December 17, 2003
A Strange Paragraph from Alan Murray

The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray writes a strange paragraph: WSJ.com - Political Capital: George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq was neither an exercise of brute power to revenge his father, nor an effort to win booty for Texas corporate cronies. It was the act of a president who feels the heavy burden of leading the world's only superpower; who was profoundly moved by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001; who sees the world in terms of good and evil and is committed to using his position to ensure the former triumphs. As he said in his news conference Monday: "This job is a magnificent job, because you have a chance to use the position of the United States to achieve peace and freedom."... "Profoundly affected" by 911. What does that mean, exactly? Does it mean that he thereafter made the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden and those who have funded and supported Al Qaeda the principal security policy task of the United States? No--the focus of American security policy today is on Iraq, which gave infinitely less support to Osama bin Laden than did Saudi Arabia, and which posed no threat to the United States. Alan...

Posted by DeLong at 08:56 AM

November 21, 2003
Backgammon: A Platonic Dialogue

Adeimantos: "So when do you think the U.S. military will be out of Iraq?" Thrasymakhos: "September 2003, of course. Unless you think that the neoconservative hawks have more clout with George W. Bush than Karl Rove." Glaukon: "And what happens then?" Thrasymakhos: "A decent interval--three months, six months, a year... Then the proclamation of the Islamic Republic of Iraq. Then a proclamation that Iraq is not only Islamic but Shia--of the Party of Ali. Then conclusion of a close alliance with the Mullahs of Qom. Then much mediation on the crimes of the Ummayads 1300 years ago. Then an announcement that the As-Sabah of Kuwait and the Al-Saud of Arabia should start sharing a *lot* of their own oil revenues with the twin Shia Republics--or else. Glaukon: But surely the United States will assure Kuwait that it has nothing to fear. Thrasymakhos: And the leaders of the Shia Republics will point out that while it took Hizbullah 17 years to chase Israel out of Lebanon, it took Saddam Hussein only 1 1/2 years to chase the Americans out of Iraq, and that American bases in Kuwait are vulnerable to rockets launched from donkey carts. Better to share your oil revenues...

Posted by DeLong at 06:02 AM

November 06, 2003
Trade with China: Threat or Menace?

Some correspondents have questioned my claim--which I thought was completely unexceptionable--that the Bush administration's National Security Strategy's desire to prevent the emergence of other great powers translates as a desire to keep China and India poor for as long as possible. I therefore call to the stand Aaron Friedberg of the Vice President's office, Deputy National Security Adviser and Director of Policy Planning, to tell us what he thinks of the idea that the policy of the United States should be to expand trade with China in order to speed economic growth in both countries; to create powerful interest groups in China that benefit from peace, prosperity, and trade; and to make the Chinese more like us by maximizing economic, social, cultural, and political contact. Aaron Friedberg doesn't think much of it. If, as he writes, the "second dimension of... [the] struggle for mastery in Asia will be military," he has no doubt that the first dimension will be economic: Without heavy inflows of American capital and technology, and without access to the huge U.S. market, China would not have been able to progress as far and as fast as it has.... the United States [did not try to use]...

Posted by DeLong at 12:27 PM

October 23, 2003
"Rebuilding" Americas "Defenses"

Ah. I've been looking for this in a desultory fashion for a while... Publications/Reports : Rebuilding Americas Defenses...

Posted by DeLong at 01:51 PM

Origins of Malaysian Anti-Semitism

Paul Krugman believes that populist Malaysian anger at the U.S.'s invasion of Iraq and at Ariel Sharon's policies in Israel--anger triggered by the Bush administration's mishandling of post-911 international relations--combined with Mahathir Muhammed's desire to protect his domestic flank are the chief reasons why Mahathir Muhammed unleashed the dogs of anti-semitism last week. After all, Paul Krugman argues, Mahathir Muhammed is a canny politician. And why would any canny politician say something to alienate the United States without a compelling political reason to do so? Daniel Drezner disagrees: he believes that the reason Mahathir Muhammed said what he said is that he believes it--and that any rhetorical balancing provoked by the fact that the Bush administration is losing the hearts and minds of the Islamic world is so far down as not to be worth mentioning: danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: Falsifying Paul Krugman: Here's why Krugman's hypothesis is wrong: 1) There is no domestic flank to protect. Mahathir's speech was to the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- an international body -- on the current state of the Muslim world. There was no domestic component to his intended audience. [But surely Mahathir knew that media coverage would lead...

Posted by DeLong at 07:44 AM

October 21, 2003
The Grand Strategy of the United States of America

The economic policy of the Bush administration has been frightening: The deliberate unbalancing of the long-term finances of the U.S. government in the hope of sharpening the funding crisis of the social-insurance state--with the effect of slowing capital formation and economic growth, and increasing the interest of economic crisis. The backing-away from the Republican Party's historic commitment to free trade. The reversal of Newt Gingrich's proudest achievement: the partial reform of the farm subsidy program. The security policy of the Bush administration has been more than frightening; it has been terrifying. At the moment administration insiders are trying to convince elite reporters that the Bush administration did not deceive outsiders about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program as much as deceive itself--that the highest levels of the Bush administration proved grossly incompetent at the basics. They did not know how to assess intelligence. Nobody had heard of Machiavelli's 500-year-old warning not to trust exiles: "Such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe they fill you with hopes..." Note that this...

Posted by DeLong at 10:46 AM

July 29, 2003
Things Are Always Worse Than You Think They Are Department

Department of "you need to recognize that things are always worse than you imagine, even if you think you have already compensated for the fact that things are worse than you can imagine." We knew that 1980s CIA Director William Casey was an out-of-control maniac. We did not know that he was providing Pakistan's ISI with support and encouraging them to launch cross-border raids into the Soviet Union to blow up gasoline storage tanks, destroy electric power stations, and attack border guard posts. Can you imagine what the U.S. reaction would have been in the 1980s had the Soviet Union provided support for and encouraged the Sandanistas to attack similar targets in San Diego County? Talk about climbing extremely dangerous rungs on the Cold War ladder of escalation--and for no meaningful strategic result at all. The truly scary thing is that the political appointees in the U.S. national security apparatus do not strike me as saner or people of better judgment than William "Let's Attack the Soviet Union" Casey or Oliver "If I Knew You Were Coming I'd Have Baked a Cake" North. So what is the current crop planning and doing that I don't know about, but that when...

Posted by DeLong at 07:30 PM

July 28, 2003
Imperialism: A User's Manual

Rudyard Kipling writes about how this "colonization" business actually works where the rubber meets the road: The Grave of the Hundred Head by Rudyard Kipling There's a widow in sleepy Chester    Who weeps for her only son; There's a grave on the Pabeng River,    A grave that the Burmans shun, And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri    Who tells how the work was done. A Snider squibbed in the jungle,    Somebody laughed and fled, And the men of the First Shikaris    Picked up their Subaltern dead, With a big blue mark in his forehead    And the back blown out of his head. Subadar Prag Tewarri,    Jemadar Hira Lal, Took command of the party,    Twenty rifles in all, Marched them down to the river    As the day was beginning to fall. They buried the boy by the river,    A blanket over his face-- They wept for their dead Lieutenant,    The men of an alien race-- They made a samadh in his honor,    A mark for his resting-place. For they swore by the Holy Water,    They swore by the salt they ate, That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib    Should go to his God in state; With fifty file of Burman    To open him...

Posted by DeLong at 12:37 PM

March 27, 2003
Josh Marshall Is Terrified

Josh Marshall thinks he knows what the real grand strategy being followed by the Bush Administration is. And it leaves him completely, totally, utterly terrified. If he is right, I am completely, totally, utterly terrified as well. "Practice to Deceive" by Joshua Micah Marshall: ...What happened in the 1990s further reinforced that mindset. Hawks like Perle and William Kristol pulled their hair out when Kissingerians like Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell left Saddam's regime in place after the first Gulf War. They watched with mounting fury as terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists claimed more and more American and Israeli lives. They considered the Oslo accords an obvious mistake (how can you negotiate with a man like Yasir Arafat?), and as the decade progressed they became increasingly convinced that there was a nexus linking burgeoning terrorism and mounting anti-Semitism with repressive but nominally "pro-American" regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In 1996, several of the hawks--including Perle--even tried to sell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the idea that Israel should attack Saddam on its own--advice Netanyahu wisely declined. When the Oslo process crumbled and Saudi Arabian terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, the hawks felt, not without some justification, that...

Posted by DeLong at 03:10 PM

March 23, 2003
Michael Skapinker on Bridges Blown Up

This is how a strongly pro-American observer from across the Atlantic views the Bush Administration. That this is what our best friends are saying seems to me to be pretty scary... FT.com Home Global: Whatever military victories the US achieves in the coming days - and let us hope they come quickly - it is worth reflecting on how much international goodwill George W. Bush has dissipated in so short a time. By the eve of this war, America's standing in Europe had plummeted, according to a report published this week by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre. In France, Germany, Italy and Russia, fewer than 35 per cent had a favourable view of the US. In the UK, fewer than half did. Many in the US will scoff. It is nice to have British and Australian forces alongside, even if their people are deeply divided. It is good, too, to have the moral backing of the "coalition of the willing", including mighty El Salvador, Eritrea and Iceland. But the US can fight alone if it has to. What the world thinks does not matter. But it does matter. International terrorism will long outlive this war. It hides in obscure corners,...

Posted by DeLong at 02:34 PM

March 10, 2003
Notes: Hurlburt: Grand Strategy

Notes on Heather Hurlburt on the Grand Strategy of the United States of America http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0211.hurlburt.html Heather Hurlburt (2002), "War Torn: Why Democrats Can't Think Straight About National Security," Washington Monthly. Sandy Berger: We had a good story to tell. We had fought--and won--two wars under trying circumstances, deploying cutting-edge weaponry in Bosnia and Kosovo. We had held NATO together. We had boosted NATO's size and sense of purpose. We had stitched together a new web of agreements and alliances to constrain potential enemies and control weapons of mass destruction. We had seen the future of war: smaller-scale, higher-tech, faster and more diffuse. In recent months, I've been thinking a lot about that speech. As the debate over Iraq unfolded, I was dismayed: to watch the Bush administration hawks nearly destroy the trust of our allies whom we desperately need in our fight against al Qaeda by pushing militarily insane plans to overthrow Saddam's regime unilaterally. the suspicion that the White House timed the drumbeat to influence the November elections. Bush won plaudits for shifting (apparently) to an approach that emphasized the need for U.N. approval and the involvement of our allies--but Democrats didn't lead Bush to that position, they were...

Posted by DeLong at 07:50 PM

George H.W. Bush Weighs in

According to the London Times, George H.W. Bush has weighed in. In the London Times's precis of his speech, George H.W. Bush likes using the U.N. He likes multilateralism. He likes remembering who our real long-term allies are. He fears that unilateral U.S. action will poison the well, and diminish rather than enhance the long-term prospects for peace in the Middle East. Times Online: Bush Sr warning over unilateral action | From Roland Watson in Washington THE first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity. Drawing on his own experiences before and after the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Bush Sr said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations. He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges, advising his son to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany. "You've got to reach out to the other person. You've got to convince them that long-term friendship should trump short-term adversity," he said. The former President's...

Posted by DeLong at 09:51 AM

March 07, 2003
An Email Exchange

>>>>>Lafayette >>>>> >>>> >>>>Truly, Americans have very short memories. >>>> >>>>But one of the things I didn't remember can >>>>be found in Shirer's book on the fall of >>>>the Third Republic. Apparently, Petain >>>>wanted to go to North Africa in '42 to whip >>>>up the troops to oppose the coming Allied landing. >>>>The Germans wouldn't let him go; presumably because >>>>they didn't like the risk/reward. >>>> >>>>It seems like there are two Frances. There is the >>>>good Republican France--the France of Lafayette, Zola, >>>>Jaures, Rostand/Cyrano, De Gaulle, Marc Bloch, Raymond >>>>Aron. And then there is this other . . . thing . . . >>>> >>>>I suppose the same could be said for the U.S. >>>> >>> >>>So what do we do? I favor praising Lafayette, de Gaulle, and Aron, >>>and pretending that Petain and Laval never existed. France is no more >>>their country than the U.S. is the country of Benedict Arnold, >>>Jefferson Davis, and Nathan Bedford Forrest >>> >> >>I suppose that is the polite thing to do. >> >>May want to throw in Bir Hacheim while >>you're at it though. (Shield that protected >>the poorly deployed British 8th Army from >>being crushed between the hammer of...

Posted by DeLong at 10:40 AM

March 06, 2003
We Have No Policy

The Committee on Economic Development is really scared of the deficit. Joshua Micah Marshall is really scared of North Korea--and even more scared because his judgment is that it is clear that the Bush administration has no North Korea policy at all: Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: Question number two tonight in the president's news conference was on the North Korea crisis. The answer was depressing. And the message was clear: we have no policy. The president wants help from the Chinese, South Koreans, Russians, Japanese, etc. etc. etc. Can anybody help? Does anyone have a policy we can borrow? Does anyone have another question? Next question. Here's the quote of the day from today's Nelson Report ... It would be difficult to exaggerate the growing mixture of anger, despair, disgust, and fear actuating the foreign policy community in Washington as the attack on Iraq moves closer, and the North Korea crisis festers with no coherent U.S. policy. We get the phone calls and e-mails from all over this Administration, Capitol Hill, the think tanks, and even fellow scribblers. We've never seen anything like it, and we've been here since 1966. This is a bad situation, getting worse....

Posted by DeLong at 08:53 PM

February 17, 2003
A Mirror of Wildernesses

How likely is it that the--weak--intelligence information that the Bush Administration thinks necessitates a conquest of Iraq is in fact correct? Jim Henley has some views: Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings: A key piece of the information leading to recent terror alerts was fabricated, according to two senior law enforcement officials in Washington and New York. The officials said that a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a "dirty bomb" sometime this week had proven to be a product of his imagination. Here comes the good part: It was only after the threat level was elevated to orange -- meaning high -- last week, that the informant was subjected to a polygraph test by the FBI, officials told ABCNEWS. "This person did not pass," said Cannistraro. Does that mean we can take the duct tape back if we kept the receipt? Not necessarily: Despite the fabricated report, there are no plans to change the threat level. Officials said other intelligence has been validated and that the high level of precautions is fully warranted. Still, there's a lesson here: It's not the first time a captured al Qaeda operative...

Posted by DeLong at 07:55 AM