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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cohen and Deng

I'm on the road, back home in Louisville for a few days, participating in the annual Grawemeyer Award festivities.

Today, I hosted a talk by Roberta Cohen and Francis Deng, who talked about their prize-winning ideas for improving world order. Specifically, their work for the past decade or so has centered on what to do about the 20 plus million internally displaced peoples, located in 40 or 50 states.

The talk was fantastic. We had a nice turnout for the event and the audience asked good questions. Deng described his work in the UN building an argument about "sovereign responsibility." Legitimate states have to serve the basic needs of their populations. Cohen talked about the Guiding Principles that are becoming a norm in this issue area.

I didn't bring my laptop, so I'm not sure how much blogging you'll find in this space until the weekend.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Prison deaths

The Army isn't going to prosecute 17 soldiers "involved" in the deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As has been widely reported, at least 27 prisoners have been killed in those prisons. Some sources use the word "murder."

This is not good news:
In one case, commanders decided not to file recommended criminal charges against 11 soldiers involved in the death of a former Iraqi Army lieutenant colonel in January 2004. An autopsy indicated the man died from blunt force injuries and asphyxia.
This is from a NY Times op-ed by Bob Herbert:
People have been rounded up, stripped, shackled, beaten, incarcerated and in some cases killed, without being offered even the semblance of due process. No charges. No lawyers. No appeals.
Herbert notes a military intelligence estimate that 70 to 90% "of the people detained in Iraq had been seized by mistake."

This is bad. Very bad.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Sorry, more sports talk.**

I've been reading a little about major league baseball's steroid policy. SABR's Business of Baseball committee has a number of documents related to the March 17 congressional hearing, including a letter from Representatives Tom Davis and Henry Waxman to Commissioner Bud Selig (pdf version). In that letter (html version), the members of Congress take baseball to task for a number of loopholes in the steroid policy. They discuss substances that aren't banned, weaknesses in the testing regimen, etc. Many in Congress want baseball to take this as seriously as the Olympics do.

In terms of my professional interests, one major loophole is lack of transparency in the testing and penalty processes:
In public statements, Major League Baseball representatives have emphasized that players who violate the new policy will be publicly identified and suspended from baseball for ten days. In fact, the details of the new policy reveal that the penalty for a first offense can be either a suspension or a fine of $10,000 or less; that there is no public identification of players who are fined instead of suspended; and that even if players are suspended, the public disclosure is limited to the fact of their suspension with no official confirmation that the player tested positive for steroids. In contrast, the Olympic policy calls for a two-year suspension for a first offense....

In addition, contrary to public statements by Major League Baseball, the policy does not require public disclosure of positive steroid tests. In fact, the policy appears to prohibit such disclosure. The policy states that “the results of any Prohibited Substance testing … shall remain strictly confidential.”[11] In the case of a fine, the policy also states that “any disciplinary fines imposed upon the Player by the Commissioner shall remain strictly confidential.”[12] Under the policy, there appears to be public disclosure only in the case of a suspension, and even then the disclosure appears to be limited. The policy states that “the only public comment from the Club or the Office of the Commissioner shall be that the Player was suspended for a specified number of days for a violation of this Program.”
I'm a fan of public accountability, and people in baseball apparently agree that this could me a mechanism for cleaning up the game.

Commissioner Bud Selig
says that the potential for negative publicity will assure that the steroid policy works:
Major League Baseball officials have also indicated that the names of players who test positive for steroids will be disclosed to the public. Commissioner Selig has stated, “The fact that it is announced and everybody in America will know who it is, that’s a huge deterrent … No player wants that.”
Selig's arch-enemy Donald Fehr, head of the Player's Association, agrees. This was in the Boston Globe this week:
"The biggest deterrent is exposure. Once that happens, that costs all kinds of things in the job," Fehr said after meeting with Baltimore Orioles players Tuesday. "There's the reputation issue, there's the question everybody's going to look as to whether or not any statistics that individual put up are legitimate or not -- and that can affect future contract negotiations."
Stars and non-stars appear to agree too. I've seen a lot of quotes from players in the media; allow me to pick just a couple for illustration purposes.

Oakland A's journeyman outfielder Bobby Kielty:
"Right now, the strictest penalty is probably having the names publicized.''
Curt Schilling, star pitcher of the Boston Red Sox.
He said he had no problem with naming names of players who test positive, adding, "No player that isn't cheating has a problem with that. It's very clear now that if someone is a positive, they're done. They might still be able to play after a suspension, but they're forever labeled as a cheater."
The consensus is quite interesting, eh?

Anonymous steroid testing in 2003 yielded 5-7% positive results. Apparently, that's around 90 players. In 2004, only 12 players tested positive.

Baseball responded to the congressional criticism by renegotiating the penalties for positive tests:
Players and owners tentatively agreed Sunday to close at least that loophole and require the suspension of any player who tests positive for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs....Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, said Sunday he expects the policy to be changed to "just the straight suspension." Players still need to approve the deal, but Manfred said, "We do have an agreement with (union head Donald Fehr)."
I have not yet learned if the names will be publicized under the new deal.

**Note: I have three of he final four teams in my NCAA tourney bracket.
How'd you do?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Germany on Preventive War

In a recent speech outlining the German reaction to Kofi Annan's High Level Panel Report, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer didn't mention the parts of the document that embrace the idea of preventive war -- if approved by international authority. This is as close as he got:
In its report, the High-level Panel rightly underlines the importance of prevention for crisis management. Especially when it comes to combating terrorism and armed conflict, military and police measures are needed in the short term to protect people from an acute threat.
Some time ago (November 2003), German Defense Minister Peter Struck did speak to the "preemptive war" issue directly:
"Preventive (military) action requires unambiguous intelligence," he said. "The weapons of mass destruction which cannot be found in Iraq have shown how thin the ice can be when one embarks on a war of self-defense on the basis of supposedly clear proof of an imminent threat."
I'll be following up on this topic.

Human rights of bloggers

I'm looking into international responses to the Kofi Annan's High Level Panel Report and found this interesting section in a recent (March 22) speech by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
In Iran we have still been unable to detect any improvement in the human rights situation. Whippings, torture and the death penalty continue to cause concern. In particular the human rights of journalists, webloggers and human rights activists continue to be violated. We will only be able to speak of real progress in democratization when civil and political rights – in particular freedom of opinion – are fully respected. I very much hope that at the next rounds of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue we will discuss ways of bringing about genuine improvements to the human rights situation. (emphasis added)
Human rights of bloggers!

I'm for that.

Human Rights First is on this issue as well.

The blogosphere (er, blogtopia), of course, has been buzzing about the issue.

I searched and for the US government's position.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kofi Annan on the use of force

On repeated occasions, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has admitted to members of the media that the US-led "coalition of the willing" attack on Iraq was illegal under the UN Charter. Put simply, war was not authoriized by the Security Council and the war was neither self defense nor collective defense.

At the end of 2004, Annan's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change addressed some of the hard questions raised by the prospect of states taking preventive action against threats that are not imminent. The Panel seemed to suggest growing agreement the need to address new threats in the post-9/11 world.

Now, this week, Annan's office released In Larger Freedom, a report that offers specific recommendations for the member states to consider this year as they debate the future of the UN. First, however, chapter 3 reminds everyone of the large set of related questions:
122. Finally, an essential part of the consensus we seek must be agreement on when and how force can be used to defend international peace and security. In recent years, this issue has deeply divided Member States. They have disagreed about whether States have the right to use military force pre-emptively, to defend themselves against imminent threats; whether they have the right to use it preventively to defend themselves against latent or non-imminent threats; and whether they have the right — or perhaps the obligation — to use it protectively to rescue the citizens of other States from genocide or comparable crimes.

123. Agreement must be reached on these questions if the United Nations is to be — as it was intended to be — a forum for resolving differences rather than a mere stage for acting them out.
So, what are Annan's recommendations? This continues where paragraph 123 left off:
I believe the Charter of our Organization, as it stands, offers a good basis for the understanding that we need.

124. Imminent threats are fully covered by Article 51, which safeguards the inherent right of sovereign States to defend themselves against armed attack. Lawyers have long recognized that this covers an imminent attack as well as one that has already happened.

125. Where threats are not imminent but latent, the Charter gives full authority to the Security Council to use military force, including preventively, to preserve international peace and security. As to genocide, ethnic cleansing and other such crimes against humanity, are they not also threats to international peace and security, against which humanity should be able to look to the Security Council for protection?

126. The task is not to find alternatives to the Security Council as a source of authority but to make it work better. When considering whether to authorize or endorse the use of military force, the Council should come to a common view on how to weigh the seriousness of the threat; the proper purpose of the proposed military action; whether means short of the use of force might plausibly succeed in stopping the threat; whether the military option is proportional to the threat at hand; and whether there is a reasonable chance of success. By undertaking to make the case for military action in this way, the Council would add transparency to its deliberations and make its decisions more likely to be respected, by both Governments and world public opinion. I therefore recommend that the Security Council adopt a resolution setting out these principles and expressing its intention to be guided by them when deciding whether to authorize or mandate the use of force.
The boldface is in the original document.

Frankly, this reframing isn't all that helpful. As Pete Dombrowski and I argued at ISA, a large number of states are starting to accept the Bush administration's worries about the threats posed by terrorists and rogue states armed with WMD. In other words, they are coming to a consensus about some of the questions Annan raises in paragraph 126.

The critical question is this: Who has the authority to authorize the preventive use of force? The US, as it did in Iraq, will say this is about "preemptive" use of force and will continue to assert that it has the right to act preemptively.

Most of the rest of the world probably concurs with what is implicit in the S-G's argument: preventive war is OK so long as it is authorized by the Security Council.

Otherwise, it is not.

KSG Guests

In the weeks since the Hawaii ISA conference, I've been attending a much larger number of events on campus. Earlier, I was too busy writing two papers to have much of a chance.

Unfortunately, I cannot blog about many of these events because they are off the record. This week, for example, I've seen former Assistant UN Secretary-General John Ruggie talk about the oil for food scandal and pollster John Zogby talk about his fascinating Middle East polling. Oh, and I saw MSNBC President Rick Kaplan talk about blogs...on Dan Rather's final day as the news anchor for CBS.

Of course, a lot of what they said in these meetings is of public record. For example, Ruggie has written op-ed pieces about the oil for food scandal -- and appears on television frequently. Likewise Zogby's Lebanon and Iraq polls are on his website for public perusal.

I've also seen some academics deliver some of their research, such as Charles Kupchan, whose presentation made me want to buy euros ASAP.

RAND's James Dobbins talked about the mess that is Iraq.That too was off the record, but his Foreign Affairs article is revealing:

Keeping U.S. troops in Iraq will only provoke fiercer and more widespread resistance, but withdrawing them too soon could spark a civil war.
It's been a good month for ideas.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


What can I say? The baseball season begins in less than two weeks and I've been staying up late working on my fantasy drafts. It undermines my political blogging.

In fact, one draft is already underway.

Today, I picked Colorado Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe. I've never really had a regular Rockies player on my fantasy team as they are quite valued and are rarely released into the free agent pool. Coors Stadium inflates offense about 20%, so a good hitter looks like a great hitter in the mountains.

Last year, in AAA Colorado Springs, Hawpe hit .315 with 28 homers in only 314 ABs. He doesn't have a lot of speed, but seems like a great bet for lots of offense if he wins the starting job. Recent reports suggest he's going to platoon with Dustan Mohr, but Hawpe is the left-hander and will see most of the plate appearances against the league's predominantly right handed pitching.

Hawpe was born a couple of months after I graduated from high school (baseball is a young man's game and can make one feel old). He helped LSU win the College World Series in 2000 and was a second team All-American that year. Hawpe was named MVP of the Series, partly because of his big homer against Mark Prior in the semifinal game.

Oh, I also picked starting pitcher Darrell May today.

Don't laugh.

He's now pitching for San Diego, in PETCO park which reduces scoring by about 20%. It also reduces homers, especially by right handed hitters (by roughly 1/3). May is a lefty and has a big problem with homers. Otherwise, he's a pretty solid pitcher who had a very good year in 2003.

If you want to see the rest of my team, click here. In a 24 team league, I have a nice mix of stars and youngsters.

My other league holds an auction draft on April 10 -- in Chicago.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Democracy and international institutions

I've been trying to figure out what John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz plan to do their new jobs (pending approval by the Senate). Given what Bush administration officials have said in the past, it seems fairly clear that these new appointments are designed to bully these institutions into alignment with America's latest Wilsonian prioritization of "freedom" in its foreign policy.

Kim R. Holmes, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, gave an insightful speech on "Democracy and International Organizations" on December 5, 2003.
The United States remains firmly committed to the global expansion of democracy and, as President Bush puts it, “the hope and progress it brings as the alternative to instability and hatred and terror.” “Lasting peace is gained,” he added, “as justice and democracy advance.”

We carry this strategy into all our work in international organizations.
Indeed, these goals are pursued even in development organizations, like the World Bank:
Helping to build or reinforce democratic institutions should be a goal of every UN development program. It should be a touchstone for reform aimed at reducing corruption, protecting political and civil rights, increasing investor confidence, and generating financing for development.
Holmes outlined the administration's logic for pushing elections and institutions rather than human rights per se:
First, true democracy rests in popular sovereignty—the voice and will of the people expressed through elections, and reflected in the maintenance of democratic institutions.....

Second, liberty and human rights may be universal values, but you need democratic self-government—a social contract between people and their government—to protect them. If the power of government is expanded too much, human rights will inevitably be in danger. Democratic self-governance, then, cannot be separated from human rights. It is the main instrument by which human rights are preserved and advanced.

Third, international organizations are most effective in advancing human rights and development when they focus on advancing democratic self-governance. Advancing democracy, therefore, should be the goal of every international organization. But by this, I mean democratic self-governance—the democratization of society—the building of democratic institutions and civil society as the foundations of true democracy.
What will all this mean? Well, in addition to emphasizing electoral processes and institutions over "human rights," the administration means to continue its assault on the sovereignty of non-democratic states:
...if international bodies are based on democratic principles, those principles should infuse every deliberation and decision. Giving equal status to democratic countries and to non-democratic countries—whose decisions rarely reflect consent from those they govern—creates an inherent tension in these bodies that can make implementing decisions quite challenging.
The same logic pervades its view of Security Council reform, which will be a key issue throughout this year in the wake of the Secretary General's latest efforts on this score:
Democracy and accountability suffer when we accept as members of the Security Council countries that threaten their neighbors, oppress their people, and break international laws and treaties. I believe the Council’s decisions would have more moral authority if every member elected to it governs justly and abides by the rule of law.
Holmes makes a similar recommendation for the Commission on Human Rights:
If we want the Commission’s decisions to be more democratic—more important, if we want its decisions to mean something for the suffering people who look to it for help—then the democratic members of the UN must take the lead. Countries that uphold the purposes and principles of the CHR should see that more democratic countries get elected to serve on it.
It is noteworthy, by the way, that Holmes challenges the democratic nature of the EU in this 2003 speech.

I look for the administration to embrace neocon Max Singer's idea for a democratic caucus at the UN.

The Bush administration seems to be arguing that there's no need to work with non-democratic states -- better merely to change their governments.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Empire State

We took the kids to NYC this weekend, so that explains the lack of blogging.

It was a tourist weekend, beginning with a walk through Times Square. We then went to the 86th floor Observatory of the Empire State Building. Saturday was a perfectly clear day so the view was terrific.

We also took a boat tour that took us right by the Statue of Liberty as it sailed around the harbor.

I'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Iran's public diplomacy

The Bush administration just appointed Karen Hughes to head America's "public diplomacy" effort, but it is important to keep in mind that other states engage in this activity as well.

Two weeks ago, Iran (specifically, the Expediency Council, which is a great name for a national security agency) hosted an International Conference on Nuclear Technology and Sustainable Development. Iran invited a number of westerners who work on international security issues in hopes of reassuring them that they are not such bad guys.

I've heard two of the participants discuss this conference and they both noted that Iranian speakers seemed to be free to say whatever they wanted. Some speakers were in favor of nuclear arms acquisition, others played up the energy angle, and some were anti-nuclear. Jeffrey Boutwell of Pugwash agrees that the dialogue was useful:
The conference was characterized by a very open and candid exchange of views among all participants. Substantive differences of opinion over the nature, rationale and international ramifications of Iran’s nuclear program were aired in both the plenary and break-out sessions, with the result being a genuine dialogue.
Some participants in the conference, including Harvard's Steve Miller, got to dine with the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Dr. Hassan Rohani.

Some even flew to Esfahan for a 6-hour tour of Iran's notorious nuclear facility. They didn't get to see the famed tunnels, but then again, they didn't ask in advance!

Iran basically said that it isn't going to abandon the nuclear program for a few economic incentives. Their program is legal, even the uranium enrichment, and the violations found by the IAEA have all (save for the traces of highly enriched uranium found on the used equipment) involved failures to report legal activities. The NPT and IAEA are quite forgiving on that score. Once the efforts are reported, states can go back about their business, as normal.

The US, meanwhile, is trying to change the meaning of the NPT -- unilaterally.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Big Bad Wolf

The Bush administration is full of surprises.

First, it decided to send John Bolton to the UN. Now, it is dispatching Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank.

Paul Wolfowitz is arguably the chief neocon hawk responsible for the Iraq war, which has never been popular around the world.

Apparently, when his name was recently floated by the Europeans, they reacted quite negatively. Indeed, some editorial pages are suggesting that European states might veto Wolfowitz, just as the US (under Clinton) rejected European candidate Caio Koch Weser to head the IMF in 2000.

Some development organizations fear that this signals the Bush administration's attempt to use the World Bank to advance its democratization goals. Neoliberal economic conditionality might be supplemented by new political conditions, which are supposed to be forbidden by the Bank's Charter. From Reuters:
"If the Bush administration wanted to poke a finger into the eye of every nation on Earth, it couldn't have made a better choice," said John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank.

"Wolfowitz does not have an interest or knowledge about poverty and development problems. With him at the helm, the bank will be seen more and more as a tool of U.S. foreign policy, not a multilateral institution," wrote Alex Wilks, a Brussels-based activist whose Web site ( tracked speculation over the presidency.
And from The Guardian:
Peter Bosshard, the policy director of the International Rivers Network, an American NGO, said: "In his career, Wolfowitz has so far not shown any interest in poverty reduction, environmental protection and human rights. His election as World Bank president would most likely exacerbate the current backlash against social and environmental concerns at the World Bank, and would initiate a new era of conflict between the Bank and civil society."
The historial parallel that leaps immediately to mind is Robert McNamara, who moved from the Secretary of Defense running LBJ's Vietnam war to the Bank. He served from 1968 to 1981.

McNamara actually helped do good at the Bank, orienting it more completely toward anti-poverty goals.

We can hope.

And on the bright side, Bolton and Wolfowitz are now in much weakened positions within the US foreign policy establishment. Especially in a Republican administration, nobody cares that much about the UN, and the Bank isn't exactly a great place to plot neoimperial strategy.

I suspect that someone close to Wolfowitz advised him that his security-related career was over (he's not going to be Secretary of Defense any time soon), so he might as well take this post.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What media bias?

The media has not been biased in its coverage of the Iraq war, at least according to Columbia University's Project for Excellence in Journalism. This report appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (Aus) today:
Media coverage of the Iraq war by the American media was not biased in favour or against the war, according to new research, despite claims the coverage was generally biased and negative.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism, a Washington think tank affiliated with Columbia University's school of journalism, looked at more than 2000 stories in newspapers and on television and websites.

Most were "straight" news reports, according to the survey's director, Tom Rosenstiel, with 25 per cent of the stories positive and 20 per cent negative. The rest could not be classified one way or the other.
Fox news, BIG surprise, had twice as many positive stories as negative ones. CNN and MSNBC were basically even-handed.

Here's the methodology of the group's content analysis:
Those findings are based on 16 newspapers, four nightly newscasts, three network morning news shows, nine different cable programs, and nine Web sites examined for four weeks through the course of the year.
Conservatives, of course, continue to claim that the media is biased against them.

Progressives claim the reverse.

This blog, of course, reflects my personal biases. That's right, it's pro-Jayhawk, anti-Duke, and especially anti-New York Yankee.

I just wanted to be up front about that.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Clarke's science fiction?

I am blogging about a recent article by Richard Clarke, who was the "national coordinator for security and counterterrorism for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush." So, this post is not about the sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke.

However, Richard Clarke's recent (January/February 2005) piece in The Atlantic (subscription required) may seem like science fiction to a lot of readers.

Clarke's article is fact-based fiction, written from the perspective of a speech delivered on September 11, 2011. In the address, Clarke's protaganist, Professor Roger McBride, outlines a decade of terrorist attacks against the US.

Most are relatively low-technology attacks by al Qaeda or Hizbollah: bombs in casinos, amusement parks, subways, and shopping malls, anti-aircraft missiles against passenger aircraft, viruses and worms against computer systems, etc.

Clarke is hanging out at Harvard these days, so I'm surprised he didn't imagine academic institutions as targets. Clarke discusses a feared nuclear attack that doesn't materialize, but does have terrorists strike US chemical plants (I just received a mailing like this one from the Sierra club with the same concern).

In any case, everyone who reads the piece is likely to experience a bit of anxiety, simply because many of the attacks are quite plausible. Indeed, Clarke includes dozens of footnotes to the piece, typically from news stories, policy shops, and government reports. He's not imagining worst-case scenarios, he's attempting to highlight known risks.

In Clarke's vision of the future, the US implements ever-more restrictive Patriot Act sequels, uses the military for domestic operations, adopts national identity cards, closely monitors visitors to malls, etc. The US also attacks Iran, fails to prevent the Saudi government from falling to extremists, and suffers very high oil prices.

In short, it's not a pleasant future...even if it does bring families closer together (because they stay home out of fear), reduce spam email and help a left-leaning civil libertarian political party capture some seats in Congress and other offices.

Could all this happen?


Is it likely?

I'd argue no. It has been three and a half years since 9/11 and these kinds of attacks have not been occurring on a regular basis in the US.

Perhaps there aren't as many terrorists as authorities fear? Perhaps the US does a good job of keeping likely terrorists out of the US? Perhaps few suicidal terrorists want to kill large numbers of Americans?

In sum, maybe the risk of terrorist attacks really isn't that high?

I agree with Clarke that domestic security should be accorded a higher priority, and that Iraq was a huge distraction of resources from the real war on terror, but I'm not sure opponents of the Bush administration ought to adopt these kinds of fear appeals to win their argument.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

This is what democracy looks like?

I just watched "Veronic Guerin," a fairly good film about a journalist confronting powerful drug barons in Ireland.

After the movie, I read some papers from last week. I missed them while in Hawaii since I didn't really read anything but McPaper's sports section out there.

This AP story from March 4 caught my eye:
More than three years after a pro-U.S. government was installed, Afghanistan has been unable to contain opium poppy production and is "on the verge of becoming a narcotics state," according to a presidential report.

The report said the area in Afghanistan devoted to poppy cultivation last year set a new record of 206,700 hectares, more than triple the figure for 2003.

The Afghan narcotics situation, "represents an enormous threat to world stability, said the report, issued Friday.

It listed opium production at 4,950 metric tons, 17 times more than second place Myanmar.
The report seems to be the State Department's Southwest Asia "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report."

Look at that report and it says that 40 to 60% of Afghanistan's GDP is attributed to narcotics. The situation really sounds disastrous:
In many provinces there also are opium markets, under effective protection of regional strongmen, where opium is traded freely to the highest bidder and is subject to taxation by those strongmen. An increasingly large portion of Afghanistan’s raw opium crop is processed into heroin and morphine base by drug labs inside Afghanistan, reducing its bulk by a factor of 10 to 1, and thereby facilitating its movement to markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East through Iran, Pakistan, and Central Asia. In the South, Southeast and Northeast border regions, Pakistani nationals play a very prominent role in all aspects of the drug trade. Distribution networks are frequently organized along regional and ethnic lines (i.e., Baloch tribesmen on both sides of Afghanistan’s borders with Iran and Pakistan, and the Tajiks in northern Badakhshan Province).
The report discusses some multilateral efforts to control the drug flow, as well as new US policy initiatives...

But 40 to 60% of Afghanistan's GDP? It would take incredible resources to counter that. According to the CIA World Factbook, the GDP is $20 billion (2003, purchasing power parity). If $8 to 12 billion is drugs, then $1 billion/year in external aid seems kind of small.

Democracy is on the march?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Legitimacy of US Foreign Policy

Recent events in Lebanon and Egypt have led some political analysts to credit the war in Iraq with dramatically changing the political landscape in the Middle East. The White House says that "freedom is on the march," and these analysts believe that the Bush administration earns the credit.

More importantly, if a series of democratic dominoes fall, a lot of people are going to assume that the Iraq war will have been legitimized.

Just one year ago (March/April 2004), neoconservative policy analyst Robert Kagan published a piece called "America's Crisis of Legitimacy" in Foreign Affairs. In this article, he elaborated on his thesis that Americans and Europeans are living in different worlds:
it is precisely the question of legitimacy that divides Americans and Europeans today -- not the legitimacy of each other's political institutions, perhaps, but the legitimacy of their respective visions of world order. More to the point, for the first time since World War II, a majority of Europeans has come to doubt the legitimacy of U.S. power and of U.S. global leadership.

The United States cannot ignore this problem. The struggle to define and obtain international legitimacy in this new era may prove to be among the most critical contests of our time. In some ways, it is as significant in determining the future of the U.S. role in the international system as any purely material measure of power and influence.
Kagan argues that America has to solve its legitimacy crisis; otherwise, its material power will be debilitated.
The modern liberal mind is offended by the notion that a single world power may be unfettered except by its own sense of restraint. No matter how diplomatically adept a U.S. president might be, the spirit of liberal democracy recoils at the idea of hegemonic dominance, even when it is exercised benignly.
Oddly, though Kagan says that US policy has been viewed as "unilateralist because no European power had any real influence over it," he asserts that the US can solve its legitimacy crisis merely by exporting democracy:
The United States, in short, must pursue legitimacy in the manner truest to its nature: by promoting the principles of liberal democracy not only as a means to greater security but as an end in itself. Success would bring it a measure of authority in the liberal, democratic world, including among Europeans
Hmmm. Bush's second inaugural address makes this precise argument about the ideal ends of US foreign policy.

While Kagan has perhaps received more attention than anyone else for addressing the legitimacy of American foreign policy, numerous scholars of international relations (IR) have joined the debate. Most of them are making similar points.

Constructivist IR theorists, of course, emphasize the importance of legitimacy. Chris Reus-Smit of Australian National University explained in 2003:
Legitimacy is an inherently social phenomenon: one's actions are not legitimate unless they are recognised as such both other social actors. Legitimacy must be socially ordained; auto-legitimation is impossible as Charles I and Louis XIV found out to their cost. This fact is lost, however, on hardline members of the Bush Administration. It is not that they lack a view of America's legitimacy, it is that they have a decidedly non-social (and hence incoherent) view....The US went on to win a decisive military victory in Iraq, but Washington has struggled unsuccessfully to shake off a persistent aura of illegitimacy...
Reus-Smit points out that the occupation of Iraq has been widely viewed as illegitimate and that America's substantial material power cannot assure successful foreign policy. Legitimacy matters.

Liberal and neoliberal scholars agree that foreign policy legitimacy is important. Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2004:
The 18 months since the launching of the second Iraq war have brought home, even to its advocates, that the United States has a serious legitimacy problem.

Legitimacy arises from the conviction that state action proceeds within the ambit of law, in two senses: first, that action issues from rightful authority, that is, from the political institution authorized to take it; and second, that it does not violate a legal or moral norm. Ultimately, however, legitimacy is rooted in opinion, and thus actions that are unlawful in either of these senses may, in principle, still be deemed legitimate. That is why it is an elusive quality. Despite these vagaries, there can be no doubt that legitimacy is a vital thing to have, and illegitimacy a condition devoutly to be avoided.

How to restore legitimacy has thus become a central question for U.S. foreign policy, although the difficulty of doing so is manifest.
Most liberals embrace genuine multilateral decision-making as a means to assure the legitimacy of US foreign policy. They argue that this worked throughout the cold war. Again, this echoes Kagan's argument that the Europeans want a meaningful say over the use(s) of America's power.

Another foreign policy liberal, Charles Kupchan told the BBC in March 2003:
He said America might also find itself increasingly isolated as the world comes to resent its power.

"The real issue that I most fear here is that America will lose its most precious commodity in the world, and that is its international legitimacy."
Kupchan has written and discussed this more extensively, but I cannot find a working link to an academic article.

Even realists agree. Harvard's Stephen M. Walt in the January/February 2005 Boston Review:
American power is most effective when it is seen as legitimate, and when other societies believe it is being used to serve their interests as well as America’s....

Defending the legitimacy of American primacy is not primarily a question of “spin,” or propaganda, or even cultural exchange. If American foreign policy is insensitive to the interests of others, and if it makes global problems worse rather than better, no amount of “public diplomacy” is going to convince the rest of the world that the United States is really acting in the best interests of mankind.
Finally, Dartmouth's Bill Wohlforth in 2003, speaking at Yale, said something Kagan would likely embrace. He embraced the ends, rather than the means, of US policy:
Wohlforth said it's possible to run a neo-imperial foreign policy. "Legitimacy is obtained two ways," he said -- a country can defer to existing rules or create a new reality and make it work well, so that all recognize it.

"The U.S. did it after World War II," he said, noting that officials then said, "'We're going to fix the world, and when we're done, everyone will see that we were right and they'll be back on board.'"
More on this topic later.

Bolton and international law

Yesterday, I read an article by scholars Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson in Foreign Affairs, November/December 2004. In that piece on "The Sources of American Legitimacy," they quote the Bush administration's new nominee for Ambassador to the UN:
undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton, had noted in the late 1990s that "it is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so-because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States."
I also read in today's Washington Post that the Bush adminstration has just announced US withdrawal from another international treaty:
In a two-paragraph letter dated March 7, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The United States proposed the protocol in 1963 and ratified it -- along with the rest of the Vienna Convention -- in 1969.

The protocol requires signatories to let the International Court of Justice (ICJ) make the final decision when their citizens say they have been illegally denied the right to see a home-country diplomat when jailed abroad.
Anyone notice a pattern here?

I guess now that the foreign policy team is back from Europe, they can continue to ignore the norms and ideas shared widely by Europeans and much of the rest of the world.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Iran Intelligence "Scandalous"?

Today's NY Times has a story by Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt on the horrible state of America's Iran intelligence:
A commission due to report to President Bush this month will describe American intelligence on Iran as inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran's weapons programs, according to people who have been briefed on the panel's work.
This report is from the "nine-member bipartisan presidential panel, led by Laurence Silberman, a retired federal judge, and Charles S. Robb, a former governor and senator from Virginia," who "had unrestricted access to the most senior people and the most sensitive documents of the intelligence agencies."
One person who described the panel's deliberations and conclusions characterized American intelligence on Iran as "scandalous," given the importance and relative openness of the country, compared with such an extreme case as North Korea.
Straight-talking Senator John McCain is also on that panel, but he is not quoted directly by the reporters.

The panel's classified report is due to President Bush by March 31. Indeed, this could be a key time for assessing the alleged Iranian threat. According to the Times story, the last National Intelligence Estimate on Iran dates to 2001, but a classified update is expect this spring from the National Intelligence Council.

In 2002, VP Dick Cheney, President Bush and then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice started making very hawkish remarks about Iraq before a new NIE had even been commissioned.
The most complete recent statement by American agencies about Iran and its weapons, in an unclassified report sent to Congress in November by Porter J. Goss, director of central intelligence, said Iran continued "to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."
As I've blogged before, the IAEA is more skeptical and hasn't found any evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

If Iran thinks a war is imminent, I think there's a good chance they might emulate North Korea and announce that they have a bomb -- to deter the attack.

Note: Sorry about the lack of a blog post yesterday. The high speed internet connection was down for at least 16 hours...and still wasn't working this morning.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Friday, I gave a paper at the ISA conference discussing how America's dubious human rights practices in the "war on terror" undermine (rather than enhance) the legitimacy of American foreign policy.

This weekend, the NY Times reported on the Bush administration's dubious "rendition" policy:
The Bush administration's secret program to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation has been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency under broad authority that has allowed it to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice Departments, according to current and former government officials.

The unusually expansive authority for the C.I.A. to operate independently was provided by the White House under a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said....

As part of its broad new latitude, current and former government officials say, the C.I.A. has been authorized to transfer prisoners to other countries solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation.
The unnamed CIA official quoted in the article claims, laughably, that the US outsources these suspects because holding them is too costly and manpower-intensive.

Right. How much has security-related spending increased since 9/11?
Oh yeah, a hell of a lot.

The official also denies that torture is involved in these cases:
former government officials say that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the C.I.A. has flown 100 to 150 suspected terrorists from one foreign country to another, including to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan.

Each of those countries has been identified by the State Department as habitually using torture in its prisons....

The covert transfers by the C.I.A. have faced sharp criticism, in part because of the accounts provided by former prisoners who say they were beaten, shackled, humiliated, subjected to electric shocks, and otherwise mistreated during their long detention in foreign prisons before being released without being charged.
While the anonymous "official" claims compliance with the non-torture policy is "very high," he or she acknowledges that it likely was not 100%.

According to the new CIA director, the new Attorney General may be a liar. Both are quoted by the Times:
Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, said in written Congressional testimony in January that "the policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." Mr. Gonzales said then that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."

...In Congressional testimony last month, the director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, acknowledged that the United States had only a limited capacity to enforce promises that detainees would be treated humanely. "We have a responsibility of trying to ensure that they are properly treated, and we try and do the best we can to guarantee that," Mr. Goss said of the prisoners that the United States had transferred to the custody of other countries. "But of course once they're out of our control, there's only so much we can do. But we do have an accountability program for those situations."
An accountability problem?

In the Bush White House?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Boy, Are My Arms Tired

I just flew back from the enormous International Studies Association annual meeting, which was held in Hawaii this year.

More travel horrors: I left for the airport at 11:15 am Saturday (that would be 4:15 pm ET) and arrived in Boston Sunday about 5:30 pm ET. Yech. Even with 11 hours of flying (5000 miles), that's a looooong trip.

The plane had mechanical difficulties in Hawaii, so I missed my connection in SF. United put me up in a hotel, which means that I slept for 5 hours instead of flying all night. Not too bad, though I lost a full day to travel.

On the networking front: For the first time, I had explicit blog conversations with other bloggers, some I knew fairly well from prior interactions, some I didn't know that well before. I didn't have a chance to talk to Dan Drezner, but we finally shook hands after various electronic interactions. I intended to have coffee with Henry Farrell of Crooked Timber, but that didn't come off.

On the plane home, I read "Web of Influence" by Dan and Henry. Check it out because it is interesting and the material will be on the exam.

Even the convention had its own blog. Indeed, I had an interesting conversation with a journal editor about doing a piece on the role of blogging in the profession. More on that later.