February 21, 2003
It's Becoming Genuinely Hard to Be a Hawk

Kevin Drum bangs his head against the wall. It's genuinely hard to be a hawk on Iraq given the composition of the U.S. executive branch. Not only do they lie, but they don't seem to understand what being the "good guys" entails: CalPundit: AFTER THE WAR....The news on the war front is not good. I suspect that many reluctant hawks like me have held their noses and supported the war because of the possibility that, aside from ridding the world of a dangerous and unstable dictator, we might also make Iraq ? and eventually the rest of the Middle East ? into a better place.But the downsides seem to be piling up. Transatlantic relations are strained almost to breaking, and Donald Rumsfeld has already declared his eagerness to punish allies who don't support us. We're in the process of paying out a $32 billion (or so) bribe to the Turks. We seem to be abandoning the Kurds. The planned "Shock and Awe" bombing of Baghdad sounds dangerously close to being a war crime. Some factions in the Bush administration talk about appropriating Iraqi oil funds as "spoils of war," and the latest word from Washington and London is that we...

Posted by DeLong at 12:07 PM

February 18, 2003
Now It's Joshua Micah Marshall's Turn...

Now it's Joshua Micah Marshall's turn... to bang his head against the wall. This time it's over the fecklessness of the Bush Administration's Korea policy, and the nonexistence of the Democratic foreign policy establishment: Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: Which is more embarrassing? 1) The fact that Brent Scowcroft, the president's father's foreign policy guru, keeps on having to resort to the opinion pages to warn the president away from some new foreign policy disaster? (These public missives, of course, are widely and I think correctly seen as veiled messages from former President Bush.) Or 2) The fact that the Democrats apparently have to rely on Scowcroft because they have no public figure of sufficient credibility and expertise who can publicly sound the alarm when the president marches off into another bout of foreign policy ridiculousness? Here's a hint. It ain't #1. In Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section, Scowcroft and Daniel Poneman tell the White House what everyone who is a) paying attention and b) not afflicted by a rich foreign policy fantasy life should know by now: that time is not on our side with North Korea and that we must act now. Tempting as it may...

Posted by DeLong at 09:26 PM

Marcus Noland on North Korea

Marcus Noland is one of the few people in the United States who has given any serious thought to how to deal with the North Korea problem. Here he outlines why an active policy of "engagement" is a no-brainer from the point of view of South Korea--and why the South Korean government would be fools to allow the blinkered and less-than-competent Bush Administration to control the current crisis. Paper: North Korea and the South Korean Economy: A few years back I asked a South Korean Minister of Finance if he took North Korean behavior into account when formulating South Korean economic policy. "No," he replied, "those guys in the North are crazy. We don't pay any attention to them." More recently I met with an associate of the incoming Roh Moo-hyun government. When asked which outcome he preferred?North Korea with an ongoing nuclear weapons assembly line or its collapse and absorption by South Korea a la Germany?he chose the former. "We couldn't afford [the collapse outcome]?the US would have to pay for it." This paper will make the following three arguments: (1) engagement with the aim of transforming North Korea is a desirable policy from the standpoint of South Korea;...

Posted by DeLong at 08:32 AM

September 13, 2002
Paul Krugman on the "Economic Rationale" for War Against Iraq

Perhaps the stupidest things written about what action should be taken in response to Iraq's flouting of U.N. resolutions on its armaments are Larry Kudlow's cry to invade Iraq to raise the Dow and John Podhoretz's cry to invade Iraq to elect more Republicans to Congress in November. Here Paul Krugman takes on the mostly-whispered claim that a war against Iraq would be "a good thing" for the American economy. Needless to say, policy should rest on whether Saddam Hussein is the successful object of containment policies--a cautious tyrannical madman--or is likely to develop and use weapons that will turn New York or Tel Aviv into abattoirs, not on its effect on the year-over-year growth rate of real GDP. Stocks and Bombs: ...World War II is a very poor model for the economic effects of a new war in the Persian Gulf. On balance, such a war is much more likely to depress than to stimulate our struggling economy. There is nothing magical about military spending — it provides no more economic stimulus than the same amount spent on, say, cleaning up toxic waste sites. The reason World War II accomplished what the New Deal could not was simply that...

Posted by DeLong at 11:00 AM

September 12, 2002
Ken Rogoff on the IMF

Ken Rogoff on the claim that IMF bailouts take the money of rich-country taxpayers, give it to the unworthy, and so create "moral hazard". (He also covers a host of other issues.) Economist.com: ...It would be hard to overstate the influence of the popular perception that IMF crisis loans are thinly disguised bail-outs, with the tab paid mainly by ordinary taxpayers in the industrialised world. The presumed need to limit such bail-outs, and their adverse long-term incentive effects, is a central element of virtually every important plan out there to improve the way the IMF does business. The challenge posed by the bail-out view is not simply lack of transparency—that IMF loans are really outright transfers and should be called such. No, the deeper and more troubling implication is the “IMF moral hazard” theory. Simply put, if lenders are confident they will ultimately be bailed out by heavily subsidised IMF loans, they will extend too much credit to emerging-market debtors at rates that do not reflect the true underlying risk. The result? Bigger and more frequent crises than if the IMF did not exist. Giving the IMF more resources, it is argued, exacerbates the crises it was designed to alleviate....

Posted by DeLong at 02:21 PM

August 23, 2002
We're Supposed to Be the Good Guys

"DISGUSTED" Department Not that this is real news to anyone who paid any attention to U.S. policy in the 1970s: National Security Archive Update, August 21, 2002 *ARGENTINE MILITARY BELIEVED U.S. GAVE GO-AHEAD FOR DIRTY WAR* New State Department documents show conflict between Washington and US Embassy in Buenos Aires over signals to the military dictatorship at height of repression in 1976 Contact: Carlos Osorio/Thomas Blanton - 202/994-7000 http://www.nsarchive.org/NSAEBB/NSAEBB73/index3.htm Washington, D.C: State Department documents released yesterday on Argentina's dirty war (1976-83) show that the Argentine military believed it had U.S. approval for its all-out assault on the left in the name of fighting terrorism. The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires complained to Washington that the Argentine officers were "euphoric" over signals from high-ranking U.S. officials including then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The Embassy reported to Washington that after Mr. Kissinger's 10 June 1976 meeting with Argentine Foreign Minister Admiral Guzzetti, the Argentine government dismissed the Embassy's human rights approaches and referred to Kissinger's "understanding" of the situation. The current State Department collection does not include a minute of Kissinger's and Guzetti's conversation in Santiago, Chile. On 20 September 1976, Ambassador Robert Hill reported that Guzzetti said "When he had seen...

Posted by DeLong at 10:20 AM

June 06, 2002
PEIS--Notes on Reform...

For my sins, I have wound up as chair of an interdisciplinary studies major, Political Economy of Industrial Societies, here at Berkeley. The major has lots of eager and enthusiastic students--those who want to do interdisciplinary work are, in my experience, the most eager and enthusiastic, and often very capable as well. The major has next to no money. Therefore we survive through exploitation: paying lecturers $7000 a pop to teach courses, thus taking advantage of the large excess supply of academics in history, political science, and related disciplines that have--in an appalling failure of workforce planning--been pumped out of America's universities over the past decades. I had coffee with one of my lecturers yesterday. Jesse Goldhammer, a guy who has just moved to Berkeley from Austin, a newly-minted Berkeley Ph.D. in political science, a political theorist, with a just-completed dissertation (and, hopefully, soon a book contract) on French political thinkers' conceptions of violence as both foundation-making and foundation-breaking for political regimes. We have him slotted to teach one course--PEIS 101, Modern Theories of Political Economy--this summer, and two courses next spring. He is--as are all of our lecturers--smart, enthusiastic, a very good teacher, intellectually curious, and convinced at some...

Posted by DeLong at 10:54 AM

June 04, 2002
Anatoly Chubais

Someday I'm going to have to figure out the motivations of Anatoly Chubais.

Posted by DeLong at 01:07 AM

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 31, 2002
U.S. Feels the Pain of Steel Tariffs

Less than three months after the Bush administration suggested its stiff new tariffs on steel imports would have only a limited impact on prices, the levies are sending waves of pain through America's manufacturing sector -- including steep price increases, supply shortages and layoff threats...

Posted by DeLong at 02:13 PM

May 29, 2002
Strobe Talbott, _The Russia Hand_

Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton administration and longtime Friend of Bill, has written his memoirs. They are extremely well-written, fascinating, informative, and a marvelous addition to the historical record. They give us a ringside seat at U.S.-Russian relations in the 1990s. There were two great problems in Russian economic reform. The first was that nobody knew what to do: nobody had ever undertaken a transition from socialism to capitalism before. The second was that the Russian political nation did not know what it wanted to do...

Posted by DeLong at 02:21 PM

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 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

May 07, 2002
Did the U.S. Encourage the Failed Coup in Venezuela Because the National Security Council Is Staffed by McCarthyite Nutboys?

Did the U.S. Encourage the Failed Coup in Venezuela Because the National Security Council Is Staffed by McCarthyite Nutboys? With a lead in like that, you certainly expect the answer to be, "Yes." And the answer is, "Probably."

Posted by DeLong at 03:15 PM

May 01, 2002
A Strange and Sinister Sect of British Imperial Conservatives

"... the overtaking of Britain by the U.S. a century ago also involved two democracies, and the declining country found the process a painful one..." "Painful," I thought. "Painful compared to what? More painful than practicing the Hitler salute and sending one's Jewish neighbors off to the extermination camp?"

Posted by DeLong at 03:21 PM