's lackluster responses even more disturbing. While Bush managed to hit his talking points, his stumbling defensiveness made the interview hard to watch, even for someone like myself who thinks that there are perfectly good answers to all of Russert's questions about the war.
Now, we know George Bush is going to stumble. We can forgive him for being less than eloquent. But more important than the fact of stumbling is the way in which it conveyed a total inability to think through the issues in a sophisticated manner. Throughout the interview, Bush seemed like he was struggling to remember what he had been told to say at rehearsals. This, after 18 months of having Iraq in the headlines?
But personally, far more disturbing than this stumbling was Bush's defensiveness. Everyone response came across as an almost desperate effort to pretend that Russert's questions hadn't really hit on one of the administration's major failures. Bush came across as someone who simply couldn't admit to the American public when something had gone wrong. If Bush had just come into the interview and said, calmly and confidently, that of course there were major intelligence failures, I think he would've won a lot of respect without losing anything in political terms. Everyone already knows the weapons aren't there. Admitting is the best damage control strategy.
Now, there was one point at which the confused and defensive Bush gave way to a calm and confident alter ego. In the middle of a question about nation-building (which he was in the midst of fumbling), Bush suddenly got this look in his eye as if he knew exactly what the right answer was. He said that
The best way to secure America for the long term is to promote freedom and a free society and to encourage democracy. And we are doing so in a part of the world where people say it can't happen, but the long term vision and the long term hope is -- and I believe it's going to happen -- is that a free Iraq will help change the Middle East. You may have heard me say we have a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. It's because I believe so strongly that freedom is etched in everybody's heart, I believe that,and I believe this country must continue to lead.The change in the President's body language was astonishing. It's the kind of thing that doesn't show up in transcripts, the kind of thing that made me glad I actually got up so damn early on a Sunday morning in order to watch the interview.
When Bush started talking about democracy promotion and the universal desire for freedom, his words began to flow in a way they hadn't before. And you couldn't help thinking that the words were coming straight from his heart. With Reagan, you could dismiss it as acting. But with Bush, it's hard not to believe he's sincere.
Now, that doesn't mean that Bush truly understands what kind of effort serious democracy promotion entails. It doesn't mean that he will notice when the US begins to compromise its principles in countries that don't make the headlines. But it gives me a certain confidence that he understands why the reconstruction of Iraq is vital to our long-run victory over the forces of terror. That is why Bush put himself on the line for the $87 billion reconstruction bill. That is why we still have 120,000 troops on the ground. While I can't shake my suspicions that Bush (or Cheney or Rumsfeld) is getting ready to cut and run, the fact is that the President has shown a surprising willingness to stay and fight for what innumerable critics have long dismissed as a lost cause.
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# Posted 8:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:15 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:18 AM by Patrick Belton
So which is it: Are America's spies a gaggle of fools for believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Or is the Bush administration a gang of knaves for lying us into a war?One of Jim's most interesting points has to do with the scale of the biological weapons in question:
Take anthrax. The Iraqis admitted they had made 8,500 liters (8.5 tons), and Colin Powell in his February speech to the U.N. Security Council noted that the U.N. inspectors thought Saddam could have about three times as much. But even this larger amount would weigh only some 25 tons in liquid form--slightly more than one tractor-trailer load. If reduced to powder, as Mr. Powell suggested in his speech, it could be contained in a dozen or so suitcases.His final conclusion, I also think, is also noteworthy:
[A] three-part emphasis on human rights, terrorist ties and WMD programs would have been solidly in line with the president's own explicit policy. A three-legged stool is more stable than a one-legged one, but for some reason the administration decided not to make all three parts of its case in justifying the decision to go to war. As a result, its very heavy emphasis on WMD to the exclusion of the other two bases of its strategy has left the administration vulnerable to the failure to find WMD stockpiles.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:54 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
After the POW issue, we get to the bread and butter: Kerry's strong support for abortion rights, gay rights, gun control and environmental protection. I think he's been on the right side of every one of these issues. However, he has broken with the Democratic majority on NAFTA and welfare reform, positions that I also support. Even so, it's probably fair to describe Kerry as "solidly liberal", even if he doesn't seem to want that label himself.
The one major error in the NYT profile concerns Kerry's role in the Iran-Contra affair. The Times writes that Kerry's
ad hoc investigation paid off. Suspicions about Colonel North increased. The Foreign Relations Committee began a formal inquiry. Documents found in a plane that was shot down in Nicaragua indicated involvement by the C.I.A. And in November 1986, a Middle Eastern newspaper reported that United States arms had been secretly sold to Iran with the proceeds diverted to support the contras.While Kerry's deserves credit for paying attention to the issue before many other Senators did, it is absurd to imply that his work contributed to any major revelations of the Reagan administration's misconduct. What blew the case wide open was the plane crash mentioned above. The fact that a Nicaraguan soldier shot down a plane and that one of its American crewmen survived was a matter of sheer luck -- bad for the President, good for the Constitution. Without that plane crash, there would've been no story.
As for the Iranian connection, the story of American arms shipments was broken by a small Lebanese paper called Al-Shiraa. Again, that was a matter of considerable luck. Kerry did not in any way lay the foundation for it.
But enough about what the NYT did write. Far more important is what it didn't. If you compare the NYT article to it's counterpart in the WaPo, you'll be left asking yourself how the NYT managed to avoid any mention of Kerry's double-speak justifications of his votes against the first Gulf War and for the second. The WaPo reports that
Nowhere has Kerry been challenged more for voting one way and talking another than on Iraq, both for his vote in support of the war in 2002 and his vote opposing the Persian Gulf War in 1991.Now how does the NYT spin the issue? It writes that
In 1991, [Kerry] opposed sending troops to fight in the Persian Gulf war. But he voted in 2002 to authorize fighting in Iraq, and he supported military action in Panama, Somalia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.How clever. Using an out-of-context quote by a Republican to make Kerry seem to have a far more consistent record on national security than he actually does. I doubt Karl Rove will be so kind.
All in all, it looks like I'll be facing the usual dilemma this November. I can get the domestic policies I like by voting Democratic and the foreign policies I like by voting Republican. But no matter which way I vote, the chances of getting a straight-talker in the White House aren't very good. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion