Sunday, January 30, 2005

So, what's the point of the Vietnam debate this week?
Well, read this.
Aww, heck, just try this....

What do you make of this connection?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Saw Hotel Rwanda tonight. Most powerful film I have seen in years.
If you haven't seen it, go see it. Don't go alone-- take a friend.
Then sit for a while and think about the priorities this nation has toward the rest of the world and wonder if they are right and ethical.

(if you have access to Aladin, read this article about former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake watching the movie in horror and shame, knowing he was one of those who did not answer the calls for help.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

This Intelligence story has some real legs, as they say in the media biz.
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon was creating a new secret intelligence unit to engage in new covert human intelligence operations. This is a big deal--in part because no one else seemed to know what Rumsfeld was doing, and in part because its a major change in the make up of the Intelligence Community.

I am fascinated by this.
Two reasons, really.

1-- Its a major bureacratic battle in the shadows of the Washington coridors of power. You have the Pentagon, under Rumsfeld, expanding its turf at the expense of the CIA. Heretofore, covert ops had been a unique capability of the Agency's directorate of operations. Now, you have the DoD seeking to have its own covert operatives, giving Defense its own source of direct intel and cutting the Agency out of the process. Speculation in the article is that some at Defense are unhappy with the CIA over Iraq. Maybe. But there is a second dimention of the power grab, and that is by the Administration away from Congress. There is strict (supposedly) Congressional oversight of covert CIA operations by the Intelligence Committee. That committee, however, has no jurisdiction over military operations which are the provence of the Armed Services Committee. Armed Services deals with all Pentagon stuff, so are they really going to do the same level of oversight as Intel? Probably not. Of course there will now be hearings on this whole thing.

2--This also deals with a neat little distinction in US law, between Clandistine and Covert. Covert actions are strictly regulated by law, are subject to oversight, and are for those times when the US government wants to deny any involvement in an activity. Clandistine actions are secret but not deny-able. So, for example, say that the US wanted to help the opposition win in the recent Ukranian elections. Obviously any interference would be bad press, and would probably hurt the guy we were trying to help. You'd want a covert action here. Clandistine ops are like, say, a special forces mission doing pre-invasion recon work in Iraq. Before the war, no one can know they are there. But, after the war, its fine to tell the story. The military is legally allowed to engage in all kinds of Clandistine ops to support ongoing missions.
What the Bush Administration is doing is applying that to the Global War on Terror-- a global, ongoing war-- to justify these new secret missions.

Now, supposedly the new Director of National Intelligence would have some say or control over all this, but we don't yet have one.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Today Bush took his oath of office for a second term. Interestingly, his speech was mainly focused on a broad vision of the US and its role in the world-- not domestic issues.
In the transcript of the speech, Bush makes the bold statement that:
The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
Its a quintessentially American call for global activism in the name of democracy and freedom. In the contemporary politics of Bush's foreign policy, it is meant to buttress support for his actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and potentially Iran.
But it also harkens to a long-standing tradition of Liberalism guiding US Foreign Policy. Compare Bush's speech to Woodrow Wilson's second inaugural speech. Each needed to reassure a skeptical public that the controversial war he had thrust the US into was the right course of action (recall that WWI was quite controversial at the time).
Wilson said the US believes:
That all nations are equally interested in the peace of the world and in the political stability of free peoples, and equally responsible for their maintenance; that the essential principle of peace is the actual equality of nations in all matters of right or privilege; that peace cannot securely or justly rest upon an armed balance of power; that governments derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed and that no other powers should be supported by the common thought, purpose or power of the family of nations...
Its a strikingly similar message.

The key difference between Bush's liberal internationalism and Wilson's liberal internationalism is not what they seek-- a peaceful world of free peoples in free nations-- but how to get there and how to maintain that order.
Its a big difference though.... can you see in the two speeches how profound that gulf is?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Appropriate for our discussion of American Exceptionalism....

Front page story in today's Post-- Supreme Court Justices come to AU to debate the role of International law in thier decisions.
(an interesting IR question in its own right)

The discussion shows how powerful the idea of American Exceptionalism is. Note the following statement by Justice Scalia:

"We don't have the same moral and legal framework as the rest of the world and never have," he said yesterday, adding that the framers of the U.S. Constitution "would be appalled" to see the document they wrote interpreted in light of the views of European courts.

Breyer counters, saying that we can learn from the legal experiences of others, particularly in business and trade law and such--in an era of globalization, what they do and what we do isn't all that different any more.

Scalia has American Exceptionalism-- from Winthrop and Washingotn-- on his side.
Breyer has the rest of the world (including the global business community).

Who would you take?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Game On!
School is starting and so does a new section of 382, the namesake of this blog.
Also, so too begins a new season of 24, which might have replaced West Wing as my favorite TV show (though WW is still decent and I will probably comment on both...)

Welcome to the new class, welcome back to anyone from before.

What's new and exciting? There's a new debate about what to do in Iraq-- How long will we be there, when should we leave? Its a major policy issue, it engages major and broad debates over the direction of US Foreign Policy and involves key historical and theoretical concepts of USFP.
Its what we'll talk about in class and its what we can discuss in the blog.
that's why its such fun.

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