American Foreign Policy

January 22, 2003

The North Korean Challenge (I)


1) North Korea Keeps Its Diplomatic Lines to the US Open

As we noted about a week ago, for all their bellicose behavior and scary bluster, a form of crude binksmanship, North Korea's Communist regime has been actively seeking to find ways to negotiate with the US about its nuclear weapons programs, in return for a US guarantee that it won't attack the Communist state . . . or so Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a former Clinton UN ambassador, has said. His view here reflects three days of talks with North Korean diplomats.

Why did they choose Richardson as an interlocutor? Hard to say for sure, what with the intense secrecy that surrounds North Korea's leadership's policymaking, along with the tightest thought-control system in the world . . . a nightmarish Orwellian state. Still, on the face of it, most likely because they were using their scare-tactics as a means to force the Bush administration into talks, and to send North Korean diplomats directly to deal with the administration would undermine those tactics and indicate that they've been largely bluffy. This way, they were talking to a non-US government official


Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:54 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 22, 2003

Oxford Ph.D. student and faculty member comments on the web site

Dear Michael,

I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate you for the new webpage. I have only had a brief look at it so far, as it is quite late here now, but I must say that I am quite impressed. Well done!

I am sure that you must have some mixed emotions about this site. On the one hand, the whole shift is an exciting development (or should we say technological evolution). On the other hand, it must be a bit sad to close down the list serve, which has been a very good source of information, and entertainment at times throughout the last few years. I am also happy that I had the chance to be a member of that list (and even to occasionally contribute some thoughts to it). I will continue doing so in the new format of discussion. Long live the Internet.


Posted by Michael Gordon @ 10:19 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 23, 2003

The North Korean Challenge (II): The Historical Background, The Present Threat



1) Brinksmanship: The Rising Spiral of North Korean Belligerence

The behavior of the Pyongyang Communist government, headed by Kim Sung Il (the son of the previous all-powerful dicator), and its increasingly strident rhetoric --- right down through today's warnings that if the US or others take the North Korean challenge to the UN Security Council, it will resume ballistic missile tests of medium and long-range reach --- are the clearest example of brinksmanship that you can find in decades: first, admitting in October that it had a secret nuclear weapons program going on that violated its 1994 accord signed with the US and others, then --- escalating the behavior --- tossing out UN atomic-energy inspectors and opening up two plutonium-enrichment plants (they produce weapons-grade material), then warning the US that any efforts at trying to impose economic sanctions, unilaterally or otherwise, would lead to war.

This is a serious crisis, whether full-blown or emerging is hard to pin down, all depending on whether the brinksmanship has a clear behavioral limit and will remain largely rhetorical --- its aim on both levels, assuming the regime isn't bent on war, to force the US into negotiations with Pyongyang and make concessions to it. We'll return in a moment or two to the North Korean brinksmanship, and the likely logic behind it.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:53 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 23, 2003

COMMENTS FROM PROF. KENT DOUGLAS: A WAR WITH IRAQ: LIKELY US-UK & SADDAMITE STRATEGY, TACTICS, AND CASUALTIES

Michael:

Congratulations on your web site. I'm looking forward to logging on frequently.

Here's a question: I'm reading in the Christain Science Monitor (1-17-03) that U.S. forces have been training in a mock city built for urban warfare scenarios in Fort Polk, Louisiana. The location is known as the village of Shugart-Gordon, named after two commandos that were killed in the rescue operation of the Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu in 1993. The context here is that Saddam's Republican Guard has built concentric rings of defenses around the city and is the city is expected to be a brutal holdout location, with the battles reminiscent of some during WWII. Americans could expect large casualties, dwarfing the loss of life during the first Gulf War, and dividing American public opinion.

Considering your earlier remarks regarding the Mearsheimer/Walt article in the current Foreign Policy, what are your views on . . . (to continue: click on link)

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:11 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 6, 2003

PART TWO: THE US AND ITS EUROPEAN ALLIES IN THE WAR ON TERRORISM: THE DIVISIONS WITHIN NATO EUROPE

PART TWO



I.THE NATO ALLIES WHO SUPPORT THE US




First off --- at least for now, tomorrow when I'm fresher, something else will start the analysis here --- consider the following table sets out the relevant differences between the US and all other major countries in the world, including the European Union of 15 member-states . . . itself a long way from being a unified politcal entity with its own distinctive and coherent foreign and security policies.


Major Countries Compared



On the contrary, as the analysis in Part One showed, the EU countries are themselves heavily divided on lining up for or against the US policy toward Iraq . . . a pro or con position that extends way beyond the Iraqi controversy to underscore different underlying attitudes in and mass elite circles ---in France right across the political spectrum with widespread popular support: in Germany, with more noticeable divisions between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats and Greens, but with German opinion increasingly anti-American and lurching toward utopian and tiresome self-righteousness ("the German way") and neutrality within NATO--- and Britain, Italy, and Spain far more attached to the US alliance and close relations with this country. As for the East European members of NATO --- not yet in the EU, but likely to be there in 3-5 years --- Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary line up closely with the US on almost all issues; and that's the case of almost all the other new members in the NATO alliance in East Europe that will be joining the alliance this year, including Bulgaria and Rumania and the Baltic States.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:34 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 11, 2003

EXCHANGE WITH JOHN NEU ABOUT THE US'S EUROPEAN ALLIES, FOR AND AGAINST BUSH'S POLICIES

From John Neu

I'm listening to Christopher Hitchens speak on NPR at a Commonwealth Club debate on the appropriate use of US power, with focus on Iraq. In his summation, Hitchens exhorts the audience to consider the available facts and answer for themselves the question of appropriate action in Iraq, rather than mindlessly deferring that decision to international consensus. Your posts underscore Hitchens' point by exposing the less-than-benevolent motivations of our detractors on Iraq and, accordingly, the danger of deferring an Iraq decision to international consensus. Following Hitchens' point, however, should it matter which European nation supports the US or doesn't? Isn't that just a rebuttal to anti-war advocates based on their own flawed deferral to international consensus? The facts, which you've brilliantly presented in earlier posts, should alone inform any decision on Iraq. I recognize that as a

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:44 PM CST [continue]

February 11, 2003

EXCHANGE WITH BRITISH AND ISRAELI SCHOLARS ON BUSH'S FOREIGN POLICY

Several British, Israeli, and European scholars and graduate students are involved in a network of exchanges about the war on terrorism, the Bush policy toward Iraq, and US politics and foreign policy in general. One of them sent me the following link to an article by Paul Krugman, the economist, who writes a regular ed-op commentary for the New York Times. Entitled "The Wimps of War," Krugman the article strikes me as superficial, and little more than a bad-tempered screed . . . exactly the sort of American writing that lots of EU academics, intellectuals, journalists, and left-wing politicians (and in France, Gaullists too) lap up with manic boldeyed glee. "See! See! Even the Yanks in the know can't stomach the Texan-toxin cowboy! Oh, woe is me!, woe is the poor world afflicted with Texan idiocies connected to vast raw power!"



Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:4 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 12, 2003

EU AND NATO DIVISIONS: A THEORETICAL ACCOUNT

These theoretical observations have been prompted by a brief reply from an Oxford faculty member, who will be replying at greater length in the future.

INTRODUCTION


I understand, S. Take your time in replying. I've also a fair number of competing claimants on my time.

Remember, the purpose of the web site isn't just for me to comment ex cathedral about the world, rather to get some provocative analysis out and engage in exchanges with savvy people. Right now, I know of no online site that does this for IR; and of course, the more informed people know about it, the better.

Right now, I'm leaving open free access to comments. If I start getting silly stuff or insults, then I'll have to ask that the comments be sent to me for a preview. The last thing I'll do is eliminate intelligent criticisms.


THE POWER OF REALISM'S EXPLANATIONS

Agreed: Exciting things going on in NATO, the EU, and the UN, no? . . . all pointing to major disputes of systemic consequences. It's here where realism --- Kenneth Waltz's structural kind -- is by far the

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 11:10 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 21, 2003

WHAT AILS THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE, AND GENERATES DIVISIONS WITHIN EUROPE ITSELF? A Theoretical Analysis

A good question, no? . . . even if the buggy prof says so himself, for once in his life able to see a major controversy spitting boorishly in his and everyone else's face. When you get down to it --- aside from the Iraqi crisis itself with which the troubles hounding NATO and dividing Europe are bound up, and the terrorist threat to all our countries on both sides of the Atlantic: not to forget North Korean bluster and nuclear swaggering now on hold, it seems, for US diplomacy except for some mid-level talks (it's rumored) --- nothing more central to US national interests these days than our difficulties with some allies, themselves dividing some European countries from others, right?

Right.

Note the subtitle above: a theoretical analysis. So far, there's been little worth while published anywhere that tries to get behind all the Bush-Blair-Chirac-Schroeder-Putin-Blix to-ing and fro-ing, with the Turks now in on the haggling . . . and probe much deeper than the facile observations bantered in the media and even in certain IR circles, whose members should know better.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:42 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 24, 2003

WHAT AILS THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE AND DIVIDES EUROPE: PART TWO

Recall that the commentary on this topic, broached on Friday, divides into four parts: 1) the divisions within the EU and NATO, and how the Franco-German duo has led to its isolation; 2) a theoretical analysis of the deeper background causes of the divergent views in the EU and NATO over shared security threats and how to deal with them --- especially the role of the US here; 3) the future of the US-European relationship, given these divisions . . . which require bringing in domestic politics, including shared elite mind-sets, national styles in foreign policy, and the impact of public opinion trends; and 4) secondary or phony explanations of the divisions: Bush's personality and style, oil politics, German and French economic interests in Iraq, the UN's role.

We are now just beginning a plunge into Part 2 --- which requires some knowledge of the underlying dynamics of international relations, especially the enduring nature of power politics with a built-in prospect of war. Be patient here. Even those of you who have studied international relations theory might just profit from some reminders. Visiting scholars, by contrast, could just practice some rapid eye movement down the page, maybe while doing some Zen "uummmmh" meditating sounds . . . nothing else. Thanks to this theoretical background, Part 3 --- a more concretely uncoiled argument again --- will enable us to dig deeper about US-European relations, and the growing divisions in Europe themselves over the US global and European roles, with a few predictions thrown in for the future.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:1 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 27, 2003

WHAT AILS THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE AND DIVIDES EUROPE: PART THREE

This is the third of a four-part series on the US global and European roles at present, and how various countries in Europe, in both the western and eastern halves, line up on the desirability of maintaining and supporting those roles or opposing them. It will help, no doubt, to jog the minds of readers here what Parts I and II established. Both unfurled a complex argument. To that extent, a detailed summary seems in order.


Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:41 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 3, 2003

From Marc Grossman, Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs --- the No. 3 Man at Our State Department

Marc Grossman, who graduated from UCSB with honors in the mid-1970s --- then went on to get an M.A. at the London School of Economics --- joined our Foreign Service and moved upward to ambassadorial status in record time. Now one of the key policymakers in the State Department, Marc is also used for particularly delicate negotiations --- such as when he was sent last fall several times to negotiate with President Putin about Iraq and win its support for UN Security Resolution 1441 calling for the immediate, total, and unconditional cooperation of Baghdad in disarming. There are several other former students of ours who are in the Foreign Service or intelligence agencies or in our military --- careers that others of you visiting this site might want to consider, along with other positions in the US civil service. (It will help to get some graduate training, though it's not essential.)

We are lucky to have such talented, dedicated, hard-toiling people in our civilian and military agencies, including our professional officer corps, several of whom hold Ph.D.'s.


Michael

How great to hear from you. We are doing our level best to get this right. Thanks also for the website. Great!
You can see what I spend me day doing by looking at state.gov, then going to Bureaus and Offices, then to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The section "from the Under Secretary" has all my testimony, statements, etc.
Who would have believed all those years ago that you'd have sent the now number three person at the State Department on his way!!!

I hope to see you soon here or there!

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 11:7 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 3, 2003

France, Britain, the US and WWII; also French and American Tussles at Present: From Professor Anthony O'Regan

Our thanks to Professor Anthony O'Regan, a specialist in International and Comparative Politics, for his comments on an article by a syndicated columnist about French-bashing in the media that has splurged here the last two months. That article was sent to him by a former student of his, and he sets out some comments to clarify the historical record.

The Buggy Prof then throws in his two-cents' worth, elaborating on the historical context of appeasement and British, French, and American diplomacy and strategy before and during WWII

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:58 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 4, 2003

THE BUSH REVOLUTION IN US FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICIES: Some Queries from Prof. Kent Douglas, and Buzzy Replies

Michael:

I wonder if you could comment on the recently announced resignation from the U.S. Foreign Service of diplomat John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor to the U.S. embassy in Athens, and my related query.

In his letter, Kiesling states "The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger..." Kiesling's resignation was reported in the New York Times, and is cited in an anti-Bush diatribe by Robert Sheer in today's Los Angeles Times.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:29 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 10, 2003

Is Noam Chomsky a Good Guide to US Foreign Policy or a Demented Ideologue?

For some reason, Noam Chomsky --- an innovative and important scholar in linguistics, whose work has ramified onto wider subjects like psychology and philosophy --- also sees himself as qualified to comment at length in manic, full-blown manner, full of ex-cathedra pronouncements, on US politics and foreign policy, regarding which his views are ho-hum garden-variety pc-hokum, only delivered with even more than ordinary hoked-up ideological fervor. Naturally, then, he is a hero in the bien pensant radical circles that prevail in universities these days when it comes to US policies, especially abroad . . . above all in ethnic and women's studies, sociology, cultural studies, and literary theory (itself so politicized for three decades that it might as well be dubbed "jargon-laden Derrida and Foucault as applied to American politics and capitalism"). Come to that, he's no less a favorite in such lame-brained programs as Global Peace and Security at UCSB, whose intellectual content, to the extent it can be called that, amounts to making the students enrolled in it feel morally self-righteous and superior . . . an attitude that spills outward into instant indignation like an octopus squirting ink immediately it encounters any contrary analysis and evidence. When they enroll in political science 121, International Relations Theory taught by the buggy prof, their cocksure mental work is suddenly jarred intellectually for the first time, and maybe the last time too.

Here, in a commentary sent to the listserver, gordon-newspost, last spring, Chomsky's work on US foreign policy --- which carries no more authority about the subject than, say, a Hollywood actor's does who goes on a whirlwind jaunt to Baghdad and fawns at the feet of a butcher like Saddam Hussein --- is dissected, mainly as a lead-in to a far more thorough analysis of his wild-eyed, fanatical distortions and lies that was done by David Horowitz and a group of his employees that did what no IR specialist would ever waste time on doing: examining in de

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:54 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 10, 2003

Follow-Up: David Horowitz, Noam Chomsky, and Richard Rorty (a gifted philosopher, once associated with the radical left, and now its steadfast enemy)

A couple of emails came in asking for some more information about David Horowitz, Noam Chomsky, and --- since I've discussed at length the important philosophical work of Richard Rorty, the only distinguished and original thinker to associate with the radical left for years, until his rupture in the late 1990s ---Rorty too.

In a recent lengthy book about Rorty's important, if highly contested, philosophical work that gathered many of the most influential philosophers of the current generation in both the English-speaking world and the EU, Rorty and His Critics, edited by Robert Brandom, Rorty was asked whether he isn't "ashamed" of having had some influence on the rabid, politically correct Academic Left that now flourishes in the more murky corners of American academia --- womens' studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, literary theory, sociology, quite a few second-rate historians, and the like. No, not ashamed he replied --- only "chastened". He then went on to define the Academic Left --- the avant-garde of which now consists of aging radicals of the Vietnam war era, their bellies sagging and sprawling outward, their lives filled with comfy high-style affluence while they fulminate endlessly against the alleged evils of capitalism, American life, American democracy, and American foreign policy --- calling it the School of Resentment, a term he got from the well-known critic Harold Bloom (likewise a chastened former radical) . . . tiresomely self-righteous and self-congratulatory, politically useless, and semi-literate.

For the intelligent if brief customer reviews of Rorty and His Critics, at Amazon, click here.


Posted by Michael Gordon @ 1:36 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 22, 2003

THE REVOULUTION IN WARFARE: IRAQ AND WAR: WHAT NOW, WHAT NEXT? Part One

THE REVOLUTION IN WARFARE: IRAQ AND WAR: WHAT NOW, WHAT NEXT? Part One

What is unfolding in Iraq is only the latest stage --- essentially the end of the second generation --- in the revolution of warfare that began 30 years ago near the end of the Vietnam War.



1) The Basics of the Revolution:

Driven by rapid advances in communications and information technologies since the late 1960s, the revolution consists of a marked shift away from the vast conscript armies and mass destructive force that culminated in the devastation of WWII and its 50 million dead --- huge armored assaults that could destroy whole cities in a matter of weeks or even days (think of Stalingrad, the battle of Berlin), wide-area strategic bombing of urban and industrial areas that couldn't accurately distinguish between civilian and military targets, and nuclear weapons at the very end --- and toward ever increasing pin-point accuracy in the use of smart weaponry --- delivered by small, highly trained professional armies and special-ops or mammoth carrier forces hundreds of miles out to sea --- that, in turn, rely on radical improvements in reconnaissance, intelligence, command-and-control-and-communication systems.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:40 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

March 23, 2003

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MILITARY REVOLUTION: ANTI-MISSILE DEFENSES: PART TWO

This is part two of the commentary about the revolution in warfare, with part one found in the previous entry here. You should read that part before proceeding here. It will give you a background feel, even if theoretical, about the ways the war in Iraq is unfolding, dictated largely by American planning: the overall strategy for the war, the battlefield tactics, with of course inevitable adjustments made as the war unfolds. One big change, remember, occurred even before the war started last week: the need to re-route the 4th infantry division and the 1st cavalry division, which were scheduled to deploy from 40 ships in the Mediterranean and open up a Northern front at the war's start, once the new Turkish parliament --- dominated by moderate fundamentalists, but whose ranks are filled with new conservative parliamentarians from the smaller cities and countryside of Turkey with little or no experience in foreign policy --- refused to allow the deployment. The 40 ship armada is heading for the Gulf region, and the divisions --- the most technologically advanced in the combined use of armored vehicles, tanks, gunships, and motorized artillery --- will be able to supplement the war effort once they're on land and the ships are unloaded. The unloading, keep in mind, will take days. Meanwhile, a northern front has been opened up with different, lighter forces, especially the 101st airborne.

One other thing. A couple of emails I've received wonder why the buggy prof is talking about missile defenses when, so they said, the topic isn't relevant to the war in Iraq that is now raging there. Really? The Patriot missiles defenses that have knocked down several Iraqi scuds over Kuwait the last six days --- in particular, PAC-2 's and PAC-3's --- are part of any effective missile defense system, are deployed already in other areas of the Middle East (specifically, Israel), and are also ready for use in the northern region of Pacific Asia, where North Korea has been practicing brinksmanship tactics for the last

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:11 PM CST [continue]

March 28, 2003

How Is the War Faring? Some Random Observations

Remember what was said in the previous article here: all observations about the course of the Iraqi war that appear in the media, this internet site included, are speculative --- nothing less. nothing more. Additionally, the more they roam widely and engage in generalities, the more speculative they're very likely to be. That doesn't mean all speculations are the same, let alone useless. The retired military officers who appear on the TV networks are intelligent, experienced, and clearly knowledgeable, and their opinions tend to be worth more than those voiced by anchormen or most reporters, let alone partisan advocates. Even the retired officers, though, aren't privy to highly classified information that's available only to Command Central and the Pentagon and White House. Then, too, their views are likely to reflect their previous service-affiliations --- on the whole, former army officers more inclined to worry than ex-air force or ex-airborne officers that there's not sufficient armor and men on the ground for the battle of Baghdad and securing long supply lines --- and to draw on their experience in previous wars or battles that may not be fully applicable to the kind of strategy and force deployments being used by the US and UK in Iraq.

One upshot of all this instant analysis --- plus the mood-swings from over-confidence (the war's gonna be over in two or three days) to the silly and shallow doom-doom stuff --- is that certain key statistics have been overlooked. Such as that in 9 days of fighting, US forces --- 3 divisions within 50 miles of Baghdad after an historic offensive advance --- have lost exactly 20 casualties in battle. Twenty! Who would have ever foreseen that? There are, of course, more American casualties in the neighborhood of 50-55, with 30 dead and the rest POWs, and about the same number of Britons, but most of those were due to accidents, inevitable in moving so many helicopters, planes, and tanks around whatever the weather conditions --- and these haven't been all Santa

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:2 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

April 3, 2003

WHAT ROLE FOR THE UN IN IRAQ AND ELSEWHERE IN THE FUTURE?

Lots of talk about the UN these days, and from all sides . . . especially about how central a role the Security Council should play in post-war Saddamite Iraq. Not least, needless to say, from the Germans, French, and Russians who helped bring the UN Security Council into disrepute, refusing in the French case even to have a second resolution passed that did no more than reaffirm 1441, passed unanimously last November.

Disrepute? Of course. What else?

As Secretary of State Powell noted in a news conference held today in Europe, diplomacy not backed by credible force is a sham . . . as 12 years of Iraqi evasions and lies have underscored. The first resolution calling for Iraqi disarmament, passed in the fall of 1990 before the Gulf war, envisaged a time-schedule of 45 days. Roughly 100 times that number of days have passed since then, with the harsh economic sanctions doing little to stop or divert the regime from its WMD programs, even as they inflicted major harm on the Iraqi civilians --- not that the moralizing Germans seem to care about that, provided force wasn't used to remove the regime responsible for refusing to comply with the UN resolutions. As for the French and Russians, forget any moralizing cover for them. They have patronized Saddam, with the French becoming the major investor and exporter to the regime, while Jacques Chirac the President was the man responsible, as the French Premier in 1976, for signing the agreement to give Iraq, which has the second largest oil reserves in the Middle East, a nuclear reactor for allegedly peacetime energy needs. Even that, remember, was too much for the Soviet government to which Saddam had first appealed for nuclear aid.


Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:50 PM CST [continue]

April 8, 2003

THE ONGOING REALIGMNENT OF STATES SINCE 1991: IN PARTICULAR, THE FUTURE OF THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE

A NEW EUROPEAN-AMERICAN DIVISION: THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND


As the war winds down in Iraq --- the Saddamite regime reduced, essentially, to a rag-tag remnant in Tikrit and a few Fedayeen thugs augmented by fanatical jihad types from around the Middle East, eager for martyrdom (an eagerness we should facilitate) --- the Bush administration has to brace itself for a new round of difficulties with much of the EU . . . on the governmental level with France and Germany, and on the popular level almost everywhere, even in Britain to an extent. The latest diplomatic spark for a confrontation? The demand, above all voiced by Berlin and Paris backed by Moscow --- three big patrons in the past of the blood-soaked Iraqi Saddamite fascist regime --- that the UN dominate the reconstruction of Iraq, politically and economically. Read, of course, when you hear of the UN in this context, the Security Council . . . where the Russians and French have a veto power, their only leverage over the Anglo-Americans. Period. And appreciate that the demand is fully in their self-interest, what with their huge economic stakes in Saddamite Iraq, which owes, apparently, around $100 billion . . . a huge chunk of which is owed the Russians, the French, and the Germans, all now doubly worried because there is open talk of a post-Saddamite regime renouncing the debts incurred to foreign countries during Saddam's 30 years of ruthless rule.

Will the UN be given the key role?

No, and not even Tony Blair --- for all the media speculation, most of it in the EU apparently wishful thinking that sees an internationalist Blair pitted against an imperial unilateralist Bush --- wants that. As his official spokesman said at the end of his meeting with Bush in North Ireland yesterday, the Security Council antics in months of deadlock over Iraq showed that the UN hasn't the capacity, never mind the desire, to run Iraq." See Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:20 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

April 12, 2003

[1] THE COALTION OF THE UNWILLING --- AKA, THE COALITION OF THE BILLING --- BALKS AT CANCELING SADDAM'S HUGE DEBTS. [2] EU APPEASEMENT AT HOME AND ABROAD. [3] WHY EUROPEANS FEAR THEIR MUSLIM COMMUNITIES

The idea of cancelling the huge foreign debt of the Iraqis, which was incurred mainly by France, Germany, and Russia --- specifically by their nationalized firms, private firms, and public and private banks (with government guarantees) --- was first floated two days ago by Paul Wolfowitz, the Assistant Secretary of Defense. It was his rejoinder to the trio of Saddamite patrons meeting in Moscow the last two days, the latest installment of their moralizing humbug and diplomatic maneuvers at countering what the French media called the Anglo-Saxon coalition . . . a term, as at least one French journalist courageously noted, was used throughout WWII by the Nazi-collaborating Vichy regime. The Wolfowitz suggestion was then taken up yesterday at a meeting of the World Bank, and guess what?

The pacifist and humanitarian Germans --- innovators, as the German media have put it, of the new German moral way in foreign policy --- refused categorically to write off the debt, estimated to amount to well over $120 billion (a staggering amount for such a small GDP, itself in shambles right now) and with about $4 billion owed the Germans. Turns out, evidently, the German Schroeder government can't even keep up its sanctimonious public posture when it comes down to hard cash. See The Guardian

Given all this, little wonder that the icon of politically correct hokum and anti-Americanism in Germany, the weekly Der Spiegel, has run a long article in which Germans, Russians, and Frenchmen --- businessmen and politicians --- express their anxiety about what American and British soldiers may discover in Iraqi Saddamite files about their decades of lucrative chicaneries and lavish support for the brutal fascist regime. Der Spiegel (Note that excerpts from the article will appear at the end here.) As for the Russians, they already have more than enough reason to nurture anxie

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:54 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

April 13, 2003

IRAQ AND THE REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS: THE FIFTH INSTALLMENT

If it helps, those who want a shorthand way of memorizing what the military revolution is about --- as unveiled with powerful vividness in Iraq by the US military and its allies --- can think of it this way: [1]speed, flexibility, surprise, and [2] remarkable real-time intelligence and target-acquistion, [3] the targets themselves destroyed in almost the same instant thanks to precision-guided smart weaponry . . . [4] plus extraordinary communication at all levels and among all units on a nation-wide battlefield.. Nothing hard to remember here, is there? But remember: it's what makes these tactics and an overall strategy and coordination possible that really matters.

What makes it all possible is a quartet of hard-to-acquire and even harder-to-implement component parts, available only in the last twenty years or so . . . the pace of innovation increasing in rapid tempo throughout the period, amid great technological flux and uncertainty and through two very different decades of security threats: the cold war in its last stage as it turned out, and then the emergence of the new threats in the war on terrorism. In plain English,

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 10:27 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

April 13, 2003

US GLOBAL POWER AND THE REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS: THE 6TH INSTALLMENT

Introductory Comments

A tip: to appreciate the comments that unfold here, you'd do well to have read at least the fifth installment on this topic, posted earlier today. In particular, these comments are a natural follow-up in both more theoretical and concrete terms of the huge American lead in power compared to all other countries, something the world has never seen . . . not even in the days of the Roman Empire at its height. As the previous article on military power noted, Rome's power was hemmed in by its population base, the technologies (mililtary and otherwise) available to it, and the georgraphical barriers that prevented expansion into the areas of northern Europe beyond the Rhine in Germanic tribal regions and eastward beyond the Middle East. There a powerful Persian empire further limited Roman expansion, and beyond it, there was in Asia the expanding and powerful Chinese empire.

As was also noted in that previous article, the US today outspends the next 14 countries in the world on defense, and for that matter its R&D military expenditures are equally overwhelming. Even the EU, with a third bigger population --- 380 vs. 280 million --- will be spending only about $140 billion this year as opposed to the US's $400 billion or so . . . the US military budget about 4.0% of GDP vs. an average of 7.0% yearly in the 45 years of the cold war, something in other words easily sustained by the huge wealthy American economy. The EU NATO average spending on the military is around 2.0%, Britain's and France's higher, and Germany's a startling 1.2% --- leaving the German military establishment, as a New York Times article put it a few weeks ago, essentially a "basket-case." Japan's military spending is around 1.5% of its GDP if you include disguised forms of it. China, with about a $6 trillion a year economy vs. the US's $10.6 --- with the US per capita income $37,000 or so and China's about a seventh that (all figures in purchasing power-parity terms) --- spends, probably, around $70

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 2:45 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

April 18, 2003

A Canadian Citizen Criticizes US Foreign Policy toward Canada and Especially in Latin America: The Buggy Prof Replies

Ron N, who lives in Vancouver, B.C., has sent us a criticism of US policy toward Canada recently, then several more criticisms of US policies in general in Latin America. The buggy prof thanks Ron for his thoughtful comments, which are reproduced here, followed by our bugged-out reply.

First Ron N:

Many of us here are upset at Bush's consistent rudeness toward Canada, not least his cancelling the planned state visit (too busy) and inviting Australia's PM to the Ranch instead. We feel (as do many Americans, I 'm told) that as a sovereign country, we have every right to take a principled stand that differs from yours and not expect punishment in return. Your Ambassador Salucci expressed poorly veiled threats re future relations regarding trade. This sort of open coercion and unrepentant disregard and bullying of any country not toeing the line has done enormous damage to your (America's) image in the world. There's even some (not so serious) talk of inviting Schroeder and Chirac for dinner - and serious talk of strengthening our European trade relations. All this to leverage American power and influence. Is it worth it? There must be many more sophisticated means of exerting US influence abroad.





Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:43 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

July 14, 2003

Test please delete later

I think I got this working for you. I'm not diades, but hey.

Posted by diades @ 1:2 AM CST [continue]

July 23, 2003

BUSH'S MOTIVES AND JUSTIFICATION FOR DESTROYING SADDAMITE IRAQ. Version One, one more to come

First published on June 6th, 2003, with the original still lost in cyberspace, this article --- which draws on the philsophical argument by Professor Keith Burgess-Jackson at the University of Texas --- appears here again and seems more relevant than ever . . . what with the shrill nature of the criticisms launched at the Bush-Blair policy of destroying a brutal regime that ruled by deceit and mass-terror for decades and was in violation of 17 UN Security Council resolutions.

Keith Burgess-Jackson, a professor at the University of Texas --- a philosopher in the dominant philosophical school that has prevailed in the English-speaking world and Scandinavia for decades and is now making big inroads on the Continent of Europe, both in the western and eastern halves --- turns out to have produced a provocative, mentally astute argument about Bush's motives and the moral justification for going to war and smashing Saddamite Iraq. The buggy prof's own comments are heavily influenced by that argument. A good place to start then is to identify Burgess-Jackson's overall philosophical approach and to clarify it against its frequent opposite, Continental philosophy.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:31 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

July 29, 2003

Part I: US INTERVENTION IN THE LIBERIAN CIVIL WAR: Final

Should We Intervene in Liberia: Yes, But


To foreshadow the conclusion here, the buggy prof supports an active US role, diplomatically and militarily, in dealing with the Liberian civil war --- being waged off-and-on for 2 decades now, while more recently helping to destabilize much of tropical West Africa in the north --- but with a twist: our guide for intervening should be the US role in the UN-authorized peace-keeping mission in East Timor, formerly part of Indonesia, that began in 1999 and was a clear success. (To add something important, note that the buggy prof's analysis here draws on the research of a Ph.D. candidate, Chris Cook, whose dissertation on various US humanitarian interventions in the post cold-war era I happen to have the honor of directing. Chris, an outstanding classroom teacher and very promising young scholar, spent several months carrying out extensive interviews in Washington D.C. with former Clinton officials; and his dissertation combines unusual information with a clearheaded analytical framework. He has been very generous in giving me some pointers about the complex Liberian labyrinthe.)

What distinguishes that East-Timor precedent is that the big military burdens of peace-keeping were carried out by states in South Pacific region: Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. And the US role? An effective, if limited one. Mainly we provided logistic support for the regional forces, including air-lift transportation . . . as well as active diplomacy and morale-boosting. The outcome, as we just noted, was a successful resolution of a vicious crisis that had its roots in the mid-1970s, when Indonesian military forces overran East Timor and forcibly annexed it . . . marked, at the time of the invasion and ever since until East Timor's independence in late 1999, by mass-murdering atrocities and repression on a large scale prac

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:47 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

July 31, 2003

Part II, US INTERVENTION IN THE LIBERIAN CIVIL WAR: SOME LESSONS TO BE DRAWN. Final Version

This is the second article in a mini-series on US intervention in Liberia that began earlier this week. The first installment set out a case for such intervention, hedged carefully . . . above all, on the condition that we adhere to the successful US role in East Timor in 1999, when a multilateral force contributed to by regional states in the Pacific region around Indonesia intervened and effectively stabilized the turmoil within the country as it re-established its independence from Indonesia. The US role in that UN-sanctioned intervention was important but limited: our military forces were confined to air-lift capabilities and logistic support for the Australian and Asian peacekeepers on the ground. The outcome was a big success. Elections were help in East Timor; independence established; the turmoil disappeared.

That initial article, recall, noted that there were legitimate concerns voiced by the critics of any US intervention in Liberia, even a limited one along the lines of East Timor . . . the model that does seem to be the guide for the Bush administration right now, at any rate in intent. Four stand out in particular:

[1] The intervening regional states in West Africa aren't nearly as stable or efficient or their militaries as disciplined and professional as was the case of Australia and the Southeast Asian countries that saw a clear interest in sending troops to East Timor.

[2] A small country of fewer than a million, East Timor had and has a degree of ethnic unity and shared history that isn't present in Liberia, just the opposite. (As against this, though, note that the armed militias and what passes for the Liberian army are weak, rag-tag forces, with scarcely any effective discipline or training.)

[3] US military forces are already spread thin on the ground in a dozen other countries, with a huge presence in Iraq.
|

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 1:27 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

August 6, 2003

Part III THE US AND LIBERIA: THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN MULTILATERAL INTERVENTIONS IN HUMANITARIAN CONFLICTS: Final Version

This is the third article in a mini-series on the US commitment --- hedged carefully and rightly so --- to intervene in the raging Liberian civil war that has been plaguing that country off-and-on for almost two decades . . . something we did briefly in 1990 in the Bush-Sr. era, though it was limited to evacuating US citizens from a new flare-up in the fighting.

INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS


[1] As the first article tried to show, the problem of intervening in Liberia reflects a much larger problem for American foreign policy: how and when the US should intervene in a civil war --- usually in either a failed-state or one ruled by a brutal dictatorship --- where there are no important security or economic interests at stake . . . instead, humanitarian ones full of political significance for the local population. On the whole, prof bug favors an intervention, carefully hedged, based on the model we helped pioneer in East Timor in 1999 and 2000, then part of Indonesia. The local states with a major stake in Indonesian stability --- Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore --- provided the effective peacekeeping forces on the ground. The US role was carefully limited but important in backing this UN-sponsored intervention: we provided logistics and air-lift capabilities as well as significant intelligence and diplomatic support, but did not send troops themselves onto East Timor soil. In the end, the multilateral intervention proved successful. East Timor completed its secession from Indonesia, then held elections and has been stable ever since.

The key point in the East Timor model: the regional states near a country in distress ---- again, almost always a failed-state and breakdown in civil war or one ruled by a cruel dictatorship brutalizing large parts of the population (as in Rwanda in 1995 or Kosovo in 1999) --- have the most at stake in th

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:20 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

August 16, 2003

IS THE USA AN IMPERIAL POWER IN LATIN AMERICA?

Last April a Canadian citizen, Ron N, sent the buggy prof some criticisms of US policies toward his native country and toward Latin America. That prompted a three-part mini-series in response to Ron's criticisms. Along with all the articles published between April 19th and July 1st, those published articles lie buried in some desolate cyberspace boneyard . . . lost forever in that haunted unsacred terrain. Fortunately, copies of the buried articles have been sent to the buggy prof by various visitors, and little by little they are being revised, updated, and published anew.

The first article in the mini-series that Ron N's criticisms prompted was published on April 18th . It deals with US-Canadian relations, especially in the run-up period of the war on Iraq, and is available in the archives and for that matter can still be found on the home page here. No more needs to be said about it. That's not true of the the remaining article, lying in permanent cold-storage somewhere in that desolate pc-cemetery, beyond redemption in their original form. Not, however, in an updated, revised version. That's what follows here. Its topic: US policies toward Latin America. Ron N's criticisms of those policies, as it happens, are fairly standard fare on the left: in particular, his claims that the US has been an imperial power in Latin America and bears a large responsibility for that continent's economic backwardness and struggles, off and on, to develop stable and effective democratic systems of government. For an updated version of US policy toward Allende Chile in the early 1970s, plus a link to a very good article on this, see The Neo-Cons II . . . published August 17th.


US POLICIES TOWARD LATIN AMERICA: A BRIEF HISTORY SURVEY

The Swings in US Policies Since 1900.


Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:45 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

August 17, 2003

WHO ARE THE NEO-CONS, AND WHY DO THEY HAVE SUCH INFLUENCE? PART ONE

Originally published April 24th, 2003, this two-part mini-series has been buried and lost forever in some distant, dismal pc-cemetery . . . or whever else hacked-into archives, killed off and lost sight of, end up in the next life. It is now reproduced here in mid-August, with part one of the series unfolding right now. Part two will follow in the hours to come.


Neo-conservatives, who are they, what do they believe, and why are they so influential these days in the Bush administration, especially in foreign and security policies? Right now, a front-burner topic. In particular, lots of journalistic speculation about them, some good, most not.

The buggy prof himself has talked about the neo-cons repeatedly in the past, all published in the gordon-newspost . . . the newsletter subscription that the he ran for four years until this February, when the current web site seemed a more appropriate outlet for his and others' thoughts on political, economic, and cultural matters. And especially when those thoughts happen to be politically charged --- full of significance for US foreign and domestic politics, the politics of foreign countries, developmental history and prospects, globalization, and in reciprocal fashion for philosophy and cultural life.



What Follows: A Brief Intro

As it turns out, this is an uncommonly long article that has five different commentaries, all of them focused on neo-conservatism as an ideology and its influence, plus some lengthy buggy prof comments. A quick survey of what follows might just be useful as an intellectual compass. (Hold it! As an after-thought, it just dawned on the buggy prof that it would be better to divide the article into two parts: part one today, part two later. That way, the attention-span of our visitors won't be strained. Still, what follows is the summary of all five parts, the latter three to be hiv

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:22 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

August 17, 2003

WHO ARE THE NEO-CONS, AND WHY DO THEY HAVE SUCH INFLUENCE? Part Two

Originally published April 24th, 2003, this two-part mini-series was slain and laid to rest in some forlorn wind-blasted graveyard on July 1st, no doubt skyhooting happily ever since with frolicking cyberspace angels . . . or wherever else hacked-into archives end up in the next life. It's reproduced here in mid-August, with part two of the series unfolding right now. Part one was published earlier today.


As the title notes, this is the second article in a series on neo-conservatism: what it is, why it originated, how it has come to have such a deservedly profound influence on the current Bush administration's foreign and security policies. Needless to say, you should read the previous article; it's indispensable background for understanding the three commentaries that follow, the first by the buggy prof himself on neo-conservatism's origins and evolution . . . a follow-up to his initial commentary in the previous article. The remaining two are by Joe Hagan, a journalist, and Prof. Anthony O'Regan.

Some of the introductory comments that appeared in the previous article follow immediately with a few added remarks by way of clarification. Consider them something of a prologue, nothing less. Even if you've read them already, it might not be a bad way to look them over as a jog to your memory.

A PROLOGUE TO PART II


[1] First there's an extensive commentary on neo-conservatism that the buggy prof sent to his several hundred subscribers last October, fully updated to make it more relevant. (See gordon-newspost) Essentially --- a point worth getting across right from the start --- note that the pioneer intellectuals and policymakers who developed neo-conservative thought were all former anti-Communist liberals, influenced by three intellectual heritages that came together in the

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:8 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

August 29, 2003

French Foreign Policy: No Fundamental Changes, the One Constant Remaing Anti-Americanism

Originally published April 25th, 2003, this article has been lost with its siblings between mid-April and July 1st after a hacker did what hackers do: hacked his way into a downstream Internet Service Provider and killed the buggy prof site for a couple of weeks in the upshot. Little by little, these articles are being published here again. Observe that a good if anecdotal New Yorker article on French anti-Americanism --- an ideology that unites almost all the political and cultural elites from the extreme left to the extreme right: in fact, just about the only political passion left in French life that excites people --- has just appeared: by Adam Gopnik, a regular essayist in that fine magazine, a mainstay of American cultural life for 80 years now. Gopnik has lived off and on in France for years, and if he's weak on certain historical and analytical insights, he's got a keen journalist eye and a nose for interviews. See the anti-anti Americans

You'll observe if you look at the Gopnik article on the handful of centrist pro-American French writers and intellectuals that Jean-Francois Revel is featured. Recall here the buggy prof article on his recent book assaulting French anti-Americanism that appeared in February 2002: it includes a buggy translation of the review of the book in Le Monde, the most influential French daily . . . and a mainstay of French anti-American sentiment for the educated and half-educated.

For other buggy articles on French anti-Americanism --- remember, the buggy prof ran a UC exchange program at Bordeaux University and taught there back in the 1970s --- "French Oil"; and "Nutbin French Anti-Americanism Run Wild: Or Who Killed JR of Dallas <

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:54 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

August 30, 2003

The Future of US-EU Relations

Originally published on April 26th, this article --- along with about 30 others --- was lopped off the buggy site when a hacker broke into a downstream ISP and forced us offline on July 1st. It's reprinted here in a markedly expanded and updated version. It begins with a set of observations sent by a visitor that ends with a query.

Professor Gordon,

I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

I think a major concern of many Americans is the level of trust in France and Germany for what was previously thought to be truly shared values. Perhaps this was naive, or wishful thinking. Those values of freedom and security are not so shared. In the next pinch, will they be there for us? They weren't there for Turkey. While trade will and should go on, the deeper matter of trust is shaken, at least if not permanently lost. I would value your comments.

Regards,
Chris Fallon Long Valley, NJ



THE BUGGY RESPONSE



Chris:

Thank you for the kind words. Also for the very thoughtful observations and questions.

Most likely, the degree to which Germans, Frenchmen, and Americans share certain values in common --- democracy, a rule of law (applied with different success), respect for individuals and minority rights --- is still strong, and stronger still among Americans, Britons, Dutchmen, Danes, and Italians, and certainly it seems with the new East European democracies. But how these abstract commitments --- which after all are taken for granted in peoples' daily lives --- are then translated into shared national interests and priorities among them as governments pursue them regionally or globally is another matter.

In particular, it's worth keeping in mind that hard core alliances like NATO have usually thrived only with a common enemy, and since the end of the cold war, that bond has been less visible

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:25 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

September 16, 2003

Updated Final Version: A Remarkably Humorous Essay on French and American Stereotypes of One Another, Full of Agile Insights Too

Written with crackling, tongue-in-cheek humor and unusual insight into silly national stereotypes --- French and American, of one another --- this lengthy essay by Gene Weingarten, an editor of the Washington Post Sunday magazine, is a delight from start to finish, a product of an uncommonly talented mind. Probably only a few dozen writers in the entire world could produce an essay of its zest and intelligence, none of them academics . . . generally a solemn crowd, especially in this era of hotfooting careerists off to one conference or another, in between their frantic bouts of applying for this or that grant (all the while praying fervently --- please, please, Heavenly Father! --- that the next grant will be generous enough to allow them to move forward from the cattle-carrying section of their conference-jaunting airplanes to tonier business-class).

Read and enjoy the essay, anything but solemn. And see whether it doesn't, even as you laugh out loud, hit a bull's eye every paragraph . . . sometimes, when you get down to it, several times every paragraph.

The Problem With the French . . . is that they have no word for rapprochement.


A Difference in National Stereotypes

There is a difference though, an important one overlooked by Weingarten. Despite American stereotypes of the French --- which go back hundreds of years, influenced by English views of France --- there isn't any semi-official, ongoing national ideology of anti-French nature in American life that parallels French anti-Americanism, something the buggy prof site has repeatedly shown . . . not least in its summary of two recent books by French writers (the links will be given later here). The chief reason? The huge power gap, and increasingly divergent cultural impact. It's lopsided, with the American impact and intrusions into French daily life, for good

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:36 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 4, 2003

Final Version: DID THE US BLUNDER INTO WAR WITH IRAQ? SOME THEORETICAL AND FACTUAL OBSERVATIONS

Introductory Remarks About How Wars Start



A student in my upper division class, political science 121 --- international relations theory --- sent a query about the lecture on Thursday, which set out a model of how wars actually begin. We envisaged a spectrum with two polar opposites: 1) wars that begin with at least one state's leaders deciding, deliberately and with calculated efforts, to go to war because they see advantages to it compared to the status quo, at one pole; and 2) at the other pole, stark blundering into war . . . none of the conflicting states really intending to go to war, owing to sheer misperceptions or miscalculations that, in a spiraling manner, suddenly set off the use of force. Some good studies find no war ever started in a sheer blunder manner. Since the theoretical analysis is relevant, among other things, to the recent war to topple Saddamite Iraq, my lengthy reply to the student's query --- sent to the entire class yesterday --- seems worthwhile setting out here . . . especially with its long analysis of how the war against Saddam's regime started, and what seems to be going on in Iraq under US-UK occupation since then.

First though, some theoretical background needs to be sketched in briefly in order to make more sense of the model set out in class: remember, it deals with how wars start using the diagram of a spectrum running between the two polar points just mentioned



THE MODEL BRIEFLY FLESHED OUT

1) Security-Dilemmas and Pre-Emptive War

What's called a security dilemma is near the blunder pole . . . say a quarter or a third of the way back toward the middle. (Remember here: like all models, the current one is a purposeful simplific

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:9 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 6, 2003

HOW THE MEDIA HAVE BADLY MISINTERPRETED THE DAVID KAY REPORT ON IRAQI WMD

Have the media, especially prominent newspapers like the NY and LA Times and major TV networks accurately reported what David Kay, the head of the Iraqi Survey Group of several hundred trained personnel looking for Iraqi WMD, actually said in his interim unclassified report to the Bush administration and the Congressional Intelligence committees, given all the innuendo flying back and forth about the contents? Have they even accurately reported what the unclassified 10 page summary that the CIA put on its web site? Not according to Kay, in a lengthy and revealing interview yesterday on Fox News. A trained CIA specialist on WMD, Kay had been a member of the original UNSCOM inspection teams in Iraq under UN Security Council authority until late 1998, when the teams withdrew after deciding that Iraqi obstruction had made it impossible for them to do their work. In particular, the Iraqi government failed to comply with three new UN Security Council resolutions, passed between September and December of that year, that demanded full compliance with the inspection teams.

Remember, in 1995 --- four years into the UNSCOM inspections --- two of Saddam Hussein's sons-in-law fled Iraq and told the inspectors once they were in Jordan of their first-hand knowledge of Saddam's huge quantities of chemical and biological weapons. The brutal Saddamite government had no alternative but to concede the existence of these programs. Until then, despite four years of intensive inspections, UNSCOM hadn't been able to uncover any of those WMD stockpiles. Later, Saddam's sons-in-law returned to Iraq with assurances of their safety. Both were murdered within three days of their return. See global security.


DAVID KAY'S ACTUAL VIEWS


As we just noted, David Kay is the CIA specialist on WMD w

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:7 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 11, 2003

Final Version WHY WERE NUCLEAR BOMBS DROPPED ON JAPAN TO END WWII? Some War Literature and Films To See

What follows is an exchange with two different students currently enrolled in political science 121, both their comments dealing with the decision of the Truman Administration in August 1945 to drop nuclear bombs on Japan . . . first on Hiroshima, then a few days later on Nagasaki. The decision has been a source of controversy from the start, raising both practical strategic questions and moral ones. The strategic questions boil down to one overriding concern: was it necessary to drop the bombs in order to force the Japanese government into surrendering immediately afterwards? The moral ones are more complex, as they frequently are in international life . . . especially where wars are concerned, including their conduct.

The first set of comments come from Pedro Cortez, who seems to have a vigorously commendable interest in international relations and diplomatic history, several solid courses under his belt, and a stint last year in the model UN, where he played the role of the US government in dealing with the nuclear weapons program of totalitarian North Korea. They deal with the question of US mlotives for dropping the two nuclear bombs on Japan: and in particular, whether they didn't reflect anti-Soviet concerns as WWII neared its end. The lengthy buggy reply follows.

The second set of comments has been posted by Joey Tartakovsky, a senior who has been laudably active, among other things, in journalism on campus. In that capacity, he has repeatedly tangled with the ex-cathedra ideological mumbo-jumbo that the politically correct zealots and dogmatists spew out daily --- frequently backed by put-downs in class, secret tribunals, witch-hunting, and either tolerance of student Red-Guard thugs who drive off campus any invited speakers to the right of Al Gore, or active encouragement of such antics. Not to forget invasions into the classrooms of non-conforming professors by these two-bit thugs, the inane, slogan-shouting storm-troopers of the pc

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:5 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 21, 2003

The Misleading Analogy Between Iraq and Vietnam Continued: II.

If you've read the previous article on this analogy --- a favorite of the uninformed or misinformed, not to mention disgruntled partisan critics of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq --- you should have a good working idea of why it's so misleading and wrongheaded. That doesn't mean that there aren't legitimate criticisms of the way the administration has managed the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, another point stressed in two other articles that were published a tad earlier, and repeatedly so: those two articles, remember, part of a three-article mini-series on the progress and problems of Iraqi transformation. Most of the media's criticisms don't fit this criterion --- something else we've tried to show in that mini-series. If anything, the negativism and carping on the problems and setbacks in Iraq that have dominated the media's coverage until very recently have done the public a reprehensible disservice . . . much as they might cater to partisan attacks from many Democratic activists and even many of the party's presidential candidates. (Not all fortunately: not Senator Joe Lieberman and Representative Dick Gephardt, or Senator Joe Biden of the Intelligence Committee, or Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State, the heir of the great Scoop Jackson, the influential liberal Democrat who served in the Senate from that state where I grew up for two decades from the late 1940s through most of the 1960s and believed in the essential benevolence of American foreign policy as long as it sought to promote human rights and democracy abroad.

All that granted, there is one possible justified worry that does concern many of us who support the administration's unprecedented campaign to reconstruct Iraq and transform it from a totalitarian state and society --- under Baathist party control and terror for 40 years, almost four times longer than Hitler ruled in Nazi Germany. That worry? Whether the US public will tolerate many more months

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:20 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 20, 2003

Why Any Comparison Between Iraq Now and the Vietnam War Is Blatantly Misleading

Last night on MSNBC's Meet the Press --- a weekly interview by the gifted Tim Russert --- two of his guests paired off against each other were Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat of Florida and an intelligent and informed critic of the Bush handling of Iraqi reconstruction and transformation, and Senator John McCain of Arizona who supports the administration over Iraq without being happy with the Bush economic and environmental policies at home. It was a testimony to the knowledge and reasoning powers of the two Senators --- plus the predictable skill as an interviewer of Tim Russert --- that you couldn't but be more enlightened on what's at stake in our occupation of Iraq and the strengths and weaknesses of the Bush administration's policies there . . . this, no matter what you own substantive views happen to be. Mine are much closer to McCain's. Graham proved to be a highly informed and thoughtful critic of the administration all the same.

The Vietnam Quagmire?

At one point in the interview-debate --- to bring us to today's buggy theme --- Senator Graham raised the analogy between what's unfolding in Iraq and the Vietnam war, along with the usual metaphor of a quagmire. It's common currency, that analogy, in the circles critical of the Bush administration; and very quickly Senator McCain --- who was an aviator in the Vietnam war, only to be shot down and held captive for more than 5 years by the North Vietnamese --- disputed the analogy. After a few seconds, Russert intervened in order to move the debate back to the Bush administration today and the forthcoming electoral season in 2004. As a result, the reasons why the comparison between Vietnam and Iraq today are or aren't sound weren't elaborated on.

An elaboration is what this buggy article seeks to do. It strikes the buggy

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:13 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 19, 2003

Progress and Problems in Iraqi Reconstruction Continued, Part II. Not the Final Version

This is the second in a three-part series that deals with the problems and progress being made by the US and UK in reconstructing Iraq, after 40 years of Baathist Party totalitarianism and mass-murdering brutality . . . during which time there was a complete collapse of civil society, never mind anything approaching ordinary political life, Baathist rule marked by a pervasive secret police, abundant recourse to the torture-chamber, the use of poison gas and biological warfare against Iraqi citizens, and an unbridled cult of leadership-worship. You should read the initial article, published on Friday and now completed, before plunging into this one. The arguments in the three articles form a coherent whole. The final article should be available tomorrow or the day after.

The Unprecedented Challenge of Iraqi Nation-Building


The challenge the US has faced in Iraq since the end of the war six months ago is unprecedented in our long history in the 20th century of nation-building: the effort --- starting in the Philippines at the beginning of the last century, then in parts of Central America with no success during the interwar period, later at the end of WWII in Germany and Japan, and more recently in the Balkans --- of occupying defeated or hostile or bankrupt countries and seeking to foster a more democratic government and a much more effective economy. Even in the case of Central and Latin America, where the US has pushed for democratic government starting with John Kennedy's Alliance for Progress --- with some veering during the cold war competition, especially in the Nixon era --- all the countries south of the US, beginning with Mexico and down throughout Central America all the way across the Continent to the Straits of Magellan, are now democratic in an electoral sense, with several making good headway in institutionalizing their

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:23 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 17, 2003

Progress and Problems in Iraqi Reconstruction, Part I In a Three-Part Series: Final

A visitor, Sam Ward, left a comment at the end of the buggy article, published over last week, on how blatantly the media misinterpreted David Kay's interim report to the Bush administration and the Congressional Intelligence Committees on the search in Iraq for WMD. Sam's brief comment starts off this commentary, followed by a lengthy Buggy analysis of four related matters.



1) The problems and progress of post-war Iraqi reconstruction --- dealt with in earlier buggy articles, especially
the latest, published October 5th, 2003 --- are tackled again, with another effort at clarifying them and adding some historical and comparative perspective.


Once again, too, as we've noted before, there are some justified criticisms of the ways the Bush administration has handled that daunting venture --- even if most of the reports on Iraq in the media, or from opponents of Blair in Britain or Bush in America, forget or conveniently ignore just how monumental and challenging that undertaking is. Doubly so, to be more precise, in a region where democracy in any western sense has never existed: instead, where political life is marked by 21 despotic Arab states and --- next door to Iraq, eastward in Iran --- by a die-hard, despised Islamist ruling clique. These valid criticisms will be set out here later.

2) As against the discouraging trends --- which were dealt with at length in the earlier buggy article of October 5th --- there are some recent encouraging developments. We will lay these out too.


3) What follows next is an extraordinary article --- no other word for it. The grandson of the Ayatollah Khomeini --- the fiery Islamist revolutionary who spearheaded the 1979 Iranian revolution in 1978 and d

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:44 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

October 23, 2003

Final: German Journalists in America Admit To A Systematic Crude Anti-Americanism: Also, Former US Radical Journalists Slam Their Former Colleagues

A couple of visitors have sent emails asking the buggy prof when the three-part mini-series on the media and Iraq will be finished. A perfectly good query. So far, the first of the three-article series is done, and the second one about 4/5 finished. In that second article --- Progress and Problems in Iraqi Reconstruction II, published October 19th --- a survey of the media's coverage in West Europe of Iraq was unfolded: in particular, the British and the French and to an extent the German. The article noted that the British reporting on Iraq, with some exceptions, has been polemical and negative and in a kind of attack-dog mode toward the Blair government and Bush America. The BBC --- once justifiably famous for its objectivity and accurate journalism --- has been a particular offender, something that has fortunately caused a scandal in Britain and has put the BBC under a much needed public spotlight. In France and Germany, as you might predict, the coverage has been much worse --- a kind of systematic outpouring of envy and resentment of the US, wounded national pride, crude anti-Americanism, and almost wholly inaccurate reporting of an ideologically prejudiced sort.


HOW WORSE CAN JOURNALISTIC SHODDINESS GET?


The pitiful nature of the French media's reporting was brought out in a lengthy interview with a noted French novelist, now in exile in Quebec and disgusted with what he regards as his country's systematic efforts in the media and political circles at "brainwashing" when it comes to the US on almost any topic and especially on the Middle East. His views were vented at length in the earlier buggy article just referred to. Go here if you prefer to see the original source of the inte

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:49 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

November 21, 2003

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: 4th Article In A Mini-Series

At long last --- side-tracked the last several days, after the initial article in this series on American exceptionalism was published on November 17th, 2003, by four intervening articles that teased out some controversial points in that original effort --- the buggy prof is ready to set out the systematic ways in which the US differs from other advanced industrial democracies. That's task one, today's current agenda. Task two, which will begin tomorrow or he day after --- all depending --- is even more important: to analyze the historical and cultural reasons that explain our unique qualities as a country.

On this score, recall what initial article said here: the buggy analysis begins where the otherwise excellent survey on US exceptionalism in The Economist leaves off: more ambitious, wider ranging, more theoretical and comparative. Will it be more fun? Ha, who knows?


PART I: COMPARING WHAT WITH WHOM

Before we get down to the business at hand, a couple of preliminary comments seem in order.

Keep in mind, first of all, the comparative standard being used in this mini-series: the US as opposed to the EU democracies, including at times the other non-European English-speaking countries like Australia and Canada and New Zealand. That standard is an important orienting point. Obviously, if we were to compare the industrial democracies as a group with clerical-fascist Iran or Wahhabi Saudi Arabia or Communist-ruled China, the gap between the US and its fellow democratic countries would abruptly close, a matter largely of trivialities. Measured from that angle, we'd be seen to share almost everything with the EU countries and the English-speaking democracies just mentioned. Comparisons are like that. Their insights depend on what's being singled out and across which groups:

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:30 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 13, 2004

THE BUSH REVOLUTION IN FOREIGN POLICY

The Bush record in foreign policy --- a polarizing force in US politics, as well as in West Europe and elsewhere --- follows a similar course of pushing ahead amid sharp, fully predictable criticisms and backlashes that the other two periods of revolutionary changes in American strategy and diplomacy have provoked since WWII:

  • The Truman era 1945-1952, with its radical series of containment policies, rearmament, stationing of bases abroad, and the creation of NATO, followed by the Korean war and a shift to a nuclear-based strategy of deterrence and war-fighting that was fleshed out by the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations;


  • The Reagan era 1981-1989, with its attack on detente with the Soviet Union worked out by the EU and the Carter administration as a cover for American retreat and Soviet advances globally --- plus its fast-paced rearmament, shift to offensives against Communist governments or Soviet allies in Central America, Africa, and Asia, and its determination to push ahead with a space-based anti-missile program --- all with an aim to bringing to a head the weaknesses and other problems that marked clear global overstretch on the part of the Soviet empire.


When, in the course of those pressures, the Gorbachev-led Soviet Union was then willing to wind down the cold war, Reagan shifted course and helped steer it toward an end . . . even as the forces unleashed in the Soviet empire that Gorbachev couldn't control, very much the contrary, led to its quick self-destruction in 1991: one more brutal totalitarian system that had emerged in the 20th century, the mass murder of tens of millions of people on its bloody hands, buried forever in the trash-can of history.





BUSH FLAYED BY HIS OPPONENTS TO

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:26 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 11, 2004

The Beneficial Fall-Out of the Bush Administration's Diplomacy and Military Policies

All the following sources and their links, clarified to one degree of another by some buggy commentary, should help you have a better understanding of the fundamental political and cultural roots of the war on terrorism behind the various kinds of extremist Islamo-fundamentalisms --- whether Shiite or Sunni --- and their bursting hot-wire support for mass-homicidal terrorism of the Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas sorts . . . now spreading rapidly in Indonesia and the Philippines as well as parts of Central and South Asia. The latter are areas where Islam has essentially been moderate and accommodating. That's no longer the case. No less worrying, the same surging extremism shows up in the tropical African countries with large Islamic populations like Nigeria, especially in the north: traditionally moderate and tolerant, the population in that country has changed beyond recognition. There and elsewhere, fundamentalist rage and frustrations have become rampant and homicidal on a growing scale, leading, in Nigeria alone, to mass-murder of Christians and others as well as hundreds of firebombings of Christian churches . . . almost all caused by rampant, raging mobs.

The Challenges

When you're finished looking through the commentary and the links to other articles, you'll have something else too: a good working idea of the reasons for the blasting xenophobia, racism, and anti-Western sentiment --- the three hanging together --- that have gripped much of the Arab world, with Nazi-like Jew-hatred now part of popular street culture across the Arab countries. For the latter, see the four buggy articles on this subject ---- complete with documentation and survey data (to the extent it exists) --- discussed again and linked to half way through the comments that follow. By contrast, as the second of Thomas Friedman's NY Times articles linked to in a moment shows, Turkey --- 70 million people, almost all Muslims, who are now gove

Posted by gordongordomr @ 5:31 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

January 16, 2004

AMERICAN POWER PREDOMINANCE: The Series on US Exceptionalism Resumes

With this article, the buggy professor resumes a lengthy series on American Exceptionalism that stretches back in time to November of last year . . . even though, late at night when insomnia afflicts the buggy mind and it strains to focus blurry eyes on the computer monitor in front, the series seems to stretch back much farther than that, maybe to the start of the US civil war or possibly the War of 1812. Am I kidding? Not entirely. Time's always relative, no? To know that, you don't have to be Proust or Joyce probing a stream of consciousness . . . a turbulent onrush of memories, fantasies, longings, and fears, all jumbled and going bump, bump, bump as they collide against one another, your brain spinning away in confusion. Viewed from the whirligig of our mind at 3:00 in the morning, What's real, What's not? For that matter, amid one tipping self-illusion after another, are we much better at discerning the differences at 3:00 the next afternoon?

That fount of wisdom, Baghdad Bob, put it more simply: "In saying that, you're now too far from reality."

What Do We Mean By American Exceptionalism?

Essentially, this: how and why the US differs from other advanced industrial democracies on key indicators, especially the EU, political, cultural, and economic . . . for good or bad. In the first couple of articles in the series, to be more concrete, six traits that single out the US as noticeably different from the EU countries --- or for that matter, to an extent even from the other English-speaking federal countries, Canada and Australia --- were set out as our comparative guides. Given all the intervening buggy articles, they are trotted out for view in this article again, mainly to pick up the thread of the overall analysis. Several more articles will follow before the series reaches the home stretch and spots the final post ahead, never mind galloping past it once and for all.

Believe it or not, we are still spelling out th

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:58 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 2, 2004

THE US AND EUROPE: A THREE-PART MINI-SERIES: #1 Why The Bandwagoning To Bush's America?




Four good articles on recent US-European relations --- two of them, an impressive series written by John Vincour of the International Herald Tribune, makes agile use of his extensive interviews in West Europe and the US with policymaking elites --- appeared in the last two weeks and serve as the jump-off point for this up-to-date review of US policies in the war on terrorism, and especially the improved relations within the Atlantic Alliance.

The improvement shows up especially in US relations with the three major members of the blocking-coalition organized last winter over Iraq: Germany and France, both members of the EU, and Putin's Russia. Russia, of course, isn't in the EU. As for NATO, it's half-in and half-out: it has a special relationship and is consulted on most NATO business, but the US and others oppose letting it have full membership until it shows more progress in democratic development --- far more, to judge by Colin Powell's recent criticisms leveled at the Putin treatment of human rights and the media (now under tighter clamps than it was years ago) when he visited Moscow last week --- and in displaying much more explicit evidence that it will live in peace with its neighbors. We'll return to Powell's unexpected knocks later on. They're in line with the new thrust in the Bush administration to push heavily for democracy in the Middle East, South Asia, and apparently now in the half-democratic, half-authoritarian Russia of 2004.

The third article that appeared recently isn't in Vincour's league. It lacks his analytical ambitions, the ranging sweep, and the interesting evidence gathered from his extensive interviews on the two sides of the Atlantic that mark his two IHT articles --- American investigative journalism at its best. Nothing surprising. The third article's only a wire-dispatch. Still, it's enco

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:14 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 10, 2004

EXCHANGE ON MORALITY AND US FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNET CONSPIRATORIAL RUMOR-MONGERING

The following commentary was prompted last night by an email from one of 120 students enrolled in an undergrad political science class of mine, The US in the War on Terrorism . . . even if the formal title of that course, political science 129, is different: The US, Asia, and Europe. The student asked for a buggy view of some website claim that the CIA put Saddam Hussein and the Baathists in power after 1958 and that . . . well, all sorts of other extravagantly hyperbolic claims with no evidence, only a video and a string of florid, undocumented assertions set out in a cocksure fruitcake manner. The student wasn't to blame: he only wanted my view. That view was duly delivered to the students (and others on the gordon-newspost listsever), along with several other comments about US foreign policy that might be of interest to others . . . not least because it deals with morality and its tradeoffs in the conduct of diplomacy.


From a student in PS 129



Prof Bug:

I'm in your PS129 class and I was hoping you could check out this link and confirm its historical accuracy. I'd appreciate it, since I consider you an expert on the subject.

Thanks, N


The site: http://www.bushflash.com/thanks.html





THE BUGGY RESPONSE


N:


1) Flipped-Out Paranoia

Haven't the foggiest idea what the site's driving at, other than to vent deliriously concocted scuttlebutt of the usual paranoid sort, full of conspiracy-mongering. Be sure you're very careful with this and other likeminded web sites in the future. Wacked-out paranoia flourishes on the Internet, where extremist pathologies --- left-wing, right-wing, Islamo-extremist, racist, anti-Semitic, or what have you --- swarm like cockroaches in a derelict building chock-a-block with filth. Why wou

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:35 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 17, 2004

NATO AND CLASHING US-EU DIPLOMATIC SYTLES: #1 of 2 Articles

The following commentary --- which deals with the contrast in the diplomatic styles of the US and most West European countries (not all of them) --- was sent originally last week to an undergrad class on the US in the War on Terrorism. It's fleshed out and expanded in a variety of ways, nothing more; and it's really part of the lengthy series ---started a good two months ago, or maybe as far back as the battle of Gettysburg (hard at times to tell for sure) --- on the systematic differences between the US and most of West Europe that help explain the tensions that gripped NATO last year over the war in Iraq and its aftermath. Those tensions, though diminished of late --- with most of the European members of NATO that opposed the war diligently striving to put the war behind them and restore good relations with the US --- still jolt the alliance in a variety of ongoing, if currently low-keyed forms. What's more, they are likely to recur again in the future: maybe with less venom than over Iraq last year, but with possibly more enduring consequences.

PART ONE:
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: NATO'S CENTRAL PROBLEM


None of the ongoing tensions in NATO should be surprising. They are what will happen whenever an alliance like NATO --- no matter what else holds it together, such as: shared democracy, extensive economic ties, a and a common conception of human rights --- enters a period of flux where

1) the security threats have noticeably shifted;

2) and the member states disagree on the nature of those threats, their root causes, and the various strategy and tactics for dealing with them.


These changes have been actively at work in NATO affairs ever since the end of the cold war in 1990, and especially in the aftermath of the war on terrorism following the terrorist attacks on US soil in September 2001.

Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:33 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

February 18, 2004

NATO'S CLASHING DIPLOMATIC STYLES, #2 of Two Articles

To follow the commentary here, you need to have read the previous article --- the two arguments going hand-and-glove, forming a tightly knitted mini-series on the clash between the traditional US diplomatic style and the prevailing style in the EU. The first version of the series combined the two articles and unfolded one long argument. Why the change? Quite simply, on a web site like this, it's not a good idea to uncoil a demanding argument of the original length at a blow, just the contrary . . . with lots of studies showing, among other things, that the readers of web sites have less patience with an article than they would if it were in a newspaper or journal. So voila!, the first version was split apart, and the two articles appear in its place.

The second article here, please note, continues the same divisional sections: parts one, two, three, and so on. The first article unpacked parts one and two; the current articles starts with part three, then continues through part six. The argument in those initial two parts boils down, in shorthand terms, to this claim minus the supporting evidence: an entangling alliance like NATO --- despite its regained unity among governments since last spring, when the high-tension disputes over Iraq flared --- has entered a period of increasing flux and related problems, all caused by big differences in public opinion and the media, not to mention political circles, over contrasting US and most West European views on three related matters. All three deal with the current war on terrorism, specifically:


  • What the nature of the threat from Islamist extremism boils down to;


  • What the threat's root-causes happen to be . . . not least whether they are embedded or not in
    Arab societies as currently constituted, politically and economically;


  • And how to deal with those root-causes, above all whether it's necessary or not to kick-start democrati

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:46 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    February 20, 2004

    Follow-up Exchange On US And European Diplomatic Styles

    From Francis, a British citizen living a hedonistic Latin-like

    existence on the French Riviera:


    Francis's brief comment --- attached, originally, at the end of the previous buggy article (on the clash between the diplomatic style of the US and the mainstream style of most EU countries) --- refers to a paragraph there about the numbers of peace-keeping troops in Iraq. The comment is helpful. More important, it serves as a spingboard to some fleshed-out remarks and new evidence by the buggy prof on the wider subject of US-EU relations, above all the reasons for the ongoing tensions in the Atlantic Alliance despite a far more improved climate this winter --- as opposed to last winter and spring, when the disputes over Iraq split the alliance --- between the Bush administration and its main critics last year, the French and German governments.


    A brief nit-picking correction, Prof Bug:


    As far as I can tell the Dutch have at least 1100 troops in Iraq - this is in fact more than Mongolia, Korea and Japan. However tracking down the actual (as opposed to promised in a press release) numbers of all of the various countries is tricky. This page lists Italy as making a larger contribution than Poland - but other places give different figures

     




    Thank you, Francis --- always helpful to get as precise figures as possible, hard as it might be to dig them up on the NATO web site. (Just dawned on me: maybe the Pentagon web site in this country has the up-to-date stats). At any rate, Japan has sent 750-1000 troops to Iraq, and South Korea is now sending 3000. Japan, note, has supplemented its ground force with a fairly large naval armada, no doubt to give its navy some training in far-off waters near a battle zone. What is important is that 21 of

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:56 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    March 19, 2004

    #1 of 2 Articles. EU PUBLIC OPINION AND THE USA: THE IMPACT OF THE MEDIA AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS

    From Joel, a knowledgeable visitor to the buggy site, the following comments have arrived. They seemed worth posting as a stand-apart article, along with the buggy replies.

    1) I should add that polls sometimes should be treated with utmost caution when gauging actual public opinion somewhere. The way pollsters asked survey questions and how they were phrased determine the results of the poll. Also polls of this kind (on social science field rather than hard sciences or engineering) are subject to interpretations that are highly subjective.

    For instance, I have seen polls taken in Germany cicra 1994 (Reader's Digest) that says 80% of Germans regarded the US as their most trustworthy and important ally (both East and West Germans, if counted separately, yield the same results, curiously - meaning that interpretation "fmr East Germans are more anti-American" is false). Hardly confirming your "German opinion is generally hostile toward the US and has been so since survey data showed this from the early 1980s on --- to repeat, hostile to the US as a country, whoever governs it" thesis. It is easy to produce a result of pre-determined finding among people surveyed by asking these for instance:

    2) Do you believe the US has done incorrectly in the War on Terrorism?

    Now 80% of Germans polled could answer yes, and we come up with answers like "80% of Germans polled are hostile to the US". But we could also divide this into several camps: some could think outright all kinds of anti-terrorist work is wrong - "the US should apologize and accede to the demands", some could think the US should readopt the Clinton combat-terrorism-by-policing-and-aid posturing, some think the US should be even more hardline. We simply have no way of determining anti-Americanism by asking these questions. (Granted, I admit Germany is truly more anti-US than Britain, which even it is wobble on th

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 11:58 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    March 20, 2004

    #2 of a Two-Part Series. EU PUBLIC OPINION AND THE USA: THE IMPACT OF MEDIA AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS

    This is the second of a two-article mini-series on the EU public opinion toward the US as a country, not just American foreign policy, let alone such policy in the Bush era. The first article tried to bring out the systematic distortions that dominate the EU Continental media's reportage on the US and American life and politics, owing to a mix of

    • Ideological traditions in journalism, with newspapers historically identified clearly with specific political ideologies: communism, socialism, moderate liberalism, Christian Democracy, conservatism, or (in the past and to an extent again) reactionary conservatism, and fascism;


    • Intellectual habits in German-speaking and Latin Europe that encourage fanciful flights of obscurantist speculation unanchored in any hard evidence: the more abstract and opinionated, the better, it seems . . . particularly if contorted rhetoric, neologisms run-rampant, and constant hints at arcane guru-status knowledge of a Gnostic sort mark the intellectual sky-hootings.


  • -- Note that post-modernist relativisms, crammed with endless citations of Nietzsche or Heidegger or Derrida or Foucault or any other French-Thinker-of-the-Month, are an inevitable upshot of these giddy fly-away traditions of wild rumination. Reviewing the leading French purveyors of this pretentious pishposh --- in the context of the famous Alan Sokal hoax of the late 1990s --- a distinguished analytical philosopher, Thomas Nagel of Harvard, didn't hesitate to brand them either frauds, or idiots, or a mixture of both. [See gordon-newspost for Nagel's long review article.]

    -- In particular, according to Nagel, "the [French] writers arraigned by Sokal and Bricmont use technical terms without knowing what they mean, refer to theories and formulas that they do no

    Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:24 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]

    July 15, 2004

    IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN: Was War To Topple Their Mass-Murdering Regimes Worth It?

    The original communication from someone called "Del" appears at the end here. It was sent directly to me, rather than posted as a comment on the buggy site here. My replies might be of interest, especially since they concern both 1) his view of my underlying political beliefs and, more to the point, 2) whether or not our wars with the Taliban Afghanistan regime and the no less mass-murdering one in Iraq last year, along with our military and political policies in both countries since then, have been worth it.



    FROM DEL:



    More generally, the prof believes that American power in the world is basically a benign force; believes too that the US is a decent, unusually tolerant country with built-in capacities for steady if carefully conceived reform; and dislikes utopians and extravagant ideologues of the left and right extremes, whether in domestic or foreign policies. And, to be blunt, he not just dislikes but detests and stands flat-footed against the garbled silly pc-dogmas about American life and politics and our country's foreign policies that aging, grudge-laden professors of tediously self-righteous convictions have tried to impose on the rest of us in academia for three decades now.



    Could you ask a heroin addict linked by need to our favorite warlords in Afghanistan to define "benign" above for me? Or you could ask one of the victims in Iraq?


    THE BUGGY REPLY



    Del:

    Despite the sarcasm in the second paragraph, thanks for the comments. Here are some replies tossed out in semi-systematic ways off the top of my head.


    1) Buggy views.

    In your first paragraph, you've unraveled a good summary of my underlying convictions. Well done. Too bad you spoiled it with the follow-up paragraph.

    You could have noted my being in favor of intervention t

    Posted by gordongordomr @ 1:21 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]