Monday, November 18, 2002
# Posted 2:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Critics of the Bush administration consistently charge that preparations for the war on Iraq are diverting it from the war on terror. I disagree, but mostly from an agnostic perspective. I don't know if the war on terror is going well. According to what standard can the United States' efforts be judged? Does the recent attack on Bali show that the American homeland is now secure or that Al Qaeda still has the ability to murder hundreds of innocents? Since I don't know the answer, I haven't said much.
On the other hand, Josh seems to pounce upon every arrest of a suspected terrorist as an indication that the war on terror is going well. As an agnostic, I am no less skeptical of his intransigent position than I am of the administration's critics. So, Josh, I'm asking you to answer the questions laid out above: According to what standard can one judge American efforts? If the war on terror is, as you say, a "behind-the-scenes" war how can anyone judge its effectiveness? As any good investigative reporter would ask, how do we know that all this talk of behind-the-scenes war isn't just political cover for an effort that hasn't produced any impressive successes? And if it hasn't, shouldn't we assume that the administration's prioritization of the war in Iraq is responsible?
That's what's on my mind. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Diehl gives solid reasons why the administration should've backed up its rhetoric about promoting democracy by focusing on this conference:
1) Unlike most international forums, this one has defined democracy strictly, thus preventing states such as Egypt, Pakistan and Malaysia from attending.
2) Coordinated diplomatic efforts by the world's democracies can do significant things, such as kick terrorist states like Syria off the UN Human Rights Commission
Diehl's bottom line: it's time for the administration to put it's money where it's mouth is when it comes to democracy promotion... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, November 17, 2002
# Posted 7:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
While it is tempting to compare Blix to that lovable fellow who tried to catch the Pink Panther, I have a hunch that what's going on now may reflect as much posturing as it does sincerity. As I asked yesterday, has US-UN cooperation already ensured that the inspectors will find what they are looking for? I'd say there's a chance that Blix is just trying to preserve his own image of impartiality so that neither France nor Russia objects when he reports on Iraqi violations of resolution 1441. If not, we're in trouble. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:13 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Now here comes some diversity: Yesterday, Josh challenged me to defend my constant assertion that internal divisions in the Bush administration have "wrought havoc" on American foreign policy. As Josh points out
Bush's diplomacy has gotten him just about everything he wants...It was only by alternatively showing the more hawkish and less hawkish sides that we could maneuver the other Security Council nations into agreeing to the resolution. Unless you have the default assumption that any good outcomes produced by the Administration are the result of dumb luck, it seems to me that you'd come to the conclusion that this was a pretty skillful piece of coordinated diplomacy
I agree with Josh that intentionality is the fundamental issue for those interested in assessing the administration's efforts. If Bush intended to take advantage of internal divisions by playing good cop/bad cop with the Security Council, he deserves recognition for his success. If not, one has to acknowledge the wisdom of Napoleon who once observed, possibly in reference to George Bush, that "it is better to be lucky than smart".
In one of my first-ever posts on OxBlog, I raised the idea that the Bush administration might be taking advantage of its reputation for belligerence to wrest a strong resolution from the Security Council. I concluded, however, that
While the Good Cop/Bad Cop idea is somewhat plausible, I don't even find it convincing myself. Why not? Because Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney just seem so sincere in their demands. One struggles to detect even the hint of an admission on their part that European demands are legitimate. Their sincerity is reinforced by the unabashed unilateralism of the Bush administration in the months before September 11th. Nothing the Bush administration has done on either the domestic or international front has suggested that it has either the imagination or the discipline to follow through on even the sort of moderately sophisticated public relations campaign that a convincing Good Cop/Bad Cop strategy would require.
As it stands, that statement provides no evidence for the position it defends. Rather, the statement rests on an assessment of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld's sincerity. I hope I can show that subsequent events have provided a more solid foundation for my initial hunch.
In my next post on the subject, I linked to a TNR article by Ryan Lizza whose careful reading of White House briefing books showed that explicit threats to use force against Iraq made it into very late drafts of Bush's September 12th speech to the UN. Lizza also points out that on September 14th, in a little-noticed interview with the US government's Arabic-language radio station, Rumsfeld refused to say that the US had committed itself definitively to seeking a new resolution calling for arms inspections. As Lizza concludes, and I concur, "the war between Secretary of State Colin Powell and the hawks seems to have continued right up until the moment Bush delivered his speech." In other words, there was no good cop/bad cop strategy, but rather a real divide within the administration.
Released today, an excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book "Bush at War" provides hard evidence to back up almost all of what Lizza said. At an NSC meeting in mid-August, Bush made a decision to go at Iraq through the United Nations. This decision, however, was not made public. Then, in late August Cheney publically and repeatedly attacked advocates of working with the UN, stunning Powell. Further meetings with the President revealed that his decision to seek a resolution was not firm. In fact, the actual, final, real decision was made so late that the relevant lines in Bush's September 12th speech were left out of the Teleprompter.
From my perspective, the most significant aspect of Woodward's account is the fact that Cheney publicly attacked a decision that the President had already made and eventually forced him to reconsider it. I see that as strong evidence supporting my assertion that the President is not in control of his own cabinet.
At this point, I will rest my case against the idea that the Bush administration sought to play good cop/bad cop with the United Nations. This brings up a second question, which I see as no less important. If "Bush's diplomacy has gotten him just about everything he wants" how can I say that internal divisions have "wrought havoc" on American foriegn policy? My first response to that challenge is that we don't know what Bush wants. Is he committed to seeing the UN resolution successfully implemented, or does he just want to show that he tried multilateralism before the US strikes out on its own?
Obviously, it won't be possible to answer that question until Hans Blix's inspections squad issues its report. Yet as Robert Kagan and William Kristol point out, it may be even harder for the US to justify unilateral action after the inspections are over. As these authors and others have pointed out, the inspections process may take so long that military action won't be possible until a year from now.
Now, if Tommy Franks is in Baghdad by March, I may have to eat my words. But there will still be other issues that the Bush administration needs to address before one can consider its foreign policy a lasting success. Two big ones are Afghanistan and Pakistan. While I haven't cited yet seen any evidence yet that the administration's half-hearted efforts to keep those nations on our side have been a result of internal divisions, I wouldn't be surprised if they were.
I hope everything goes right for Bush and for America. He's the commander-in-chief and his success or failure is ours as well. But sometimes I suspect the administration needs some prodding before it does the right thing.
If you are still reading this post, thank you for time. I suspect, however, it won't be the last of its kind. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:21 AM by Daniel
Saturday, November 16, 2002
# Posted 8:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
So here's my idea: Each week, I'll find one medium-length article (3,000-5,000 words) on foreign policy and international affairs. Then, each day, I will provide a paragraph by paragraph commentary on an excerpt from it. I guess you could say that I'll be "fisking" the articles, but since my intention is not to criticize, the term doesn't really apply. Anyway, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this new feature. I will give it a go for a couple of weeks and then see if people find it useful.
FYI, the first articles I'm going to focus on belong to a series published by Robert Kagan in the mid-90's in Commentary. These are the articles that established Kagan as America's leading conservative idealist thinker on foreign affairs. Take my praise with a grain of salt, however. I had the chance to work for Kagan at theCarnegie Endowment for International Peace and have tremendous respect for him (his fashion sense excepted). But after reading these articles, I don't think you'll need me to tell you they're really, really good.
Signing off for now, David. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
At least the Post was enough to admit it's mistake and publish Rose's letter. If the Post really wanted to show that it cared, however, it should take down its links to the special advertising sections that feature mini-rogue states such as Angola and the Congo. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Anyway, I've been pontificating for quite a while now about the havoc wrought by divisions within Bush's cabinet. As such, I'm looking forward to Woodward's new book, entitled "Bush at War", which will be the definitive account of the administrations' inner workings and the effects of the Powell-Cheney divide. Maybe it'll turn out that I'm completely wrong about things. Who knows. Anyway, click here to order your advance copy. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Inspectors armed with American, British and other Western intelligence on Iraqi weapons sites plan to be in place well before the United Nations deadline, said the inspection chief, Hans Blix.As such, the real question to ask is to what degree US-UN cooperation has been effective in ensuring that inspections will turn up the weapons everyone knows Saddam has. To phrase it differently, is the Bush administration gambling that UN inspectors will find what they're supposed to, or has it known all along exactly what they are going to find? I sure as hell hope that the answer is 'B'. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
For an in-depth discussion of why Europe has come to aceept its dependence on the United States (while vocally insisting that it hasn't), see this article by Robert Kagan. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, November 15, 2002
# Posted 10:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Anti-war liberals have derided the prospect of a liberated Iraq serving as a model for Arab democracy -- and starting a domino effect that could liberate the Muslim world from the grips of petty despots and theocratic lunatics -- as fanciful. But for all their talk about the "root causes" of terrorism, my fellow liberals have spoken very little about how they plan to remedy the situation. Deterrence is not going to address the "root causes" of terror. It will likely make them worse. At best it will leave a madman in check and leave much of the Muslim world in an ongoing mood of simmering disdain for America. At worst it will empower a madman to bide his time in manipulating the Muslim world's ongoing disdain for America. It is not a policy of hope; it is a policy of little imagination and puny moral spirit.
Thanks to Matt Yglesias for the link. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Dionne goes on to savage the Democrats for having no coherent policy either. He argues that if the Democrats had taken a strong position on the need for a multilateral approach to Iraq during the campaign, they might have been able to avoid the embarrassment of seeming like unprincipled hacks and, possibly, the embarrassment of being manhandled at the polls by a President who had the guts to campaign for what he believed. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Two interpretations of her behavior suggest themselves. First, Pelosi might be one of those liberals who can only conceive of using force when American security is not at stake. Second, Pelosi might be one of those Congressfolk who only support war when their party is in the White House -- and thus stands to benefit from the rally-'round-the-flag effect that all wars have. Remember when Trent Lott said that in Kosovo we should "give peace a chance"? Position One is sincere but misguided, whereas Position Two is pragmatic and deceptive. I'm not sure which is worse, but I lean toward Two since I think integrity and honor are much more important than success. But either way, it seems Pelosi out of touch with the changes wrought by September 11th.
In contrast, TNR had this to say about Harold Ford, Pelosi's opponent in the race for Minority Leader:
Ford voted for the use-of-force resolution but, in explaining that decision last week, said something simple and profound: "September eleventh changed things for me." In other words, he recognized--as few other Democrats seemed to--that catastrophic terrorism requires a rethinking of how Democrats approach foreign policy.While Ford's numerous weaknesses as a politician justify the Dems decision to back Pelosi, he still does have something to contribute.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 7:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Secretary General Kofi Annan said today that the United States seemed to have a lower threshold for going to war in Iraq than other nations on the United Nations Security Council.
We all know that Annan has never been good on the Iraq issue. But I think the remarks in the NYT are more of a political maneuver than they are actual criticism of the United States. Annan wants to preserve his credibility with all of the members of the Security Council whom he pressured to vote for Resolution 1441. Presumably, he had to tell them he would stop Bush from going cowboy once the resolution passed. Still, if Annan keeps this up he'll hurt his credibility with the US, increasing the chance that it will ignore the UN completely.
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# Posted 7:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
To a degree, Moore's book is very "September 10th". However, the fact that his publishers tried to stop publication of the book after September 11th demonstrates that there were, in fact, some efforts to supress legitimate dissent as a result of the attacks.However, according to an e-mail from Adam Bellow, executive editor at Doubleday,
While Michael Moore's publisher did try to cancel the book after 9-11, their action cannot be called an attempt to suppress dissenting views. Rather it was a well-founded business decision not to lose their shirt by publishing an anti-Bush book the same month that terrorists attacked the US. If they had, despite his cries to the contrary, Moore himself would not have been happy with the result. In the long run they did publish the book and made a ton of money (as did Moore). They were right to do both and were not motivated by political considerations except to the extent that current politics creates a favorable or unfavorable commercial environment.God Bless capitalism!
PS Adam also points out that Viking will soon publish a one-volume work by Donald Kagan on the Peloponnesian War. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, November 14, 2002
# Posted 8:09 AM by Daniel
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
# Posted 8:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Come and talk about politics and world affairs while relaxing with a point. All are welcome.
Directions (from the Radcliffe Camera): Walk up Catte Street toward the main Bodleian building and bear right on New College Lane. Turn left into the alleyway just past the Bridge of Sighs. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:22 PM by Daniel
# Posted 1:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
At a moment when slightly more pressing issues are facing the world, Maureen has given us a column on Britain's dowdy queen. (I'm sorry. I couldn't help it. Who knew Webster's would define "dowdy" as "lacking in smartness or taste"?)
In contrast, Tom has given us one of the best pieces I can recall on US relations with the UN and the role that each plays in validating the other. Still, I must register disagreement. While Friedman does not fall into the common trap of praising multilateralism as an end in and of itself, he does mistake it for the sina qua non of international legitimacy.
As I see it, other nations -- and especially other democracies -- will judge the United States according to the moral worth of its actions regardless of whether they are taken without UN or allied approval. In the end, a unilateral strike against Saddam will win respect for us because he is evil. It is only when we attack governments of which other democratic nations actively approve -- such as Allende's in Chile -- that we risk becoming a rogue superpower.
To my chagrin, I don't have time to make my case in greater depth. But expect more posts to come... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
# Posted 10:48 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Note: Don't expect the Iraqi opposition to make Tommy Franks job any easier. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:35 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:33 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
In the meantime, I will e-mail Prof. Kagan and ask him which one-volume commentary on the Peloponnesian War he recommends. Alternately, just read the first volume of his work, which by itself will enhance one's appreciation of Thucydides' significantly. Be warned, however. You may find yourself unable to resist the next three volumes once you start... (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:24 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
To a degree, Moore's book is very "September 10th". However, the fact that his publishers tried to stop publication of the book after September 11th demonstrates that there were, in fact, some efforts to supress legitimate dissent as a result of the attacks. Legimitate dissent should not be confused with intelligent dissent, however. First of all, the book is filled with unforgiveable factual errors, as documented by Spinsanity in Salon. (Example: Bush has proposed a $1.6 trillion increase in the Pentagon budget.) Even worse is the fact that Moore provides footnotes to sources which don't even come close to saying what he does in the book. The fact that Stupid White Men made an impressive run at the top of the New York Times bestseller list is a disturbing indication of just how unelite America's intellectual eltie are.
Even if one forgives Moore's poetic license with the facts, the book fails on the grounds that its arguments are incoherent. While Dan is right that there are ad hominem attacks on Bush throughout, Moore does not present his book as an anti-Bush polemic, but rather one against the dominance of white males. This is race- and gender-baiting at its most crude. In his chapter on why white Americans are to blame for the nation's troubles, Moore does little more than argue that whites are too eager to hold blacks responsible for the vast majority of crimes. Perhaps. But since Moore blames white Americans for everything from pollution to pork-barrelling, he needs to do a lot more than show that black people are statistically less dangerous than some might think.
As for women, Moore observes that America denied them the right to vote until 1920. Afterwards, white men tricked them into voting for white men who would continue to hold them down. So basically, Moore's argument is that women are too stupid to recognize what's in their own interest. Not impressive for someone who claims to be against sexism. Moreover, Moore declares that all of the women in Bush's cabinet are honorary white males. In other words, all women and non-whites should have political opinions identical to Moore's. Again, not impressive for someone who claims to be against racial stereotypes.
To sum it up in one word, Stupid White Men is an embarrassment. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:53 AM by Daniel
Regardless of the inspection regime, the prospect of finding what he does not want us to find is very limited without help from those in Iraq who know where the most sensitive work is being done. And unfortunately, the message that partial disclosure will be tolerated is hardly likely to encourage them to step forward -- even if the inspectors can insist on talking to scientists and others without their Iraqi minders. (Bear in mind that Blix has already indicated that he sees problems with bringing such Iraqi scientists, officials and their families outside the country.)
I agree that letting Hussein get away with partial disclosure of his programs after 30 days could lead to disastrous consequences--it would send the signal that the UN is more interested in containment than disarmament. But how will we know if he is playing the cat and mouse game yet again? According to Ross, "President Bush has set the stage for disarmament. Now he must condition the French, the Russians and the rest of the world to understand that the moment of truth comes not with the inspectors' arrival but with the character of Iraq's disclosure on Dec. 8." Is there really a way to determine whether or not Iraq has fully disclosed its WMD programs? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, November 11, 2002
# Posted 4:57 PM by Daniel
Sunday, November 10, 2002
# Posted 7:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 6:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I have a feeling the Pentagon is aware of the issue. Expect the US to force the issue at the UN in January. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The article also provided considerable substantiation for one of my favorite points, which is that the President never instructed the whole cabinet to support a single strategy, therefore provoking semi-open warfare within the administration that the the unfortunate effect of undercutting the effort of both sides.
UPDATE: Compare the NYT article with the WashPost article on the same subject. The Post avoids the issue of Russia and France, but provides a far superior account of Powell's effort to persuade the hawks to go along. Would someone please explain, then, whey the NYT costs three times as much as the Post?
Unless you read them online, in which case they're both free! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 3:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In some ways, the mistaken murder of "innocent" Australians (and others) is an even more compelling demonstration of Islamic fundamentalists' brutality than their attacks on American citizens. The terrorists sincere belief that all Americans are "guilty" makes their violence comprehensible from a psychological perspective, if not from a moral one. The massive disregard for human life that led to the murder of the Australians and others in Bali shows how the all-consuming hatred of the terrorists leads them to abandon all concern even for the innocent, an ethical stance which exposes the unmitigated evil they represent.
PS If you still want to read more about Putin's incompetence, click here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, November 07, 2002
# Posted 2:29 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The WashPost defends the administration in an editorial whose acrobatic logic is quite impressive. According to the Post
Military action makes sense only when it is impossible to work through law enforcement or local authorities. Yemen clearly falls into that category: Its authorities tried and failed to capture numerous al Qaeda militants operating in remote parts of the country, and now they appear to have acquiesced in the CIA's use of missile-armed drones.Does that mean Israel has to wait for Yasser Arafat to admit that his police forces are incompetent/complicit in terrorism and then invite the Sharon to help him kill the masterminds behind the suicide bombs? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Nonetheless, Donald Rumsfeld said, in an interview with Jim Hoagland, that "U.S. troops [will] become more involved in civil-military projects that will create conditions for 'people to come home, to rebuild and resettle.'" I hope Rumsfeld recognizes that coming home, rebuilding and resettling will not be possible if Karzai can't wipe out corruption and warlord rule.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:45 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Also, see Clinton NSC chief Anthony Lake's op-ed on North Korea, which responds in a measured, non-partisan manner to much of the unfair criticism of his North Korea policy which filled editorial pages after North Korea's recent admission that it had a secret weapons program. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
# Posted 9:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
weekly discussions of politics and current events. All are welcome.
Directions: The Turf is not easy to find. The best way to get there, starting from the Bodleian main entrance, is to walk under the Bridge of Sighs and then turn into the narrow alley on your left, right after the Bridge. Follow the alley to the end, and you're there. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
# Posted 10:54 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Spoiled Ballots: 0
Pregnant Chads: Their own damn fault.
Senate: Democrats -- 2, Republicans -- 1, Baath -- 97.
House: In permanent recess.
State by State Results:
Arkansas - W.J. Clinton (Baath)
Minnesota - Ventura (Baath)
South Carolina - Thurmond (R)
Missouri - Carnahan (D)
Georgia - McKinney (Baath)
Tennessee - A. Gore Jr. (Baath)
New Jersey - Torricelli (D)
Texas - Koresh (Baath)
North Carolina - E. Dole (Baath)
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:41 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Zakaria finishes his piece with a damning reminder that, as a candidate, Bush called for an end to aid for Russia on the grounds that "The nations of the free world [must] condemn the -- you know, the killing of innocent women and children."
All in all, Zakaria's column is a nice to counterpoint to his earlier essay in the New Yorker, which I criticized for its amoral realpolitik. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
US Commander Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill asserted that "for the near term, these regional leaders -- while they might appear unsavory to some, and some accuse them of having sordid pasts -- they are providing a degree of security and stability out and away from Kabul." In other words, if the Bush administration doesn't care enough about democracy to send US troops beyond Kabul, why the hell should McNeill give local dictators a hard time?
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:22 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
While hardly evidence of my wisdom, I will note that the NY Times supports my position on Turkish politics exactly. The Post was somewhat less enthusiastic. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:11 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:06 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Bonus fact for European history buffs: The German ambassador to NATO is named "von Moltke".
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:12 AM by Daniel
Minnesota - Mondale (D)
Colorado - Strickland (D)
New Hampshire - Sununu (R)
Like Josh I am making the bold prediction that the Republicans will keep the House. It's a shame that so few House races are competitive--Iowa does it right with an an independent bureau that is not allowed to take political considerations such as voting patterns and party registration into account when it draws boundaries. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, November 04, 2002
# Posted 10:39 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:33 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Sunday, November 03, 2002
# Posted 2:35 PM by Daniel
Friday, November 01, 2002
# Posted 2:26 PM by Daniel
# Posted 12:09 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
If you read OxBlog, Chuck, you would know that the President cannot control his own advisers, presumably because he does not even know what his own policy on Iraq is. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, October 31, 2002
# Posted 10:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:50 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Reading between the lines, Benjamin's point is much the same as the one made by diplomatic historian John Dower last week: neither man believes Bush is committed enough to nation-building and democratization to make the occuaption work.
As I have made clear before, I am strongly for a postwar occupation and nation-building effort. But I do not believe it will be a guaranteed success. It will depend on the will of the US-led occupying forces more than it does on "deep historical forces" such as Islamic culture. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:31 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
If the President is serious about bringing democracy to the Middle East, he will have to instruct the Turkish generals that the voters, and not the military, must decide who governs. If the United States lets the military return, it will have lost a critical chance to demonstrate to the Muslims everywhere that an American victory in the war on terror will liberate them as well. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
# Posted 3:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 2:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:51 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Moreover, in light of the fact that the Chechens' cause is justified -- even though its tactics are unacceptable -- I would have been glad if the hostage taking went as planned and Putin had to negotiate over Chechnya. What he has done there is far more brutal than what the Chechens did in Moscow. While I do not hesitate to refer to the Chechens as terrorists, I think there is no question that the Russian armed forces deserve that accolade ten times over.
Finally, I recognize that I jumped the gun when I wrote that the terrorists in question "are Chechen guerrillas, not Al Qaeda operatives." Such a rigid distinction is unwarranted in light of the London Telegraph's report that "'There were definitely Arab terrorists in the building with links to al-Qa'eda," [according to a] senior Western diplomat. Nonetheless, there was nothing in the Telegraph article which suggested that there were any actual members of Al Qaeda in Moscow or that Al Qaeda had any role in setting the objectives of the Moscow operation. Thus, I think my point that the Chechen terrorists could have been negotiated with stands uncorrected. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:36 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
One question, Josh: Why did you decide to the post the text of a document focusing on Iraqi brutality in the 1980s, instead of the 1990s? Surely, any competent idiotarian would point out that the United States was Iraq's formal ally at the time and showed no concern for his brutality. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:29 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
A month ago, NHK satellite was running some documentary [Approx. Title: "The Road to Pearl Harbor 1931-1941"] about some American Japanophile diplomat in the 1930's and his American-o-phile counter-parts and how their devotion to improving relations and understanding between the 2 countries at the time, tragically.....you get the picture.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:33 AM by Daniel
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
# Posted 9:13 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
there were no doctors on hand at the theater to provide emergency treatment to the most seriously injured hostages, a standard practice in disasters.In fact, there weren't even ambulances on hand, so the hostages had to be taken to the hospital on city buses. BUSES! That is incompetence.
The Times also reports that Putin's justification for the raid -- that the terrorists were beginning to execute hostages -- was a transparent lie. Moreover, the raid was decided on almost immediately after the hostages were taken. All this is strong evidence that Putin thought he had a brilliant plan that would both save the hostages and avoid all negotiations. What went wrong? Incompetence.
As for your counterfactual, Josh, I'm less than convinced. Imagine if a Western government decided that it would sacrifice 100 of its own citizens to save another 700 before exhausting all options for saving the entire lot. Imagine the outcry if George Bush (or God forbid, Bill Clinton) decided that he had the right to decide who would live and who would die. Moreover, those most likely to die from the gas are the old, the sick, and the children. Sacrificing them seems particularly callous.
Finally, in comparative perspective, I think there is good reason to believe that such stand-offs can be resolved through negotiation. The typical deal involves safe passage for the terrorists to a foreign destination along with a token concession to their political agenda. Moreover, I question your [Josh's] assumption that the terrorists were willing to use their explosives. These are Chechen guerrillas, not Al Qaeda operatives. In other words, they are nationalists, not suicidal murderers. They have what to gain from negotiation. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, October 27, 2002
# Posted 1:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I wish I could say that this sort of brutality and incompetence were surprising. But they are not. Rather they are the signature of the Putin government, whose undemocratic behavior has rendered it ever more insensitive to the well-being of the citizens it is supposed to represent and protect. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 1:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
For those with a serious interest in the American occupation of Japan, I cannot recommend Dower's recent book on that subject, Embracing Defeat, highly enough. It is already classic, winning a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award and numerous other honors. His other works are well-worth reading as well.
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# Posted 12:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:52 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
"...around the edges of the [anti-war] rally [in New York], copies of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the classic forged document of nineteenth-century anti-Semitism, were being sold. According to a report in the New York Sun, this peddling of anti-Semitic tripe was not entirely accidental..."Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link. (Note: The text is only available on Andrew's site.)
If you need some cheering up after reading about anti-Semitism, read this. If I didn't know better, I'd say The Onion hacked into the NYT website.
Last but not least, how's this for irony: "Participants [in the anti-war protest] said the shootings in and around [DC] in the last three weeks had kept people from planning to visit Washington." Hmmm.... Al Qaeda supporter murders Americans at random and fewer people show up to protest the war against terrorism. Anyone have Sherlock Holmes' phone number? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Saturday, October 26, 2002
# Posted 9:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I think Josh must like Daniel's blog as well, since he added it to our favorites list just a while back. And someone at the University of Chicago must think Daniel is pretty smart, since they made him a professor in the department of political science. Just one question: Is his middle initial really "W."? (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 9:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
OxBlog couldn't agree more. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But seriously, consider this:
"Elections rigged by Musharraf in his favor this month were praised extravagantly by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher as "an important milestone in the ongoing transition to democracy."While supporting anti-Communist dictators during the Cold War undermined American interests, it at least had some short-term advantages. But supporting dictators like Musharraf has the potential to incite a fundamentalist revolution in a nuclear-armed state. Bad idea. Send a memo to the President. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
You start with a death sentence. But you don't carry it out in an electric chair or anything like that. Rather, one American will be selected at random to execute the sniper. He or she will be given a high-powered rifle and a prison guard uniform. He or she will then kill the sniper at a random time and place, of his or her choosing (within the relevant prison, of course). If he or she wanted, he could wait five or six years to take care of business. That way Mr. Muhammad can spend a very, very long time wondering whether he has only a moment left before his violent and bloody death.
If any of you out there are constitutional lawyers, please let me know if this idea is workable. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Still, one should note a certain hypocrisy on the part of France, Germany and those other European states who now insist that UN validation is necessary before using force. Moreover, those nations did have a concrete security interest in the Balkan crisis (as opposed to the United States' ideological interest). Thus, it might be best to say that France, Germany, et al. don't believe that interest-based missions demand greater multilateralism, but that the United States behaves recklessly when its interests are on the line (cf. "the Cold War"), thus leading them to be suspicious of it. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
That said, I don't think that Josh's clarification takes much away from my point, i.e. that it is disingenuous to criticize either the United States' past or current North Korea policies without suggesting an alternative. According to Josh, Krauthammer and Safire implied "that, having engaged [North Korea] in 'paper diplomacy' so long, the problem is now a damned difficult one." I'm not so sure. Was there an alternative in 1994 that doesn't exist now? As Safire pointed out, North Korea deters the United States via its conventional threat to South Korea's civilian population. As should be self-evident, that threat was no less menacing 1994 than it is now. So what was Clinton supposed to do? The answer: exactly what Bush is doing now -- negotiating. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:13 AM by Daniel
# Posted 5:58 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
James W. Ziglar, a Republican who was sergeant at arms of the Senate from 1998 to 2001 and who is now commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, remembered today 'the evening when he came back to the Capitol well past midnight to visit with the cleaning staff and tell them how much he appreciated their efforts.'
'Most of the staff had never seen a senator and certainly had never had one make such a meaningful effort to express his or her appreciation,' Mr. Ziglar said. 'That was the measure of the man.'" (NY Times, Oct. 26, 2002) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Friday, October 25, 2002
# Posted 7:53 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
America and its allies will not use our military to take out the Pyongyang gang for the simple reason that North Korea already has the conventional troop strength and artillery power to inflict horrendous casualties on the South (including 40,000 U.S. tripwire troops) as well as in Japan, which Pyongyang will soon be able to reach with nuclear missiles.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:28 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
On Oct. 21, the President said
that the United States was trying diplomacy "one more time" to disarm Saddam Hussein "peacefully" and suggested that if the Iraqi leader complied with every United Nations mandate it would "signal the regime has changed."There is a certain logic to all this. One might say that Bush, in deference to the United Nations, is giving Saddam a chance to show that he has changed, but doesn't believe that he has. Even so, the President's inability/unwillingness to say this directly and openly is, well, Clintonian.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, October 24, 2002
# Posted 10:39 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
In general, talking about grand strategy is something done by professors of international relations. In this post, I'm just going to provide a couple of links to recent essays on American grand strategy by prominent thinkers, so that anyone with an interest can start reading.
The one question to keep in mind while reading the following essays is this: "Is the author a moral relativist?" While the essays listed below are sophisticated enough to warrant extensive analysis, I think that analysis must begin with the exploration of the authors' moral foundation. As I see it, the authors' relativism compels them to recommend that the United States court allied opinion rather than striking out on its own and doing what is right.
That said, I'll shut up and give you the links:
Fareed Zakaria, "Our Way", The New Yorker, Oct. 14/21, 2002
G. John Ikenberry, "America's Imperial Ambition", Foreign Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2002
Michael Mandelbaum, "The Inadequacy of American Power", Foreign Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2002
John L. Gaddis, "A Grand Strategy", Foreign Policy, Nov./Dec. 2002
UPDATE/CORRECTION: John Gaddis' article doesn't really belong with the other three. While he seems somewhat equivocal in his positive assessment of Bush's democracy promotion strategy, there is no trace of the traditional realist line he has often advocated following.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
# Posted 1:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 12:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Even though I am strong supporter of both Israeli and US foreign policy, I have a had a hard time coming up with a convincing response to the accusations made above. But not anymore. Thanks to a brilliant article in The Economist, I can explain exactly why it is that Israel has not violated international law while Iraq has, and in a manner dangerous enough to necessitate war. Read on! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 8:19 AM by Daniel
# Posted 6:49 AM by Daniel
Monday, October 21, 2002
# Posted 2:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
El Baradei first reminds us that the President himself (in his Cincinatti speech) has recognized that "Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities." Even though I wrote a long post on the Cincinnati speech, I hadn't noticed that line. In short, I missed the fact that the official position of the Bush administration is that inspections can work.
El Baradei then lists the conditions necessary for success. In short, the inspectors will need unfettered authority backed by strong Security Council support. He also argues that success demands "active cooperation by Iraq". I can't figure out if El Baradei really means this, or if he is protecting himself from the likely failure of inspections in the face of Iraqi resistance. But if you just look past this one red flag, El Baradei's article is solid. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:45 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
As I see it, this is something the Bush administration should have thought about long ago. Instead of waiting until the last possible moment to cooperate with the United Nations, it should have made a decision early whether cooperation was desirable or not. Now, it faces the worst of both worlds: negotiating partners resentful of American high-handedness and a lack of time to launch military operations if necessary.
Why is the Bush strategy for Iraq lost at sea? The answer is one that OxBlog has mentioned often before: First, internal divisions within the administration. Second, an inability to think in grand strategic terms. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, October 20, 2002
# Posted 8:27 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The only real casualty of the North Korean crisis has been the administration's new National Security Strategy. Raising pre-emption to the level of official doctrine seems somewhat absurd if we can't apply it to two out of three of the members of the axis of evil. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:56 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
A funny thing happened in Iran the other day. The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, published a poll on Iranian attitudes toward America, conducted by Iran's National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls. The poll asked 1,500 Iranians whether they favored opening talks with America, and 75 percent said "yes." More interesting, 46 percent said U.S. policies on Iran — which include an economic boycott and labeling Iran part of an "axis of evil" — were "to some extent correct."...you can imagine what happened next. Iran's hard-liners shut down the polling institute and threatened the IRNA official who published the results.So if the government isn't responding to the people's wishes, why is it still in power? As Friedman observes:
The transition from autocracy to real democracy in Iran [has] dragged out much longer than in Europe for many reasons, but the most important is because the hard-line mullahs control Iran's oil wealth. What that means is that they have a pool of money that they can use to monopolize all the instruments of coercion — the army, police and intelligence services. And their pool of money is not dependent on their opening Iran's economy or political system or being truly responsive to their people's aspirations.What does this mean for the United States?
If we really want to hasten the transition from autocracy to something more democratic in places like Iraq or Iran, the most important thing we can do is gradually, but steadily, bring down the price of oil — through conservation and alternative energies...Ousting Saddam is necessary for promoting the spread of democracy in the Middle East, but it won't be sufficient, it won't stick, without the Mideast states kicking their oil dependency and without us kicking ours.And there you have it. A model column. It begins by reporting little-known facts, proceeds to analysis, and concludes with strong policy recommendations. Perhaps Ms. Dowd might take note. And if not her, than perhaps a number of congressmen should, since they seem more interested in talking about national security than doing anything about it. As the WashPost points out today, Congress' failure to pass the budget has forced
the nation must do without 570 new Border Patrol agents, 110 new FBI intelligence analysts, new bomb detectors at airports, security improvements at U.S. embassies, modernization of the Coast Guard fleet, and bioterrorism research. Ironically, many of the same members who abandoned their legislative responsibilities are running around their districts trying to convince voters that homeland security is dear to their hearts. In fact, it is pretty clear from congressional behavior that getting reelected trumps the war on terrorism.While most of those who criticize Bush for putting the war of Iraq ahead of the war on terror fail to recognize that fighting Iraq is fighting terror, the President must also bear responsibility for Congress' failures. As commander-in-chief, he has to use his influence to fight the war not just abroad, but on the homefront as well. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion