Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Cold War
Its too bad about the weather-- I do wish we had more time to discuss the Cold War. You can't under-estimate its significance in US foreign policy-- not just then, when it was foreign policy, but even now where it continues to shape the way people look at things and much of today's problems are dealing with cold war aftermath. The Cold War was all pervasive in American society. The line in the pledge of allegiance that the 9th circuit court of appeals struck down--"one nation under god with liberty and justice for all"-- is a Cold War relic. The original pledge didn't have "under god" in it, Congress added it in the 50's to distinguish us from the godless communists.

So many international issues of the past decade, Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, North Korea, Iran, all have their origins as Cold War issues.

How significant do you think the Cold War was? Do you even remember it? What do you remember about it?
Why do you think it has been so hard to get over?
How do you feel about the fact that the CIA essentially created many of the fundamentalists that came to constitute the Taliban and al-Queda in Afghanistan because they were looking for proxies to fight the Soviet invasion throughout the early and mid 1980's?
So much was done in the name of winning the Cold War. Was it worth it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

This is an op-ed from today's Guardian by Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers):
Leak against this War.
Good parallel between Vietnam and Iraq by a guy in a unique position to discuss these issues.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Snow Day!!!
What are your plans for the snow day? Anyone build a snowperson? Snowball fights? Sledding?
I am cleaning my home this morning. Its not all that fun, but it is liberating to throw away old junk.
Enjoy the fun of a snow day before the fun freezing rain and ice start falling later tonight.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Here's an interesting Halliburton story.
Halliburton fires workers
Chances are probably small that Cheney would ever end up in French prison, but it is still fun to think about.

I have been pondering the role of Iraq in the presidential campaign of late--especially since the state of the union. Its clear that the Bush administration plans to run its reelection campaign based on "danger" and its self-declared success in Iraq.

But, like all questions of international affairs and foreign policy, there is a larger question that underlies this, and it is raised quite well today by Robert Kagan, writing in the New York Times. The question is more than just of America's hegemonic role in the world, its what type of America are we bringing into world politics? Kagan pointedly observes that legitimacy is essential for constructing any type of world order, and today, legitimacy goes hand in hand with how other nations (like Europe) react to American expression of interests.
What are America's interests in the world today? This question gets to the heart of the matter at hand-- what kind of America do we want to live in? Interests are intimately tied to identity, and as we define what we want, we define who we are.
So, what does this country want? Who are we?
This election will have a significant say in answering that question, I think.

Link to Kagan's Article

Friday, January 23, 2004

Its the obvious compairson, I made it in class yesterday, but it is worth discussing.
Acheson called his memoirs "Present at the Creation," recounting his experiences setting up the post-WWII international institutions and the US policy to wage the cold war.
Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been looking for something like Containment to motivate foreign policy as a grand strategy.
Is anti-terrorism the new containment? Are we present at the creation of a new world order and new US foreign policy that will guide us for years to come or not?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

What a fun night-- State of the Union is always food for thought for students of politics and policy (like us!).
Jenny put a link to the text below-- if you did not see it, its worth reading the first third, which is the part that deals with international affairs.

From the speech, its clear what Bush will stress in his campaign for re-election, which began in earnest tonight. He will focus on his record in National Security-- fighting the war on terrorism, in Iraq, and against other nations that might obtain WMD. Jenny is right-- note American Exceptionalism. Also, note the Wilsonian elements, when he talks about the importance of Democracy to international peace and American security.
But Bush has a particular vision of how America should lead internationally, its his coalition of the willing, with a strong USA and whatever other countries choose to join.

The terms of this upcoming debate on the direction of US Foreign Policy are evident when you compare the State of the Union with the speech that John Kerry gave after winning the Iowa Caucus. He laid out quite a different version of American leadership in the world. Which path should the US follow?

Link to Kerry's speech here

Transcript: President Bush Delivers 2004 State of the Union (washingtonpost.com)

Here's a link to the full text of the State of the Union address. Notice the themes we've already discussed, most notably American Exceptionalism.

On a side note, my favorite bit was the following:

"Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year.


Random thoughts/questions while watching the Iowa caucus:

Why does Iowa get to go first? What kind of system is it where people in one state get access to all of the candidates but when it gets to my state (Pennsylvania), there may be only one candidate left? Why don’t they just have primaries in every state on the same day? How about those videos of the Iowans at the caucuses. Was anyone there under fifty? I didn’t see a whole lot of minorities either. Have we been getting presidential candidates that are tailored to suit one particular demographic? If the first caucus was in New York City, would Sharpton maybe have had a shot? Would the more conservative Kerry and Edwards still have beaten Dean? Speaking of Dean, it seems like his campaign has gone downhill ever since he was endorsed by Al Gore. Is Al Gore cursed? Maybe Gore should publicly come out in support Bush in an intentional attempt to pass off some bad karma.

Monday, January 19, 2004

So, enjoying the MLK Day holiday weekend, i am watching the news (political junkie that I am...). It beats running errands up and down Rockville Pike all afternoon (and for those of you who never venture off campus-- consider youselves lucky, the traffic on Rockville Pike is horrible!)

Today and Tomorow are big days in American politics and the politics of US Foreign Policy. Tonight its the Iowa caucuses and tomorow the President delivers his State of the Union speech. Iowa should help make some sense of the crowded Democratic field, and as of now (so says MSNBC), Kerry is leading, Edwards could be second, and Dean might end up third. Gephardt is reportedly withdrawing from the race. The SOU tomorow is basically Bush's first big campaign speech of the year.

These two things are very important in two respects. First off and most obvious, whoever is President has an enormous impact on the conduct of US Foreign Policy. Do you think that a President Gore would have invaded Iraq or come up with the Axis of Evil?

Secondly, the debate that the President and the eventual Democratic nominee get into over foreign policy will set the terms of the debate, framing issues, identifing options, and creating a groundswell for action in a particular direction. Iraq will loom large in the debate. Do we focus on how all the things that Bush said in last year's SOU about Iraq have not come to square with the facts on the ground as we now know them? Do we focus on when to get out and bring the troops home? Do we focus on the type of government that the Iraqis eventually end up with and who gets to help set it up? Do we focus on the oil?
This debate will set the frames through which we discuss and evaluate foreign policy choices throughout this year and the next.

Lots of fun stuff, all tonight and tomorow.

tune in Tuesday night for some post-Iowa and SOU reaction.

Friday, January 16, 2004

I am bummed that the powerpoint didn't work as planned Thursday. So, I put the presentation on the blackboard site so you can see what you missed. Hopefully we can avoid that problem in the future....

My friend Ramzi sent me a fascinating article in the Christian Science Monitor that puts questions of American Hegemony/Empire, the War on terrorism, and Bush's national security strategy in an interesting historical perspective. Relevant to class yesterday, there is an interesting parallel between the US today and the US in 1898, both emerging as a new type of world power and engaging in unprovoked wars that bring about a vast expansion of American global influence.
The B-2 bomber as today's Great White Fleet?
(there was such a cool picture of the great white fleet in the powerpoint thing-- you have got to download it and see it!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I am quite excited for class tomorow-- it will be fun. I learned some new powerpoint tricks just for this lecture.

It looks like the class is going to get moved-- Room Scheduling has made McKinley 108 our new location. I called to tell them that we had people sitting on the floor the first day and they said, yep, I see you blue-carded in a few more students, we were just about to find you a new room. So, off to McKinley Hall it is.

Early American foreign policy is always fun. George Washington's farewell address is a classic. On the one hand, he appears quite wise. Just think what it would be like with no political parties. But on the other hand, can you imagine the US today not involved in European affairs? Washington's relevance persists--notice how the Bush Administration is wary of international commitments. Wary of treaties, wary of formal alliances, preference for the coalition of the willing. Reminicent of Washington's call to avoid entangling alliances?
Read City on a Hill and then read some of the things coming from the Bush Administration. Its all part of the same tradition in USFP.

Check out the very cool links on the sidebar--more to come, soon.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Excitement-- classes start today. Last night, in between plays of the Packers-Eagles game, I caught the 60 minutes interview with former Treas Sec Paul O'Neill. He says that the Bush Administration wanted to get Saddam and was talking preemption from the get-go, months before Sept. 11. I found that very interesting, it forces all those who talk about the war as part of the war on terrorism to re-evaluate thier position, and recasts, in some way, the way the Administration is conducting the war on terror. Food for thought on the first day of school.

NY Times Write up here

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Welcome to SIS 382.01, Analysis of US Foreign Policy
Its Saturday afternoon, and I am putting the finishing touches on the syllabus.
Here's to the start of a great semester!

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