In light of a World Cup referee
stripping the United States of a winning goal despite multiple Slovenian bear hugs of American forwards issuing a controversial call in yesterday's United States-Slovenia game, I was intrigued to read about FIFA's attitudes about monitoring and enforcing the rules of its game.
And then I began to wonder what life would be like if that attitude were applied to the rest of world politics.....
IAEA REFUSES TO REVERSE CALL ON IRAN
VIENNA: Today the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rejected American and European pleas to review and reverse its latest finding on Iran's nuclear program. Last week IAEA inspectors surprised the world by declaring "there's nothing to see here, move along" after the latest inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.
Immediately following that report, both the German and U.S. governments provided clear video and satellite photography of a secret nuclear facility in Iran, and requested that the IAEA reconsider its position.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano refused, however, arguing that, "there is a human element to inspections that technology cannot and should not eliminate." He elaborated, "this kind of strategic ambiguity is exactly the kind of uncertainty and controversy that will promote debate and discussion about Iran's intentions for years to come." He went on to argue that nonproliferation will remain more popular than other global governance structures, such as climate change, that have embraced the use of technology in their decision-making.
When asked if the new data wouldn't provide a more accurate assessment of Iran's program, he replied, "if you start disrupting the natural, sclerotic flow of our decision-making, you abandon the best traditions of global governance.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, flanked by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, praised the IAEA decision and blasted the Obama administration's efforts to reverse the call.
"This is just another example of the United States, with its Zionist cronies, attempting to subvert democratic decision-making with Western imperialist concepts like 'facts' and 'truth.'"
In all seriousness, it is stunning how both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee manage to make other international organizations look uber-competent.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Your humble blogger has occasionally been asked to give speeches and/or presentations at other campuses. Most of the time this comes with an economy-class air ticket and a very modest honorarium. After reading Sarah Palin's standard speaking contract*, however, I realize I have been far too modest in my demands. So, from now on, any university that wants to bring me out needs to meet the following criteria:
1) The host is responsible for providing a first-class airline ticket between Boston and the event city. The host is further responsible for ensuring that Courtney Love is seated next to me so I can have her thrown off the plane. If neither a first-class airline ticket nor Ms. Love is available, Wonder Woman's invisible jet will suffice -- but only if Wonder Woman herself is piloting the craft.
2) The host is also responsible for travel within the event city. The host will provide a jetpack, a Batmobile, or that Aston-Martin DB5 with the ejector seat for local travel. No giant ants -- so not cool.
3) The host will make sure that the following items are available backstage at his speaking engagement:
1 six-pack of Diet Coke
1 jar of Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Pickles
6 boxes of frozen Thin Mints
1 light saber
1 complete edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. None of those condensed/abridged versions, either -- it's the whole smash or nothing.
4) Twenty minutes before the speaker's talk, the host will ensure a student walks out to the podium, wearing an incredible sexy ballroom gown, and reads Book One of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Note: the gender of the student doesn't matter, but that ballroom gown had better be damn sexy.
5) The host shall ensure that the following is located on the speakers' podium:
1 bottle of water
1 bag of Funyuns
1 t-shirt launcher -- those things really do look like they're a lot of fun.
6) The host shall ensure a moderator asks all of the questions from the audience. The host shall further ensure that the moderator only asks these questions after inhaling lots of helium.
7) At the end of the talk, the host shall ensure that this music is played as the speaker leaves the building.
8) Under no circumstances is Jay Leno to precede or follow the speaker.
Readers are encouraged to list their own demands to be a speaker in the comments.
*Which, while perhaps at odds with her populism, don't seem all that strange given the surging demand for her services at the moment.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Longtime readers might recall this August post about how international relations theory would cope with a zombie attack, which in turn prompted further blog inquiries from other disciplines.
The trigger for that post was a mathematical simulation by Carelton University researchers that came to a bummer of a conclusion:
An outbreak of zombies infecting humans is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead.... A zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, unless it is dealt with quickly.
Well, hold everything! Richard Nielson at the Social Science Statistics Blog alerts us to new research on the matter from Blake Messer:
The latter problem may be less intuitive so I'll explain my reasoning: Humans who survive the initial outbreak survive for a reason. Disproportionately, they were faster, smarter, and stronger to begin with than their fallen peers. Even if they weren't, they were luckier and have probably been able to, at least, find a more defensible location than where they started at round zero of the outbreak, increasing their chances of survival simply by virtue of having survived the early rounds of the outbreak.
So, I constructed a computational agent-based zombie outbreak model to test how my assumptions might alter the solution.
His result seems pretty encouraging:
[T]he [Carelton University] team's model leaves something more profound out the equation: human capacity for ex-post organization and response. When accounting for these things, I can find scenarios of large initial zombie outbreaks that, when followed by quick adoption of strong anti-zombie defense policies may help pockets, or even large fractions of civilization to ward off the impending doom of mass zombie infection! How exciting!
Phew!! Sounds like an uprising of the undead won't be as calamitous as we originally thought.
Except that then we get to Gabriel Rossman's sociological take:
[If] the Romero movies have taught us anything, it’s that the defensive resources are only effective if they aren’t sabotaged by the internal squabbles of humans. (If you’re not familiar with Romero’s movies, think of what Newman from Seinfeld did in “Jurassic Park”). Thus you’d have to add another parameter, which is the probability in any given period that some jackass sabotages the defensive perimeter, steals the battle bus, etc. If such sabotage eliminates or even appreciably reduces the “safe area” efficacy then human survival in the “safe areas” is contingent on the act of sabotage not occurring....
So a more elaborated model would not only have to add in parameters for spatial heterogeneity, but also human sabotage.
The man has a point. Indeed, other zombie enthusiasts have made related points:
[T]he prospect of a zombie apocalypse actually represents a chance to throw off the constrictive fetters of society, shoot your neighbours in the face, steal some guns and a car, and drive off into the sunrise, taking along only those friends and family you trust and care about the most. As such, it represents a simplifying of life.
However, part of what needs to be figured out is whether there is any organizational cohesion in the wake of a zombie attack. As the Carnegie school of political organizations would suggest, organizations exist in part to compensate for the
stupidity bounded rationality of individuals. Perhaps hierarchy and standard operating procedures in the wake of zombie attacks would help prevent the kind of sabotage discussed by Rossman.
And yet. If bureaucratic conflicts and organizational pathologies hamper effective counter-terrorism policies, imagine the effect they would have on anti-zombie policies. The bureaucratic turf wars would be significant. Quelling the rise of the undead would require significant interagency coordination. In the United States, one could easily envisage major roles for the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Transportation, and Health and Human Services. This does not include autonomous or semi-autonomous agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Disease Control, and the myriad intelligence agencies.
So the ability of organizations to adapt to an army of the undead is an open question. Clearly, further research in this area is desperately needed.
Believing that this killer whale acted alone is a fool's errand. This is clearly a harbinger of future killer whale attacks. I demand that the Department of Homeland Security launch a Killer Whale Division immediately. These killer mammals of the
theme park ocean must be brought to heed.
Some analysts might argue that this is simply a misunderstanding, and that better communication would help. This is national security naivite at its most extreme. Indeed, according to the Los Angeles Times, this whale "had been involved in two previous deaths, including one at the water park in 1999." I bet authorities are Mirandizing the whale as I type this.
Negotiating with killer whales will accomplish nothing -- after all, they are killer whales. We cannot rest unless we have put the largest mammals in the world in their proper place.
This glut of cruddy romantic movies has prompted Jessica Grose to ask a puzzler over at Slate: what is the worst date movie of all time? Her vote is for the Julia Roberts/Clive Owen/Natalie Portman/Jude Law film Closer.
Back in the early days of courting the Official Blog Wife, we were spending a lovely, romantic vacation weekend together. This was the kind of trip when I was able to forget about the rest of the world and focus on the inherent awesomeess of my bride-to-be. Everything about those three days was perfect -- until the very end of the third day. We were walking along a boardwalk and came upon a movie theater, which was playing a matinee of a film that I had really been wanting to see in the theater.
"Let's go see it!" I said. My future wife, still in the throes of vacation bliss, agreed.
The movie was.... Crimson Tide:
I know, I know. Unless you're into sub movies like Run Silent, Run Deep, Das Boot, or The Hunt For Red October -- and, as an IR film geek, I am so into these movies -- this genre is likely the absolute worst date movie you can take a date. A lesson I learned the hard way fifteen years ago. To this day, when I see Crimson Tide on cable, I feel a little shiver run down my spine. I'll still watch it, of course -- but shivering. When the wife and I are flipping channels and we see it on cable together, she emits a noise that no English word can precisely capture. I'm sure there's a long German word that fits the bill -- something that combines derision and dread, but still leavened with a bit of tenderness.
My dear readers, if you are so lucky as to find a soulmate that shares an enthusiasm for a particular movie genre -- zombies, for example -- then enjoy that shared interest to the hilt on a date movie. Otherwise, do the right thing and go rent The Philadelphia Story.
Later today I promise to mock the Obama administration's National Export Initiative to within an inch of its life; on a Friday morning, however, FP readers deserve a dose of whimsy.
With pitchers and catchers due to report later this month, I bring you the greatest nexus between sports, world politics, and Web 2.0 technologies yet discovered: Ichiro Suzuki as a both a precision-guided munition and a weapon of mass destruction.
Hat tip: ESPN's Rob Neyer.
The New York Times' Robert Worth and Nazila Fathli take a bold step for inference in their story on Iran's demonstrations:
Unlike the other protesters reported killed on Sunday, Ali Moussavi appears to have been assassinated in a political gesture aimed at his uncle, according to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an opposition figure based in Paris with close ties to the Moussavi family.
Mr. Moussavi was first run over by a sport utility vehicle outside his home, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote on his Web site. Five men then emerged from the car, and one of them shot him. Government officials took the body late Sunday and warned the family not to hold a funeral, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote.
Whoa there, big fella. Talk about jumping to conclusions! Sure, this looks suspicious, but I can think of several other plausible reasons for why this could have happened:
See, these are all plausible alternative storylines, and should be investigated thoroughly before calling this a "political assassination."
The following is an exchange between myself and someone who had clearly taken over a friend's e-mail account, and was attempting to get me to wire money to them. All of the text is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent:
12:13 PM Scammer: hi thereme: Hello12:14 PM Scammer: how are youi?youme: OK... how's your daughter Bubbles? [Not her real name --DD]12:16 PM Scammer: did you got my message?12:17 PM me: No, is Bubbles OK?Scammer: yeah12:18 PM I need your help?12:19 PM me: What's wrong?12:20 PM Scammer: well i had a visit to a resort centerin Wales, England..got mugged by some hoodlumsall cash and credit cards were stolen12:21 PM me: Oh, noThat's horrible!12:22 PM Scammer: i need your help?thank GOD that i wasn't hurt and i still have my passport with meme: Well, sounds like things will work out then!12:23 PM Just call the credit card companies!Scammer: have already canceled my credit cards and my bank account was frozen due to security reason12:24 PM the mian issue is that i'm financially straned right now and my return flight leaves in few hours time but i need few cash to sort out some bills before coming overme: Have you contacted your husband Bubba?12:25 PM Scammer: we are both stuck together12:26 PM i need you to loan us few cash?will def refund it as soon as we arrive back tomorrowme: But surely Bubba can use the $500 he always keeps in his security pouch!12:27 PM What flight are you on?Scammer: Virgin Atlantic Airline12:28 PM me: Have you tried contacting them to advance the money? I hear they do that in situations like theseScammer: they can't do such thingme: Sure they can! They did it when I was mugged in Edinburgh last month!12:29 PM Scammer: i need your help?me: What do you need?12:30 PM Scammer: $1,000 is all we needme: In which currency?12:32 PM Scammer: 600 pounds is all we needme: Oh, dear....How soon do you need it?12:33 PM Scammer: we need it nowthe next available fluight leaves in 2hrs time and we got to be at the airport in 1hr time12:34 PM me: But I don't see how I could get money to you that quicklyScammer: you can have it wired to me vis Wetsern Uniondo you know any WU outlet nearby?me: Hold on, I'll check....12:35 PM Scammer: ok12:36 PM me: Why, yes! There is one right near Fahrfivgnugen, MA, on Swindler Street! That's only 5 minutes from here!Scammer: okwill you leave for the WU outlet now?12:37 PM don't really have much time to wasteme: Well, where am I supposed to wire it EXACTLY?Scammer: yeah!all you need is just my infoa sec...me: Which is?12:38 PM Scammer: wire it in my name to
5 King Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF10 1SZ, United Kingdomme: OK, I'll head out in two minutes...Wait, there's someone knocking at my doorOh, no, they've got a gun!!!12:39 PM Scammer: alrightme: Help!!!They're asking me for all my money and credit cards!!!I'm doing what he says!!!I'm sorry, now I have nothing.When you get back to the States, could you wire me some cash so I could get gas for my car please?Scammer: f*** you12:40 PM you kidding me???
I'm kicking myself that I didn't come up with something more original than that.
Any suggestions for the future? [UPDATE: thanks to alert reader S.C. for the link to this site.]
I see that after seeing 2012, Blake Hounshell as assigned me with a blog task:
What is the proper forum for secret doomsday planning? The G-20? The U.N. Security Council? The P5+1 or the EU3 +3? Every country for itself? Mssrs. Drezner and Walt, I'm counting on you to chime in here.
I certainly can't speak for Steve, but it's worth pointing out here how big the mismatch is between how movies think end-of-the-world global governance looks like as compared to what would happen in the real world.
When the movies do it -- and here I'm thinking about Deep Impact, The Core, Children of Men, etc. -- there's usually a coterie of Really Smart People, or a Council of Elders, or some other expert-driven body that devises a risky but brilliant plan to solve the problem.
In the real world... well, I suspect the following would be true:
That said, I suspect the answer to Blake's question is "none of the above." Unless the End of the World matched perfectly onto a pre-existing international organization, my hunch is that the great powers would start up something de novo.
Of course, if I actually knew the answer and was one of those Really Smart Persons tapped to solve the problem... well, then you'e all royally screwed.
UPDATE: Given my pessimism about the global governance of the End of Days, what can you do to prepare? Click here to find out. My favorite quote: "Make a list of friends and family who live nearby, then decide who you want with you."
[I]s the sacrifice of 58,000 Americans worth a bad Yankee team?
The answer is obviously yes.
This is a question that could tear apart the nation... Red Sox Nation, that is.
More here. I really don't think this is anything more than a coincidence, and I certainly don't agree with the blogger's estimation of Lyndon Johnson.
Still, if one wanted to develop a completely unsubstantiated hypothesis, however, one could posit that the explanation for this correlation is that under a GOP president, the mercurial owner of the Yankees faced fewer contraints to
royally f**k up interfere in the management of the team, resulting in some spectacular flame-outs on the diamond.
It's not true, of course, but it's a more entertaining urban myth than Obama's citizenship status or Bush's role in the 9/11 attacks.
When someone publishes an op-ed, longer essay, or book, they have to write a tagline. It's usually two sentences describing their title and affiliation, and whatever big projects are associated with them.
After watching the preview for The Invention of Lying, however, I began to wonder what these tag lines would look like if they were brutally honest. With a nod to Megan Mcardle's "Full Disclosure" post from a few years ago, here's fifteen examples I came up with:
And, of course.....
Readers are warmly welcomed to come up with their own brutally honest tag lines in the comments.
According to the Associated Press, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev wants to get outside of the DC beltway in his next trip to the USA:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he would like to meet with "dissidents" when he visits the U.S. next week.
Russian news agencies quote him as telling a group of visiting foreign experts that "I believe there are dissidents in the United States."
ITAR-Tass quotes him as saying: "Let them tell me what problems the United States has. That won't be bad, considering the Soviet experience."
I think that this is a fantastic idea, when one considers the potential pool of dissidents. Fortunately, Andy Heil has come up with a list of possibile dissidents at RFERL's Transmissions blog. His list:
This is an excellent start, but I think we can add a few names to the old dissident list. Let me think.... who else is railing against the System these days?
I'm just trying to imagine Medvedev meeting this crew.
Commenters are encouraged to suggest additional names in the comments.
The Daily Telegraph reports scientific confirmation of something I have known deep, deep down in my psyche for going on three decades:
Talking to an attractive woman really can make a man lose his mind, according to a new study.
The research shows men who spend even a few minutes in the company of an attractive woman perform less well in tests designed to measure brain function than those who chat to someone they do not find attractive.
Researchers who carried out the study, published in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, think the reason may be that men use up so much of their brain function or 'cognitive resources' trying to impress beautiful women, they have little left for other tasks.
The findings have implications for the performance of men who flirt with women in the workplace, or even exam results in mixed-sex schools.
Women, however, were not affected by chatting to a handsome man.
Well, beyond proof that there's a very fine line between the truth and The Onion, I think there are several fascinating implications from this finding.
1) You gotta admit, this explains a lot about Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. He is the foreign policy leader who seems most determined to be close to attractive women. If you think about it, it's nothing short of miraculous that Berlusconi hasn't screwed up more than he actually has.
2) Attractive first ladies are trouble. The closest the United States came to a nuclear confrontation was the Cuban Missile Crisis -- which just happens to be when Jackie Kennedy is first lady. A coincidence? Oh, I think not!
3) Suddenly my Britney Spears suggestion is making a lot more sense.
4) Add another explanation to Angelina Jolie's relative success as a celebrity activist. Semi-seriously, it would be interesting if gender was a determining factor in the ability of celebrity activists to move the agenda.
5) Whichever country makes Salma Hayek their queen will have finally chosen the One Woman to Rule Them All!!!
Dd I miss anything?
My top ten notes, quotes, flotsam and jetsam from four days at the American Political Science Association's annual meeting in Toronto, Canada:
1) I predict a bevy of papers over the next six months with titles like:
2) Someone had the whimsy to locate a Hooters restaurant right next to the conference center. And no, I do not know who went there.
3) Pehaps related to the Hooters thing, the book room at APSA had a new wrinkle this year -- free five minute massages from a local massage school. And hell yes, I took advantage of this offer!
4) Said by a book editor as someone was buying one of his press' books: "Yeah.... good luck slogging through that one."
5) Books available for just three bucks at the conference -- indicating that these titles had either jumped the shark or never caught fire:
6) Overheard: "I have to tell you my Cornel West and Ronald Reagan anecdote."
7) Someone asked a female political scientist with an ankle tattoo whether it was Tibetan. She replied, "No, it's Elvish."
8) In conversation: "Things I do not worry about disappearing: death, taxes, and [a prominent political scientist's] ego."
9) I was puzzled and saddened by the paucity of panels about the financial meltdown and Great Recession. I was really puzzled and saddened by the low attendance at the few panels that addressed this topic.
10) The most gratifying thing I heard at the conference: "Your zombie post was awesome!!!"
Today, your humble blogger will be
furiously trying to finish a draft paper before the friggin' students come back to campus hard at work at his day job, preparing for the fall semester. So I'm outsourcing today's blog content to two videos.
The first has been making the rounds, but it's still funny. And it's funny because, as Alex Massie observes, "this is horribly close to being a verbatim report from some ghastly cable TV "news" shoutfest.... proving once again that the "fake" news is often better than the so-called "real" news."
I give you, from the Onion, the Minotaur debate:
And, sometime this month is the three-year annivesary of the funniest bit Denis Leary as ever done anywhere at any time. It's not easy to find this video, but for your viewing pleasure:
Your humble blogger has occasionally prided himself as something of an authority on the intersection between celebrities and international relations. Which brings me to Jessica Biel.
Sure, the woman in the picture above these words seems pleasant enough, but according to McAfee security, she's not what she seems. This Reuters story by Belinda Goldsmith explains:
Actress Jessica Biel has overtaken Brad Pitt as the most dangerous celebrity to search in cyberspace, according to internet security company McAfee Inc.
For the third consecutive year, McAfee surveyed which A-list celebrity was the riskiest to track on the internet after Pitt topped the list last year and Paris Hilton in 2007.
Biel, 27, who shot to fame in the TV show 7th Heaven and most recently starred in Easy Virtue, was deemed the most dangerous, with fans having a one-in-five chance of landing at a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing and viruses....
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who have featured on most celebrity list this year, were not at the top of risky public figures to search.
The Obamas ranked in the bottom third of this year’s results, at No. 34 and No. 39 respectively.
You can access the Top 15 list here. Some interesting tidbits:
A question to readers: if this were a truly just world, which celebrities should be at the top of this list?
[NOTE TO 2011 AND BEYOND READERS OF THIS POST: If you like what you read here, then trust me, you'll love the book that came from it: Theories of International Politics and Zombies, (Princeton University Press, 2011). This post is where it all began!!]
Alex Massie alerts us to this BBC story about modeling who would win if the dead actually did rise from the grave:
If zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilisation unless dealt with quickly and aggressively.
That is the conclusion of a mathematical exercise carried out by researchers in Canada.
They say only frequent counter-attacks with increasing force would eradicate the fictional creatures....
To give the living a fighting chance, the researchers chose "classic" slow-moving zombies as our opponents rather than the nimble, intelligent creatures portrayed in some recent films....
[T]heir analysis revealed that a strategy of capturing or curing the zombies would only put off the inevitable.
In their scientific paper, the authors conclude that humanity's only hope is to "hit them [the undead] hard and hit them often".
They added: "It's imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly or else... we are all in a great deal of trouble."
Now, one could argue that this finding represents a Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious. On the other hand, the report has clear freaked out Alex Massie:
[The researchers] are cheating. It's like something out of Dad's Army: You can't fight like that, it's not in the rules... Then again, if we can be destroyed by Zombie 1.0, just think how powerless we'd be when confronted by Next Generation Zombies...
To try to make Massie feel better let's have some fun with this and ask a different question -- what would different systemic international relations theories* predict regarding the effects of a zombie outbreak? Would the result be inconsequential -- or World War Z?
A structural realist would argue that, because of the uneven distribution of capabilities, some governments will be better placed to repulse the zombies than others. Furthermore, anyone who has seen Land of the Dead knows that zombies are not deterred by the stopping power of water. So that's the bad news.
The good news is that these same realists would argue that there is no inherent difference between human states and zombie states. Regardless of individual traits or domestic instiutions, human and zombie actors alike are subject to the same powerful constraint of anarchy. Therefore, the fundamental character of world politics would not be changed. Indeed, it might even be tactically wise to fashion temporary alliances with certain zonbie states as a way to balance against human states that try to exploit the situation with some kind of idealistic power grab made under the guise of "anti-zombieism." So, according to realism, the introduction of zombies would not fundamentally alter the character of world politics.
A liberal institutionalist would argue that zombies represent a classic externality problem of... dying and then existing in an undead state and trying to cause others to do the same. Clearly, the zombie issue would cross borders and affect all states -- so the benefits from policy coordination would be pretty massive.
This would give states a great opportunity to cooperate on the issue by quickly fashioning a World Zombie Organization (WZO) that would codify and promnulgate rules on how to deal with zombies. Alas, the effectiveness of the WZO would be uncertain. If the zombies had standing and appealed any WZO decision to wipe them out, we could be talking about an 18-month window when zombies could run amok without any effective regulation whatsoever.
Fortunately, the United States would likely respond by creating the North American F*** Zombies Agreement -- or NAFZA -- to handle the problem regionally. Similarly, one would expect the European Union to issue one mother of a EU Directive to cope with the issue, and handle questions of zombie comitology. Indeed, given that zombies would likely be covered under genetically modified organisms, the EU would trumpet the Catragena Protocol on Biosafety in an "I told you so" kind of way. Inevitably, Andrew Moravcsik would author an essay about the inherent superiority of the EU approach to zombie regulation, and why so many countries in Africa prefer the EU approach over the American approach of "die, motherf***ers, die!!" Oh, and British beef would once again be banned as a matter of principle.
Now, avid followers of social constructivism might think that Wendt and Duvall (2008) have developed a model that would be useful for this kind of event... but you would be wrong. Back when this paper was in draft stage, I specifically queried them about wther their argument about UFOs could be generalized to zombies, vampires, ghosts, the Loch Ness monster, Elvis, etc. Their answer was an emphatic "no": aliens would be possessors of superior technology, while our classic sci-fi canon tells us that the zombies, while resistant to dying, are not technologically superior to humans. So that's a dead end.
Instead, constructivists would posit that the zombie problem is what we make of it. That is to say, there are a number of possible emergent norms in response to zombies. Sure, there's the Hobbesian "kill or be killed" end game that does seem to be quite popular in the movies. But there could be a Kantian "pluralistic anti-Zombie" community that bands together and breaks down nationalist divides in an effort to establish a world state. Another way of thinking about this is that the introduction of zombies creates a stronger feeling of ontological security among remaining humans -- i.e., they are not flesh-eaters (alas, those bitten by zombies are now both physically and ontologically screwed).
Unfortunately, I fear that constructivists would predict a norm cascade from the rise of zombies. As more and more people embrace the zombie way of
undead life, as it were, the remaining humans would feel social pressure to conform and eventually internalize the norms and practices of zombies -- kind of like the early-to-middle section of Shaun of the Dead. In the end, even humans would adopt zombie-constructed perceptions of right and wrong, and when it's apprpriate to grunt in a menacing manner.
Now, some would dispute whether neoconservatism is a systemic argument, but let's posit that it's a coherent IR theory. To its credit, the neoconservatives would recognize the zombie threat as an existential threat to the human way of life. Humans are from Earth, whereas zombies are from Hades -- clearly, neoconservatives would argue, zombies hate us for our freedom not to eat other humans' brains.
While the threat might be existential, accomodation or recognition are not options. Instead, neocons would quickly gear up an aggressive response to ensure human hegemony. However, the response would likely be to invade and occupy the central state in the zombie-affected area. After creating a human outpost in that place, humans in neighboring zombie-affected countries would be inspired to rise up and overthrow their own zombie overlords. Alas, while this could happen, a more likely outcone would be that, after the initial "Mission Accomplished" banner had been raised, a fresh wave of zombies would rise up, enmeshing the initial landing force -- which went in too light and was drawn down too quickly -- in a protracted, bloody stalemate.
Readers are hereby encouraged in the comments to posit other IR theoretical prediction of the response to a zombie uprising. For example, would the zombie uprising confirm Marxist predictions about the revolt of the proletariat?
*Alas, your humble blogger does not have the time to puzzle out the zombie effect on two-level games.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
CLOSING SCENE OF "THE SECURITY COUNCIL CLUB":
INT. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBER - DAY -- we see the U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL enter the Security Council room and pick up an essay.
Dear Mr. Secretary-General, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in Security Council session for whatever international problem that we failed to address. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care?
You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.
But what we found out is that each one of us is an economic engine...
UNITED STATES (voice-over)
...and a military power...
...and a basket case...
EUROPEAN UNION (voice-over)
...and a princess...
...and a rogue state...
Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Security Council Club.
We see SUSAN RICE walking across the football field
as she thrusts her fist into the air in a silent cheer
and freezes there.
This clip from last night's Daily Show offers confirming evidence for a pet theory of mine -- economists are the best straight men in comedy history.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Yale's Robert Schiller:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Home Crisis Investigation|
Next up: trying to persuade Paul Krugman and Robert Barro to reprise the "Who's on First?" routine.
You can also bid for lunches with distinguished members of America's foreign policy community. Indeed, Steve goes on to reproduce "the impressive list of foreign policy luminaries who have offered to participate in YPFP's silent auction." And lo and behold, I see that FP's own Tom Ricks and Stephen M. Walt are on the list.
The hard-working staff here at drezner.foreignpolicy.com congratulates our blogging colleagues for having the necessary foreign policy gravitas to command multiple bids on lunches.
I've blogged before about the awesome and misplaced power of headline editors. They can erroneously move markets and
piss off bloggers who don't read through to the end of an article -- confuse readers.
Well, USA Today let me down. Google News sent me to this USA Today story (really a blog post) with the headline, "Obama says nation needs more nerds."
And I thought to myself, "Yes!!! Finally, we can expand our power from out current base of Hollywood comic book movie franchises and start to dominate the real corridors of power."
Alas, there's nothing in the actual story to suggest that Obama said those words. Indeed, there's nothing in the fact sheet on the Cyberspace Policy Review report where Obama says that either.
Now I must go back to my regularly scheduled work, while adding another headline editor to my list.
Oh, yes, there's a list.
The Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon, Evan Ramsted, and Peter Spiegel provide a nicely detailed rundown on what U.S. officials think is happening in North Korea. Essentially, U.S. policymakers in the know believe that the arrangements for a power succession from Kim Jong Il to his relatives are causing Pyongyang to act even weirder than usual.
The story contains that classic combination of Kremlinology and bizarre personal detail that make the DPRK regime so entertaining for anyone not living within the range of the Taepodong-2 missile. For example:
U.S. officials said they increasingly view [Kim Jong Il's third son] Kim Jong Un as an important player in North Korea's power equation. The 26-year-old has emerged as a stronger contender than either of his brothers. Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Il's eldest son, was widely discredited in 2001 when he was detained in Japan for traveling on a forged Dominican Republic passport in a bid to visit Tokyo Disneyland. The middle son, Kim Young Chol, has been described as frail and unlikely to possess the stature to lead.
Kim Jong Il seems to view Kim Jong Un as the most like him in views and values, said the senior U.S. defense official. The younger son's mother, Ko Yong Hee, who died in a 2004 car crash, is also believed to be Kim Jong Il's favorite of his three wives.
Kim Jong Un fascinates North Korea analysts as he studied at an international school in Bern, Switzerland and is reported to be a fan of Western pop stars. (emphasis added)
I see the makings of a deal here -- instead of security guarantees and light-water nuclear reactors, what if the U.S. instead offered to build a Pyongyang Disneyworld complex? With special VIP-only lines for relatives of Kim? [Who could afford the regular lines?--ed. Oh, they'd still want the velvet ropes.]
Furthermore, in this blog's ongoing efforts to find social utility from washed-up pop stars, shouldn't the U.S. also offer a lifetime contract for Miss Britney Spears to host the resort? Now, I know what you're thinking --
Drezner is behind on his Entertainment Weekly reading hasn't pop culture moved past Britney? Well, I figure that it takes a few years for these trends to trickle into the DPRK. See, it's win-win!!
Somewhat more seriously, I have to wonder about the utility of this kind of Kremlinological analysis. I've been... unimpressed with the kind of research that tries to predict future policy prefereces based on past biography. These kind of analyses often do a good job of explaining things after the fact -- but I don't remember anyone using this kind of work to correctly predict a Gorbachev or a Deng. For the DPRK, the family dynamics make it even harder to discern, of course.
OK, so let's review: The world is on the brink catastrophe. The Russians are acting all frisky again. Then I read this CNN report:
Everything about Jupiter is super-sized, including its colorful, turbulent atmosphere. But there's fresh evidence that one of the planet's most recognizable features, the Great Red Spot, is shrinking.
The spot, which is actually an ancient monster storm that measures about three Earths across, lost 15 percent of its diameter between 1996 and 2006, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found.
It shrank by about 1 kilometer (about 0.6 miles) a day during that time period, said Xylar Asay-Davis, a postdoctoral researcher who was part of the study....
The researchers do not know why the storm is shrinking. In fact, little is known about the Great Red Spot at all. Even the exact cause of its distinctive color is a mystery.
Your humble blogger has learned that, in an amazing reversal of fortune, the leaders of the G-20 have heeded President Obama's call to embrace a "responsiblity to co-ordinate our action and find our common ground." The result will be a communique that actually addresses the current crisis on concrete terms.
Recognizing the need for a "grand bargain," French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel pledged to offer a combined $400 billion in fiscal stimulus in return for a United States agreement to allow for enhanced regulation of large financial institutions. China agreed to match U.S. and European commitments to the International Monetary Fund, in return for a doubling of its voting quota within the Fund. Furthermore, all parties agreed on their joint responsibility in unwinding the macroeconomic imbalances that contributed to the current crisis, thereby pleasing Martin Wolf to no end.
The G-20 leaders summit will have an immediate follow-up of a meeting of the G-20 trade negotiators, with the stated intent of completing the Doha round before the end of the year. The Obama administration, in line with attempts to reduce the budget deficit, have taken the first concrete step, pledging to slash agricultural subsidies by more than 80% over the next four years.
In related news, France and the United Kingdom agreed to relinquish their Security Council seats in return for an "EU" seat, paving the way for Japan, India and Brazil to join as permanent members, creating a new "P-7" in the Security Council.
These breakthroughs were achieved on the same day that a mysterious chemical attack was unleashed in Washington DC that rendered Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, James Carville, Paul Begala and Bill Bennett permanently and irrevocably mute.
Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that professors have something in common with administrative assistants, baristas and personal trainers: they are all, "careers that have more sex appeal than you probably realize," according to Anthony Balderrama:
Behold the power of intellect: Someone who wasn't even on your romantic radar suddenly becomes the target of your affection when you find out he or she is intelligent -- or at least could be. Being a professor doesn't make anyone an automatic genius, but chances are these academics have expertise in at least one field, can speak a second or third language and have ambition (seeing as they spent a hefty portion of their time earning a few degrees). Plus, if anyone can make glasses go from nerdy to sexy, they can.
This is all clearly true. I would add that all professors are also snappy dressers and unusually punctual in their daily lives. Our hygeine is impeccable as well.
Seriously, however, if people underestimated the sexiness of "personal trainers," then maybe the misperception is not the fault of the professions, but the fault of people who use CareerBuilder.com.
After bailouts designed to pump up the flagging finance and auto sectors, you knew that this was going to come at some point:
As the 2009 AVN Adult Expo opens in
Las Vegas this week, Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis and HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry Flynt are petitioning the newly convened 111th Congress to provide a financial bailout for the adult entertainment industry along the lines of what is being sought by the Big Three automakers, a spokesperson for Francis announced today.
Adult industry leaders Flynt and Francis sent a joint request to Congress asking for
$5 billion in federal assistance, "Just to see us through hard times," Francis said. "Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses, we feel we deserve the same consideration. In difficult economic times, Americans turn to entertainment for relief. More and more, the kind of entertainment they turn to is adult entertainment."
But according to Flynt the recession has acted like a national cold shower. "People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt says, "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."
While not to the degree felt by banks and automakers, the Adult Entertainment industry has been hit by the effects of the economic downturn. DVD sales and rentals have decreased by 22 percent in the past year as viewers turn to the internet for adult entertainment.
Crazy as this sounds, Flynt and Francis do make one penetrating insight in their complaint -- adult entertainment sales and rentals are shrinking much more quickly than overall DVD sales and rentals. So it would be fair to say that compared to mainstream Hollywood, the adult entertainment sector is getting pounded. Unless the economy can manage to mount a robust and vigorous upturn sometime soon, it makes sense for the adult entertainment industry to beg for a more direct and forceful stimulus package.
Hat tip: Free Exchange
TNR. Not Really That Funny.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.