OxBlog

Monday, July 11, 2005

# Posted 2:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WOW. THIS NYT EDITORIAL ACTUALLY IMPRESSED ME: Even an inveterate critic such as myself considers the NYT, as a newspaper and a cultural institution, to be impressive. But almost never would I say that about its endlessly recycled anti-Bush editorials. Yet today, I am impressed.

Yesterday morning, the NYT called for the expansion of the US army by 100,000 men. Of course, the editorial began with the usual litany of accusations about Bush's incompetence, etc. But when it comes down to nuts and bolts, supporting this kind of ambitious, expensive and (in my opinion) necessary objective suggests that the Times doesn't want to resolve the struggle in Iraq or in the broader Middle East via disengagement or via an unquestioned reliance on international institutions.

Instead, the Times seems to understand that no matter how much value there is to be had from international cooperation and from the forthright consideration of America's numerous flaws, the successful waging of the war on terror must rest on a foundation of incomparable military power.
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# Posted 2:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AND SPEAKING OF THE CONFEDERATE FLAG, WHY DOESN'T THE NORTH HAVE A FLAG? If I want to express my pride as a Northener born and raised, what symbol can I invoke? If I were from the Northwest, perhaps just a Starbucks logo on a field of green. But what about the Northeast? Any ideas?

(Hat tip to my brother MA for suggesting this question.)
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

# Posted 7:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHY DOES THE CONFEDERATE FLAG LOOK ORANGE? Officially, the flag is red. My brother and I visited the Jefferson Davis mansion in Richmond today (often referred to as The Confederate White House), where I asked our tour guide whether the flag is red or orange. He confidently stated that it is red, a fact verified by a scholarly tome in the museum's gift shop as well as on website's like this one.

Yet in that same gift shop, depictions of the Confederate flag (more precisely, the Confederate battle flag) side by side with the American flag clearly show that either the American flag is more red or the Confederate flag is more orange. By the same token, my brother and I went to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Norfolk last night, where one of the backdrops for the stage was half of an American flag with half of a Confederate flag next to it. The colors were clearly different.

So, if any of you happen to know what the precise hue of the Confederate flag is, please let me know. Is it a specific kind of red that has some orange in it? Was it always that way? I'm curious.
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Friday, July 08, 2005

# Posted 5:42 AM by Patrick Belton  

THUS ALLAN MASSIE in today’s Indy (p. 30):
Sometimes, you think, we are becoming soft, far more ready to give way to sloppy self-indulgent emotionalism than our parents and grandparents were; that the upper lip is more often wobbly than stiff. And then you get something like this.

I was in my study, looking out over the green tranquil country of the Scottish Borders, sheep grazing in the field below the woods, when my daughter telephoned to tell me bombs were going off all over London. I turned on the television, and one of the first things I saw was a man with the left side of his face all cut and bloody being interviewed.

I can’t remember just what he said, but his tone was familiar, immediately recognizable. He was, I suppose, in his forties, maybe a little younger, certainly of a comfortably post-war generation. He was calm, relaxed, self-deprecating; it might have been John Mills or Jack Warner telling Hitler: ‘London can take it, Britain can take it.’ It was moving, comforting, and, yes, inspiring.

I had another call later in the day, this time from a girl in my publisher’s publicity department. She was ringing to ask if I could go on a book festival on a date in January. That, too, is an example of the spirit of the Blitz. It might, she admitted, be difficult for her to get home that evening; but work goes on.

London has been through it before. The Blitz destroyed great parts of the city. … And even when victory was at last in sight, came the rockets – the V1 and the V2 – bringing death without warning. Londoners shrugged their shoulders and called them ‘doodlebugs.’ … But then, in years of peace, came the IRA bombing campaign, and Londoners bore that too without flinching. Most remarkable, the terrorists then were regarded with contempt rather than hatred.

We are the same people we were 60 years ago, capable of the same stoicism. London can take it, and it can do so because its stoicism is laced as it always has been with humour.

Orwell again: ‘A lot of bombs in Greenwich, one of them while I was talking to E over the phone. A sudden pause in the conversation and a tinkling sound:
I: ‘What’s that?’
E: ‘Only the window falling in.’

Business as usual.
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# Posted 4:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SO WHAT DOES LONDON MEAN? No, I don't have an answer to that question. Yes, I have opinions about the answers offered by others. First of all, Kevin Drum has simply responded with the sober image of a British flag at half mast. It is a message of condolence and solidarity. Kevin adds:
If I could have one small wish for today, it would be for the blogosphere on both left and right to refrain from political point scoring over the London attacks. Just for a day. Isn't tomorrow soon enough to return to our usual arguments?
I wish there more bloggers people like Kevin, although I guess even Kevin would admit he's being a bit naive. Not surprisingly, Josh Marshall has taken the occasion of the London attacks to remind us that
President Bush has created a great running wound on the whole country in the form of the mess he's created in Iraq -- a wound bleeding blood, treasure and a scourge of national division which is now impossible to ignore but which we can ill-afford.
From the other end of the spectrum, Belmont Club writes that
The tragedy is that Al Qaeda's perception [of Western cowardice] is perfectly correct when applied to the Left, for whom no position is too supine, no degradation too shameful to endure; but incorrect for the vast majority of humans, in whom the instinct for self-preservation has not yet been extinguished.
Yeah, that's pretty apalling. I expect better from a highly intelligent analyst such as Wretchard.

In the same post, Wretchard also argues that yesterday morning's attack is a sign of Al Qaeda's weakness. He then specifies that this weakness stems from the fact that
Thousands of Al Qaeda fighters, the cream of their rancid crop, is fighting to expel the American infidel from the Land Between the Rivers [i.e. Iraq]. A moment's reflection will show that if they are there they cannot be elsewhere -- in London, Paris, Rome or Boston -- sowing bombs on buses and trains.
I disagree with both of Wretchard's points. His stronger point is the first, i.e. that the relatively low human cost of yesterday's attack is a sign of Al Qaeda's weakness. The same point has been made by Andrew Sullivan (citing The Economist) and, in a somewhat different way, by Anne-Marie Slaughter.

But ask yourself the following question: What if those attacks had taken place in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles? After almost four years of apparent immunity from terror, it would have seemed that Al Qaeda had finally recovered from its initial setbacks enough to breach the citadel once again. If those attacks had taken place on American soil, this administration's record on homeland security would immediately have become the foremost subject of debate.

But yet we treat the attack differently because it was in London. That is not wholly wrong, given that British membership in Europe entails vulnerability to a very different set of threats than those we face in the United States. For example, it will be interesting to see how many of those who carried out the bombings were either residents or citizens of the EU.

Nonetheless, I am profoundly discomforted by the fact that terrorists have been able to carry out such a well-coordinated attack on a Western nation. Moreover, given that the target was Britain, it seems implausible to suggest that its government was in any way less concerned about the prospect of terrorism than our own. And if Al Qaeda can breach Britain's defense's (or Spain's) then can we really consider an attack on the United States out of the question?

Again, it comes down to the question of to what degree Europe is vulnerable to a different set of threats than the United States. Thus, given that we know so little at the moment about the origins of the attack, I think it is very premature to suggest that this was a sign of Al Qaeda's weakness.

Now, with regard to Wretchard's argument that the war in Iraq has diverted Al Qaeda from the West, I raise the following questions: How do we know that Al Qaeda hasn't reserved its best operatives for attacks against Europe and the United States while sending its foot soldiers into the trenches in Iraq? And how do we know that Iraq doesn't serve as an effective training ground for Al Qaeda, where those who survive gain the ability to operate in much less supportive enivornments, such as London or New York?

In a limited sense, the "flypaper theory" is most certainly right; the war in Iraq is chewing up a lot of jihadist manpower. But is it chewing up enough to ensure that there aren't 19 more terrorists ready and able to carry out another 9/11?

UPDATE: If I'd known that Matt Yglesias were mocking the advocates of the flypaper theory, maybe I would've found some more good things to say about it.
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# Posted 4:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CAPT. CARTER CAPTURES THE DEAD TREE MEDIA: Publishing an op-ed in the NY Times is still the gold standard of punditry, so congratulations to Phil Carter for his persuasive argument that President Bush must take a more actively role in helping the armed forces recruit the next generation of American soldiers.

Unfortunately, an unidentified editor at the Times took some rather extraordinary liberties with Phil's argument, which the paper has now explained as follows:
The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, "Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday," nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a "surprise tour of Iraq." That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published. Because of a production error, it was not. The Times regrets the error.
Those additions are so inflammatory and so at odds with the tone of Phil's column that they almost defy explanations. The unidentified editor's political motives may be rather transparent, but I have no idea how a professional editor could behave in such an unprofessional manner.

Michael Barone, also an editor by trade, says that the editor responsible for the additions should be fired. I am not ruthless enough to make such a suggestion, but I do think the editor involved should have the courage to admit what he did rather than hiding behind an anonymous "Editor's Note".
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Thursday, July 07, 2005

# Posted 1:53 PM by Patrick Belton  

SO NOW AL QA'EDA HAS ATTACKED THIS COUNTRY. Perhaps now is therefore not the most inappropriate moment to do something which under ordinary circumstances would be decidedly un-English; viz, to express my real affection for the country in which I have chosen to live. It has become, in a way I never expected it to, home. And where the virtues of other countries fetishise a Romantic, Wagnerian heroism, those of England are unassuming: decency, carrying on, and in direr hours humour, stiff upper lips, and the ironic, benevolent wit of fellow-sufferers talking to one another. These are adult virtues, by comparison to which the others seem adolescent; by them one might live a daily rather than a cinematic life, share pints with friends, and when public duties call, do what they require with quiet steely determination and self-effacing humour. In unglad moments, these are sterner stuff. On this point I find Andrew is quite apposite: ‘Right now, a million kettles are boiling. Stoicism is not an American virtue. Apart from a sense of humor, it is the ultimate British one.’

The numbers were mercifully smaller, though by a certain logic of perception it was 9/11 all over again; the same day of thoughtful and concerned telephone calls to friends, from friends, an eerily familiar difficulty with the mobile network over the metropole. These numbers are currently 33 (the number of confirmed deaths) and four (the roster of confirmed attacks: a tunnel near Liverpool Street metro station; a tunnel between Russell Square and King's Cross stations; an Underground train at Edgware Road station; and the bus near Russell Square) Perhaps the more gratifying aspect is that thanks to the members of the security services, they were not higher, and it all hadn’t happened long before: a security source who briefed The Economist last year gave details of several attempted terrorist attacks on the capital that had been foiled before fruition. (Economist). To each of them, then: well done, you.
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# Posted 5:45 AM by Patrick Belton  

THERE WAS AN apparent terrorist attack on London this morning, with explosions on the Underground at the Aldgate, and apparently also Liverpool Street and Edgeware Road, tube stations and a double-decker bus filled with passengers diverted from the Underground destroyed in Russell Square and a second attacked in Tavistock Place. This blog has a number of friends who commute daily on these routes; they and all Londoners are painfully in our thoughts.

UPDATE: Transport Police are currently describing incidents as having taken place at the Aldgate, Edgware Road, King's Cross, Old Street and Russell Square stations. There are also reports of two trains colliding near King's Cross. The first waves of speculation have connected the attacks to yesterday's announcement awarding the city the 2012 Olympics. A caller to BBC Five described the Russell Square bus as ripped open like a can of sardines and bodies everywhere".

The Prime Minister has left the G-8 summit in Gleneagles to return to London. His statement: 'It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long-term problems of climate change and the environment. Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it is also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8. ... It's important however that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world. (Full statement).

Laura Matthews, a press officer at Universities UK, which has offices in Tavistock Square, told the Guardian she had seen bodies lying around the bus explosion, some of them without arms or legs. A passenger on the train that exploded at Edgware Road also was quoted, by the Press Asssociation, as saying he had seen several bodies in the wreckage. (Guardian story).

The London Underground system has been shut down entirely, in a move thought to be unprecedented. The FTSE 100 index has plunged this morning by over 200 points. (Times) In government response, the Cobra committee of senior civil emergency ministers has met, and a Commons statement is expected later today. Cobra has met on only four previous occasions; it receives its name from the room in Downing Street where its meetings take place, Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. The committee can call on any minister or senior civil servant to take part, as well as fire, police and ambulance chiefs, military commanders and the heads of the security and intelligence services MI5 and MI6; it is supported by a permanent Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office; and it acts as a centre of expertise for emergency planning, produces regular assessments of potential crises and runs exercises to test the authorities' readiness to respond. (BBC)

CNN is reporting that the emergency services have successfully removed all survivors from Kings Cross tube stop, leaving a number of dead below ground "in the double digits." (CNN) Police have found traces of explosives in one of the six presently confirmed blast locations. Home Secretary Charles Clarke is identifying six explosion sites at the moment: at the Edgware Road, Moorgate, King's Cross, Liverpool Street and Russell Square stations; and on a double-decker No 59 bus near Russell Square outside the Tavistock Hotel. The first blast was on a train at Aldgate East at 8.49am. (Times)

I'm quite struck by the strategic cynicism of attacking public transportation, and then after an interval, the crowded bus lines once commuters had been diverted to them. But several friends I spoke with this morning who have lived in Israel say that this pattern - an initial attack, followed by a staggered attack on emergency services once they'd arrived - isn't at all uncommon. (My friends living abroad are kindly texting to see if i have all of my relevant body parts, attached in the appropriate fashion.) I find that such an attack on commuting civilians completely unengaged with the machinery of government, war, or administration is striking me as stomach-turning and revolting in a way I could not have previously imagined.




A friend has kindly pointed out I might perhaps justifiably acquire a bit of paranoia; on 11 September, I'd just arrived in Washington, from New York (and spent the day with David in the Carnegie Endowment building); now, notes my friend, they're coming after me in Britain. (Another friend helpfully opines, 'I'm sure it's not personal'.)
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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

# Posted 4:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LIVE BLOGGING THE CARNIVAL OF PROTEST: The multi-talented Charmaine Yoest is in Scotland, following events at the G8 summit. I especially like her post about Richard Branson's casual attitude toward corruption. (For the background story on Charmaine's trip, see here and here.)
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# Posted 3:53 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SO TELL ME AGAIN WHY GIVING AID TO CORRUPT DICTATORSHIPS IS A GOOD IDEA: I'm against global poverty. Who isn't? But those who demand that Western governments increase their aid programs by billions of dollars per year have to demonstrate that throwing money at the problem really is the right answer. As Sebastian Mallaby points out, some pretty smart people think that aid has negligible or even negative effects on developing economies.

One way around such demands is to have celebrities pull at our collective heartstrings until we feel guilty enough to demand that our governments give more. OxBlog may not be susceptible to that sort of emotional manipulation, but we here do recognize that it can be quite effective.

Another way around such objections -- one that is preferred by smart liberal policymakers -- is to argue that fighting poverty is integral to our national security. In other words, we shouldn't care about poverty because we are good people; we should care about poverty because we are selfish.

This argument has quite a long pedigree. To a certain extent, it provided the basic rationale for the Marshall Plan. (Which worked.) Unquestionably, it represented the foundation of the Kennedy administration's strategy for fighting Communism in the developing world. (Which didn't.)

And now, once again, top-flight thinkers in the Democratic Party such as Susan Rice have begun to apply this argument to the war on terror. And yet I remain unconvinced. Rice argues in the WaPo that
For a rare moment, global poverty reduction is near the top of the international agenda. It's hip. It's moral. And it's smart policy...

Clearly, the most important ingredients for reducing poverty are improved economic policies and responsible governance in developing countries. But far greater support from rich countries is essential.
Which is sort of like saying that the most important way to stop organized crime is to persuade mobsters that their behavior is unethical, but that it is also essential to finance job training programs for Tony Soprano and Michael Corleone.

Sure, job training programs are a good idea. But they are a total waste of money as long as the mobsters prefer the status quo. In addition to spicing up this post with colorful reference to pop culture, this analogy has a point: Most of the governments who would benefit from increased Western aid bear at least as much resemblance to sophisticated protection rackets as they do to what Europeans or North Americans might describe as a government.

Anyhow, Rice goes on to observe that:
The president also claims to have "tripled" aid to Africa over the past four years; in fact, total U.S. assistance to Africa has not even doubled. It has increased 56 percent in real dollars from fiscal 2000 to 2004, the last completed fiscal year. More than half of that increase is emergency food aid -- not assistance that alleviates poverty.
Bush should be more precise about what he says, but it strikes me as sort of odd that Rice is complaining about a conservative Republican president who hasn't increased foreign aid as much as she would hope. After all, Rice was assistant secretary of state for Africa during Clinton's second term. If foreign aid is such a good idea, why didn't the uber-intelligent Clinton do more about it during his eight years in office?

Of course, Clinton's indolence doesn't bear directly on the merit of Rice's main argument, which is that
Numerous studies show that poverty fuels conflict...When per capita income reaches $1,000, the risk drops dramatically, and at $5,000 it is less than 1 percent...

Al Qaeda established training camps in conflict-ridden Afghanistan, purchased diamonds from Sierra Leone, raised recruits in Chechnya and targeted American soldiers in Somalia (and now Iraq).
My first question is, does poverty fuel conflict, or does conflict fuel poverty? To a certain extent, the answer is probably both. But Rice doesn't even acknowledge that conflict-prone societies may just burn their aid on the battlefied.

Second of all, and more importantly, the second half of Rice's argument breaks down into the old "root causes" cliche. It's not as if all poor countries are likely to produce terrorists. Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa seem to produce very few of them, while the Middle East -- including the rich oil nations -- have produced quite a few. And of course, the terrorists themselves seem to come from wealthy and educated backgrounds.

So, would Rice advocate that we only direct our aid toward countries likely to produce terrorists (since poverty is a contributing cause even in the Middle East)? Or would that kind of strict emphasis on national security be too much for her?

When it comes to fighting poverty, I tend to approach the issue the same way as Anne Applebaum:
Each European cow costs taxpayers $2.20 a day, while half the world's population lives on less than $2 a day. Withdraw the subsidies for the cows, and Africans might even be able to make competitive cheese.
Eliminating subsidies is a win-win proposition, and it doesn't depend on the good will of corrupt dictatorships with a very poor record of distributing donated Western largesse.
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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

# Posted 8:55 AM by Patrick Belton  

NEW LISTSERV: I seem, rather accidentally, to have started up a listserv. Given that I have, you're very welcome to join it. The listserv is called H-Democracy, and will deal principally with democratisation and democracy assistance, and will try to share new research, spread word about conferences and edited volumes, and unify the several research and practitioner communities, and also provide some space for polite, rigorous, scholastically-inflected conversation about the subject. The only real ground rule for contributions to the list is that they be academic or technocratic and, as a result, nonpolitical - it wouldn't really be the best place to debate the Iraq war on political grounds, for instance, but might be a decent place to argue normative cases about broader rationales or problems with the notion of democracy assistance, and not a bad place at all to engage in technocratic conversation about the effectiveness of particular forms of policies directed toward democracy assistance, so long as the tone is pretty firmly based around policy and not politics. Bread-and-butter academic posts about democratisation as a topic in comparative politics or regional studies are positively bloody encouraged. I'll try to get some introductory welcome notes out on the list soon, as well as do some desperate pleading for book reviewers (note: boondoggle opportunity for free books!) and additional editors, particularly ones who carry some regional expertise with them. But in the meantime, please feel free to sign up and look at the pretty and inspiring pictures we have on our website.
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# Posted 8:34 AM by Patrick Belton  

BOOK PITCH: For any publishers who happen to be hovering around, I have decided I will be very happy upon application to produce a volume called ‘When Smart People Do Stupid Things: Limericks and Lavatory Humour at Oxford.’

I have even committed one this morning. Having unwisely entered into a limerick war via text message with a friend who is a PPEist at Dr Chafetz's college (and moonlights at a local noodle bar), my latest contribution was the unremarkable 'There was a young lady from Merton / Whose penchant for noodles was certain / A noodle a day / Keeps the doctor away / But good god how her stomach was hurtin'. This produced the riposte 'You might have replied / I'd rather have died / Than needin' a noodlin' sermon.' This also just goes to show the paucity of the limerick genre when deprived of the ability to trend anatomical, and engage, say, certain parts of my gentle interlocutor's frame with a curtain.

Note supplemental addressed to parties interested in the progress of my dissertation: my statistics chapter, which I really am writing as we speak and which will shortly be ready for inspection, is composed entirely in limerick form.

UPDATE: There once was a man from the stix,
Who liked to compose limmericks,
But he failed at the sport,
'Cause he wrote them too short
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Sunday, July 03, 2005

# Posted 2:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS EVERYBODY IN IRAQ INSANE (EXCEPT FOR THE INSURGENTS)? I found this buried in an op-ed by Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution:
According to the latest surveys, more than 60 percent of Iraqis say their country is moving in the right direction, more than 70 percent expect life to get better for themselves in the future and 90 percent consider violence illegitimate for any political purpose. Most have confidence in the nascent Iraqi security forces and expect them to keep getting better.
What are those Iraqis smoking? What's the last time 60 percent of Americans thought their country was moving in the right direction? If only those god***n Iraqis would pick up a newspaper they would realize that their lives are a godforsaken, crime-ridden, car-bomb saturated, no-electrity-and no-running-water mess? What the hell are they optimistic about? Democracy?

Of course, one possibility is that the polls O'Hanlon cites are simply inaccurate. According to OxBlog's personal gadfly, WAB,

Ten days ago the Boston Globe [no link] reported: "a recent internal poll conducted for the US-led coalition found that nearly 45 percent of the population supported the insurgent attacks, making accurate intelligence difficult to obtain. Only 15 percent of those polled said they strongly supported the US-led coalition." Now, I'm not saying this is correct -- and in fact I regard this form of reporting poll results as highly irresponsible...

But if you look over the whole range of results of polling in Iraq over the last two years, you'll see a great deal of inconsistency and volatility. The truth is that the Iraqi population as a whole is full of diverse tendencies, ambivalence, mixed feelings, uncertainty -- very largely "uncrystallized".

In this kind of context, you tell me what you want a poll to show and I will design a sample, a questionnaire, and an interviewer protocol that will produce those results -- in fact, I could design two simultaneous polls of the same population that would produce highly disparate results -- all without grossly violating the standards of practice that are in fact being used.

It certainly worth keeping in mind all the problems presented by polling in a warzone like Iraq. But the results O'Hanlon cites are so astounding that I don't see how any methodological issues could be responsible for the results. Even if you knocked 20% off of O'Hanlon's numbers, wouldn't it still be astonishing to know that 40% of Iraqi think that Iraq is headed in the right direction and that 50% expect their own lives to get better?

And in case you're wondering, partisan politics are not responsible for O'Hanlon's results. He is a Democrat who has never hesitated to criticize Bush. In fact, most of his op-ed does just that. Also, O'Hanlon is a very, very smart guy and would not use any partisan results prodcuced by Republican operations in Iraq. He is a serious scholar and I have always found him to take great care with his research.
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# Posted 1:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MY TWO CENTS ABOUT KARL ROVE: Here's what Ryan Lizza wrote in TNR:
Rove sparked a polarizing debate with a purposefully disingenuous attack on how "liberals" responded to September 11. Next, Democrats dutifully took the bait and spent a week in a defensive crouch howling that they are not wusses on national security.
I'm not so sure that Rove was being disingenuous. But Ryan's description of the Democratic response is dead on.
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# Posted 2:20 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"24" IS NOT LIBERAL PROPAGANDA! Objections to my post abound. MV says:
For what it's worth, on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh has spoken numerous times about how great the show is (he watches them on DVD over and over, as well), and recently, he said he was invited by the cast and crew to sit in on the taping of this past season's final episode. He said the "24" crew loved him and his radio show, and a great time was had by all. If these are the same people with "pure contempt for Red State America," why is El Rushbo hanging out with them?

Now, I'm not a big fan of the show - I've seen only a few episodes, but from what I've watched, it seemed like a pretty patriotic, post-9/11, Red State-friendly show. Hunt down the terrorists and save America; that sorta thing.
In addition, the august Kevin Drum (via e-mail) provides
A cautionary note from a longtime 24 fan: the show is *all* over the map. You definitely shouldn't make too much out of that one scene, which was probably just a throwaway from a writer looking for a good way to put a blonde girl in jeopardy yet again. (An ongoing theme, as I'm sure you've noticed.) I remember that episode a bit, and my recollection is that they had written themselves into a corner, and obviously needed something really stupid in order to lose the microchip once again.

At any rate, before you write too much about 24 and political correctness, you should definitely check out season 4. It's not on DVD yet, but it was definitely kickass stuff. In fact, it was so kickass that Fox got bullied into having Kiefer Sutherland narrate a public service spot in which he told the audience that, you know, despite every single thing they were portraying in the actual TV show, Muslims are OK people and you shouldn't go out on the streets and kill them.

I truly think that 24 is about the best evidence there is that Hollywood *isn't* as liberal as people think. That is, the people are liberal, of course, but when it comes to the shows, business is business. Do whatever it takes to draw a crowd. If some PC bullshit draws a crowd, great. If kicking Arab ass draws a crowd, great. Whatever.
GP makes the same point as Kevin about Season 4 albeit from a slightly different perspective:
The good news, I think, is that the show has gotten progressively less progressive in each season, culminating in the season just finished, which might be the best yet. So just get the season 4 DVD when it comes out and enjoy the writers moving the plot closer to America’s real enemies than ever before. It’s definitely one of the greatest shows ever, regardless of politics.
So here's my situation: I've watched all 48 episodes that comprise the first two seasons of 24. So I can't respond directly to the point about Season 4, but I think that any reasonable viewer (that means you, Kevin Drum) would admit that Season 1 has strong liberal underpinnings and that the entire premise of Season 2 is drawn directly from the pages of The Nation and Common Dreams.

I will now explain precisely what I mean, but warn you all that I will be giving away all of the secret plots twists from the first two seasons. So if you haven't seen them and plan on doing so, you should stop reading right now. Anyway, here goes:

The greatest difference between reality as we know and the "reality" of the first two seasons of 24 is that in the latter, the greatest threats to American national security come from American citizens, not hostile foreigners.

In Season Two, a nuclear bomb explodes on American soil. How did it get there? At first, we learn that Arab terrorists are involved. Then we learn that rogue elements within the Pentagon and NSA allowed the terrorists to bring the bomb onto American soil.

Why would American citizens do something so evil and unpatriotic? Well, some of them want to bring down President David Palmer (played by Dennis Haysbert), and don't mind risking the lives of millions of Americans in the process. Others want to start a major war so that the Palmer, an African-American Democrat, will have to support major increases in the defense budget.

Then, later in the season, we learn that evil executives from a major international oil corporation want to start a war in order to force the price of oil skywards. Whereas the folks at the Pentagon and NSA wanted to stop the terrorists before they detonated the bomb, the oil executives actually want the bomb to go off in Los Angeles proper.

Thanks to heroic federal agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), the bomb goes off in the far and unpopulated reaches of the Mojave desert. But so what? The basic message is that the US military and its corporate overlords are the real threat to American security.

What's especially interesting about Season Two is that it is the first one to be written and filmed after 9/11. Although Season One debuted after 9/11, it was finished before. As a result, Season One provides an interesting window into how the creators of the show thought about global politics in the good old days when Bush's only crusades were against taxes and environmentalists.

The villians from Season One are genocidal Serbian terrorists. They want to assassinate both Jack Bauer and Senator (not yet President) David Palmer, because Palmer authorized a covert military strike against Victor Drazen, the Serbian terrorist godfather. And Bauer led the special operations task force that carried out the attack.

But what enraged Drazen is not that Bauer and Palmer wanted him to die, but that the attack resulted in the accidental death of his wife and daughter. So, one the hand, Drazen is totally evil even according to liberal standards, because he is a vicious human rights violator. But his animus against the United States is a result of American's own massacre of the innocent, albeit unintentional.

But Drazen & Co. aren't the only villians in Season One. Their efforts to assasinate Bauer and Palmer only succeed because there are multiple traitors within Bauer's own agency, the mythical Counter-Terrorist Unit, or "CTU"). Once again, the foreign threat only becomes possible of American accomplishes within the government.

The main difference between the American villains in Season One and Season Two is that the former have ambitions that are much more prosaic. The villians in the former function mostly as individuals who seek six- or seven-figure payoffs, not hundreds of billions of dollars. The villians in Season One are also murderous, even facilitating or instigating the murder of their own colleagues, but they never risk anything like a nuclear explosion in the middle of Los Angeles.

So, the bottom line here, to borrow a phrase from Walt Kelly, is that we have met the enemy and he is us. At the same time, there is enough patriotic material in 24 in order to support an interpretation of the "text" as pro-American. The hero of the show is a selfless and courageous federal agent. His greatest ally is a noble and selfless politician who ultimately rises to become president. According to 24, there is definitely some great good in the American character. But that shouldn't be news to anyone.

However, the suggestion that traitors from within present a far greater threat to the American people than murderers from abroad, that is something new. Or at least it is something new in 21st century. Back in the 20th century, we just called it McCarthyism.

Yes, I know that 24 is just a fantasy and that McCarthyism was real. But the message is still dangerous, even if this time it liberal Hollywood who is attacking the conservative politicians and not vice versa.
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# Posted 1:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LETTER FROM A VICTIM OF STARBUCKS: It's been a while since my full frontal of fisking of the WaPo's anti-Starbucks slander, but I think that the following letter from a honest-to-goodness Starbucks worker bee has some enduring value:
Hello David,

Being a Barista myself, I really enjoyed reading your post about Starbucks. As a Barista, I serve coffee for legions and legions of latte-cappuccino addicts, who cannot say "enough," and start their day without our coffee. Starbucks has (and is!) the greatest job I had so far. I got to know great people, and because Starbucks requiers harder work than Mc Donalds (more responsibility, more "style"...) and gives good health insurance for workers, it naturally attracts many college students and adults (40 and over) as a part time job and a source of benefits. But let's talk about our customers, I think it is more relevant:

[W]e have our regulars, which get huge discounts, if not free drinks. As a shift superior, there is no such thing as charging full price from a poor "addict." [A]regular costumer knows us by our names and our personal stories; they share their stories with us as well. If a regular customer comes in and ask[s] for a venti Latte, I am not going to charge him full price for it: might ring up as a tall latte or even a regular coffee...Just a few words about the Starbucks environment.

I also, like you, don't see where is the problem with Starbucks. This is a free country, and no one brainwashes students to buy coffee. They are well aware of how much of their own money (or their parents, often enough) they spend, and if they don't, you know what - they will learn quick when it's time to pay the bills. If I like to drive to school, I have to pay for car insurance. If I don't feel like paying, I can take the bus. It's my choice, and I am not calling up my insurance company, yelling at them for using me... and car insurance costs way more than a cup of coffee.

Seriously, I think that [WaPo correspondent] Blaine [Harden] has something against Starbucks...you know the no-corporation, yay noLogo (it's a book) kind of people. I did hope though that Starbucks would comment, but maybe no comment is all the comment such an article deserves. As a reporter and an editor in chief (my other job besides being a student), I know how bias can get into a story, and what's newsworthy... It's sad that this reporter wasted so much of her energy (and her paper's money) on this article.

Well, this letter is long enough. Oxblog looks like a good read and I will give it a look every now and than. My own blog should be online soon enough...Take care, and keep posting!

~Shay
I don't think I could've said it better myself and look forward to reading Shay's website. "Starblogs", perhaps? However, I did get some other interesting comments about my past which I also thought I would share. The following is from DI, who knows about grad school budgeting first hand:
I'm now an underpaid prof at a state U, but 15 or so years ago I was a (middle-aged) lowly grad student at a similar U. I drank cheap beer and cheaper coffee, but I borrowed a total of only $11,000 to get a PhD. And, believe me, no one, even [U. Seattle law School career services director] Erika Lim types have any damn right to tell me how to spend the money...

My wife and I went out once a week to have a hamburger and drink cheap beer with our friends. Without this I don't think either one of us would have finished. (We managed not to borrow any money for her MS andABD. She's got a better job than mine, too.) Not only that, but one year I spent my most of my loan money on our Honeymoon. I wouldn't have graduated without her, and it's the only vacation we got for 10 years. One week in Jamaica in November.

Not only that, but we paid "student fees" (almost $400/yr each) for stuff we *never* used. Perhaps Ms. Lim could see if she could get the law students' student fees dropped. That might pay for their coffee, and the coffee is much more useful than the crap you typically get out of student fees. (I admit that undergrads frequently get their money's worth.)...

I could go on, but were I at her school, I would forgo a latte on any day I could get Ms. Lim to take a hearty cup full of STFU.
Not just a hearty cup full of STFU, but a venti methinks.

Next up, blogger Charmaine Yoest points out that Republicans have a very good reason to boycott Starbucks: it's gives all of its political donations to Democrats. In fact, Starbucks even hired a former Clinton administration official to be its Washington lobbyist.

Now, I'm not a card-carrying member of either party, but thanks to Charmaine, I will take exquisite pleasure in the irony of seeing masked anarchists and other anti-globalization types vandalize Starbucks in the name of resisting nefarious captialist imperialism. Maybe I'll even join the next riot and steal myself a Frapuccino maker.

Finally, we're going to hear from one actual critic of my post, that cantankerous blogivore Mike D., who writes:
What you all seem to be justifying is the spending of $3.50 a day, or more,of somebody else's money on coffee?!!

As student loans seem to be defaulted upon at a much higher percentage than other loans this seems to be even more egregious. Especially as a superior product could be had for both a lesser dollar expenditure and, even more important, time expenditure. Especially as concerns the almost totally citizen/taxpayer supported law student of the 21st Century. Of course, this comment is coming from an annoying old guy whose college years not only pre-dated Starbucks, but even Mr. Coffee.
Wow. That must be almost forty years ago. Back when students spent their precious funds on truly important things like marijuana and love beads... (Sorry, Mike, I couldn't resist.)
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Saturday, July 02, 2005

# Posted 7:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, CAPT. CARTER: Earlier this week, Phil Carter announced that he will be shipping out for Iraq along with the legendary 101st Airborne. I have tremendous respect for Phil and am already impatient to have him return home to the United States safe and sound.

As Phil explains, the Intel Dump will begin making the transition from a single author to group blog in order to adjust to Phil's active service. With any luck, Phil will be able to contribute on occasion from Iraq, although his mission and his soldiers will obviously take priority.

In light of Phil's coming deployment, this is a particularly good moment to consider two of the excellent (as always) posts on his blog, both of which address the ongoing manpower crisis in the United States Army.

In one post, Phil addresses the question of whether the manpower crisis will force the United States to draw down its forces in Iraq before the military and political situation on the ground merits such a decision. Whereas some Americans were once afraid that an elected Iraqi government would demand that our troops return home, that kind of demands is now exactly what the Pentagon is hoping for.

All I would add to Phil's analysis is that we may find ourselves in the bizarre situation in which we want the Iraqis to kick us out but they are desperate to have us stay and protect them from the insurgents. You might call it imperialism in reverse or even Vietnam in reverse. It would be an unfortunate situation, but one that would provide an ironic vindication of our democratic ideals.

Phil's second post concerns Max Boot's proposal for an American foreign legion. While not unsympathetic, Phil raises three important objections to Boot's proposal: First, we need educated soldiers. Second, uneducated soldiers are a threat to themselves. Third, having non-citizens serve may attentuate the democratic legitimacy of our armed forces.

I will add a fourth objection: That it is absolutely critical for our soldiers to be committed to American ideals if they are given incredibly complex missions such as nation-building in Iraq.

Yet I believe that all of these objections, while valid, can be overcome. We do not need to throw open the door to every immigrant. In light of just how much demand there would presumably be to serve in the armed forces in exchange for citizenship, it may be possible to recruit some very talented soldiers. Moreover, we may very well be able to recruit them from other democratic nations where the citizens are no less committed to democratic ideals.

I greatly regret that once Phil ships out for Iraq, we will no longer be able to depend on his always sharp analysis. But I also know that our regret pales in comparison the 101st's great good fortune to have such a good man commanding its soldiers in Iraq. Take care, Phil.
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# Posted 1:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NAVEL-GAZING: I just answered a few questions for the National Journal's Blogometer and figured it wouldn't hurt to post my answers here on OxBlog (my favorite one is #14):
1. What is your full name?
--Ariel David Hauptman Adesnik. (I go by 'David' to minimize the gender confusion.)

2. What is your age?
--28.

3. Where did you grow up?
--Greenwich Village, Manhattan. (Not far from Matt Yglesias, although I never met him until two years ago.)

4. Where do you live now?
--Charlottesville, VA. I'm just finishing up a year as a fellow at UVA's Miller Center of Public Affairs and will be moving to Washington at the end of the summer.

5. What is your occupation? Have you ever worked on a political campaign or for the mainstream media?
--I will be a full time graduate student for a few more months, but am looking for jobs right now. If you want to offer me one, please contact me at oxblog@yahoo.com.

When I was fifteen, I spent two weeks working on a Senate campaign in New York. In college, I wrote a twice-a-month column for the daily student paper.

6. When did you start blogging and why?
--In September 2002, because I realized how little I knew about current events even though (or precisely because) I was getting a Ph.D. in international relations. After 9/11, that didn't seem like an acceptable state of affairs.

7. What has been your favorite post, or favorite story to write about, in that time?
--I rarely write about my personal life, but I did post a tribute to my mother after her ordination as a rabbi just over two years ago. That will always be my favorite post.

8. Describe your typical blogging schedule. And what is your average output?
--In general, I only blog after finishing my day's work on my dissertation. I'd say I put in around ten hours a week on the blog, although that has fallen somewhat as I approach the final stages of my dissertation. My output is unpredictable. Even I don't know what my instincts will tell me to write.

9. Who is your favorite political blogger? Favorite non-political blogger?
--The answer to the first part of that question is a tie between Dan Drezner and Phil Carter (who will be joining the 101st Airborne and shipping out for Iraq in just a few weeks -- I wish him all the best.) As for non-political blogs, I don't read'em.

10. Who is your favorite mainstream media columnist?
--Jackson Diehl at the WaPo. He understands democracy promotion as an idea and as a policy better than anyone else I've read.

11. What is your favorite television news program, either network or cable?
--I don't have cable and I only watch the networks because they show reruns of The Simpsons and Seinfeld. But my mom has a huge crush on Jon Stewart, so I'll say The Daily Show.

12. What MSM-produced websites (i.e. newspapers, magazines) do you visit on a daily basis?
--My homepage is http://www.washingtonpost.com/. I usually give the Times a look, as well. Then I read blogs.

13. What non-MSM websites (i.e. blogs) do you visit on a daily basis?
--My top three are Glenn Reynolds, Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias.

14. How often, or do you ever, read a newspaper in its dead-tree (i.e. print) form?
--I have a subscription to the Washington Post because you can't rest a bowl of cereal on a website.

15. How do you see the new media and old media affecting and influencing each other in the next five years? I believe in convergence. The first thing is always tell people (especially journalists) is that the blogosphere is not trying to replace or overthrow the established media. With a few exceptions, bloggers provide opinion and analysis, not original coverage. The blogosphere is basically a virtual op-ed page.

Nonetheless, the blogosphere is a threat to the MSM, but only because we insist that it live up to its self-professed standards of objectivity and impartiality. However, I think journalists are pretty open-minded (especially compared to politicians) and have begun to integrate new media approaches into their own work. I expect that this convergence will only increase in coming years. Of course, I may be totally, catastrophically wrong about that. (It wouldn't be a first.)
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# Posted 10:49 AM by Patrick Belton  

NOT THAT OXBLOG READS PERSONALS, but, um, these from the LRB went out and found us.
Nihilist seeks nothing.

Male LRB readers. Drawing little faces on your thumbs, getting them to order meals, then shouting at them for not being able to pay is no way to win a woman. You know who you are. F, 35. Box no. 12/12

If I was a gambling man, I'd bet you'd be blonde, 30, passionate, impetuous and writing poetry. If I trusted my instinct, you'd be brunette, 35, a little cynical, preparing for that year-out sabbatical and writing that first novel. If I left it to fate, you'd be 67, bald and a man with sclerotic arteries. The intuition my mother handed down and my collection of county court judgments suggest that placing an ad in this column puts you firmly in the last category. Resigned M. (52, Colchester), finally embracing defeat and anything else that comes along at box no. 12/09

Attractive well-shrunk writer F (early 50s) seeks amiable philosophic M to 65. Box no. 12/05

The only item you'll find in my fridge is soup. Forty litres of the stuff. Beat that. M. 46. Box no. 12/13

I'll see you at the LRB singles night. I'll be the one breathing heavily and stroking my thighs by the art books. Asthmatic, varicosed F (93) seeks M to 30 with enough puff in him to push me uphill to the post-office. This is not a euphemism. Box no. 12/08

Despite listing 34 French erotic novels as your favourite reads, I liked you. Then you went and ruined everything by spending an hour ordering continental ales in the voice of Yoda. Woman, 35, seriously considering going gay unless the standard of replies from this column improves. Box no. 13/08

Beneath this hostile museum curator’s exterior lies a hostile museum curator’s interior. F, 38. Box no. 13/07
Still much better than the personals adverts in the other literary magazines.
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Thursday, June 30, 2005

# Posted 11:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OUR LESS THAN INTELLIGENT PRESIDENT: His experience as a politician was limited before he made it to the White House. According to one imperious professor from Harvard, "Never did a President enter upon office with less means at his command." A newspaper observed that he "cannot speak good grammar".

All of his rivals for the Republican nomination were far more accomplished and knowledgeable. He sought to compensate for his lack of expertise by appointing political veterans to his cabinet, but this only resulted in widespread perceptions of the president as a figurehead. Then with utter confidence, he led the nation into a major war that millions of Americans considered to be totally unnecessary and pointlessly destructive.

But enough about Abe Lincoln. He's been dead for a long time, so why rehash old debates about his presidency? By the way, the source for the material cited above is an essay by Doris Kearns Goodwin in the current issue of Time.

Strangely, Goodwin doesn't seem to notice the remarkable parallels between the first Republican president and his current successor. But if you take a closer like at the reasons why Goodwin thinks Lincoln was so great, you'll get a sense of why she is no fan of Bush.

According to Goodwin, Lincoln had eight critical virtues that made him a great president in spite of his inexperience. They were: Empathy, Humor, Magnanimity, Generosity of Spirit, Perspective, Self-Control, A Sense of Balance and A Social Conscience.

Although I don't think Bush scores all that badly on those fronts, you won't find many Americans who think of him as the president that embodies those values. If anything, Goodwin's list seems to reflect a certain desire to put Franklin Roosevelt or perhaps even Jimmy Carter back in office.

Anyhow, while I don't doubt that Lincoln had the virtues mentioned above, I would also speculate that Lincoln's most important virtues included: Moral Clarity, Dogged Determination, and A Willingness to Use Force in Defense of Principle. Then again, such qualities are often overrated.
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# Posted 11:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ABE LINCOLN MATTERS! Well, duh. If you needed me to tell you that, then you are either just a little bit slow or are one of OxBlog's first readers from North Korea. But wait -- there is a third a possibility: you are a professional historian.

OK, so that's a slight exaggeration. Historians know Lincoln is still pretty important even though he has been dead for almost 150 years. But the fact remains that it is terribly unfashionable for professional historians to study Lincoln or any of the other great presidents and statesmen who made America what it is today.

Nonetheless, the intelligent layperson seems to maintain an avid interest in our 16th president and his cohort. For example, the current issue of Time has Lincoln on the cover and then provides no less than 27 full pages of information about the 16th president's life and legacy. Putting Lincoln on the cover means that the editors think Honest Abe can sell magazines.

Fortunately, there are plenty of first-class authors willing to research and write about Lincoln in order to satisfy the popular thirst for knowledge about the 16th president. Like my eminent colleague Bill Miller, the scribe responsible for Lincoln's Virtues, many of these authors have real world experience as journalists and commercial writers. They are most certainly not Ph.D.-bearing tenured professors -- which is exactly why they understand that Lincoln is so important.

So why don't professional scholars study Lincoln with similar passion and intensity? Here's one answer: In the preface to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, Joseph Ellis writes that
A kind of electromagnetic field...surrounds this entire subject [of the founding fathers], manifesting itself as a golden haze or halo for the vast majority of contemporary Americans , or as a contaminated radioactive cloud for a small but quite vocal group of critics unhappy with what America has become or how we have gotten here.

Within the scholarly community in recent years, the main tendency has been to take the latter side, or to sidestep the controversy by ignoring politics altogether. Much of the best work has taken the form of a concernted effort to recover the lost voices of the revolutionary generation -- the daily life of Martha Ballard as she raised a family and practiced midwifery on the Maine frontier; the experience of Venture Smith, a former slave who sustained his memories of Africa and a published a memoir based on them in 1798.

This trend is so pronounced that any budding historian who announces that he or she wishes to focus on the political history of the early republic and its most prominent practitioners is generally regarded as having inadvertently confessed a form of intellectual bankruptcy.
Although Lincoln was not one of the founding brothers, studying his politics is no more popular among the academic crowd. All of this leaves us with a strange irony: Scholars often lament that there are so few Americans willing to take an interest in sophisticated ideas and detailed arguments. Yet there is a voracious appetite among the reading public for painstakingly researched, fact-laden tomes about Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and other long-dead politicians.

Although one ought not to measure the importance of a subject by its popularity, I think that this time the majority has the merits on its side.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

# Posted 1:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHY IS FOX BROADCASTING LIBERAL PROPAGANDA? Right now, I am four episodes away from the end of Season Two of "24", which is simply one of the greatest television shows ever.

I'm so addicted that I'll often watch three or four episodes a night. At the same time, I am profoundly disturbed by the far left ideology that pervades the entire show. I'll elaborate on that some more once I've finished Season Two and can comment on it as a whole.

But here's one incident that was so absurd I just have no choice but to write about it right now: In Episode 20, mobs across the United States continue their mindless assault on innocent Arab-American citizens. One of the victims is heroic intelligence officer Yusuf Auda.

Naturally, Yusuf's attacker wears one of those mesh baseball hats favored by truckers, has three days of stubble on his face, and talks like a redneck. After robbing Yusuf and leaving him for dead, the attacker and his buddies (one of whom, strangely enough, is Hispanic) kidnap the heroic and impossibly thin American blonde Kate Warner, who was working with Yusuf.

Kate promises to give the attackers all of the money in her safe at home if they will just give her back a microchip that Yusuf was carrying in his pocket. When Kate and the attackers arrive at her house, she opens up her safe and hands Mr. Redneck a very thick stack of bills. He looks at the bills and then asks Kate just what the hell she is giving him. "Euros", she says. Twenty thousand of them.

Mr. Redneck responds, "Do I look European?" and tosses the bills aside. One of his friends then discovers fifteen hundred American dollars and takes that instead.

Wow. Repeat: Wow. I guess you could defend the show by saying that we know Mr. Redneck is fairly stupid since he is a violent racist. But throwing away money because it's European? Only pure contempt for Red State America could have come up with that one.
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# Posted 12:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HUFFINGTON: So I finally read one of the posts over at Arianna's site, but only because it was written by a personal friend of mine. Because he is such a fine historian, Tim has put up a post about the analogies between Iraq and Vietnam that goes far beyond all of the usual cliches.

At the same time, Tim's argument manages to be spectaculary wrong in the way that only the best scholars can be. (Or you can chalk it up to his being a liberal Canadian realist.)

The foundation of Tim's argument is a fascinating observation made by LBJ in 1966. On the subject of Vietnam, the President told Gene McCarthy that
Well I know we oughtn't to be there, but I can't get out. I just can't be the architect of surrender.... I'm willing to do damn near anything. If I told you what I was willing to do, I wouldn't have any program. [Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett] Dirksen wouldn't give me a dollar to operate the war. I just can't operate in a glass bowl with all these things. But I'm willing to do nearly anything a human can do, if I can do it with any honor at all.
FYI, Tim is the head honcho of the presidential recordings project here at UVA, which has done a remarkable job of editing and publishing some of the most valuable archival material left behind by some of America's greatest presidents.

Anyhow, the question Tim asks in response to LBJ's observation is:
What would happen if both parties offered Bush the political cover to execute a dignified exit? This administration might stubbornly refuse the offer but future generations will look kindly upon those of both parties who tried to help the Bush administration get out of the Iraqi civil war sooner rather than later.
When I first met Tim at a Christmas party last December, we hit it off immediately because we have so many interests in common. Yet within five minutes Tim managed to locate the major fault line between our politics. He asked me: Are you a realist or an idealist? Do you really believe we can promote democracy in Iraq?

In keeping with the holiday spirit, I told Tim that I was an idealist but acknowledged that the situation in Iraq was extremely challenging and complicated. Secretly, I was hoping that the January elections would vinidicate my idealism.

So now January has come and gone, there was a revolution in Lebanon, there is a multi-ethnic government in Iraq and dictatorships throughout the Middle East are on the defensive. Even the Palestinians elected themselves a moderate president.

Yet still Tim thinks that we should declare victory, go home and risk letting Iraq become another terrorist base camp, like Afghanistan before 9/11. I guess my question for Tim is, what would it take to make him believe that the lives and courage of our soldiers in Iraq are being lost for a noble cause, rather than wasted in a quagmire?
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# Posted 2:50 AM by Patrick Belton  

COOL SITE OF THE DAY: Much has been made over the bicentennary of the Battle of Trafalgar, celebrated yesterday. But one of the quirkier and more neglected bits of the story is the National Archives' Trafalgar Ancestors Finder. Curious to see whether anyone with your surname served with Lord Nelson? Want to read about the exploits of Vice Admiral Adesnik of the line against the Spanish fleet? This is your chance.
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# Posted 2:48 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SHOPPING THE OP-ED: If you want to get published, you have to move fast. Bush's speech ended six hours ago. Just now, I sent off an op-ed about the speech to an editor who I hope will look upon it kindly. Here's what I wrote:
Can Bush's Speech Turn Around the Polls?

On Monday, Donald Rumsfeld declared that “Lasting progress and achievements do not come from reacting to headlines or chasing mercurial opinion polls.” Yet judging from President Bush’s decision to address the nation on Tuesday night, the White House isn’t as cocksure as the secretary of defense. History, however, is on the secretary’s side.

Prime-time, televised addresses to the nation are the most powerful weapon in the president’s rhetorical arsenal. Their impact on public opinion polls is often instantaneous. In other words, when the president spins, a certain percentage of the public gets spun.

The problem is that those voters who change their minds after hearing the president are also extremely likely to change their minds right back. What history shows is that the supposedly ignorant American public has a remarkable ability to judge presidents on the basis of their achievements, not their promises.

Over the past thirty years, televised addresses to the nation have rarely shifted the polls more than five percent in the president’s favor. Even the most persuasive of presidents, such as Reagan and Clinton, found it extremely hard to put more than a dent in the polls by speaking directly to the American public.

Conversely, those presidents known for putting their foot in their mouth tend to have almost as much of an impact on the polls as their more eloquent brethren. Thus, there is every reason to believe that Tuesday night’s address to the nation will persuade three or four percent of the American public that things in Iraq aren’t going as badly as the media would have us believe.

Both Democratic and Republican presidents tend to argue that journalists’ obsession with reporting bad news damages their efforts to build public support for the administration’s agendas. As recently as Monday, Secretary Rumsfeld lashed out at the media for reporting only the violence and not the progress in Iraq. However, the record suggests that the American public is no less immune to the media’s pessimism as it is to the president’s optimism.

Over the past month or so, there has been a lot of talk about new polls that show that the American public has finally turned against the war in Iraq. In fact, public support for the war rose significantly in June, leaving it at about the same level it was twelve months ago.

Last week’s Washington Post-ABC News poll showed President Bush gaining or holding his ground on almost every measure of support for the war. Thus, fifty-eight percent of the American public wants our soldiers to stay in Iraq until the job is done. That number has not varied by more than a single percentage point over the past twelve months. Moreover, the public fully understands that getting the job done in Iraq will take years, not months.

Poll data shows that (in hindsight) the American public has decided that invading Iraq in search of chemical and biological weapons was not a good idea. But it also recognizes that Iraq has become the central front in the war on terror.

This sense of priority explains much of the public support for staying the course in Iraq. But the American public also has a long record of supporting only those wars that it believes America can win. When the public turned against the war in Vietnam, it wasn’t because of the rising death toll, but because of a growing sense that the war could not be won.

Thus, one should infer from the stability of public support for the war in Iraq that the American public does have faith in the president when he insists that we are making real progress. The elections in Iraq this past January were a spectacular success that Bush alone seemed to expect. This spring, the Iraqi assembly bridged its ethnic divides in order to form a stable government. Right now it continues to reach out to the embittered Sunni minority in spite of the insurgents’ vicious attacks on Shi’ite and Kurdish civilians.

In the coming months, American support for the war will not depend on how often the president brings television cameras into the Oval Office or how often the latest suicide bombing makes it onto America’s front pages and evening news. Far more important is whether the Iraqi assembly can muster support for its new constitution and whether Iraqi security forces can demonstrate greater resolve on the battlefield.

If the people of Iraq continue commit the lives of their sons and daughters to the struggle for freedom throughout the Middle East, the American people will continue to commit the lives of their sons and daughters as well.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

# Posted 9:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT LIBERALS' FAVORITE BOOKS SAY ABOUT THE DEMS' REPUTATION AS SOFT ON SECURITY: The American Prospect recently asked more than twenty prominent liberals to name the most important liberal book written in the last fifteen years. The fact that only three of those twenty-plus commentators mentioned a book about foreign policy or national security tells you a lot about why the American public feels safer with Bush in the White House even though they disapprove of his policies.

Moreover, it's not just the fact that so few of the books are about foreign policy, but also the way in which the books approach the subject that convey the mismatch between liberal foreign policy and the concerns of the American majoirty.

For example, Harvard professor and terrorism expert Jessica Stern recommends Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry by Peter W. Singer. Stern writes that
Singer examines corporate mercenaries who kill for pro?t -- sometimes bene?ting the world through peacekeeping missions, and sometimes bene?ting only themselves.
Lots of folks I respect have praised Singer's work. But is corporate influence on national security really a defining issue for American liberalism? And if it were, would the American public see the Democratic Party as having its priorities straight?

In defense of Stern, it is worth noting that the Prospect demanded very rapid responses from those whom it polled about the most important books of the last fifteen years. Yet if the Prospect had directed its question my way, it would've taken me all of fifteen seconds to come up with my answer: "A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power.

Ms. Power is one of Prof. Stern's colleagues at Harvard, so presumably the latter is aware of the former's work, which won a Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2003. Power's book provides both a history of the genocidal wars against the Kurds, Bosnian Muslims, and Rwandan Tutsi as well as powerful argument that the United States cannot be true to its own principles unless it is committed to stopping such massacres.

Along these lines, Benjamin Barber does recommend Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom as the most important book of the era. Barber describes it as "A persuasive case for democracy in an unjust, globalizing world." Sen's work doesn't exactly have all that much to say about US national security, but at least Barber is on the right track.

And so what about all the books not about foreign policy? The first thing I noticed was how many of them are about race, civil rights, and/or the 1960s. Walter Mondale recommends Judgment Days, which is about the relationship between LBJ and Martin Luther King Jr. The list also includes books about civil rights organizers in Mississippi, the life of W.E.B. DuBois, the legislative work of LBJ, and assorted others.

Naturally, liberals should celebrate the great triumphs of the past. But none of these subjects has much potential to serve as the foundation of a strong progressive, liberal, Democratic movement for the 21st century.

When it comes to the future, the Prospect's contributors seems to think that the right has all the momentum. Thus, the list includes books such as America's Right Turn and Under God: Religion and American Politics.

On a similar note, Al Franken recommends E.J. Dionne's WhyAmerican Hate Politics, which Franken credits with paving the way for Clinton's victory in 1992 by teaching the Democrats how to be tough on crime and welfare politics. In other words, the book taught Democrats how to sound like Republicans.

The question is, where is the book that can teach the Democrats to do that effectively today? Perhaps more importantly, why does it seem that Democrats can only win by sounding like Republicans? What does that say about the disjunction between American values and the Democratic agenda?
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# Posted 8:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG MISSING IN ARUBA? No, just working hard on the dissertation and then vacationing hard after sending in my draft. But I am back, and now I'm live blogging the President's address on Iraq.

8:02 PM: Starting with 9/11. This whole section will get mercilessly dissected for lumping Al Qaeda togther with Iraq.

8:04 PM: And the critics will hit even harder on the president's assertion that we are taking the war to the terrorists in Iraq instead of waiting for them to hit at home.

8:05 PM: Bush acknowledges that some question the relevance of the war in Iraq to the war on terror. Then he quotes Bin Laden to the effect that the war in Iraq is critical to the war against America. Very nice.

8:07 PM: The terrorists can only kill the innocent. They can stop the advance of freedom. Again, very nice.

8:08 PM: The lesson of 9/11 is to stay in Iraq until democracy wins. I agree, but a statement that will be much criticized.

8:09 PM: "Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made."

8:10 PM: Quoting Gerhard Schroeder on the importance of winning in Iraq. Smart.

8:11 PM: Saying we've trained 160,000 Iraqi defense forces and that they've fought bravely. Tough sell. Bush has been burned by the numbers before.

8:12 PM: Just did some channel surfing. The sound is just as bad on every other network, too.

8:14 PM: Is it me, or does Bush sound a little defensive? Remember, that comment is coming from someone who agrees with 99% of what Bush is saying.

8:15 PM: "The new Iraqi security forces are proving their courage every day." More than 2,000 have died.

With each engagement, the Iraqis grow more experienced. Of course, the same might be said of the terrorists.

8:17 PM: There will be no schedule for a pull out. Damn right.

8:18 PM: Our commanders say they have enough troops. Even I find that expression of confidence to be far from persuasive.

8:20 PM: An explicit pledge that Iraqi democracy will respect minority rights. Important, but just a beginning.

8:21 PM: An indirect call for democracy in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But what will Bush say about Darfur?

8:22 PM: "The terrorists do not understand America." Exactly.

8:25 PM: Now the sound is out of sync with the picture. As a result, Bush has the wrong emotion on his face when he delivers his message.

8:26 PM: A call to those who are considering military service. A bold approach to a tough problem, or an admission of just how big the problem is?

8:28 PM: Here's Tim Russert (I'm watching NBC).

8:29 PM: Russert says the big question is whether the Iraqis are really committed to overcoming the insurgency. Strange. We know the Shi'ite-Kurdish majority is. The question is competence.

8:35 PM: It's Nancy Pelosi! She says Bush hasn't offered a plan for success. She says Bush has made Iraq into the terrorists haven it has become. She says the president isn't levelling the with the American people and that he is exploiting the memory of 9/11.

8:35 PM: Brian Williams asked Pelosi what the Democrats would do differently. She says we really have to turn the battle against the insurgents over to the Iraqis, have to internationalize the effort, and have to increase the rate of reconstruction.

8:37 PM: Williams' asks if Pelosi is concerned, like John Murtha, about the White House having a secreat cut-and-run strategy in Iraq. She completely evades the question by saying we shouldn't cut veterans benefits.

8:39 PM: Hey, howcome the Democrats don't get their own response time on all of the networks?

8:42 PM: NBC now has a report from Iraq. I guess the Dems won't be getting a response. And so I can start thinking about dinner...
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Friday, June 24, 2005

# Posted 12:00 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT THERE'S A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE: Well, almost. Just a few minutes ago I put the finishing touches on a full draft of my dissertation. Tomorrow morning, I print it out and ship it out off to Oxford.

If the red tape doesn't get in the way, I will have my defense in October or November. I will still have to do some editing between now and then, primarily in response to whatever comments my adviser has after reading the full draft. But the question now isn't if I'll ever graduate, only when.
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Sunday, June 19, 2005

# Posted 1:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RECLAIMING RELIGION FROM THE RIGHT: I direct your attention to Faith and Justice, a new website/blog devoted to exploring the relationship between religion and politics. F&J's editor-in-chief is my good friend Allison "Allie" Carter, one of the sweetest and kindest people I have ever known -- but also razor sharp.

In her introductory post, Allie writes that
Historically speaking, in America, the word "religious" has not meant what it is taken to mean today: relentlessly conservative, against abortion, against gay people.

Faithandjustice.org is therefore, not a beginning, but a reclaiming. This site gives voice to a progressive view of religion in America.
And thus I look forward to many passionate disagreements that leave us all a little bit wiser.
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Saturday, June 18, 2005

# Posted 4:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

STARBUCKS IS EVIL! (A FISKING): This front pager from the WaPo is the most enterainingly absured bit of muckraking I have read in a very long time. It reports that Starbucks' overpriced lattes are impoverishing needy students across the nation. I sent my brief response to the Post in the form of a letter to the editor:
Dear Washington Post,

God bless Starbucks. If overpriced coffee ["Javanomics 101", National, June 18] helps more students like myself get through college and grad school, then more power to it. Data from the 2000 Census shows that Americans with a bachelor's degree earned about $15,000 more per year than those with a high school degree. Those with an advanced degree earned an additional $13,000 per year, approximately. This divide has grown steadily over the years and will continue to grow as information and services become more and more important to our national economy. The next time you see a stressed-out student ordering a Double Caramel Part-Skim Macchiato, what you should feel is hope, not pity.

David Adesnik
Charlottesville, VA
My longer response shall take the form of a full frontal fisking, in which I haven't engaged for quite some time:

Javanomics 101: Today's Coffee is Tomorrow's Debt;
The Latte Generation Hears a Wake Up Call

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 18, 2005; Page A01

SEATTLE -- At a Starbucks across the street from Seattle University School of Law, Kirsten Daniels crams for the bar exam. She's armed with color-coded pens, a don't-mess-with-me crease in her brow and what she calls "my comfort latte."

She just graduated summa cum laude, after three years of legal training that left her $115,000 in debt. Part of that debt, which she will take a decade to repay with interest, was run up at Starbucks, where she buys her lattes.

Part of the $115,000 debt Kirsten Daniels of Seattle incurred to finance law school went toward her regular caffeine fix. The habit costs her nearly $3 a day, and it's one that her law school says she and legions like her cannot afford.

My heart is already bleeding for poor Ms. Daniels. To think that she might be only $112,000 in debt if not for the pernicious influence of Starbucks!

And might I ask how much will Ms. Daniels be earning next year? Seattle University may only be #95 in the US News & World Report rankings, but my cousin went to law school at #96, Syracuse, and he is pulling down top dollar at a New York firm these days.

It borders on apostasy in this caffeine-driven town (home to more coffee shops per capita than any major U.S. city, as well as Starbucks corporate headquarters), but the law school is aggressively challenging the drinking habits of students such as Daniels.

"A latte a day on borrowed money? It's crazy," said Erika Lim, director of career services at the law school.

I'm glad Ms. Lim is worried about the really important things that affect her students' prospects for a successful future.

To quantify the craziness, Lim distributes coffee-consumption charts. One shows that a five-day-a-week $3 latte habit on borrowed money can cost $4,154, when repaid over 10 years. She also directs students to a Web site she helped create. The "Stop Buying Expensive Coffee and Save Calculator" ( http://www.hughchou.org/calc/coffee.cgi ) shows that if you made your own coffee and for 30 years refrained from buying a $3 latte, you could save $55,341 (with interest).

Remember how in high school they used to brink in a throat cancer survivor with an electronic voice box to tell you about the perils of smoking? Perhaps Ms. Lim can invite some impoverished middle-aged lawyers to tell the students at Seattle U. about how Starbucks forces their children to go to bed hungry at night.

Inside the Starbucks across from the law school, Daniels seemed surprised -- but unmoved -- to hear all this. "I guess I never had done the math," she said. "On the other hand, I would be a very crabby person without my comfort latte."
Therein lies the rub for those who would curb latte consumption with pocketbook reasoning. As Lim concedes, "no one pays any attention."

How did an ignoramus like Kirsten Daniels ever graduate summa cum laude? Doesn't she know that counting her coffee dollars is at least as important as acing her coursework? And even if Daniels is no Einstein, I bet she can estimate how much more she will earn as a reuslt of having a law degree.

Financial planners, best-selling investment gurus and a number of advice columnists have been warning consumers for years that seemingly insignificant daily spending on such luxuries as gourmet coffee can, over time, sabotage savings and hobble a person's financial future.

It's not the cigarettes. It's not the booze. It's not even McDonalds. It is the gourmet coffee that is forces senior citizens to eat cat food!

But these warnings, too, have been ignored, at least as measured by the runaway growth and profitability of Starbucks, the world's leading purveyor of specialty coffee. Its stock is up more than 1,200 percent in the past 10 years. When it went public in 1992, the company had 125 stores. It now has more than 9,000 locations around the world and long-term plans for 20,000 more.

Call the United Nations! Call Bono! If Starbucks opens another 20,000 locations worldwide, the poverty epidemic may never be stopped. By the way, has anyone suggested to the French and Germans that the real cause of their double-digit unemployment is Starbucks?

Starbucks declined to comment for this article, referring questions to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, a trade group. Its spokesman, Mike Ferguson, said that coffee shops provide an excellent opportunity for students to do their homework...

Godd***ed corporate stooges! It's people like Mike Ferguson who put a smiling face on the rape of American youth. And what about Starbucks? It's no better than a child molester walking the courthouse steps muttering to the press, "No comment. No comment."

In decades past, lenders chided college students for excessive spending of borrowed money on pizza and cigarettes, but the staggering ubiquity of Starbucks appears to have narrowed the nagging to foamy espresso drinks...

Don't forget the famous Pizza Crisis of the 1970s! It didn't get as much attention as the oil crisis, but that's just because the Italians control the media. Which reminds me, who do you think invented espresso and cappucino?

"The question that needs to be posed is 'Do they really need to have a Starbucks every day?' " said Jeffrey Hanson, director of borrower education service at Access Group, a Delaware-based organization that is the nation's third-largest provider of graduate school loans. "Since they are living, in part, on borrowed money, they need to be aware of the opportunity cost of that $3 latte. Once they spend it, it is not available for a loaf of bread."...

Hanson is right. Who do you think is really responsible for the legions of ragged students begging for crusts of bread in Cambridge and Berkeley? Starbucks, that's who.

But these warnings have a way of getting lost amid the sweet aromas emanating from university-owned espresso shops inside nearly every major building on campus. The university began a major espresso expansion in 1997, after a survey found that coffee was far and away the favorite on-campus "food."...

It's a sad tale, but true. The thrifty young student comes to campus in pursuit of knowledge, only be to led astray by casual sex, recreational drugs and the sweet aromas of the roasted coffee bean.

At Seattle University School of Law, Lim concedes the futility of persuading students to stop spending borrowed money on high-priced coffee. Still, she refuses to give up. The consequences of latte-larded law school debts are worrisome for the legal profession, she said, insidiously tilting career paths toward jobs that pay more but satisfy less.

Thank God for the lonely crusaders like Erika Lim. Sure, everyone thought that the abolitionists were crazy in the 1830s and 1840s. But just as their persistence ended our enslavement to King Cotton, crusaders like Lim will liberate us from King Coffee.

"The amount of money you owe directly affects the professional choices you have," she said.

Debt-panicked law school graduates, she said, tend to run away from low-paying jobs such as public defender (about $45,000 a year) and into the more remunerative arms of corporate law.

Lim, by the way, is not a latte drinker, unless someone else pays.

Just like me. I don't frequent prostitutes unless someone else pays them. As for the lack of public defenders, I assure you with total confidence that it has absolutely nothing to do with the rising cost of tuition at America's law schools.

In closing, all I can say is: Students of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chain-stores!

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# Posted 3:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ONLY BUSH CAN DELIVER THE MESSAGE TO UZBEKISTAN: The White House says that DoD is on board with its efforts to stand up for human rights and democracy in Uzbekistan, but the press has been reporting a split between State and Defense for some time now.

While refusing to actually say that it opposes the State Department's efforts to hold Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov accountable for the recent massacre in Andijon, the military would apparently prefer to preserve access to its bases in Uzbekistan.

If Bush wants Karimov to know that America is serious about human rights and democracy promotion, he will have to deliver the message himself. Otherwise, Karimov will have a strong incentive to interpret the lack of consensus in Washington as a greenlight for further repression. Moreover, Bush will have to back his message up by making firm demands for an external investigation of the events at Andijon.

Almost two weeks ago, the WaPo argued that the value of our bases in Uzbekistan is hardly enough to justify compromising our most important principles in the war on terror. There are bases available elsewhere. In contrast, our credibility will suffer a damaging blow if we allow Karimov to crush legitimate dissent in the name of fighting Islamic terrorists. As the Weekly Standard points out,
The Taliban has been defeated, and, with the liberation of Iraq, the nature of the global struggle to which the Bush administration is committed is no longer exclusively focused on the destruction of terrorist redoubts. We are now committed to a democratizing effort that challenges tyranny along with terror as threats to peace and freedom around the world. The Uzbek regime that was part of the solution in 2001 is now, with its bloody suppression of protests, part of the problem.
Republicans on the Hill have also become increasingly critical of Karimov. The WaPo editorial points out that after returning from a visit to Tashkent, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Sununu all announced that Karimov's behavior has called the value of our diplomatic relationship into question.

Some might suggest that Bush's minimal presence up to this point suggests that he isn't following the issue or isn't concerned about human rights and democracy in Uzbekistan. But for quite some time now, Bush has refused to make excuses for authoritarian allies. He hasn't challenged every one the way he has Putin or Mubarak, but that takes time. Given a little more time, I expect Bush to approach Uzbekistan in a manner fully consistent with his principles.
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# Posted 2:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AN ACADEMIC BLOG OF NOTE: Prof. Daniel Nexon of Georgetown (aka OxBlog reader "DN") is now blogging at the cleverly-named Duck of Minerva. Although DN has kinder thoughts about realism than does OxBlog, this post from DN explores a whole 'nother dimension of Kissinger's delusional arguments about China that I barely got to touch on in my original post.
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# Posted 2:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A SCHOLARLY DEFENSE OF REALISM: Grad student PS takes OxBlog to task for attacking a strawman version of realism rather than the doctrine itself:
First off, the notion that a nuclear Iraq would be problematic but not inherently disastrous isn’t some bizarre notion – the fairly-insane regimes of Stalin and Mao proved manageable even once they got nuclear weapons. The same arguments made in favor of stopping a nuclear Iraq were also made in the early 1960s about stopping the PRC from getting the bomb (see Frank Gavin’s recent work on the Gilpatric Commission) and have been proven quite terribly wrong in retrospect. So maybe “wow” is one possible response, but another might be “nuclear deterrence is pretty robust, even in the face of genocidal psychopaths.”

Second, you badly misrepresent Mearsheimer’s arguments, and the rest of realism’s approach to the Cold War. He wasn’t a Cold War dove in the 1980s, but neither was he a hawk as you claim – he cut his teeth arguing that the conventional balance in Europe wasn’t nearly as bad for NATO as hawks like Sam Huntington and Eliot Cohen kept claiming it was (see the 1988 exchange in IS between Mearsheimer, Posen, and Cohen for an example; moreover, history has borne JJM out on this argument). His “Back to the Future” article’s analysis was premised on US withdrawal from Europe, which didn’t happen, and so the causal logic hasn’t had a chance to be tested (by the way, it was 1990, not the mid-1990s).

Third, it’s not clear that somehow Morgenthau was wrong in arguing that such fun adventures as Vietnam were not in America’s vital national interests. The twilight wars on the periphery were sideshows from defending the main strongpoints that locked up the keys to world power. It’s not threat deflation to say that American vital interests were simply not involved in places like Africa. Moreover, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re referring to with the Cold War and realism – apparently “many other realists were hawkish then too” but somehow also were “downgrading the threat.” For the most part in the 1980s realists were arguing for robust conventional and nuclear deterrence in Europe and East Asia while trying to keep the US from getting too bogged down in the Third World. Europe mattered, while the Third World only did in certain areas and in certain ways. A mixture of hawkishness and dove-ishness.

Fourth, I don’t understand your critique of defensive realism as ignoring the domestic nature of regimes (an “almost complete disregard”). Walt writes on the effects of revolution, Van Evera on militarism, organizational politics, nationalism, and misperception (you might want to read “Primed for Peace” or “Hypotheses on Nationalism and War” or “Why Cooperation Failed in WWI”), Posen on military organizations (“Sources of Military Doctrine”), and Snyder on domestic log-rolling, bureaucracies and international expansion (“Myths of Empire” and “The Ideology of the Offensive”). Most of this was written during the Cold War or was developed during it and published very soon after. Since then, people like Tom Christensen and Randy Schweller have very seriously looked at domestic politics. So I’m not really sure exactly what your point is. Snyder and Van Evera explicitly talked about democracies as being less expansionistic than dictatorships and especially oligarchic/log-rolling regimes. Maybe that’s “almost complete disregard” but given that these are major figures it’s hard to see how. Some people disagree with them, while others don’t think they go far enough in looking at domestic politics. But it’s not like domestic politics have been ignored.

Fifth, Walt appears to be right that NATO is no longer a very important alliance – the US doesn’t use it for much of anything, and the Europeans are slowly putting together their own power projection force. And if it does exist in some serious fashion, I don’t see how that’s the result of democracy. The US has been allied with Saudi Arabia and Jordan for decades too, and that’s not because of democracy.

Sixth, the offensive/defensive realist distinction you make is wrong – both look at armed force as the only effective deterrent. “The implicit deterrent of alliances” you refer to as the focus of defensive realists is backed by armed force; alliances are about armed force. The distinction between offensive and defensive realism is based on other things, like the efficiency of balancing, the probabilistic or possibilistic nature of state decision-making, the impact of nuclear weapons on deterrence, the ability to signal and detect state “type,” and the impact of domestic pathologies (discussed above) in leading to war. Armed force is crucial to both, as it is to any theory of international security, realist or not.

So I guess I just remain confused by your intellectual history of the field and current read on world politics. And I’m not really comfortable with you casting sweeping aspersions on the beliefs and motives of scholars whose work you appear not to have read, at least in any detail. Realists of various stripes have been right about lots of things, have looked at the issues you claim they haven’t, and have offered much more nuanced arguments than you give them credit for. They’ve also been wrong about lots of issues and ignored others, obviously. It’s always fun to beat up on “realism” but there are good and bad ways to do it.
Let me respond briefly. First of all, I think PS does a good job of illustrating that my previous comments can't do full justice to a scholarly enterprise in which hundreds of brilliant men and women have taken part over the past few decades. For those with a serious interest in realism, there is no replacement for reading actual books written by realists, rather than OxBlog's anti-realist polemics.

That said, I stand by my basic points and continue to disagree with PS. Unless one is comfortable with the current situation in North Korea, I don't see how one can describe deterrence as a robust response to the hypothetical situation of a nuclear Iraq (c. 2002) or Iran today. My previous point about the Cuban Missile Crisis suggests why deterrence was not ideal or safe during the Cold War, either.

Second, Morgenthau deserves credit for his early opposition to the war in Vietnam. However, this in no way vindicates his persistent criticism of Truman and others for taking Soviet ideology very seriously. With regard to the 1980s and the late Cold War, I basically agree with PS's characterization of where the realists stood.

When it comes to the defensive realists and domestic politics, I will avoid further discussion on the somewhat spurious grounds that this debate is too detailed and too distant from actual history and politics. (If I am wrong, and there are a lot of you out there who want to see OxBlog wrangle over the legacy of defensive realism, just send me an e-mail.) The same point applies to the subject of the offensive-defensive divide, although in that instance I tend to agree with PS's characterization of the subject.
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