Earlier in the week I blogged about Operation Iraqi Freedom's effect on the international system (not much) and its effect on American foreign policy (pretty significant). Moving from the systemic to the domestic to the individual level, this last Iraqi retrospective post asks a more solipsistic question. How has Operation Iraqi Freedom affected me as a foreign policy writer?
Ten years ago I supported the decision to invade Iraq. If you're looking for another of the many apologies that have been penned this week, don't bother. I offered my Iraq apology six years ago. Looking back, I'm just grateful that I wasn't all that influential a foreign policy pundit back in the day.
What gnaws at me is why my analytical assessment was so wrong. I can't really blame this on Beltway groupthink. Hell, at the University of Chicago, two of the leading anti-war proponents were just a floor below my office. As I was blogging during the debates in the run-up to the war, I'd like to thjink I engaged critics frequently and in depth.
After reading some of the self-reflections this week, however, I'm beginning to think that my flaw was generational in nature. John B. Judis wrote something interesting on this earlier in the week on why he was so dubious about Operation Iraq Freedom:
I opposed the war, and didn’t listen to those who claimed to have “inside information” probably because I had come of age politically during the Vietnam War and had learned then not to trust government justifications for war. I had backed the first Bush administration’s Gulf War, but precisely because of its limited aims. Ditto the Clinton administration intervention in Kosovo. George W. Bush’s aims in Iraq were similar to American aims in South Vietnam. During those months leading up to the war, I kept having déjà vu experiences, which failed to interest my colleagues. Still, I wavered after Colin Powell’s thoroughly deceptive speech at the United Nations in February 2003, where he unveiled what he claimed was evidence of Iraqi nuclear preparations. I had to have an old friend from the anti-war days remind me again of the arguments against an invasion.
Contrast this with Operation Iraqi Freedom supporter Jonathan Chait's recollections:
The Gulf War took place during my freshman year in college. It was the first major American war since Vietnam, and the legacy of Vietnam cast a heavy shadow — the news was filled with dire warnings of bloody warfare, tens of thousands of U.S. deaths, uprisings across the Middle East. None of it happened. And again, through the nineties, the United States intervened in the Balkans twice under Bill Clinton, saving countless lives and disproving the fears of the skeptics, which had grown weaker but remained.
These events had conditioned me to trust the hawks, or at least, the better informed hawks. They also conditioned me unconsciously to regard wars through this frame, as relatively fast attacks without a heavy occupation phase. People tend to think the next war will be somewhat like the last. That is a failing I will try to avoid again.
Age-wise, I'm a contemporary of Chait's and a generation younger than Judis. Ironically, for all the Gen-Xer tropes about irony and cynicism, the foreign policy arc of our generation looked pretty damn optimistic until March 2003. Indeed, reading the above paragraphs I can recall my attitudes about the use of force in 2002 and 2003. America's use of force during the 1990s -- and, at the time, Operation Enduring Freedom -- had been limited in scope and pretty efficient in its execution. Furthermore, the foreign policy principals who were planning the Second Gulf War had run the first one, which, again, had gone pretty well. So yes, I think I had a generational bias -- I badly overestimated the capacities of George W. Bush's national security and foreign policy hands.
How does this affect my thinking about the use of force now? I think so, but in a limited way. I'm more leery of arguments that the overwhelming use of force will change things for the better in places like Syria or Iran. I'm extremely leery about the creeping militarization of American foreign policy. I think to read people I disagree with on policy -- even, say, the Leveretts -- with a more generous eye than I did a decade ago, because I'm less sure I'm right.
That said, I was by and large supportive of U.S. actions in Libya, and I've been skeptical about the constant warnings from 2006 onwards that the United States is being pulled inexorably into a war with Iran. So I suppose that some of that nineties optimism still resides within me about the use of force as an adjunct to American foreign policy.
[Lest one think I'm doing this to maintain my "viability" for a foreign policy position in the federal government, let me assure you that for very good personal and professional reasons, there is no way I'll ever be serving the U.S. government in an foreign policy capacity in the future. Furthermore, I've got about as secure a sinecure as I can find in the academy. No, the views expressed here have nothing to do with any future career aspirations.]
In this, I'm more like Chait and less like the millenial generation that follows me. Indeed, as Chait observed:
I get the sense that their foreign policy worldview is dominated by the Iraq War in the same way the Boomer generation is dominated by Vietnam and the generation before them by World War II. The formative event of their adulthood is the reference point for all future conflict....
And I think if you look at the commentary leading up to the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya, you see the same pattern asserting itself. Anti-interventionists were treating it as Iraq redux, reprising every argument they wish they could have made in 2003. But Libya was not Iraq. I’d argue it was a success — not a perfect success, but a superior alternative to standing by as tens of thousands of people were massacred.
There's hard data that the millenial generation thinks about American foreign policy differently -- and given their formative experiences, I can't say that I blame them. Indeed, it's just punishment for the neoconservatives that they bungled Iraq so badly that their intellectual project might die out Children of Men-style because they're producing fewer and fewer young neoconservatives. Still, while this worldview might prevent another Iraq, I do wonder whether it also constrains more limited military actions that do yield foreign polivcy gains.
I'm definitely more risk-averse about the use of force than I used to be. And I hope I'm more generous with those who oppose the use of force as a foreign policy tool than I was a decade ago. Still, going forward, I'm still probably more hawkish than the median foreign policy wonk of the millenial generation. Which, I confess, is a very weird place to be ten years after Iraq.
This past week your humble blogger added another affiliation to his bio, as he has now joined the Brookings Institution as a... wait for it... nonresident senior fellow with the Managing Global Order project.
Now, those who live and breathe the mores and rhythms of DC's think tank community are already aware of the awesome rights, responsibilities and entitlements that comes with this honorific. Those not in the wonk priesthood, however, might wonder. Clearly, "nonresident" implies I'm not moving to DC. But what are the other perks of being a nonresident senior fellow?
The better way to phrase this query is -- what aren't the perks of being a nonresident senior fellow? It's almost as cool as being a full professor, for Pete's sake!! To list all the perks would take too long. Here are, in order, the top ten benefits to being a nonresident senior fellow at a think tanks, however:
10) Now all of my talks can be shorter. Before any academic or policy talk, a speaker usually receives an introduction in which the convenor reads the person's bio. If the speaker has lots of awards, affiliations, and publications, then this process can take a while, cutting into the speaker's allotted time. Secretly, all speakers want this, cause it means they don't have to remble on as long. Adding the Brookings affiliation will cut my talks by at least thirty seconds.
9) I'm now one affiliation away from the PACT. A key plot device in 30 Rock was Tracy Morgan's quest for the EGOT -- Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar awards. Foreign policy wonks have a similar quest, except it operates by affiliations: Press, Academia, Consulting, and Think Tankery. Adding my nonresident senior fellow appellation to being a Fletcher professor and a contributing editor here at FP, I now have a PAT. The only thing missing is the for-profit consulting gig. I'm looking in your direction, Stonebridge Group and/or McKinsey!!
8) 50,000 frequent flyer miles with an airline of my choice. This sounds like a great perk, but really, it's just so that I can be conversant in frequent flyer-speak when bumping into other nonresident senior fellows at conferences:
ME: So did you get upgraded on this flight?
OTHER WONK: Oh, yeah, but that's because I'm Super Premium status. You?
ME: No, and I was willing to use miles too!!
OTHER WONK: Oh, no, never use your own miles!! See, what you should do it... [long disquisition about the art of frequent flyer mile management.]
You get the idea.
7) Officially one of the old boys now. The "senior" is a tipoff -- I can no longer declare "Young Turk" status. Instead, I'm clearly part of an old boy network of some kind or another. Which will, inevitably, lead to attacks from Glenn Greenwald.
6) Attract a much better class of groupies. Oh, sure, as a full professor I get the entreaty from a student willing to do just about anything to get an RAship/grad school admission/job. DC, however, attacts a much more desperate and stylish set of aspirants. Indeed, within 24 hours of becoming a nonresident senior fellow, my LinkedIn profile was beseiged with requests ranging from "I'm just dying to polish your memos" to "I feel like I'm the only research assistant who gets you -- I mean, really gets you!!"
5) One free black helicopter ride. I have every confidence that the sovereigntists in the crowd are already freaked out by the "Managing Global Order" moniker. AS YOU SHOULD BE!!! Who do you think supplies the black helicopetrs to the United Nations? Before we do, however, a nonresident fellow can pick where in the country the brand-spanking new black helicopter can buzz, just to freak out some locals. I, for one, am looking forward to a quick, below-the-radar trip through the Texas panhandle.
4) Playing the Lincoln card. All nonresident senior fellows run into bureaucratic impediments at some point or another. Once a year, I can pull the Lincoln card out of my wallet, and utter the following: "I am a nonresident senior fellow, clothed in IMMENSE POWER! You will procure me these PowerPoint slides."
3) Preferential treatment at the Old Ebbitt Grill. For years, I used to make reservations at this venerable DC establishment and still find myself cooling my heels and not impressing my date as more distinguished Beltway denizens would just waltz on in. Not anymore!! Now I just flash your "Nonresident Senior Fellow" gold card to the maitre d'hotel and -- KABLAMM!! -- my date and I are enjoying the finest champagnes in the land. This is a much more civilized way of exerting power than the more old-fashioned method in which -- as I understand it -- the men simply unzipped their flies and compared penis sizes.
2) At least ten more seconds of air time on CNN. Cable news nets will let senior nonresident fellows blather on for at least two more sentences before interrupting duing an interview.
1) "Nonresident Casual Fridays." One Friday, every other month, the nonresident fellows show up at the Brookings Institution very early, camp ourselves in the offices of the resident fellows, and scare the bejeezus out of them when they walk in. Alternatively, we prank call the senior resident fellows, pretending to be a White House flack asking for permission to vet them for a prominent subcabinet position.
Your humble blogger is writing from Mexico City, where tomorrow he'll be part of a one-day conference at the Center for International Studies at El Colegio de Mexico on U.S. foreign policy in 2013.
The conference is tomorrow, but the journey was today, and it was a pretty interesting journey given that it started with my alarm going off at 4:30 AM. Some highlights:
1) In an effort to travel light, I normally wear at least one of the suit jackets I have to bring to a trip for the plane. I got up so early today, however, that I figured I was just dress very casual for the flight. Naturally, this would be the day I bump into a very well respected senior scholar in my field at the Newark airport.
2) Right before taking off from Newark to Mexico City, a flight attendant asked the man sitting next to me for his autograph. I later discover that I was sitting next to Iron Chef Morimoto. Cool!
3) Less cool: watching CNN on the flight. I made the mistake of watching Ashleigh Banfield's lead segment, on the New York Fed bombing attempt. Banfield was obsessed that the suspected terrorist got into the states on a student visa. Her first three questions to the homeland security expert boiled down to the following:
A) Shouldn't the U.S. radically reduce the number of student visas it issues?
B) Why can't the U.S. government monitor every person coming into the United States on a student visa?
C) Could the U.S. government use these student visas as a way of draining foreign swamps and bringing terrorists to the United States.
Kudos to the security expert who basically said that none of these ideas were workable. My head would have hurt banging it into the camera.
4) Some very nice students picked me up from the airport and took me to the college, which is right by Mexico's 1968 Olympic Stadium. They also revealed the ways in which political scientists are viewed in different countries. Apparently, this college was relocated from the downtown to a more isolated part of Mexico City. Furthermore, within this "University City," the political scientists are housed in a structure separate from the rest of the social scientists. Why? Because the old PRI governments feared student protests led by political scientists! Which is not really a fear in the United States.
5) The only thing better than watching the Yankees getting swept in the ALCS? Watching it en espagnol, and hearing the announcer boom "PROFUNDO!!" when the Tigers hit a home run.
I started blogging ten years ago today. To celebrate, Foreign Policy asked me to write a little reflections essay about the changing state of the blogosphere, as well as my top ten favorite posts from the last ten years. Go check them out.
Trying to come up with the Top Ten list was tricky and just a little disorienting -- at times I was reading stuff I'd written but had no memory of writing. Still as I think about it, the best work I've done on the blog isn't encapsulated in a "greatest hits" package per se. The blog has run best when I sink my teeth into a question du jour -- be it offshore outsourcing, the relative generosity of American foreign aid, the Sino-American relationship, or the current state of public intellectuals. And, of course, Salma Hayek. Most of those ongoing riffs have led to larger research projects, which highlights for me the ways in which the blog has complemented rather than substituted for my academic research.
When I started this, I honestly thought I'd blog for a year and then write up the experience as a pedagogical exercise for International Studies Perspectives. The reason it lasted longer than that, is, well, all of you. Most blogs aren't read by anybody and fade away into oblivion. I'm still not entirely sure how I avoided that fate, but I am extremely grateful to all the readers that decided to stick around.
There have been occasional moments over the years when I have thought about when I'd stop blogging. There were even briefer moments when I thought ten years was the perfect length of time. The move to Foreign Policy recharged my batteries more than I realized, however. So, in conclusion, ten years on, I should be doing this, and I most certainly do have tenure. Onward!
My latest Bloggingheads diavlog is with NSN's Heather Hurlburt. We discuss Greece, Palestinian recognition, and the state of the foreign policy debate among the GOP 2012 candidates.
Given those topics, be warned: I might have been liberal in my use of profanity in the diavlog below.
[Um... does tha fact alone merit a blog post?--ed.] Good point. There are two other zombie-and-me events this week.
From 7-9 PM EST this Wednesday, I'll be the "Expert to Discuss How Theories of International Relations Could Salvage Humanity from Global Zombie Apocalypse" according to this press release. That's because I'll be delivering the Centre for International Governance Innovation's Signature Lecture on Zombies, the G20 and International Governance in Waterloo, Canada. Not any old zombie lecture -- the signature one. If you don't live in Waterloo, don't worry, you can sign up for the free, live webcast of the lecture.
As a warm-up for that lecture, however, might I suggest, the night before, watching Zombies: A Living History. It will be aired on the History Channel on Tuesday, October 25, at 8 PM. The filmmakers interviewed me for half a day, so I'll pop up now and again.
Here's the extended trailer:
Enjoy your weekend!
I was all set this morning to blog more about high-falutin' theoretical IR debates or what's happening in Libya or whether Hugo Chavez can really move all of his gold without these guys somehow stealing it, when, well.... this happened:
So instead, today your humble blogger was busy stockpiling supplies like
vodka fresh water, whiskey, batteries, bourbon, dry goods, etc.
This might seem like an overreaction, and hopefully, it will be. However, I learned a valuable lesson from the last time I labeled an event like this as "hurricane porn." Never again will I trivialize hurricane warnings. Even if, nine times out of ten, a hurricane/tropical storm/tropical depression turns out to be less than advertised, there is that one time that the worst case scenario nis actually realized. And in that event, better to be prepared than not.
Of course, the problem with this approach is that after each iteration in which a natural disaster warning does not come to fruition, one is tempted to be more blasé about the next one. It's the meteorilogical equivalent of festering foreign policy problems -- unless and until a slow-motion problem becomes an acute crisis, attention will not be paid.
Still, on a day when parts of New York are being evacuated, I am grateful that this is unlikely to happen:
[We're walking away now.--ed.] No, wait!! This diavlog is worth watching for two reasons:
1) It has, hands down, the most awesome opening of any Bloggingheads diavlog in history. Really. I'm not exaggerating.
2) There's a prize for watching it! Hidden in the diavlog are five different images from well-known zombie features (four movies, one TV show). The first Bloggingheads fan to correctly identify when those zombie scenes appear in the diavlog and from what movie or TV show they were taken, gets a copy of my book. For a chance to win: send an email to email@example.com. In the body of your email, include a link to this
diavog blog post, the five different times (minute and second) in the diavlog when the zombie images appear, and the movie/show from where the images were taken. Contest ends at midnight on March 1, 2011.
So, watch carefully, keep an axe nearby, and enjoy!
This week I'll be
media whoring talking about Theories of International Politics and Zombies in a lot of venues. For example, I have an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about what it was like to write a book about the living dead. Here's the opening paragraph:
Regardless of what parents tell their children, books are routinely judged by their covers. Indeed, many book titles encapsulate a premise so obvious that the text itself seems superfluous. I'm talking about the literary equivalents of Hot Tub Time Machine or Aliens vs. Predator. I should know—I'm the author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies.
In the interest of getting Media Whore Week off to a good start, here's a brief rundown of reviews so far.
[A]n intriguing intellectual conceit to explain various schools of international political theory…. Drezner is fascinated with zombies–he’s seen all the movies and read the books–and writes with clarity, insight, and wit…. This slim book is an imaginative and very helpful way to introduce its subject–who knew international relations could be this much fun?
Whatever else it may be, an attack by bloodthirsty ghouls offers a teachable moment. And Drezner, who is a professor of international politics at Tufts University, does not waste it. Besides offering a condensed and accessible survey of how various schools of international-relations theory would respond, he reviews the implications of a zombie crisis for a nation’s internal politics and its psychosocial impact. He also considers the role of standard bureaucratic dynamics on managing the effects of relentless insurgency by the living dead. While a quick and entertaining read, Theories of International Politics and Zombies is a useful introductory textbook on public policy — as well as a definitive monograph for the field of zombie studies…. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Josh Rothman, The Boston Globe
Political science isn’t really a science at all – it’s more like a collection of disparate and even contradictory world-views. Daniel Drezner… has hit upon the perfect way to weigh those world-views against one another…. the detail with which Drezner can apply international political theory to the zombie apocalypse is striking.
Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones:
A light, breezy volume, TIPZ is a valuable primer in international relations theory for laypeople, and thank God for that—it’s been a long time coming. But Drezner’s real genius is that he’s written a stinging postmodern critique of IR theorists themselves…. It’s both a pedagogical text and a lampoon of pedagogy.
All of these reviews raise interesting questions, as does Charli Carpenter's recent post. I promise a response to these criticisms later in the week (just as soon as I can find Hosni Mubarak's soeechwriter, because that guy was comedy gold).
In the meantime, just buy the friggin' book already.
Blogging will be light for the next few days. Here's a topic for discussion, however. Apparently, the New York Times' standard operating procedure is to recycle the same story every week about how the U.S. is now lining up allies in the Pacific Rim to ward off a rising China. The Financial Times is reporting on how the United States is encouraging India to step up inthe region. Stronger bilateral ties with China's enduring rivals (Japan, Vietnam, India) are simply an ad hoc response to China's recent strategic missteps, however. Chinese intentions are unclear, and if you read western pundits, there are an array of contradictory recommendations about how to suss them out.
Question to readers: if you had to engineer the U.S. strategy in the Pacific Rim, what would you do to deal with a rising China? In your answer, be sure to acknowledge the risks and costs, as well as the benefits of your strategy.
If you're a DC reader of this blog, and you have nothing to do between 12:30 and 1:30, well...
The End of America's Global Hegemony: Implications for the Global System
Lecture by Daniel Drezner
Date: October 21, 2010
JHU School of Advanced International Studies
1619 Massachusetts Ave NW
Subject: Professor Drezner will be speaking on the implications of a multipolar world where the United States is no longer the sole superpower. Specifically, he will discuss the prospects for global coordination in a world without a dominant power.
I remember a few things about the day of the September 11th attacks. I remember being at Heathrow and wondering why they weren't announcing the gate for my flight. I remember being puzzled why I couldn't complete a transatlantic call when my flight appeared to be delayed. I remember my wife telling me what happened. I remember cursing the fact that I was marooned on another continent on one of the few days when my chosen specialty might have been of some practical use for my wife. And I remember, at some point, telling her, "it could have been worse."
Because it could have been. United 93 could have hit its intended target instead of having the passengers and crew overwhelm the terrorists. Al Qaeda could have had a second wave of attacks planned. With some imagnation, al Qaeda could have killed a lot more people on that day.
The other thing I remember in reaction to that day was when it was OK to be funny again. Many pop culture historians will likely point to the first Saturday Night Live episode featuring Rudy Giuliani -- except that wasn't funny. Slightly more hip pop culture historians might point to the monologues of either David Letterman or Jon Stewart -- except they weren't funny either.
No, the first thing that made me laugh after the terrorist attacks -- and sustained my hope for America -- was The Onion's first post-9/11 issue, from the headline "HOLY F&#KING S*&T" on the front to the television schedule in the back (On NBC at 10: "America's Time Of Trial: Who F**king Wants Some? You? Do You? How 'Bout You?"). Consider just the following list of headlines:
Rest Of Country Temporarily Feels Deep Affection For New York
Massive Attack On Pentagon Page 14 News
And finally, the headline that has defined U.S. foreign policy debates for the past nine years:
Any country with the capacity for that much self-lacerating humor will be OK in the long run. So I mean this with all sincerity: that issue of The Onion made me proud to be an American.
Well, that and this Jack Shafer column on why Ground Zero is not hallowed ground.
I see that, over the weekend, Megan McArdle, Brad DeLong and Tyler Cowen all posted about stuff they've gotten wrong as bloggers. This is an excellent topic to post about. Bloggers are supposed to prvide real-time analysis on breaking events -- of course we're going to get a lot of stuff wrong. As Brad correctly notes:
f you don't mark your beliefs to market occasionally, and throw out worthless intellectual trash, you ossify--you become one of those demented old coots detached from reality ranting unintelligibly at the moon.
Looking back on my eighth (!!) year of blogging, here are the big things I think I got wrong over the past year:
1) The Green Movement did not cause Iran's regime to crack up. Score one for the Leveretts -- Iran's regime has effectively silenced the Green movement, without any visible internal cost. Indeed, the regime now seems entrenched enough so that the fundamentalists and conservatives can now ignore reformists and start turning on each other. I confess, I though the Ashura protests marked an inflection point on Iran. Nope. The regime has suffered some serious costs from its internal repression, but Khamenei ain't going anywhere anytime soon.
2) Iceland was willing to pay the price of financial isolation. I knew that Icelanders were outraged at the notion that they had to help bail out Icesave depositors in England and the Netherlands. I also thought, however, that when the question was put to a referendum, Icelanders would pause for a moment and consider the ramifications of financial isolation. Um... whoops.
3) The G-20 was been far less useful than I anticipated. A year ago at this juncture I was pretty pessimistic about the prospects of G-20 macroeconomic policy coordination. I was hopeful, however, that the G-20 could function effectively as a mechanism to pressure China into revaluing the yuan.
And... things are worse on both fronts than I anticipated. At Toronto, the G-20 encouraged contractionary fiscal policies way too early, helping to push the global economy into double3-dip territory. On the yuan, China has niminally pledged to let the yuan float, but acual movement has been pretty meager.
It only took me about 15 minutes to come up with this short list. I hereby invite and encourage all commenters to root through the archives to find other screw-ups.
Your humble blogger was all prepared to be diligent, posting even while on a brief vacation. However, after three days in
a spectacular Europeal locale that will go unnamed oh, I'll fess up, I'm in Florence, I'm afraid that I've eaten too much fabulous pasta to give a damn about blogging Eurosclerosis has overtaken my Yankee work ethic.
Active blogging will resume on Thursday. In the meantime, commenters are heartily encouraged to suggest future blogging topics. I'm well aware that I've harped a bit on macroeconomic imbalances, sanctions and zombies as of late. I'd be happy to blog about other trouble spots (Kyrgyzstan, Thailand) other trends (Facebook overtaking Google), events (criminals going free) or whatnot.
But you'll have to take the zombies away from my cold, undead hands -- got it?
My latest bloggingheads diavlog is up, with UMass Amherst's Charli Carpenter. We talk about what's going to happen and what should happen on the Korean peninsula (click here for more on Carpenter's take), the National Security Strategy, and whether it's OK to target Americans overseas.
Here's a fun exercise -- see if you can detect the moment when Charli and I switch hawk and dove positions. It's a tricky maneuver!
My latest bloggingheads diavlog, with NSN's Heather Hulburt, is now online. We discuss the Academy and the academy -- that is to say, the Oscars and the policy relevance of that "other" academy.
Your humble blogger will be MIA for the next few days, as he is attending the annual meeting of the Japanese Association of International Relations in Kobe, Japan for the next few days.
Let me assure my readers that my decision to flee leave the country has nothing whatsoever to do with recent events. It's just a very, very, very, very happy coincidence.
While I'm gone, let me recomend reading Evan Feigenbaum's new Council on Foreign Relations report, "The United States in the New Asia." I'll certainly be reading it on the flight. The latest issue of The National Interest is also worth a gander.
And now a request from my readers -- what's worth reading that I haven't commented on? In other words, what should I be reading?
As the moment of the inauguration approaches today, my mind keeps traveling back to an argument I had when I was a second year in college.
In a political science course, I got into a disagreement with a guest lecturer from the local peace and justice center, who was leading a discussion on the future of race relations. I remember her asking me, as a way of demonstrating the abject lack of progress in race relations, whether I thought there would be a black president in my lifetime. The tone of her question radiated the sense that, unless I answered "no," I was a naive fool who understood little about America.
And, of course, I said "yes" -- not because I was trying to be contrarian, but because I genuinely believed it to be true. I remember her shaking her head sadly from side to side and smiling ruefully. I bet Mark Penn shook his head the same way early last year.
I hope, when Obama is sworn in, that she's smiling for a different reason.
Loyal readers of foreignpolicy.com can hear the
dulcimer dulcet tones of your humble blogger's voice at two different venues today.
First, I had a commentary on Obama's leadership style on NPR's Marketplace today. The key, hopeful paragraph:
With markets and politicians in a state of panic, Obama has demonstrated that he appreciates the gravity of the situation but will not be overwhelmed by it. Even more encouraging is Obama's ability to understand and explain contending points of view. If Obama can show his cabinet that he has truly heard their views, they will be more willing to support him, even if he goes in another direction. By encouraging debate without alienating his team of egos, Barack Obama might just plug the leadership gap.
I also participated in a bloggingheads.tv diavlog with Rosa Brooks. Many topics were discussed, including the utility of special envoys, the transition period, Bono, the Middle East, Joe the Plumber, and whether Rosa will be attending an inaugural ball (if you click here, you will, in fact, here me say "Bibbidy bobbedy boo").
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, who was not just our neighbor, but a dear friend to Michelle and me. We are joined in this time of grief by the entire Hyde Park community, the American Jewish Community, and all those who shared Rabbi Wolf's passion for learning and profound commitment to serving others. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Throughout Chicago and in Jewish homes and classrooms across our country, Rabbi Wolf's name is synonymous with service, social action and the possibility of change. He will be remembered as a loving husband and father, an engaging teacher, a kindhearted shepherd for the K.A.M. Isaiah community, and a tireless advocate of peace for the United States, Israel and the world.
Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, compared the growing role of sovereign wealth funds and foreign investment in the U.S. to the idea of “mutually-assured destruction” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. “Mutually-assured destruction can mean a more peaceful co-existence, but it’s a relatively nervous co-existence,” Drezner said. Drezner added that while interdependence caused by greater foreign investment in U.S. firms “will constrain U.S. foreign policy,” he said foreign holders of U.S. debt would be unlikely to take drastic actions to hurt the U.S. “They can’t see all of their assets wipe away with the blink of an eye,” Drezner said. “They would be equally devastated.”One last note -- it's a very strange world we live in when former Fed official Edwin Truman says he agrees with 75% of what renking member Ron Paul says about international monetary policy.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.