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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

National champions!

The University of Kansas debate team of Brett Bricker and Nate Johnson has won the 2009 National Debate Tournament in Austin, Texas. They defeated defending champ Wake Forest in the final round on a 4-1 decision.

Congratulations to Brett and Nate (nice guys who I met at the last KU debate reunion), to Coach Scott Harris, and to everyone associated with the program. Debate is truly a team activity and winning NDT takes a great deal of hard work.

This is KU's fifth championship as the school also won in 1954, 1970, 1976 and 1983. That last date, 26 years ago, makes me feel old -- but this victory will put a skip in my step today!

This is just terrific news.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Congratulations, Nayef!

From the Kenyon College PR Department:
President S. Georgia Nugent has announced the appointment of Nayef H. Samhat to the position of provost. Samhat is the Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies and associate dean at Centre College in Kentucky. He will begin work at Kenyon on July 1.

Samhat, who has taught at Centre since 1996, specializes in international relations theory and international political economy.
Nayef and I coauthored Democratizing Global Politics (SUNY, 2004).

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Legitimacy of Preventive War?

On April 8 at 3:30 pm Pacific Time, I'll be speaking against preventive war at the Lewis and Clark College's 47th Annual International Affairs Symposium. This year's theme is "A World of Warfare: Dynamics of Conflict in the 21st Century," Other speakers include General Anthony Zinni, Col. Gian Gentile, PhD, Washington Post journalist Thomas Ricks, and Army War College Research Professor Steven Metz.

Many other speakers during the seminar look first-rate too, but those links above direct you to instances where I've previously mentioned the named individuals on this blog.

Each of the sessions is organized as a pro and con debate. I'll be speaking on the same platform as Whitley Kaufman of University of Massachusetts at Lowell. This is the abstract from one of his pieces on preventive war:
The question of the legitimacy of preventive war has been at the center of the debate about the proper response to terrorism and the legitimacy of the Iraq War. One side has argued that preventive war is a legitimate and necessary tool for nations to use in defense against terrorists; the other side has claimed that war is permissible only in self-defense, and that therefore the preventive use of military force is unjustified both legally and morally. In this essay I attempt to clarify the terms of this debate by demonstrating that neither side is precisely correct. Both under Just War Doctrine and common sense morality, preventive war is indeed justifiable, so long as it satisfies the basic requirements for going to war such as necessity and proportionality. However, under the current international law regime governed by the United Nations Charter, the use of preventive international force is restricted to the Security Council alone. Individual nation states are permitted to use international force only in self-defense. The rise of international terrorism does not by itself change this situation; preventive force against terrorist organization is permissible and appropriate, but it must be authorized by the Security Council in order to be legitimate. Only if the Council proved wholly ineffective in exercising its authority would the right to preventive war revert to individual nations. For all the shortcomings of the United Nations, however, I argue we have not reached a state of total breakdown of international authority sufficient to justify a return to the legitimacy of unilateral preventive war.
Though I'll be speaking against the legitimacy of preventive war, I've argued that it can be legitimately prosecuted by the international community if authorized by the UN Security Council.

Kaufman seems to oppose preventive war in many circumstances, so we'll have to figure out the points of disagreement in our positions.

Note to local in-laws and others potentially interested: the sessions are free and open to the public.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 NCAA tournament

This is my 2009 NCAA basketball tournament bracket.

As you can see, I picked Kansas to lose to West Virginia very early in the tournament. Those late season losses to Texas Tech and Baylor have me spooked and West Virginia is a very good team.

Last year, I accurately picked the tournament winner and 3 of the Final Four. Last season, of course, all four number one seeds made the Final Four.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Duck snorts

Today, at Duck of Minerva, I blogged "Academia and 'JournoList,'" which discusses a left-leaning listserv for journalists, policy wonks and academics. Are you, or have you ever been a member...

March 7, I blogged "Israeli threat inflation?" The post is about whether Iran has crossed a nuclear threshold on the way to making weapons.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunnyside up?

Are you paralyzed by the financial crisis and sagging economy? Consider this, from Jonathan Schell (author of The Fate of the Earth):
Paradoxically, the recession, by cutting back on fossil-fuel use, may have done more to ease global warming than electric cars or solar panels could have done in a comparable period.
This view isn't universally shared.

Many worry that recession reduces spending on green energy and diverts government attention from the environment to the economy. In the developing world, greater poverty likely forces some people to turn to slash-and-burn practices that hasten deforestation.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Republic of Texas

Chuck Norris is apparently thinking about running for the presidency -- of Texas.

In anticipation, I'm registering any day now and plan to use the first post to explain how Republicans cannot hope to get to 253 EVs in the age of Obama.

In 2004, Bush-Kerry would have tied 252-252 without Texas. Though Bush might have won Maine as a native son in that election, it is more likely that neither candidate would even have been on that ballot. After all, Gore2000 would have prevailed 267-239 (Texas gained two EVs in 2004).

The 2010 census may shift a few EVs to red states, but we all know that Obama won a lot of purple states that Bush carried in 2004: CO, FL, IA, IN, NC, OH, NM, NV, and VA. They'll have to find 80 EVs to win in 2012.

The second post on my new site will explore the implications for the Senate, where the Republican caucus will lose 2 reliable votes.

If he pulls this off, Chuck Norris is a genuine American hero.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Support the Arts in Louisville

Check out "Spoon River Anthology" by the As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company at the MEX Theatre in the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Showtime tonight and next Friday/Saturday is 8 pm and there are matinees the next two Sundays at 2:30 pm.

The cast includes my daughter Cate. And yes, she did just finish the Lincoln plays.

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The week in review

Monday, I managed to blog "Iran's bomb" at Duck of Minerva.

Tuesday, I attended a luncheon for the Executive Committee of the Louisville Committee on Foreign Relations. I'm supposed to try to recruit a couple of new members, so local readers might want to let me know if the group sounds interesting.

Tuesday, the Grawemeyer World Order award winner arrived in town and I was fairly busy with related events. If you missed seeing or hearing Michael Johnston when he was here, check out the audio stream of his WFPL "State of Affairs" interview, a podcast video interview with university PR people, or (eventually) a video podcast of his excellent lecture.

Friday, I chaired a panel at the Kentucky Political Science Association Annual Meeting. I presided over the delivery of two interesting papers -- one by Louisville's Visiting Aung San Suu Kyi Endowed Chair Bob Bedeski on "The Genealogy of Modern Asian Dictatorship: From Chinggis Khan to Kim Jong Il" and one on "Peace through Trade: Can the Dragon be Tamed?" by Jim Masterson of Morehead State.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Grawemeyer talk

Attention locals who might be interested in the 2009 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order:
Michael Johnston of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. will speak March 5 at 11 a.m. in Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library. He won the world order award for his analysis of how corruption develops and how to stop it.
Johnston will also be the guest on the "State of Affairs" radio program, Wednesday, March 4, at 1 pm ET (and rebroadcast again at 9 pm).

In fact, anyone with an internet connection can listen to the show on public radio station WFPL's live stream.

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