Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Iranian Missile Program

The Center for Defense Information released a report on the progress of the Iranian missile program, which has been somewhat lost amidst all of the attention devoted to the regime's quest for nuclear weapons.

It is certainly worth a read and contains a link to a chart that shows the flight paths of the various missiles.

What stands out when you look at the list is that it is the same countries over and over selling or transferring missiles and missile technology to the Iranians. The countries include...China, Russia, North Korea, Libya and Syria.

It is really no surprise that Libya and Syria took part in these transfers over the past decade, though it now appears that both have changed their tune. North Korea makes most of its cash from selling weapons, so it is likely they will continue to do so.

In the case of Russia and China, both of these states have continued to sell all types of military technology to rogue states throughout the world.

Its a disturbing pattern to continually find two members of the Security Council engaging in this behavior. Actually, its three. France just has not been selling to Iran lately.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

American Legitimacy at What Price?

I just finished reading Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson's "The Sources of American Legitimacy," in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs. The authors argue that:

The United States' approval ratings have plunged, especially in Europe -- the cooperation of which Washington needs for a broad array of purposes -- and in the Muslim world, where the United States must win over "hearts and minds" if it is to lessen the appeal of terrorism...

Legitimacy arises from the conviction that state action proceeds within the ambit of law, in two senses: first, that action issues from rightful authority, that is, from the political institution authorized to take it; and second, that it does not violate a legal or moral norm. Ultimately, however, legitimacy is rooted in opinion, and thus actions that are unlawful in either of these senses may, in principle, still be deemed legitimate...

How to restore legitimacy has thus become a central question for U.S. foreign policy, although the difficulty of doing so is manifest. At a minimum, restoring international confidence in the United States will take time...If the United States is going to be successful in recapturing legitimacy, it will have to abandon the doctrines and practices that brought it to this pass.
Despite the legal and moral aspects of legitimacy as they define it, the authors admit that is largely based on the most fickle of things, opinion. This can be driven by the most base side of human nature, interpretation of events, media coverage, and governmental manipulation.

The authors admit that opinion plays a significant role in legitimacy, recognizing that opinion can cause people to overlook the immorality or illegality of an action if they believe it to be the correct decision. The authors fail to recognize that the same is true when it comes to illegitimacy - people can overlook the legal and moral case for action because they believe it to be wrong, not in their interest, or because they are ignorant/manipulated to a certain viewpoint.

This alone makes it exceedingly difficult for the US to recapture legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Does it mean doing what others want, regardless of what the cost is for the US? Does legitimacy trump security? Does international legitimacy trump the opinion of Americans? Does it mean the US must abandon the War on Terror? Is it worth the cost?

The author claim 4 pillars of US legitimacy dating back to the end of WWII:

  1. US commitment to international law and belief in the illegality of aggressive war.
  2. A commitment to consensual-decision making that stemmed from the nature of US democracy and the creation of international institutions.
  3. An acquired reputation for moderation in policy. This moderation reassured allies around the world that, despite its great power, the US was not a thread.
  4. Washington's success in preserving peace and prosperity within the community of advanced industrialized nations.
Of course, the collapse of US legitimacy is not tied to anything other than the failure of the Bush administration. Certainly, the Bush administration did not help itself with some of its public pronouncements regarding international law. However, the policies of the Bush administration prior to 9/11 differed relatively little to those of the Clinton administration. Post 9/11, it is far easier to accept a change in US policy to focus more on the necessities of wartime rather than the niceties of peacetime.

The author's claim:

A new doctrine of preventive war, misnamed the "strategy of preemption," took the place of the doctrines of containment and deterrence that had preserved the nuclear peace during the long contest with the Soviet Union.
This quote captures the ineptness of the study of post Cold war foreign policy that is prevalent in much of the discussion of these matters today. What use is containment when there is no longer a Soviet Union to contain? How well can containment of a state like Iraq work when your allies in Europe are violating the sanctions regime and spending political capital to undermine the legitimacy of your actions? Is it possible to deter terrorists? The concept of rogue states also raises real questions when it comes to deterrence. These very idea of rogue states undermines the assumption of rationality that deterrence is based upon. Further, the idea of preemptive war had taken root in the D0D during the early 1990s, based on a belief that deterrence did not work so well in the post Cold War world. Clinton considered preemption in North Korea before buying time via the Agreed Framework.

I have considered giving up my subscription for Foreign Affairs because of these types of articles.





American Legitimacy at What Price?

I just finished reading Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson's "The Sources of American Legitimacy," in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs. The authors argue that:

The United States' approval ratings have plunged, especially in Europe -- the cooperation of which Washington needs for a broad array of purposes -- and in the Muslim world, where the United States must win over "hearts and minds" if it is to lessen the appeal of terrorism...

Legitimacy arises from the conviction that state action proceeds within the ambit of law, in two senses: first, that action issues from rightful authority, that is, from the political institution authorized to take it; and second, that it does not violate a legal or moral norm. Ultimately, however, legitimacy is rooted in opinion, and thus actions that are unlawful in either of these senses may, in principle, still be deemed legitimate...

How to restore legitimacy has thus become a central question for U.S. foreign policy, although the difficulty of doing so is manifest. At a minimum, restoring international confidence in the United States will take time...If the United States is going to be successful in recapturing legitimacy, it will have to abandon the doctrines and practices that brought it to this pass.
Despite the legal and moral aspects of legitimacy as they define it, the authors admit that is largely based on the most fickle of things, opinion. This can be driven by the most base side of human nature, interpretation of events, media coverage, and governmental manipulation.

The authors admit that opinion plays a significant role in legitimacy, recognizing that opinion can cause people to overlook the immorality or illegality of an action if they believe it to be the correct decision. The authors fail to recognize that the same is true when it comes to illegitimacy - people can overlook the legal and moral case for action because they believe it to be wrong, not in their interest, or because they are ignorant/manipulated to a certain viewpoint.

This alone makes it exceedingly difficult for the US to recapture legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Does it mean doing what others want, regardless of what the cost is for the US? Does legitimacy trump security? Does international legitimacy trump the opinion of Americans? Does it mean the US must abandon the War on Terror? Is it worth the cost?

The author claim 4 pillars of US legitimacy dating back to the end of WWII:

  1. US committment to international law and belief in the illegality of aggressive war.
  2. A committment to consensual-decision making that stemmed from the nature of US democracy and the creation of international institutions.
  3. An acquired reputation for moderation in policy. This moderation reassured allies around the world that, despite its great power, the US was not a thread.
  4. Washington's success in preserving peace and prosperity within the community of advanced industrialized nations.
Of course, the collapse of US legitimacy is not tied to anything other than the failure of the Bush administration. Certainly, the Bush administration did not help itself with some of its public pronouncements regarding international law. However, the policies of the Bush administration prior to 9/11 differed relatively little to those of the Clinton administration. Post 9/11, it is far easier to accept a change in US policy to focus more on the necessities of wartime rather than the niceities of peacetime.

The author's claim:

A new doctrine of preventive war, misnamed the "strategy of preemption," took the place of the doctrines of containment and deterrence that had preserved the nuclear peace during the long contest with the Soviet Union.
This quote captures the ineptness of the study of post Cold war foreign policy that is prevalent in much of the discussion of these matters today. What use is containment when there is no longer a Soviet Union to contain? How well can containment of a state like Iraq work when your allies in Europe are violating the sanctions regime and spending political capital to undermine the legitimacy of your actions? Is it possible to deter terrorists? The concept of rogue states also raises real questions when it comes to deterrence. These very idea of rogue states undermines the assumption of rationality that deterrence is based upon. Further, the idea of preemptive war had taken root in the D0D during the early 1990s, based on a belief that deterrence did not work so well in the post Cold War world. Clinton considered preemption in North Korea before buying time via the Agreed Framework.

I have considered giving up my subscription for Foreign Affairs because of these types of articles.





Terrorism and Poverty: Decoupled at last?

Interesting story. A Kennedy School of Government at Harvard study has shown that there is no link between levels of poverty and terrorism. Interestingly, the environment which breeds terrorism appears to be one that falls in between an authoritarian and democratic system.

Interestingly, this phenomenon has been noted before from a different angle. Jack Snyder wrote a book entitled From Voting to Violence in 2000, which looked the problems posed by democratizing states. It was an interesting if not convincing piece of work, though now it looks like it might carry a bit more weight.

As an academic, I have heard this link between terror and poverty repeated as an undergrad, graduate student, and endlessly in talks and articles. It is largely accepted as fact within academia. Curiously, I have heard no one mention this in the halls at work. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

So It Begins

The Hillary for president stuff kicks off before Kerry has even fully shut down his campaign. Poor John Edwards, what is a fella to do? He needs to find a job and his high profile opponent is already being flattered by the NYT...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Quick Thoughts on the Election

Real life has been whaling away on me - making it largely impossible to blog. However, the election begs for some words, hopefully of wisdom.

My quick thoughts:

  • The Dems will hopefully take the lesson from this election that they need to recapture the policies, the attitude, and message of the Clinton years. Less Angry Left and more southern/mid-western charm.
  • My prediction, the Clintonistas try to put Hillary front and center as the face of centrism and the best chance for the Dems to regain the White House. However, due to her location (NY), her gender (female), her negatives (people love or hate her and it has been resistant to change) and the need to win southern or mid-western states she will likely not be the best person for this job.
  • Despite this, its 50-50 that she gets pushed forward anyway. Edwards wont be able to stop her and will likely end up the candidate of the Angry Left (with a smile). My early pick is that Evan Bayh becomes to best person to emulate and build upon the Clinton legacy.
  • Guiliani will have real trouble getting the nomination due to his pro-choice/pro gay rights views. The recent election and past history (Bill Weld says hi) shows that its very difficult to get far in the party with those views. As a result, its going to be a slugfest for the nomination and for the direction of the party as moderates will likely seize on Rudy.
  • Tom Daschle is not looking so smug today.
  • Dan Rather finally proved to me that he no longer belongs on the air. As his age increases, so does his partisanship. The only thing declining is his willingness/ability to hide it.
  • Tom Brokaw really shined last night. I am not a big fan of the MSM, but have always liked Brokaw and Rather. Both covered their last presidential elections last night and it will be Brokaw that is remembered as the "giant" of journalism from this era.
  • Congrats to the President, Vice-President and their families. You earned it.
  • Condolences and well-wishes to the Kerry-Edwards team. I am not a democrat and am even less of a Kerry fan, but I feel for the man. Having a family member that worked as a consultant with the campaign in MA, I found out firsthand how joy turned to heartbreak for them. Based on the exit polls, for 5-8 hours yesterday they were convinced they had won the election.
Hopefully, more to follow later.