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Friday, March 31, 2006

Senator Mitchell's steroid probe

Steve Finley, outfielder, does not care for major league baseball's latest plan to investigate alleged steroid use over the past few seasons:
"It seems if you write a book about something, there's going to be an investigation," Finley said. "It seems that has followed the publishing of the book. I don't think that's right. You didn't hear anything about this until the book was written."

[Baseball Commissioner Bud] Selig said during the World Baseball Classic earlier this month he would wait to respond to the book until he had all the information and a chance to read it.

The commissioner appointed former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, currently a director of the Boston Red Sox, to lead the investigation. For now, it will be limited to events after September 2002, when the sport banned performance-enhancing drugs - though Mitchell could expand the probe.

"If there was not a rule, how can you go back and punish people for that?" said the 41-year-old Finley, entering his 18th major league season.
The AP story emphasizes that Finley is a new teammate of Barry Bonds, and is thus defending his fellow player. However, shortstop and fellow Giant Omar Vizquel offers another take:
"If you have a player who doesn't hit home runs, like me, and all of a sudden he has a monster year and hits 40 home runs, and the next year hits 50, and the next year hits 40, you start to wonder," Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel said.
Why is this so interesting?

Well, Hank Aaron himself hit homers at a pretty good pace late in his career. In a Knight Ridder story, Vizquel declared:
"There is so much stuff in baseball that you don't know about players or about pitchers or about anybody," Vizquel said. "Who knows what Hank Aaron was taking."
This may sound farfetched, but a former teammate of Aaron's says that players had access to steroids in the earlier era.

More eyebrow-raising, at least to me: Steve Finley hit only 2 home runs at age 24 playing for Baltimore. Granted, that was in only about 235 plate appearances. Since that year, however, Finley has always had at least 400 plate appearances (typically 500 to 600 or more). Finley went from hitting a few homers in his 20s to becoming a serious power threat in his 30s:

HR Age
03 25
08 26 Houston (Astrodome tough hitter's park)
05 27 Age 27 is often seen as a peak.
08 28
11 29
10 30 San Diego: Never before slugged > .434
30 31 Slugged .531
28 32
14 33 Hit 15 extra doubles/triples.
34 34 Moved to Arizona. Good hitting conditions.
35 35 Slugged .544
14 36
25 37
22 38
36 39 Spent one-third of year for LA Dodgers.
12 40 Angels. Injured much of the season.
?? 41 New SF Giant.
I'm not accusing Finley of using steroids, but he is one of those players that no one ever talks about.

Which is stranger? Steve Finley went from 11 to 36 HRs, ages 29 to 39. That's an increase of 25 dingers, and 227%!

Bonds went from 46 at age 28 (near peak) to 73 at 36. That's an increase of 27, but only 59%.

Incidentally, I never replied to Avery's discussion of the ethics of athletes using steroids, which he posted on the Cardinal Philosophy blog. Essentially, Avery equates steroid use to other costly measures athletes take to improve their game, like weight-training or lots of practice.


But, I will make this point -- steroids have been a controlled substance in the US since 1990. If Jose Canseco and teammates used these drugs to create the Oakland dynasty of the late 1980s, Avery's argument carries a great deal of weight. Non-US athletes (Dominican players, for example) who use steroids at home in the off-season may also be acting perfectly legally (though now against the rules of baseball).

But if sluggers of the 1990s were using steroids, they were violating US law and that seems different to me than just weight-training or extra practice.

Finley, I would note, is certainly on Avery's side:
"They're [players are] the ones that risk their health," he said. "This is not just about baseball. This is about long-term. This is about your life after baseball. Your baseball life is very short."
Finley doesn't reflect on the evidence that steroid use may shorten one's life.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Being a professor can be hard work"

Occasional guest blogger Avery was featured on the cover of last week's local weekly Velocity, which aims to be an alternative paper, but is published by the Gannett-owned Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper.

The story is about young faculty at various college campuses in Louisville -- focusing on their family and work pressures, connection with students, etc.

While some young professors share with their students a love for certain rock bands, Avery says he doesn't:
"I am such a geek that I don't really know much about pop culture," he said, laughing.

But Kolers, who was 27 when he started teaching, said his age still comes to his aid.

"Your students are more comfortable, and it kind of humanizes you because they see greater similarities," he said, adding that his students also often come to him with questions about graduate school since he can still vividly remember his days there.
This is my favorite line from the article, which is actually a caption to Avery's photo:
Avery...looks like he could be a student at the University of Louisville. But he's not — he's an assistant professor.
Actually, in a few months, my 33-year old colleague will be an Associate Professor with tenure.

There's also a nice pic of Avery feeding his young son Adam.

Congrats all around.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Angelina and me: 2 degrees of separation

A recent People magazine includes a photograph of Angelina Jolie -- already one of this blog's favorite celebrities -- very clearly holding a copy of Fiona Terry's Condemned to Repeat?: The Paradox of Humanitarian Action. Teddy and Moo's Place has the photos.

Terry's book, remember, won the 2006 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. I administer the $200,000 prize competition.

That's two degrees of separation, right?

This note was on the Extra TV website:
Angelina Jolie, stepped out in Paris Tuesday. While she didn't have Brad [Pitt] on her arm, she was holding a book on humanitarian groups by Fiona Terri.
The blog world noticed too.

Fiona Terry will be in Louisville mid-April to receive her prize and deliver a public address.

Maybe next time Jolie will be carrying my book?

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Northup's fight

I was interviewed for this story in the March 26 LA Times, but my quote was cut by an editor. I pointed out that the public "rallies 'round the flag" at the beginning of a war, but that effect declines over time as casualties mount.
Even in the heartland, Democrats suddenly see advantage on an issue that is usually considered a GOP trump card: national security.

Baron Hill, who hopes to unseat the Republican who represents this region of Indiana, said it used to be hard for Democrats to criticize the Iraq war without sounding unpatriotic.

"Not anymore," Hill said in an interview. "I think people are very skeptical now about what is going on over there, and you have more freedom to talk about Iraq."

A Fox News poll this month showed the war in a statistical tie with spending and taxes as voters' top concerns heading into election season. And 50% of respondents to a recent Newsweek poll said they would like to see Democrats take control of Congress; 34% said they would like to see it remain in Republican hands.
A fair amount of the story is about Anne Northup and her possible confrontation with Iraq war veteran Andrew Horne.

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Return to blogging

I'm back from my trip to sunny California.

Normal blogging will resume ASAP.

Unless I can get a fellow Kentuckian to guest blog.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Road trip

It is time for the annual International Studies Association meetings. Don't expect any blog posts for a few days as I have to deliver a paper on "Counterpublic spheres and emancipatory change in world politics." You can find it easily here.

I'm also serving as discussant for a panel on "U.S. Hegemony: Role Bound and Rule Driven?" The complete program is here Warning! Huge pdf.

If any bloggers or blog readers want to get together at the conference, note that I do not plan to read email while there and I don't own a cellphone. Use the message board or come to one of my panels.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Same old same old?

From the conservative's conservative, William F. Buckley, February 24:
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed....Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans.
I know this is relatively old news in the blogosphere, but I wanted to be sure to save it here.

In the end, Buckley calls on Bush to acknowledge defeat and move on.

In his own way, George F. Will came to a similar conclusion on March 2, 2006:
Today...all three components of the "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- [are] more dangerous than they were when that phrase was coined in 2002"
Meanwhile, for the administration, the refrain continues to be deny, deny, deny.

Oh, and they want to change the subject -- no matter how improbable their case.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Happy anniversary

March 19, 2003, the US went to war against Iraq.

May 1, 2003, the President flew to an aircraft carrier to stand before a banner that read "Mission Accomplished."

This is the third anniversary of the war's start. We can celebrate the third anniversary of the second event nearer to Derby.

If America and Iraq were married, it would traditionally be the leather anniversary. Use your own imagination there...or not.

The Bush administration apparently has a sense of humor about Iraq. After all, they are apparently staging a "photo op" battle.

Personally, I'm wondering who will be handling the anniversary protests. FBI? Local cops? Or maybe they'll outsource it.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hot off the presses: New NSS

The new 2006 National Security Strategy is out.

CSM has a March 17 story ...with some remarks by John Mearsheimer.
"It's not an especially hawkish document," says Professor Mearsheimer. "It makes arguments about using force that most security experts - left or right - would agree with. It goes out of its way to say that using force would be a last resort."
Ivo Daalder of Brookings says that the "Bush Revolution is officially over." He ought to know since he wrote the much-read book on the Bush Revolution.

This new NSS is a must read for me. ASAP.

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Eat and run

I've seen stories about the "slow food" movement in left-leaning mags like Utne, and one of my colleagues (an anthropologist) worked on this on her sabbatical.

Is there anything to it? Are some Americans starting to rebel against the "fast food nation"?

Well, I recently came across this disturbing statistic -- and was shocked:
John Nihoff, a professor of gastronomy at the Culinary Institute of America, says about 19 percent of our meals are consumed in cars...
Major caveat: "his definition of 'meals' includes in-between snacks like doughnuts or a bag of carrots."

Other numbers aren't quite as startling:
Kelton Research, polling 1,000 people for Taco Bell this summer, found the portion of people who say they eat in the car at least once a day (9 percent) was eclipsed by the number of people who say they never eat in the car (31 percent).

The market researcher NPD Group says the average person ate 32 restaurant meals – including snacks like cones - in the car last year. That's up from 19 in 1984.
It seems like we're a long distance from "slow food."

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

US Geography 101

Maybe you've seen one of these maps on another blog. Visit the website and you can create a map of states you've visited.

The variation among bloggers is kind of interesting. Many bloggers, for example, refuse to count "the inside of airports or the corridors of an interstate."

OK then.

I previously didn't post a map because it would be kind of boring. I've been to every state except North Dakota, South Dakota and Alaska. And I'm not just counting airports or interstates.

Let's vary the criteria for selection and you'll see what I mean. I've attended at least one major college or professional sporting event in these 20 states:

The obvious oversight is Texas. I lived there for nearly a year, my sister lived there for several...and I never attended even one Rangers or Astros game.

Or here's another. I attended at least one high school or college debate tournament in these 24 states:

The combined map would have 30 states, and would certainly be enough to win the Electoral College vote (417 EC votes, by my count).

I've visited relatives in Oregon, Montana, Alabama, and Delaware, which would add four more. I've vacationed or attended conferences in Louisiana, Hawaii, and Nevada. I've seen the Grand Canyon, dined on lobster in Maine, picked some cotton in Mississippi, and slept in hotels in West Virginia and Connecticut. OK, I'm in the low fourties without trying too hard.

That's enough trivia for today.

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The wheels of justice

Slobodan Milosevic is dead, with his trial still incomplete. Keep in mind that General Wesley Clark left the presidential campaign trail in 2004 to testify at that tiral. Milosevic allegedly committed his crimes in the 1990s.

Apparently, his death has spurred calls to begin trials for the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia...who allegedly committed their crimes in the 1970s. Reuters:
The death of Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic during his trial has heightened the need to start the long-delayed trials of aging Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide, United Nations officials said on Tuesday.

"We all know that the possible accused all are aging, so we really have to start the process as soon as we can," Michelle Lee, the U.N.'s deputy director of the court administration preparing the trials.
In Iraq, 85 more bodies of "executed men" have been found in Baghdad the past few days. Sectarian violence is heating up.

These were street executions. It is happening yet again.

When will the relevant trials begin? 2010? 2020?

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Academic freedom, 2006

In the Soviet Union, dissidents used to fear a knock on the door in the middle of the night. It meant the forcible removal from home and family.

It can't happen here, right?

Baby steps.

LA Times, March 11, 2006:
A Pomona College professor of Latin American history said Friday that he was questioned about his Venezuela connections by two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies working for a federal task force and called the quizzing an intrusion on his academic freedom.

...Professor Miguel Tinker-Salas said the deputies entered his office without an appointment Tuesday during hours normally set aside for student conferences. He said the deputies were there for about 25 minutes and asked him about the Venezuelan community and his relationship with it.
According to Professor Tinker-Salas, the agents also questioned students waiting outside his office.

And the official rationale?
Sheriff Lee Baca said Friday that his deputies were doing nothing more than gathering information on the political situation in Venezuela for a federal anti-terrorism task force coordinated by the FBI. But he said he would discourage workplace interviews in the future, especially with members of academia.
Last month, Tinker-Salas was quoted in Christian Science Monitor, speculating about Iranian-Venezuelan relations.

Both states seek a multipolar world with greater checks on US power.

Pomona College officials aren't happy about the surprise visit:
Pomona College President David Oxtoby said Friday that he was "extremely concerned about the chilling effect this kind of intrusive government interest could have on free scholarly and political discourse. I am also concerned about the negative message it sends to students who are considering the pursuit of important areas of international study, in which they may now feel exposed to unwarranted official scrutiny."

Oxtoby said the school, in Claremont, was consulting with legal advisors about the strongest way to protest Tinker-Salas' questioning.
More blog-related info here.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Book review

Neta C. Crawford of Boston University has just published a review of my book coauthored with Nayef Samhat of Centre College, Democratizing Global Politics; Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (2004).

It's a fair assessment, I think, and you can find it in Perspectives on Politics, March 2006, pp. 235-6. It's not a full-fledged review essay, but she nonetheless puts our book in a broader context by discussing other recent works.

However, Neta doesn't mention her own research. She works on a similar set of global problems using somewhat similar theoretical ideas. For example, see her award-winning, Argument and Change in World Politics: Ethics, Decolonization and Humanitarian Intervention (Cambridge, 2002).

Nayef had I have another book project in the works. More on that later.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

March madness

It's spring break, but I have to finish a conference paper that I promised months ago. It's due in just over a week.

Nonetheless, I'm bound to watch my share of college basketball over the next 10 days. It's March Madness! Right?

Well, the New York Times had a very disturbing story about college hoops Wednesday in the Business pages. This might just cause you to turn the channel to something else.
Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania...calls himself part of a new generation of forensic economists — researchers who sift through data to look for patterns of cheating that otherwise go unnoticed. The best-selling book "Freakonomics" by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt is based partly on this kind of work....

Mr. Wolfers has collected the results of nearly every college basketball game over the last 16 years. In a surprisingly large number of them, it turns out that heavy favorites just miss covering the spread. He considered a number of other explanations, but he thinks there is only one that can explain the pattern. Point shaving appears to be occurring in about 5 percent of all games with large spreads.
A few years ago, this method was used to learn that mutual fund traders were backdating their trades. Wall Street scoffed, but Eliot Spitzer made his name attacking the industry.

The article quotes a former college basketball player from a 1990s article in Sports Illustrated. The guy admitted that he fixed games in exactly the way Wolfers describes. Gamblers profited by betting on his team not to cover the large spread. Still unconvinced?'s Mr. Wolfers's smoking gun: this slacking off seems to happen only when a game is decided by something close to the point spread. Heavy favorites actually blow away the spread just as often as everyone else. But they win by barely more than the spread a lot less often than slight favorites do.

There is a strange dearth of games in which 12-point favorites win by, say, 13 or 16 points. And there are a lot of games that they win by 11 points or slightly less. There is just no good explanation for this.

"You shouldn't have what's happening on the court reflecting what's happening in Las Vegas," Mr. Wolfers said. "And that's exactly what's happening."
In a recent NCAA poll, 1.5% of players admitted that they knew of at least one teammate "who took money for playing poorly." Warning: that's an NCAA powerpoint presentation.

It also reveals that over 2% of college basketball players have "been asked to affect the outcome of a game" and 1.2% of players say a teammate asked "for help in affecting game."

Chew on that while you watch the NCAA tournament. Few of the tournament games involve large point spreads, but most of the teams in the tourney got there because they were good teams that were already heavily favored versus many of the opponents on their schedules.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Finally: Great news from Iraq

The Abu Ghraib prison is closing. From Reuters today in the Washington Post:
The U.S. military will close Abu Ghraib prison, probably within three months, and transfer some 4,500 prisoners to other jails in Iraq, a military spokesman said on Thursday.
I guess this means my blog post from February 21 worked.

I feel as powerful as Dan Drezner. Well, maybe not that powerful.

Next time, I'm going to demand something even better.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Steroids update: Bonds edition

I've blogged about steroids and baseball in the past, but Sports Illustrated today published the most comprehensive story I've yet read detailing allegations about slugger Barry Bonds (708 career homers; ranked #3 all-time).

Given the revelations by Jose Canseco (462; #26), positive test for Rafael Palmeiro (569; #9) and non-denial by Mark McGwire (583; #7)...the home run binge of the past decade or so suddenly looks quite sad, in retrospect.

I'm hopeful that fear of this sort of negative publicity cleans up the game. I would think that the overwhelming majority of players even tempted by steroids would worry about the nasty consequences for their public image -- if caught using. Or, as in the case of Bonds, if facing serious public allegations.

Then again, track-and-field has been fighting this problem for decades, literally. While some evidence suggests this problem goes back a very long time in baseball, the negative publicity (backed with evidence) has really only started to accrue.

I'm looking forward to the 2006 baseball season, but the evidence compiled in the latest story about Bonds made my stomach turn.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Memory holes

Recently deceased Pope John Paul II suspected that the 1981 attempt on his life was not the solitary act of the Turkish hit-man convicted of the crime.
"Someone else planned and commissioned it," the Pope said, enigmatically.
Now, an Italian legislative commission has seemingly confirmed the Pope's suspicions. It says that the Soviet Union was behind the assassination attempt. From the BBC:
An Italian parliamentary commission has concluded that the former Soviet Union was behind the 1981 assassination attempt on the late Pope John Paul II.

The head of the commission, Paolo Guzzanti, said it was sure beyond "reasonable doubt" that Soviet leaders ordered the shooting....

"This commission believes, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the USSR took the initiative to eliminate Pope Karol Wojtyla," the report said.

Soviet leaders "communicated this decision to the military secret service in order that it carry out the necessary operations", it continued.
Moscow feared the Polish Pope's support for Lech Walesa and Solidarity.

Fairly recently, a Polish priest who worked inside the Vatican was revealed as a spy for the communist government in Warsaw.

The latest disclosures are now being revealed thanks in part to the defection of Vasili Mitrokhin, a KGB archivist who fled to the United Kingdom in 1992.

Perhaps one day American historians will know more about America's behavior during these latter stages of the cold war. However, as was widely reported in late February, the US government is currently going through the National Archives and removing documents that have long been available -- even though many have previously been searched and copied by scholars!

I think Winston Smith is at work:
As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.
Party like it's 1984!

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Road trips

If you live in London, the Washington Post reports that it may be cheaper to travel to Central Europe than to spend a night out on the town. Especially if you drink:
"Cheap flights have opened up all these places to us," [Londoner Marc] Burridge said. "The prices are so low that it can be more expensive to stay home." He noted that a pint of beer in Bratislava costs $1, compared with $5 in England, so the weekend's savings on beer alone could maybe pay for his airline ticket....

Edd Claringbold, a zoology student at Nottingham University, said he could easily spend $180 on a night out in London, and that was his total budget for the long weekend in Bratislava -- flights, $1 beers and $10-a-night hostel included.

"It's cheaper to fly out of London than to stay in London," agreed [British student Louise] Ashford, settling into a seat -- there are no seat assignments -- in Row 27. "We are saving money by going abroad."
It's also apparently cheaper to fly to Hungary to go to the dentist, travel costs included, than it is to visit the dentist in Britain. This may or may not be significant.

The Post story mentions "flights as cheap as bus fares," which are changing travel patterns throughout Europe (for German tourists too, for example). Imagine these fares, disgrunted travelers of middle America, and the implications:
$25 on popular routes such as London to Salzburg, Glasgow to Paris and Dublin to Valencia....

"It has democratized flying," said Stephen Hogan, spokesman for the Brussels-based Airports Council International, who said a flight from Dublin to Paris in the mid-1990s cost about $600 if booked in advance. It now costs as little as about $50. "It makes the dream of Europe possible -- the free movement of people within countries."
Motivated by this story, I just booked my tickets for San Diego later this month. For some reason, the price dropped $60 since Friday, though they are about $30-40 more than they were two weeks ago.

Why am I going to San Diego?

Spring break? Nope, that is before I leave.

No, not for that new baseball event, though I wish it was. The WBC final is two days before I arrive.

I'll be off to the International Studies Association Annual Meeting.

Oops. Better finish that paper.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Vote Duck!

Duck of Minerva, an international relations group blog where I sometimes post, has been nominated for two Koufax blog awards, given annually to the best "lefty" blogs.

To vote, simply go to the link and leave a comment in favor of Duck of Minerva:

Best New Blog

Best Group Blog

While you're voting, cast a ballot for Phronesisaical for Most Deserving of Wider Recognition

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stop worrying and love the bomb

I really enjoy reading foreign policy op-ed pieces authored by realist scholars of international relations.

Then again, who doesn't love contrarian thinkers?

February 27, Barry Posen published the latest provocative op-ed piece, "We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran," in the New York Times:
An Iranian nuclear arsenal, policymakers fear, could touch off a regional arms race while emboldening Tehran to undertake aggressive, even reckless, actions.

But these outcomes are not inevitable, nor are they beyond the capacity of the United States and its allies to defuse. Indeed, while it's seldom a positive thing when a new nuclear power emerges, there is reason to believe that we could readily manage a nuclear Iran.
Actually, this editorial is fairly tame by realist standards.

Here are the opening lines from a press release issued three years ago today by Columbia University, which was entitled, "Spread of Nuclear Weapons Nothing to Fear, Says Waltz":
It does not matter if Iraq and North Korea possess or develop weapons of mass destruction, according to Kenneth Waltz, adjunct professor of political science and senior research scholar in the Institute of War and Peace. Nuclear deterrence, he says, will prevent either country from ever using them.
Similarly, John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt argued in advance of the war with Iraq that the US could easily deter even a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein:
In fact, the historical record shows that the United States can contain Iraq effectively - even if Saddam has nuclear weapons - just as it contained the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Mearsheimer wrote these words in Foreign Affairs Summer 1993:
The conventional wisdom about Ukraine's nuclear weapons is wrong. In fact, as soon as it declared independence, Ukraine should have been quietly encouraged to fashion its own nuclear deterrent.
In August 1990, Mearsheimer published these words in The Atlantic:
the United States should encourage the limited and carefully managed proliferation of nuclear weapons in Europe. The best hope for avoiding war in post-Cold War Europe is nuclear deterrence; hence some nuclear proliferation is necessary, to compensate for the withdrawal of the Soviet and American nuclear arsenals from Central Europe. Ideally, as I have argued, nuclear weapons would spread to Germany but to no other state.
If you haven't seen "Dr. Strangelove," do yourself a favor and rent it this weekend.

3/3/06 Update: How could I forget Pakistan and India? Mearsheimer, May 29, 1998, on "PBS Newshour":
I think once the two sides develop rather robust and large nuclear deterrence that you'll have a relatively stable situation, much like you had between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War....The fact of the matter is that nuclear weapons are an excellent deterrent. And for a country that feels threatened, especially by a neighbor that has nuclear weapons, it's not very likely that that country is going to shoot nuclear weapons.
Mearsheimer acknowledged an elevated risk of war in the early stages of their proliferation since they had small deterrent forces with imperfect command and control. Of course, he also advocated that the US provide them with various kinds of technology to secure their nuclear forces.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Last year, I received my copy of Baseball Prospectus on February 26. I know because I blogged about it!

This year, I ordered BP two weeks ago, but might not get my copy for 10 or more days. Since placing the order, my estimated delivery date has been March 11 to 13. Why?

I can't wait much longer and don't really want to read anything else right now. It's March 1. My god, exhibition games started today.

I'm not 100% certain how to explain the delay. According to BP's website, the book is now shipping. However, amazon still says the "item has not yet been released." Hmmm.

Previously, I'm pretty sure amazon said that the book would be available February 28.

Amazon, however, does tell me that my order is being prepared for shipment. I note hopefully that some other bloggers are already bragging about receipt of their copies today.

Despite questions over shipping dates, BP 2006 is currently #22 in books.

Note: I ordered from Amazon (rather than Powell's) because I had a Borders gift card from the holidays. Amazon handles Borders online sales.

3/3/06 Update: the book arrived today!

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Hypocrisy watch: Dubai edition

February 27, George W. Bush told America's governors that he was worried about foreign control of oil:
Dependence on foreign sources of oil creates a national security problem. You hear parts of the world where there is disruption in oil supply as a result of local politics, for example, it affects the United States of America.

I spend a lot of time worrying about disruption of energy because of politics or civil strife in other countries -- because tyrants control the spigots. And it's in our national interest that we become less dependent on oil.
That's a nice phrase, "tyrants control the spigots." Hat tip: link via Dan Froomkin.

The natural question: Which oil-rich states are led by tyrants? These are the opening sentences to the U.A.E. section from the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2004 edition, which was released in February 2005 (a new one must be due soon):
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven semi-autonomous emirates. Traditional rule in the emirates generally is patriarchal, with political allegiance defined in terms of loyalty to the tribal leaders, to the leaders of the individual emirates, and to the leaders of the federation. There are no democratically elected institutions or political parties.
Dubai is one of the seven emirates. The Report highlighted Dubai's ban on flogging (ah, progress!) and the existence of some private co-ed universities, but noted problems of prison overcrowding, lack of judicial review, state ownership of domestic media, serious labor law violations, governmental approval over preachers in Dubai's private mosques, and perhaps most troubling, an "increasing number of media reports during the year of trafficking in women and girls to the country."

The White House likes to pretend that Dubai Ports World is a private company, and that the recent proposed port contract is a private transaction, but the company is wholly owned by the government -- even the "swift boat" crowd knows this simple fact:
Dubai Ports World's chairman is Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who was educated at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is a top adviser to the emir of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who controls the company through the state-owned Ports, Customs and Free Zones Authority of Dubai.
Since the US government has to approve the contract, this transaction might even fall under the field of "international relations."

In any case, despite tyrannical rule in U.A.E. and Dubai, the President spoke reassuringly on February 21 about the proposed port contracts for Dubai Ports World.
The transaction should go forward, in my judgment. If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward. The company has been cooperative with the United States government. The company will not manage port security. The security of our ports will be -- continue to be managed by the Coast Guard and Customs. The company is from a country [Dubai] that has been cooperative in the war on terror, been an ally in the war on terror. The company operates ports in different countries around the world, ports from which cargo has been sent to the United States on a regular basis.
Interesting, eh?

Tyrant's hands + oil spigots = bad for U.S. security

Tyrant's hands + America's ports = no threat to U.S. security

If those formulas seem too complicated, CBS News provides the mathematical answer.

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