January 11, 2004
Armageddon

Israeli historian Benny Morris looks forward to the day when Israel will be able to expel Arabs--all Arabs--Palestinians and Israeli Arabs alike--from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel itself, and so complete the task that David Ben-Gurion began in 1948 before he got "cold feet": Survival of the fittest (cont.): You went through an interesting process. You went to research Ben-Gurion and the Zionist establishment critically, but in the end you actually identify with them. You are as tough in your words as they were in their deeds. "You may be right. Because I investigated the conflict in depth, I was forced to cope with the in-depth questions that those people coped with. I understood the problematic character of the situation they faced and maybe I adopted part of their universe of concepts. But I do not identify with Ben-Gurion. I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered." I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that Ben-Gurion erred in expelling too few Arabs?...

Posted by DeLong at 08:53 AM

November 27, 2003
George W. Bush Gets It Right

George W. Bush goes to the right place for Thanksgiving dinner: Yahoo! News - Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Baghdad : ...Bartlett said it was appropriate for the president to visit troops on Thanksgiving.... The president had slipped away from his Texas ranch in an unmarked vehicle and was driven to a nearby airport, where he climbed aboard Air Force One on the back stairs rather than the front.... The plane stopped at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., outside Washington, to pick up a few aides and four reporters and a camera crew sworn to secrecy. Five photographers and another reporter accompanied him from Texas after being summoned just hours before his departure.... Bush spent about two and a half hours on the ground, limiting his visit to the airport dinner with U.S. forces....

Posted by DeLong at 11:05 AM

Is the Political Structure of Iraq to Be in the Hands of One Man?

The New Republic has an Iraq Irony Watch: The New Republic Online: etc.: "[Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul] Bremer refused to give up. He chafed at the idea that a cleric [Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani] would be able to dictate Iraq's democratic transition. 'Is the political structure of Iraq going to be in the hands of one man?' Bremer said to a group of visitors in October. " --The Washington Post, November 26...

Posted by DeLong at 10:35 AM

November 13, 2003
Then What Should We Read, Father of the Aardvark?

The Father of the Aardvark says that we should not read MEMRI: Abu Aardvark: I'm often asked why I don't recommend MEMRI as a window into the Arab media. After all, there aren't many ways that non-Arabic speakers can get access to it, so why not take advantage? For me, the problem... [is] that their agenda, more or less explicitly, is to highlight the worst and ugliest of the Arab media. They generally don't mistranslate... but their selections and emphases give a misleading picture.... For example, here are the headlines of the last three MEMRI special reports... "U.S. Forces in Iraq Strip the Flesh from Their Victims' Corpses"... "The False Holocaust - The Greatest of Lies Funded by the Zionists"... "The New Iraqi Press and the Jews." Reading these, you would get the sense that the Arab public debate these days is dominated anti-Semitic and anti-American ravings. Just for contrast, here are the articles that I printed out from my daily rounds of the Arabic press online.... "The media attack on the Arabs.. to where?".... "When Arabs hate their Arabness,"... "Israel and its postponed plan to change the Middle East,"... "Deficiency of Sunni Arab representation in the 'ethnic' Ruling Council,"......

Posted by DeLong at 08:22 AM

November 01, 2003
Two Paranoiacs Discuss the Policies of the Likud Government of Israel

Kephalos: Ah! Thrasymakhos! May I ask a favor of you? Will you please tell me that I am paranoid--stark raving mad. Thrasymakhos: Why, certainly: You are paranoid! Stark raving mad! Your brain chemistry is pathological! You need powerful medications--and lots of them!! Kephalos: Thanks. [pause] Yet somehow that didn't do it. Thrasymakhos: Do what? Kephalos: Reassure me that I am in fact mad, paranoid. I did not feel as if you believed what you said. Thrasymakhos: Believe what I said? Why should you believe what I said? You--mad? The idea is ludicrous. You are among the sanest men I know. Kephalos: So, then, why did you tell me that I was mad? Thrasymakhos: Didn't you ask me to do so? Kephalos: Why, yes, but... Thrasymakhos: Why, there you are. I am a naturally agreeable person--I usually do what is asked. In addtion, it seemed to me that if I did your bidding and told you that you are mad, then you would be pleased with me, and quite possibly invite me to dinner. [pause] I did mention that I am at loose ends this evening? Kephalos: Ah. But if you want a dinner invitation, you need to not only say...

Posted by DeLong at 09:56 AM

August 02, 2003
"Jailed": Apparently a Word That Doesn't Mean What I Thought It Meant

Apparently, "jailed" is another word that means something different from what I thought it meant: Arafat Orders Militants Jailed, but They Balk: The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, acted overnight to put some 20 militants under detention at his battered West Bank compound, as part of a potential deal with Israel. But the detainees, though loyal to Mr. Arafat, refused today to be sent to jail, creating a standoff, Palestinians said... The spookiest thing is that the New York Times reporter--Greg Myre--gives no hint of surprise at the idea that being sent to and kept in jail is a voluntary process......

Posted by DeLong at 06:45 PM

June 03, 2003
More Thuds and Screams from the Topkapi Palace

It is very difficult to follow the faction-fighting within the George W. Bush White House. Here is a Washington Post article in which three different internal White House factions are trying to convince the outside world of three different things: President Bush is unintelligent, uncurious, and underbriefed. He has "baffled" advisers with comments that indicate he does not understand the points of disagreement between Israel and Palestine, and who has no clue what outcome he wants to see, for Bush has neither "the knowledge or the patience to learn this issue enough to have an end destination in mind." President Bush thinks that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah is a good person, and that both Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon are bad people, and sooner or later the U.S. hammer is going to come down when Bush decides to dictate an Israel-Palestine settlement that will make Abdullah proud of him. Bush will continue to support Sharon because neoconservatives in the White House will script things carefully enough to eliminate any possibility for major conflict: "Sharon's meetings with Bush, moreover, are carefully prepared and choreographed by both sides. Potential issues are carefully vetted and discussed by senior aides before the two men...

Posted by DeLong at 10:16 AM

May 17, 2003
"Peace, Peace," But There Is No Peace

Phil Carter points us to an offline article in the current Atlantic Monthly by Bruce Hoffman that makes it crystal clear to me that there will be no Palestinian state for a decade or more. Bruce Hoffman writes: ...The success of the I[srael ]D[efense ]F[orce]'s strategy is utterly dependent on regularly acquiring intelligence and rapidly disseminating it to operational units that can take appropriate action. Thus, the IDF must continue to occupy the West Bank's major population centers, so that Israeli intelligence agents can stay in close -- and relatively safe -- proximity to their information sources, and troops can act immediately either to round up suspects or to rescue the agent should an operation go awry... The strategy -- at least in the short run -- is working. The dramatic decline in the number of suicide operations since last spring is proof enough. "Tactically, we are doin everything we can," a senior officer involved in the framing of this policy told me, "and we have managed to prevent eighty percent of all attempts." Another officer said, "We are now bringing the war to them. We do it so that we fight the war in their homes rather than in...

Posted by DeLong at 04:49 PM

March 21, 2003
Robert Waldmann Is Now Scared

Now that we have invaded Iraq, my college roommate Robert Waldmann is scared of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. He wasn't scared a week ago: heads of state who wish to die in their beds are, after all, by and large deterrable. But he is scared now. And so am I (although each day that does by without a strike makes me calmer): robert's random thoughts: ...So if I were in Saddam's shoes I would make sure that any anthrax I had didn't get used by terrorists. Saddam is not me in his shoes, but I don't think he is quite that stupid. On the other hand I can tell two worrisome stories about Iraqi anthrax and terrorists, each of which requires the assumption that we invade. First, when Saddam knows he is done for (that is when the invasion starts) he decides to take some of us with him and gives anthrax to some terrorist. I think he could manage that. Why isn't that a strong argument against invading? Second, other people with access to anthrax might hope to avoid death and prison but recognise that they are going to be out of a job soon. They also...

Posted by DeLong at 03:07 PM

March 19, 2003
It's Begun...

May our victory be swift. May casualties--on both sides--be light. May blowback be small. And may this administration win the subsequent peace as completely as our military will win the current war. CNN.com - Bush gives order to attack Iraq - Mar. 19, 2003: WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush announced Wednesday night he has ordered the coalition attack on Iraq to begin. "American and coalition forces are in the early stages of miltary operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger," Bush said. He said the first strikes were against "selected targets of military importance." The attack in Iraq early Thursday morning, involving F117A Stealth fighters and multiple cruise missiles from U.S. warships, was a "decapitation attack" to take out Iraqi President Saddam Hussein even before the planned start of the war, Pentagon sources told CNN. Whether the mission succeeded is not known. Administration officials told CNN the strike was ordered for fear the opportunity could be lost......

Posted by DeLong at 07:52 PM

Tony Blair...

Tony Blair... : This is the text of prime minister Tony Blair's speech opening today's debate on the Iraq crisis in the house of Commons, as released by 10 Downing Street. Tuesday March 18, 2003 I beg to move the motion standing on the order paper in my name and those of my right honourable friends. At the outset I say: it is right that this house debate this issue and pass judgment. That is the democracy that is our right but that others struggle for in vain. And again I say: I do not disrespect the views of those in opposition to mine. This is a tough choice. But it is also a stark one: to stand British troops down and turn back; or to hold firm to the course we have set.I believe we must hold firm. The question most often posed is not why does it matter? But why does it matter so much? Here we are, the government with its most serious test, its majority at risk, the first cabinet resignation over an issue of policy. The main parties divided. People who agree on everything else, disagree on this and likewise, those who never agree on...

Posted by DeLong at 06:51 PM

We're Going to Hear a Lot of Stories Like This

As my brother pointed out to me, we're going to be hearing a lot of stories like this over the next several months as people go through Iraq: Herald Sun: Witnesses tell of atrocities [14mar03]: Presenting evidence to MPs at the House of Commons, researchers from Indict ? the organisation gathering evidence to prosecute Saddam and his henchmen ? said many of the stories they were told were so horrific they were difficult to believe. But there was a "remarkable consistency" in evidence from many different sources, which boosted its credibility. Witnesses had told them about prisoners of the regime having finger and toenails torn out, being given electric shocks to the genitals, tortured with boiling water and beaten... Saddam's son Qusay... had administered mustard gas on prisoners, including a 12-year-old boy whose father heard his screams from a neighbouring cell, they were told. Saddam's special adviser Barzan al-Tikriti, Iraq's former representative on the UN Commission on Human Rights, had personally taken part in the torture of detainees before their execution. One witness, who spent 15 years in jail after being accused of using a false surname, described a particularly horrific method of execution: "There was a machine designed for...

Posted by DeLong at 06:31 PM

Mark Kleiman's Random Thoughts

Mark Kleiman has some random thoughts: Mark A. R. Kleiman: SOME RANDOM NOTES,WHILE WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROPNotes from two long conversations yesterday with pro-war, pro-Bush foreign policy experts:1. Even if this goes well, it's going to be bloodier than the first Gulf War. But the country hasn't been prepared for that. Saving up trouble.2. Will Bush really impose a peace deal on the Israelis? He could, and doing so right now, or as soon as the rubble stops smoking in Iraq, would yield some big dividends diplomatically without hurting him much politically. But it would be very uncharacteristic. 3. Good chance SH actually uses chem and bio weapons in the field, and blows the oilfields.4. Once we win, we're going to start digging up tons of forbidden, which is going to make the doubters look pretty silly.5. An Afghan-style in-and-out occupation isn't going to make Iraq a democracy. On the other hand, it's not clear that the Iraqis, or the other Arabs, would really hold still for a German or Japanese-style long occupation. Anyway, who do we have who could do the job? Powell could, but would he take it? Clinton might do it well, but Bush...

Posted by DeLong at 06:30 PM

March 18, 2003
Josh Marshall Parses SC 1441

Josh Marshall does an excellent job parsing the meaning of Security Council Resolution 1441. But as somebody-or-other once said, the great issues of the day will be decided not by speeches and majority votes, but by blood and iron. Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: ...When historians get around to trying to explain the last six months (i.e., how we got from resolution 1441 to the breakdown of the UN process and war) I don't think they will chalk much of this up to anyone 'losing their will.' I think the truth is more prosaic and straightforward. Yes, everyone voted in favor of 1441. But... France, Russia and most of the rest of the countries on the Security Council thought they were signing on to a juiced-up version of inspections, basically like what we had until the old system broke down in 1998. That would mean a relatively open-ended process in which inspectors went into Iraq and searched around at will. If they found stuff it would be destroyed. If they obstructed the inspections, then the UN might sanction forcing the issue by authorizing an attack. You might say that this is a lily-livered approach, or bad policy. But...

Posted by DeLong at 09:44 AM

March 15, 2003
At la Strada: A Conversation About Foreign Policy

One warm spring afternoon in Berkeley at a cafe at the corner of College and Bancroft... Visiting Professor: So are you mourning the passing of your subdiscipline? Political Science Professor: Ha! That's a good one. It's certainly true that we used to chronicle and theorize about the construction of institutions of conflict management and international governance. It's certainly true that now we chronicle the destruction of such institutions. But it's still International Relations--it's still international politics--only now it is by other means... Economics Professor: Nevertheless, I have the feeling that Clausewitz would not be impressed by the current executive branch leadership of the United States of America. I mean, I can understand that there might be secret intelligence to convince them that Saddam Hussein is too dangerous to be allowed to rule--that he is a madman with poor judgment about to embark on a career of terrorism and conquest--and that we need to strike to overthrow him as quickly as possible no matter what the United Nations thinks... Interlocutor: And that secret evidence would be what?... Agreed, he has shown very bad judgment in starting his ten-year war with Iran (albeit he did that, I believe, with our blessing) and...

Posted by DeLong at 02:00 PM

September 06, 2002
Hearts and Minds

Jim Henley explains how Yasser Arafat and company permanently and totally lost their battle for the hearts and minds of him, me, and I would bet most Americans in the summer of 1972. Some of my schoolmates were on the airplanes flown to Jordan and blown up in 1970, so Palestinian terrorism seemed very real as we watched the Munich Olympics Massacre on TV... Unqualified Offerings: ...I was twelve years old at the time of the Munich Olympics and I saw the whole, awful thing, and the experience never left me. Enthusiasts for the Palestinian cause, however defined, might profit from pondering why that is. It was obvious to me, watching the masked gunmen on the balconies, and later the garish, uninformative spotlights on the runway, what I was seeing: a crime. I was watching bad guys. My first sustained exposure to "the plight of the Palestinians" was to villains acting in their name.... Then came the "discourse." Draw attention to the cause! I'd type more catch-phrases, but it's not worth the disgust. The 1970s were the high-water mark of Fanonist mendacity. It dumbfounded me then that anyone could believe such things, that people like George Habash were allowed to...

Posted by DeLong at 12:37 PM

August 16, 2002
No Comment Department

Why, why, why are we governed by people with the brains of three year olds? Through the Looking Glass: An article in today's New York Times describes Republican opposition against Dubya's headlong rush towards war with Iraq. To which Republican hawk Richard Perle responds: "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse in confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism." This is a marvelous turn of logic. Some might say that if we need bad policy to back up Dubya's ill-considered, bellicose rhetoric, that would be a sign that the wrong guy is in the Oval Office. But to Perle, it's failure to follow up the ill-considered, bellicose rhetoric --- no matter what the consequences --- that makes for bad policy......

Posted by DeLong at 03:00 PM

August 15, 2002
Brent Scowcroft Comes Out Against Attacking Iraq

I don't claim to know enough about military affairs to have an informed view on just what, if anything, the U.S. should do further to draw the fangs of Saddam Hussein. I cannot help noticing, however, that the right-wingers who have been beating up on those pleading for caution as lily-livered idealists with no sense of how dangerous the world is now have to beat up on... Brent Scowcroft: WSJ.com - Brent Scowcroft: Don't Attack Saddam: Given Saddam's aggressive regional ambitions, as well as his ruthlessness and unpredictability, it may at some point be wise to remove him from power. Whether and when that point should come ought to depend on overall U.S. national security priorities. Our pre-eminent security priority -- underscored repeatedly by the president -- is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken. The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive -- with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy -- and could as well be bloody. In fact,...

Posted by DeLong at 09:23 AM

June 29, 2002
Generally, a Policy Not Only Tells Where You Want to Go But How to Get There

Richard Cohen laments that George W. Bush still does not understand what a policy is. You have to not only know what the end state you want to achieve is, you have to know how you are going to try to get there. The reworking of the American Executive's position on peace in Israel-Palestine that took place after the latest round of terror-bombing-murders changed what America is aiming for. But somehow no one remembered that there also has needs to be a strategy for how to get there. "The weakest White House staff we've ever seen on the substance of policy," was something I heard three times on my last trip to Washington."Weaker than even Clinton's White House staff in 1993." Answers on An Empty Page (washingtonpost.com) | Richard Cohen | Thursday, June 27, 2002; Page A31 ...President Bush's speech on the Middle East... started well, with some richly deserved denunciations of Palestinian terrorism, and it called for a Palestinian state sometime down the road, maybe even within three years. Then, in my mind, Bush turned the page and found . . . nothing.... What happens if Arafat, as is likely, is reelected?... This is on the blank page.... How...

Posted by DeLong at 08:47 AM

June 20, 2002
Yasir Arafat, as Seen by David Brooks

Whenever a people wind up with a conspicuously bad leader, it is natural to ask, "Just where did this guy come from?" Writing in the Atlantic Monthly, David Brooks gives his take on the answer to this question. | The Atlantic | July/August 2002 | A Brief History of Yasir Arafat | Brooks A Brief History of Yasir Arafat: The PLO leader is a terrible administrator but a brilliant image crafter by David Brooks Yasir Arafat claims that he was born in Jerusalem, but he was actually born in Cairo. He claims to belong to the prominent Jerusalem family of Husseini, but he is at best only distantly related to it. He claims that he turned down a chance to go to the University of Texas, but according to one biographer, the Palestinian-born writer Said K. Aburish, it is highly unlikely that he was ever accepted. He claims to have disabled ten Israeli armored personnel carriers in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, but Israel didn't even have ten APCs in the sector he was in. He claims to have made millions as a businessman in Kuwait, but this, too, is almost certainly untrue. Obviously, Arafat is a congenital liar. But there's...

Posted by DeLong at 11:04 AM

June 04, 2002
Philip Habib and Ariel Sharon

My friend John Boykin has just finished a book about American diplomat Philip Habib, and his attempt to stop the 1982 Beirut Massacre (which in the end did not happen). It is turning out to be a very timely book, for Habib's principal antagonist as he tried to carry out the mission that Reagan had assigned him was then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, the prime mover behind Operation "Peace for Galilee," Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon to expel Yasir Arafat's PLO from the country and to try to install a pro-Israeli government in the country...

Posted by DeLong at 01:04 AM

May 20, 2002
What Can an Economist Say About 911? McKenna Lecture at Claremont-McKenna College, April 30, 2002

What--if anything--does a professional economist have to say about September 11, 2001? The terror-attack on the World Trade Center, its destruction, and the loss of life in the atrocity are the domain of political scientists, military strategists, students of religious fundamentalisms, and of researchers into psychological pathology. What does an economist--this economist--have to add?

Posted by DeLong at 02:35 PM

May 17, 2002
Moral Philosophy and Israel's Right to Exist

Brad DeLong, who is not certain whether today is his day to be a Utilitarian, a Post-Modernist, a Sewer Diver for Silver Linings, or a Realist...

Posted by DeLong at 02:46 PM

May 10, 2002
From Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades

Seen in the perspective of history the whole Crusading movement was a vast fiasco...

Posted by DeLong at 03:04 PM

May 09, 2002
More Evidence That Republicans Really Are the Stupid Party

When Dick Armey calls for Israel to "grab the entire West Bank" and for Palestinians to move to a Palestinian state someplace else--in their "hundreds of thousands of acres of land... and soil and property and opportunity" that Arab countries have, does he know what he is saying?...

Posted by DeLong at 03:18 PM

April 17, 2002
Why There Will Be No Peace in Palestine

Edward Said wrote, "...peace, which is a lovely word but in the present context usually means Palestinians are told to stop resisting Israeli control over their land..." Not so. "Peace" means that the Palestinian Authority should resist Israeli control over their land by means other than sending suicide bombers to blow up guests at bat mitzvahs and at passover seders. Palestinians are free to use a wide number of other political tools to resist: tools that might actually be effective rather than counterproductive... But as long as people like Edward Said define "blowing up guests at bat mitzvahs" as "resisting Israeli control over [Palestinian] land," there will be no peace....

Posted by DeLong at 03:44 PM

April 07, 2002
How Vulnerable Is Today's World Economy to Oil Supply Disruptions, Anyway?

As Paul Krugman says, if you want to get slightly frightened about the impact of the Middle East on the world economy... Energy Information Administration...

Posted by DeLong at 05:22 PM