Sunday, February 29, 2004
# Posted 9:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The future of Iran is in the hands of its own people. Our role is to encourage them by making it clear time and again that their ideals are ours as well. Encouragement is no guarantee of success, but we did learn after 1989 just how valuable moral support is for those who struggle against totalitarianism. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Finally, DK writes in with a response to my statement that "Having lived through September 11th, we have no need to watch the planes crash again and again. But are there Christians who might be inspired by this sort of film, which goes beyond the violence of gospel?" According to DK,
Yes, absolutely there are, and there has been a long tradition of this sort of thing throughout history:If you're still looking for more insightful comments about The Passion, Judith Weiss has a very comprehensive set of links up over at Kesher Talk. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Campaign Desk goes through all of this in order to demonstrate that a number of major media outlets have misrepresented Kerry's views on gay marriage. As far as I can tell, they have, albeit slightly. Even so, you have to have a lot of faith in Kerry in order to believe that his rhetorical acrobatics represent a sincere effort to explain his views rather than a calculated effort to explain them away. And even if the Senator's views are consistent, his decision to dodge Brownstein's final question is a pretty clear indication of the fact that Kerry does not want to let anyone know what his real views on gay marriage are.
But that's only the beginning. It also turns out that Kerry would support amendents to state consitutions that outlaw gay marriage provided that such amendents protect civil unions and the like. However, Kerry is against an amendent to the federal constitution which would do the same. These positions are consistent now that Kerry has revised his view of the constitutionality of DOMA. But what did he revise his view of DOMA? Has he changed his interpretation of the 14th Amendment, or did he misunderstand certain parts of DOMA?
Perhaps the more important question is whether it hurts Kerry more to reinforce his reputation for straddling the fence, or whether he should pay that price to avoid seeming too liberal (or too conservative?) on gay marriage. On the one hand, I sympathize with Kerry for having to make such a hard decision. On the other, I expect real answers from a candidate for President. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:56 AM by Patrick Belton
By shrewdly laying his Iraq quarrels with Chancellor Schröeder aside, President Bush has secured Germany's support for the intiative. In the opposing camp is Egypt's Mubarak, who has already been travelling the region to ask its autocratic rulers (beginning in Riyadh) for their opposition. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:14 AM by Patrick Belton
(Greatest hits: "The narrative necessarily implicates Jews and Romans, since there weren't many Norwegians around at the time." "In the back of the theater, two cops are present, perhaps to make sure the Jews and Christians don't turn into the Jets and Sharks, what with all the talk of anti-Semitic overtones, or perhaps just to guard against the phone bully. "Don't worry," offers Norm, in the event of a Jewish uprising. "You're with me. You'll be okay.") (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:52 AM by Patrick Belton
The Bush administration said it welcomed Aristide's departure and said it was in the best interests of Haiti. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Aristide left at about 6:45 a.m. EST, accompanied by members of his security detail.See also this piece from earlier this morning, on the administration's decision yesterday to increase its pressure on Aristide to leave, to leave open chances for a peaceful resolution in his absence:
Earlier in the day, senior administration officials said the United States did not want to seem to be pushing an elected leader out of office. But after a meeting of Mr. Bush's national security advisers on Saturday morning — run by teleconference from Camp David by Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser — the president concluded that Washington's strong hints to Mr. Aristide that he needed to resign must be stepped up to a strong shove.Rebel leader Guy Philippe, who had earlier boasted that he would be in Port-au-Prince today to mark his 36th birthday, had reportedly slowed his advance into the capital city in response to a request from Washington.
So who's left to pick up the pieces of power in Port-au-Prince? The Democratic Platform opposition coalition had been led by senior socialist member Micha Gaillard, Christian Democrat Marie-Denise Claude, and Paul Denis of the left-wing Organisation for the People's Struggle. Other key figures in the political opposition include Lionel Etienne, head of the Franco-Haitian Chamber of Commerce; and industrialist Edouard Peaultre. (See AFP). The Platform Democratique, in turn, includes the Convergence Democratique (a wide-ranging collection of political and civil society groups) and the Group of 184 (which represents Haiti’s business community; website). It's not yet clear whether a restoration in order in Haiti will now follow along the lines of the French peace plan, in which a multinational police force would deploy to Haiti along with relief aid, human rights observers, and a U.N. representative; a government of national unity would be formed among political parties; and new presidential elections would take place before the summer. (The alternative, CARICOM, plan had called for Aristide to remain in power heading a government of national unity.) And the State Department has already indicated that a multinational force will be sent to the Haiti soon. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:52 AM by Patrick Belton
Aiming to get more low-income students to enroll, Harvard will stop asking parents who earn less than $40,000 to make any contribution toward the cost of their children's education. Harvard will also reduce the amount it seeks from parents with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:45 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The Administration's policy toward's Haiti is anything but coherent. Running the gamut from ignoring the coming crisis then rushing to negotiate a half baked "peace plan." Haiti under Aristide may be a lot things but a dictatorship is a bit much. Aristide has been a failure as a leader and needs to go but I remember Haiti under Duvalier and you can't begin to compare the two.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, February 28, 2004
# Posted 10:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
His message to the rebels, Mr. Kerry said, would be: "You're not going to take over. You're not kicking [Aristide] out. This democracy is going to be sustained."According to Freedom House, Haiti
has become a dictatorship in all but name, as power has been monopolized by President Aristide and his Lavalas Family (FL) party.Makes you wonder what kind of democracy Sen. Kerry would like to promote in Iraq. And if Bush called Haiti a democracy, you could bet that the next line in the NYT article would've read "According to Freedom House, Haiti is a violent dictatorship." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Bush is now stating pretty clearly that Aristide must go. Obviously, doing so raises the possibility that the rebels may take over. Yet having Aristide go now may result in there be a lot less violence than if the rebels had to invade Port Au Prince and haul him out. Morevoer, if Aristide resigns in response to American pressure, the rebels will be robbed of the legitimacy that comes from ousting a dictator (cf. "Sandinistas").
I don't how much chance there is that the democratic opposition to Arisitide can become an interim government in the event of the President's resignation. But if the US, UN and France all support a clear pro-democracy line, the worst may not come to pass.
Oh, and by the way, notice how neither the NYT nor the WaPo said anything bad about the rebels until the last couple of days. But that's the kind of oversight you should expect when big-name correspondents fly around the world from trouble spot to trouble spot rather than really learning about any of the nations they cover. For example, last week the WaPo identifed Louis-Jodel Chamblain as a "former army officer". The NYT described M. Chamblain as "leader of the rebel troops" and quoted him as saying that
"Cap Haitien is a symbol of Haiti's freedom. This fight is to liberate the Haitian people under the regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide."Today, the NYT describes Chamblain and Jean-Pierre Baptiste as
Two leaders of Fraph, the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress. Fraph was an instrument of terror wielded by the military junta that overthrew Haiti's embattled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991. It killed thousands over the next three years.You know, you'd think that American journalists would be more skeptical when someone claims to be waging a war of liberation. After all, a few months ago, someone or other at the Pentagon said something about liberating some country in the Middle East and caught hell for it from the media. But some two-bit gang leader gets press coverage that makes him look like George Washington. Go figure. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While the NYT cover story contains a lot of interesting information, its criticism of the UN's role in the affair is too light to even be described as a slap on the wrist. While Rossett's op-ed makes clear that widescale corruption was only possible because of ridiculously lax UN oversight, all the NYT gives us is a pathetic denial from the UN official in charge:
The director of the Office of Iraq Programs, Benon V. Sevan, declined to be interviewed about the oil-for-food program. In written responses to questions sent by e-mail, his office said he learned of the 10 percent kickback scheme from the occupation authority only after the end of major combat operations.Yeah, right. Just this week, Rosett published another column which provides considerable evidence that either that the UN is hiding a lot of information from the public or that its accountants don't understand basic arithmetic.
On a related note, one also has to ask to what degree the French and Russians were involved in Saddam's massive kickback scheme. To its credit, the NYT raises the issue briefly at the end of its lengthy report. Hopefully, it will follow up on the issue, because even the little bit it has found is quite incriminating. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, February 27, 2004
# Posted 6:12 AM by Patrick Belton
UPDATE: Matt Yglesias doesn't buy that Kyrgyzstan is trending toward democratization (and correctly points out that a good deal of quite execrable oppression is taking place in that country), while Brian Ulrich argues in Matt's comments that the Kyrgyz Republic is at any rate the most free of any Central Asian nation, and whether it is trending toward more or less democracy is open to dispute. Incidentally, Freedom House has two reports on Kyrgyzstan, here and here: their consensus is that corruption is rife, and initial hopes for a thriving Kryyz democracy have been dashed by growing presidential authoritarianism.
I'm not convinced yet, though, by Matt's criticism that the State Department country reports alter their analyses or pull their punches to cohere with broader government foreign policy goals. In fact, it's my fairly strong impression that the bureaucratic processes leading to the production of the human rights reports are staffed by people drawn in from the human rights community (like human rights lawyer Harold Koh from YLS, or civil rights lawyer John Shattuck), who remain in very close contact with the principal human rights organizations from whom they draw most of their reporting. The human rights groups, in turn, are generally laudatory of the human rights reports, while using them as an opportunity to criticise broader US policy - see Tom Malinowski from 2002 here, or Amnesty from this year here. This seems to me like a far more benevolent form of the common political phenomenon of bureaucratic capture - where a government agency is staffed principally by members of an industry, who continue to represent its aims and view of the world while working in the executive. And this seems to me, first of all, a good thing where the industry in question is the human rights community, and second of all, to be precisely in line with the legislative intent of Congress when late in the Nixon administration it created the Coordinator for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in Section 301 of the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976. The idea then was to create an entrenched bureaucratic interest which, even in the cynical course of promoting its own bureaucratic stature within the State Department, would also tend over time to promote the cause of human rights within US foreign policy. That said, I'm personally very fascinated by the Bureau, and would be very interested to hear whether any of our friends have more to say on the point. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:31 AM by Patrick Belton
New York was the home base of choice for the super-rich, with 31 of them living there. Moscow came in second with 23, followed by Hong Kong with 16 and Paris with 10.Almost as many billionaires live in Moscow as in New York! That there would be comparable numbers of billionaires living in the financial capital of a nation with a PPP GDP of $1.409 trillion and that of one of $10.45 trillion is a stunning indication of the oligarchic character of a country where like medieval Western Europe there are only two true powers, declining oligarchs and a rising dirigiste state. The professional and commercial middle classes, so important for democratization, are in mother Russia dearly missed. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, February 26, 2004
# Posted 11:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
"Whoever imagines that it is possible to impose solutions or reform from abroad on any society or region is delusional," Mr. Mubarak said on Wednesday. "All peoples by their nature reject whoever tries to impose ideas on them."Wouldn't it be funny if Colin Powell responded by saying "Whoever imagines that it is possible to impose dictatorship or tyranny from within on any society or region is delusional. All peoples by their nature reject whoever tries to speak on their behalf while robbing them of their freedom."
The history of the Middle East is on Mubarak's side on this one, but the idea of freedom has a habit of ignoring history. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:54 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The movie was to me deeply disturbing. In a word, it is pornography. By pornography, I mean the reduction of all human thought and feeling and personhood to mere flesh. The center-piece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting and despicable piece of sadism that has no real basis in any of the Gospels. It shows a man being flayed alive - slowly, methodically and with increasing savagery. We first of all witness the use of sticks, then whips, then multiple whips with barbed glass or metal. We see flesh being torn out of a man's body. Just so that we can appreciate the pain, we see the whip first tear chunks out of a wooden table. Then we see pieces of human skin flying through the air. We see Jesus come back for more. We see blood spattering on the torturers' faces. We see muscled thugs exhausted from shredding every inch of this man's body. And then they turn him over and do it all again. It goes on for ever. And then we see his mother wiping up masses and masses of blood. It is an absolutely unforgivable, vile, disgusting scene.The same metaphor of pornography appears in this eloquent letter-to-the-editor from the NYT, which happens to be written by my very thoughtful uncle:
As a psychiatrist, I wish to state my profound concern about the mental anguish and suffering that Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" is likely to cause not only to the young and impressionable but to anyone seeing it ("Tears and Gasps for "Passion,' " news article, Feb. 24).The comparison of the Passion to September 11th raises an interesting point. To what degree is an immediate inundation of the senses necessary to overcome the detachment that develops in time? Having lived through September 11th, we have no need to watch the planes crash again and again. But are there Christians who might be inspired by this sort of film, which goes beyond the violence of gospel? Or does a reliance on such fare suggest a spiritual failure on the part of the Church to inspire its members with the ideas that Christ stood for?
Of course, I have no answers. But I most certainly agree with the sentiments of one of the NYT's letter writers (not a relative of mine) who writes that "There is only one thing to be said about Mel Gibson's version of "The Passion of the Christ": Forget the movie, read the book. It's good." Agreed. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:10 PM by Patrick Belton
It is very pleasant to be back in Egypt again in spring, without having had to do any of that tiresome business of surviving the summer. Even the traffic fumes seem to be less overpowering than usual - reputedly one is a ten-cigarettes-a-day smoker here just by virtue of stepping outside the front door, which seems rather unfair to me. Anyway, I clean out my lungs three times a week by breathing in lots of steam in the sauna at the hotel gym, which is sheer heaven. I salve my conscience by not allowing myself to go there before making use of the exercise equipment, but even this has its compensations, since it is all positioned facing huge windows with a sunset view of the Nile - or, for those with slightly less elevated souls, large televisions showing CNN. The gym, I must confess, is a ridiculous extravagance, even in European terms, but it is also ridiculously luxurious. Attendants scurry to provide one with fresh towels at every opportunity - while working out, after working out, for the pool, the jacuzzi, the sauna, the (blissfully high-pressure) shower. They just have an awfully large laundry. Actually, if my landlady ever does throw me out, I think I might go and live at the gym. It is open 24 hours and provides every amenity (including toothbrushes, for no adequately explained reason) except food, which I am certain could be obtained by persuading Room Service to go a little out of their way...(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:21 AM by Patrick Belton
Our foreign policy society has other active chapters in New York, Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, and Oxford - please do just drop us a note if you'd like us to keep you in the loop about our events and other activities! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:46 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:23 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Stern should've immediately denounced his caller for using the word "nigger". And Stern's remarks about the monkey were definitely racist, but I don't think that taking him off the air is the way to go.
If Howard Stern were a member of Congress, I'd want to get rid of him ASAP. But he's a talk show host, so his opponents should take him on in public. If he says something racist, then anti-defamation groups should denounce him. And you know what? I bet that Stern would admit he was wrong. Because he is a pervert, not a racist. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:21 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:21 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:21 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
# Posted 11:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
There is some evidence that this quiet diplomacy approach is often preferable to public confrontation. For example, the Soviet Union reduced the number of Jews it allowed to emigrate once American activists began to draw attention to the issue. Previously, it had complied with American diplomats' request to let more Jews go.
On the other hand, there are plenty of instances in which quiet diplomacy amounted to no diplomacy. When the US government wanted to deflect criticism from anti-Communist allies, it simply said that it was going to engage in quiet diplomacy. After all, who could say that it wasn't?
I'm bringing this up because the issue of human rights came to mind with regard to Uzbekistan. As things now stand, the US is clearly in bed with the repressive Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, who -- in spite of his name -- has a habit of doing very nasty things to those who advocate the establishment of an Islamic state.
In honor of Donald Rumsfeld's recent visit, Karimov let a prominent dissident out of jail. While that is good, the US should not make the mistake of confusing symbolism with substance. Now, Rumsfeld is probably right that cooperating with Uzbekistan is necessary at this stage in the war on terror. But that doesn't mean effective pressure can't be exerted behind the scenes.
The Soviet Union could resist pressure from human rights advocates because it was a superpower. But Uzbekistan is an American client. The situation here reminds me of the one in El Salvador in the 1980s. In that instance, the Salvadoran military had no problem figuring out that anything Reagan said about the importance of human rights was just for show, since he never sent a message to San Salvador saying he would actually cut off US aid if the human rights situation didn't improve.
Then, in 1983, in response to tremendous domestic pressure, the administration sent Vice-President Bush to El Salvador to make specific demands and lay out deadlines for compliance. His visit saved hundreds of lives. It also showed that quiet diplomacy can work, but only if the administration has a sincere interest in making it work. Suffice it to say, that isn't the impression Donald Rumsfeld gives off when he's in Uzbekistan.
For more on the Uzbek situation, read Brian Ulrich. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, frequently calls companies and chief executives "Benedict Arnolds" if they move jobs and operations overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes.As if that wasn't bad enough, here's Kerry's lame excuse for his hypocrisy:
On Monday, Kerry was asked why two of his biggest fundraisers were involved with "Benedict Arnold" companies. "If they have done that, it's not to my knowledge and I would oppose it," Kerry told a New York television station. "I think it's wrong to do [it] solely to avoid taxes."Of course the real victim here is Benedict Arnold. It just isn't fair to associate his name with outsourcing, since he was a living example of how enterprising Americans could persuade foreign investors to create jobs on American soil. Did the British hire some cut-rate Indian espionage firm to spy on the Continental Army? Hell no! (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The author of the article is a member of the Yale Political Union's Liberal Party, of which Kerry was chair during his time as an undergraduate. As a former officer of the Liberal Party myself, I can vouch for the fact that no one there has any fond memories of Kerry.
But does Kerry's record of incompetence as an undergraduate really have anything to say about his ability to serve as chief executive of the United States of America? According to the op-ed's author,
Personally, I would not let Kerry circa 1966 run a public toilet, let alone a country. Hopefully, today's Kerry is a different man. Perhaps his service in Vietnam changed him for the better. Perhaps time has changed him. But maybe he has not changed. Recently Kerry mentioned that George Bush remains the same guy he was in college. If Bush didn't change, why would Kerry?I think the real message here is that members of the YPU still take the institution way too seriously. While the author begins his article with a self-effacing admission that "The political union is by no means a 'cool' organization," he proceeds to judge the character of a veteran Senator according to his behavior as a 21-year old.
To be fair, my own criticism is an example of the pot calling the kettle black. I took the YPU way too seriously during my two semesters as an elected official. But one thing that has become very clear since then is how much almost everyone I knew in the YPU has grown and changed in the years since I first met them.
As a freshman first getting involved in the YPU, I remember how much I valued the sense of belonging and identity that came with membership in one of the parties. Sometimes, I did some pretty stupid things because I thought they would make other people in the YPU like me.
Now, it seems like John Kerry did plenty of dumb things as well, except without much of a payoff in terms of social acceptance. Personally, I chalk it up to him being an awkward kid like the rest of off, not some profound character flaw that will make him anything less of a President. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:35 PM by Patrick Belton
According to a study by Ms Kryshtanovskaya, the proportion of siloviki in the uppermost echelons of Kremlin power has increased from 4.8 per cent under Mr Gorbachev to 58.3 per cent under Mr Putin. More than half of Mr Putin's 24-member informal "politburo" are siloviki. In the Kremlin one in three officials has a military or security services background, says Ms Kryshtanovskaya.On the one hand, under the Soviet tyranny, the KGB was one of the Soviet Union's few meritocratic and functioning institutions, and its people represented many of the nation's best and brightest. On the other hand, their statist ideology leaves pauce room for democratic niceties, and to the extent they wield power, they may provide Russia with order, but little justice. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:53 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:34 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:25 PM by Patrick Belton
On March 8, 1963, the Council of the Revolutionary Leadership declared a state of emergency in Syria. Although 41 years have passed since then, the state is still bowed under the yoke of the emergency laws, whose effect encompasses all areas of the life of society and citizens in Syria. As a result, society is under siege, its movement is halted, its potential is damaged, and thousands of citizens are thrown into prison because of their opinions, political views, or charges that do not constitute a criminal offense.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:09 PM by Patrick Belton
On a completely different note, I've returned from an absolutely lovely few days in Paris, and am looking forward a great deal to writing about my time once I've adjusted a bit more to being in my college's computer cluster rather than walking along St-Germain-des-Prés and the left bank of the Seine! (And incidentally - what's with this - just as soon as I go on vacation for a few days, we get 7,000 readers on a Sunday? It's okay, I won't take it personally.....) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:47 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
# Posted 10:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
"France is the country of freedom which defends freedom to show the body and to be immoral and depraved. In France you're free to show yourself but not to dress modestly," [al-Zawahri] said in reference to the headscarf ban newly approved by parliament.Now, OxBlog never thought that the headscarf ban was a good idea. But it's not as if Mr. Chafetz and Mr. Belton are about to strap dynamite to themselves and get on the next train for Paris. So, thank you, Mr. al-Zawahri, for reminding us -- not to mention our friends in Europe -- which side we're all on. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:16 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The NYT also has a quote from Prevalis, who was arrested by the insurgents because of his suspicions he supported the governments. He says that he is just a bricklayer.
I guess I noticed the twin photos of Prevalis because of this post from Glenn, which catches the NYT quoting the same man-in-the-street Bush critic in separate articles published weeks apart. As Glenn says, journalists know exactly where to go to get the soundbites they're looking for. But with Lexis-Nexis, such backhanded practices are becoming more and more transparent.
So what is it about Prevalis that got the attention of so many photographers? That his face was bloody? I guess that's news. But somehow you have to wonder if the audience back at home is getting the whole story if we have multiple correspondents chasing the same victim. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:57 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Which is exactly why it is so delightful to see David Brooks rip into Huntington's latest book on all of our behalves. As Brooks aptly says, this is another book about the Clash of Civilizations, except this time the clash is on the homefront. And the enemy is from Mexico. Huntington's basic idea is that Mexican-Americans don't believe in the American dream. The more of the them there are, the closer they come to destroying the identity that made America great.
Now, I admit that I don't know the first thing about demographics or immigration. If Huntington has the evidence, he may be right. But it just sounds so cliche. In the early days of the Republic, they said the Germans couldn't be real Americans. Then they said the Irish couldn't be real Americans. Then the Italians. Then the Jews. Then the Chinese. Then the Koreans. And then the Pakistanis. But all of them seem to have adapted just fine and made America that much stronger. (OK, so I admit I'm not objective when it comes to evaluating the Jews.)
Anyhow, it will be interesting to see how all this plays out at Harvard. Will people challenge Huntington in the hallways? Will they remain silent out of deference? Or will they have the same reaction because of pity? I'll let you know. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, February 23, 2004
# Posted 1:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Dear Family,.UPDATE: OK, so I wasn't the first one to have the fake-letter idea... (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, February 21, 2004
# Posted 4:21 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:31 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:22 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Don't get too confident now that you guys have got A-Rod. Your starting rotation has some questions...What happens if a starter goes down? Your farm system is pretty barren, so you won't get any help in-house. You have the money to take on bad contracts which will help in a trade-situation, but who knows what will be available...In all due honesty, I'd take Schilling-Pedro-Lowe-Wakefield-Kim over your rotation...More specifically on the subject of A-Rod, MF writes that
I'm a long-time Mariner fan who has always been impressed with pretty much everything A-Rod has done. That being said, despite all the money and the talent he was surrounded by in Seattle and the deep pockets of Tom Hicks in Texas, he has never led a team to the World Series. Maybe he will actuallyI never thought Jeter was all that good-looking, but that's probably not the point.
CORRECTION: As AD and GJ point out, Jeter is not Latino but rather half-black and half-white. There also seems to be some dissatisfaction with my low regard for Jeter's good looks, but no objective evidence that I am wrong on this count. In fact, I suspect that if I had $40 million and five World Series rings, a lot of people would think I was pretty good looking, too. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, February 20, 2004
# Posted 11:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Meanwhile on the homefront, some are beginning to wonder whether it's time for America to sharpen up the big stick. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:01 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:28 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:35 PM by Patrick Belton
And in turn, second-rate, to (correctly) describe the precise level of my academic accomplishment, derives, like all good things, from the Royal Navy. British naval vessels of the 18th and 19th centuries were classed principally according to the number of guns they carried. A sixth-rate ship was a frigate (i.e., as in Lord Nelson's exclamation from the quarter-deck of the HMS Vanguard before the battle of the Nile: "Frigates! Were I to die this moment, want of frigates would be found engraved on my heart!"); frigates carried between 22 and 28 nine-pounder guns and a crew of about 150, and measured between 450 and 550 tons. The Sophie of the fictional Captain Jack Aubrey, and the Surprise of the real-life, and far more dashing, Lord Cochrane on which he was based, was a ship of the sixth rate. Ships of sixth rate and above were of sufficient size to qualify as ships of the line in naval battle. On the other hand, first-rate ships, such as Lord Nelson's HMS Victory (still, incidentally, in service), boasted a minimum of 100 heavy cannon (the Victory carries 104), carried a complement of about 850 (there were 821 on board Victory at Trafalgar), and were over 2000 tons Builder’s Measure. To place the Victory's scale in context: she was constructed from approximately 6000 trees, 90% of them oak (this equates to 100 acres of woodland), at a cost of £63,176 in 1765 sterling (the equivalent of a contemporary aircraft carrier in nominal currency), her hulls are two feet thick at waterline, and the total sail area of her 37 sails is 6,510 square yards.
On the other hand, the sixth-rate Sophie was good enough for Aubrey, and its equivalents for Nelson - so think I'd be quite embarrassed, actually, to be classed an unworthy four ratings higher. But in any event, being a second-rate nattering nabob sounds to my ears at least like a quite pleasant prospect. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:33 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 3:59 AM by Patrick Belton
Thursday, February 19, 2004
# Posted 11:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Along the way, Dean for America added a new word to [the] campaign lexicon -- "blog": It's a noun and a verb! The Dean Weblog, or Blog, helped inspire legions of young devotees. More than once I was reduced to tears when reading blog posts, as person after person told stories of how Howard Dean had inspired them to become involved in politics for the first time.And I suppose that Glenn Reynolds invented sliced bread. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
UPDATE: Well, it might violate the Monroe Doctrine... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:28 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
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# Posted 6:37 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:35 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 12:42 PM by Patrick Belton
Still, there will be an election, even if it has already been determined that its results will not reflect the preferences of the Iranian people, and the San Francisco Chronicle details the parties which will contest it. The Coalition of Builders of Islamic Iran, incidentally, is the party which has been designated to win, and it has said it will pursue a "Chinese" model of governance - presumably, economic development, authoritarian political control, and courting on its own terms of a West which does not truly care about human rights within its borders (see Kerry, below).
Here is the round-up of coverage: Washington Times, Agence France-Presse, Asia Times, Guardian, Radio Free Europe, Boston Globe, Al Jazeera, WaPo. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:21 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:35 AM by Patrick Belton
In that case, you may not want to go to the otherwise quite lovely people at the Alternative Tuck Shop. Everything else there, on the other hand, is quite good. On the other hand, you could just subsist on cookies from Ben's Cookies.
* Proof is by Soundness Theorem, and is to be found overleaf. Oh wait, blogs don't have an overleaf. Guess I got off easy. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:23 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:53 AM by Patrick Belton
We have read how you refer to the theocratic regime in Iran as a "democracy;" we have heard how, if elected, as the president of the United States you intend to "engage" this barbaric regime; this very terrorist regime that your own State Department lists as the most active "State Sponsor ofIt goes on for a bit (and on, and on, God love 'em), but the students' letter does raise the interesting question of what Senator Kerry's views are toward Iran, especially as he increasingly becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee - and, moreover, how these will evolve and change during the course of the campaign. Senator Kerry's spoken on Iran once before in a major foreign policy speech (at the candidates' obligatory courtesy call on the Pratt House):
Iran also presents an obvious and especially difficult challenge. Our relations there are burdened by a generation of distrust, by the threat of nuclear proliferation and by reports of al Qaeda forces in that country, including the leadership responsible for the May 13th bombings in Saudi Arabia.I can see how that would give the student protesters heartburn. It will be interesting, though, to see how Senator Kerry's views evolve during the course of the campaign, especially as he's often shown an admirable willingness to bend them to respond to the rough-and-tumble of politics.
UPDATE: A reader just called the Kerry campaign, and was told that the Iranian news agency received the Kerry position paper by subscribing to his website:
One of his staff (Heather can't-recall-last-name) explained that Kerry's campaign website offers visitors the ability to sign up to receive email from the Kerry campaign. Someone at the Iranian news agency signed up and THAT is how they received the position paper from Kerry. The article in the Tehran Times made it sound as though Kerry had emailed them specifically. That was not the case.Thanks! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:57 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
# Posted 6:35 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:20 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 1:23 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Democratic foreign policy in the 1970's was isolationist at worst, modest at best. Democrats eschewed flag-waving and moralistic language about the Soviets. Jimmy Carter talked about root causes like hunger and poverty. For many liberals, as Charles Krauthammer recently said, "cold warrior" was an epithet.This is revisionism at its worst. Jimmy Carter is the one who restored moralistic language to the American dialogue with the Soviet Union. While Carter may have talked about hunger and poverty, he always talked about them in the context of human rights, a fundamentally American concept. As Carter memorably said, "Because we are free, we cannot be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere."
Moreover, one must recall that it was Nixon and Kissinger who purged moralistic language from the US-Soviet dialogue in the process of pursuing an amoral realpolitik approach to all aspects of US foreign relations. Carter recognized the fundamental contradiction between this realpolitik and America's democratic ideals and used it to his advantage. While Carter's human rights policy may have lost its way on many occasions, there is no question that it restored idealism and morality to the American agenda. It is for exactly this reason that John Lewis Gaddis observes that
If you asked what was one of the distinctive features of Ronald Reagan's presidency as far as foreign policy was concerned, one of the most important aspects of it was that he actually agreed with Jimmy Carter on the promotion of human rights, that he was as serious about this as Carter was. That made human rights a priority on the conservative, Republican agenda, surely reflecting the early neoconservative influences on foreign policy.Once considered a realist, Gaddis' has been approaching neo-conservatism since 9-11. Months before Bush's February 2003 pledge to promote democracy in Iraq, Gaddis praised the President for his bold vision of a democratic transformation in the Middle East. [NB: Link is to a .pdf file. Download with caution.] While Gaddis might not identify himself as a neo-conservative, his most recent comments resemble those of Kristol, Kagan and Krauthammer more than they do any other foreign policy school of thought. (If Gaddis were Jewish, he'd fit right in with the neo-con crowd. Yet as someone who has known Gaddis for some time, I can assure you that he is one of the most goyish people you will ever meet. On the other hand, he is married to one of the nicest Jewish girls around.)
The purpose of establishing Gaddis' neo-con credentials is to show that Brooks' revisionism doesn't even make sense from a neo-con perspective. However, there are serious flaws with Gaddis' observations as well. What Reagan understood was democracy, not human rights. In theory, democracy was supposed to serve as the ultimate guarantor of human rights. Yet when Reagan prioritized democracy promotion -- most notably in El Salvador and Nicaragua -- he did so at the cost of the local populations' human rights.
Almost inevitably, promoting democracy entails a short-term risk to human rights. A dictatorship in the process of being overthrown often tramples on its subjects. Yet Reagan didn't simply trade off democracy for human rights. Rather, he showed a revolting callousness toward the ramifications of his chosen policies. Most notably, Reagan constantly defended the integrity of the Salvadoran military despite overwhelming and public evidence that it was responsible for tens of thousands of murders. Yet even declassified documents from both the CIA and the State Department show that the relationship between the Salvadoran military and El Salvador's notorious death squads was well-known and well-documented.
Moreover, one cannot even say that Reagan defended the Salvadorans in public out of political necessity. Declassified documents also show that Reagan defended them in private. This should not come as a surprise, however, since Reagan was never a liar. He simply believed the lies that he told. For these reasons, I find Gaddis' description of Reagan to be simply indefensible. More importantly, this oversight in Gaddis' comments points to an important similarity between himself and Brooks: both men want to write Carter out of the history of US foreign relations. Brooks gets rid of Carter by denying his idealism. Gaddis gets rid of Carter by declaring that his idealism was redundant.
Apart from the abstract importance of getting history right, these twin revisionisms point to important differences between liberal hawks and neo-conservatives. As some prominent liberal hawks have suggested, the problem with neo-conservatives isn't with what they believe but with how they believe it. In short, they aren't self-critical enough. This, of course, is a purely ad hominem attack. But it may be called for in light of Brooks' and Gaddis' disturbing effort to cleanse neo-conservatism of its Reagan-era sins.
After all, it is only by washing away such memories that Brooks and Gaddis are able to embrace Bush's foreign policy almost uncritically. As Gaddis writes, the Reagan-era pro-human rights
Trend has continued into this administration, which has moved even more radically and more firmly in this direction. So, ironically, this conservative Republican administration is really the most radical American administration we have seen in years in terms of its promotion of democracy abroad in places that were earlier regarded as inhospitable to it.I agree with Gaddis that the resemblance between Reagan and Bush is striking, but not always in a good way. Like Reagan, Bush seems to be far better at talking about his ideals than putting them into practice. Hence the troubled occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thankfully, Bush has done nothing to compromise human rights in the manner of his predecessor. For that reason, I find it far easier to accept Bush than to accept Reagan. Yet when this administration praises the democratic virtues of Vladimir Putin and Pervez Musharraf, I begin to wonder if Bush really understands a damn thing he is talking about. That is why I am a liberal hawk and not a neo-conservative.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
# Posted 7:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Unfortunately, I have no idea why the fatality and casualty tolls are out of sync. Perhaps the insurgents are focusing their resources on fewer but better attacks. Perhaps it's all just a statistical anomaly. Anyhow, while victory and defeat can't be measured with a body count, it is nice to know that fewer of our soldiers are having to sacrifice their well-being. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:03 PM by Patrick Belton
But unlike most commentators who've placed the onus on an on-time handover on the White House's desire not to carry the Iraq occupation into the autumn's elections, the Monitor argues it's the other way around - Bremer and the Baghdad-based contingent of officials are pushing a transfer of sovereignty on schedule in order to maintain credibility with the Iraqis (and with an eye to Sistani's response to a delay). On the other hand, it's the White House which is most wary of the prospect of a civil war, joined in this by the State Department. Secretary Rumsfeld, on the other hand, along with the ranks of the Pentagon (excepting the deputy secretary and officials in line with his line of thought), are reputed to be quite eager to pull out of Iraq, and hand responsibility over to Foggy Bottom in the bargain.
(Any southerners in the readership are welcome, if they like, to instead refer to a possible Iraqi civil war as a "war between the sheikhs.") (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:05 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:10 AM by Patrick Belton
As part of my own dissertation work at the moment, I'm reading through the Public Papers of the Presidents for the past two decades to see what various Presidents have said about China policy. I'm also doing the same thing in the Congressional Record - the idea is then in the end to be able to say something about how the President and Congress interacted in making China policy at important moments. (An early draft, if you're interested, is here).
So, over the next few days, I might be sharing a few funny moments with our readers out of the Public Papers and the Congressional Record. (The alternative is alcoholism.) So here's one amusing bit that appears in the "Remarks to the China and United States Women's Soccer Teams Following the World Cup Final in Pasadena, California, July 10, 1999," at p. 1185 of the second volume of presidential papers for 1999. I'd like to draw your attention in particular to the stage direction the editors include at bottom.
The President (to the China's women's soccer team). I want to say to the whole team how much we admire your performance in the whole World Cup. You were magnificent today, and we were very honored to have you in our country. You will win many more games.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion