Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Blogging and Hegemony 

I'm watching the Oscars-- I don't really know why, I don't really like the show, its far too much Hollywood self congratulations (you're great, no, you're great, heck, we're all great!) and yet I'm watching when I should be reviewing Ikenberry and Ruggie for tomorrow's class. (I'll get to that at some point, probably between Best song and best director in a supporting role).

What really made me think, though, was when they did best Foreign Language film (won by some German film I'd never heard of. The one I did see, Volver, didn't win). The Academy gives out Best Picture, for The Best Movie of The Year. A few foreign films have been nominated but never won. This year could be interesting, as Letters from Iwo Jima could win best picture and is a foreign language, though American produced film.

Yet what other country's national film awards offer an award for Best American film?

--Ooooh, lets take a brief break to see if Al Gore wins an Oscar!!!
And yes, he did. How about that. George Bush may have won the election but I doubt he'll ever get an Oscar. Gore's a bona fide celebrity now.

Anyway, as I was saying / typing...

What other country would even bother to have a Best American Film? Could you see the French Film Awards giving an award to the Best American film?

But The Academy can certainly judge the best picture of the year, not just here, but from around the world. And the world's celebrities all come to Hollywood for the Oscars. These are the awards to get. This is the Academy to please.

If you want to think about American Hegemony and its influence in shaping the current world in which we live, and if you want to understand how much bigger American Hegemony is than the mere US Government, perhaps The Academy might be an interesting place to start.

They're doing a tribute to an Italian movie score guy. He did the music for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I love that. And he's accepting the award in Italian, with Eastwood semi-translating. Fantastic.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Colbert has caught on to the power of the Frenemy!

Who says Colbert isn't relevant for US Foreign Policy?

(for further discussion of this key issue, watch this!)

Something fun to watch in the snow.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dictators on Parade 

Parade Magazine--that little thing in your Sunday paper with all the advertisements from Best Buy and office Depot--has one article each year that I think is completely brilliant: Who is the World's Worst Dictator?

Its such a simple thing, yet such a powerful statement, I'm surprised more people don't do it. Yet I love that its in Parade magazine--something with such mass circulation in the Sunday paper that people normally look to for celebrity interviews and such. One week a year, they lay out the "bad people" in the world and call American's attention to the other 'evil-doers' in the world outside of the war on terrorism.

This year's list:

1) for the third year in a row topping the list, its Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, in power since 1989. Bashir earned and keeps his ranking because of Darfur.

This is why I love this article-- it reminds a large number of people that there are international issues and leaders worthy of US attention and action. Darfur lingers on the edge of the current USFP agenda, crowded out by items such as Iraq and terrorism. I'm not saying that these things aren't important, but rather, the point is, the worst person in the world (as Olberman might say) is not associated with either issue. There are other things out there that demand attention.

2) Kim Jong Il, everyone's favorite lonely dictator, trying hard to recapture his number 1 ranking he last held in 2004.

3) Sayyid Ali KhamEnei of Iran. Key educational point here-- its not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, but the Supreme Leader, the head of the religious clerics who control Iran who really calls the shots.

4) Hu Jintao, China

5) King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia

Ahhh, now it gets complicated. Key American Frenemies. We need them, we're good friends with them, but Parade reminds us that we're not always friends with the world's best people. Was the source of a fantastic assignment on "Frenemies" in my National Security class last semester-- if anyone from that class is out there reading this, here's a shout-out to you.

6) Than Shwe of Burma (Myanmar). When I posted this over at the Duck, I only gave the top 5, but this one's a shout-out to regular reader MK who wrote all of her papers about Burma.

Check out the rest of the top 20.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Football: the sport of hegemony 

As its ideational hegemony this week, and as I spent a good 3+ minutes in class Monday talking about the Superbowl, I though that this might be appropriate, at least to start.

Gregg Easterbrook, Brookings Institute scholar and author of one of my favorite columns (where else can you get a discussion of football with asides in public policy, international politics, and science fiction?), Tuesday Morning Quarterback, writes today:
The popularity of American-style football is likely to grow internationally – gridiron is taking off in Mexico at the moment, for instance. Not only is football fun to watch and to play, most of the world continues to admire the United States and look up to us – it's our foreign policy the world disdains; the American dream remains beloved almost everywhere. As democracy expands and more nations liberalize, more nations will long to become like the United States. And since football resides near the core of American culture, more people internationally will want the sport. They will reason, "America is strong and free and prosperous, America loves football, maybe football somehow helps you become strong and free and prosperous." There's a case to be made that football actually does help society – I'll suggest why in a moment. Anyway, this awareness, spreading globally, will increase the impact of the sport.

Rather nicely dovetails with Joe Nye's soft power arguments.
Easterbrook continues, however:
Now we get to the major ways in which football will become more important – ways that concern the evolution of culture and economics. As Michael Mandelbaum wrote in his wonderful 2004 book "The Meaning of Sports," football in the past century has leapfrogged other team games in importance because its structure reflects the modern industrial era. Like big corporations and complex organizations, football requires large numbers of people cooperating. As recently as the stillness before World War II, most Americans made their livings working alone or in small groups in agriculture, craftsmanship, merchandising or owner-operated industry. For the past 60 years, large organizations have dominated the social structure of the West. Large organizations ask large numbers of people of diverse backgrounds to work together cooperatively. Football asks large numbers of people of diverse backgrounds to work together cooperatively. And it's not just the guys on the field who must cooperate. TMQ's Law of the Hidden Moms holds that for every boy who steps onto the high school football field, two people worked behind the scenes to make it possible. In big-college and the pros, it's more like five or six behind the scenes for every one on the field. Other team sports require much less in terms of group commitment. For football to happen, large numbers of people who otherwise would have nothing to do with each other must make a commitment to get along. And that describes a modern economy, doesn't it?

Now consider the direction in which the global economy is headed. In a global world, communication and interpersonal skills grow ever-more important. The explosion in communication, especially, means the successful person of coming decades must be able to cooperate with not just those in his or her immediate field of vision, but people all around the country and all around the world. Daily contact with people all around the country, if not all around the world, is the likely state of affairs for coming generations. Because sports are part of education, there will be rising emphasis on sports that teach interpersonal skills. And that points to more importance for football.

Learn to love football, and learn to organize your society and economy in a way that serves the "modern industrial era." Learn to want what we want to uphold a particular economic and cultural order. Almost Gramscian (via Cox in IR), one could say.

Football as the new tool of hegemony?

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Speaking of a lot of money... 

Bush Administration Seeks $245B for Wars

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration will ask for another $100 billion for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year and seek $145 billion for 2008, a senior administration official said Friday.

Now that's some serious cash.
Bowing to pressure from Congress, the administration will also break down the $145 billion request for next year into detailed form.

For 2009, the White House assumes spending will be down to $50 billion, with no funding planned beyond then in hopes the war in Iraq will have wound down.

Lesson #1 in Washington: Budget is policy. There are no better clues as to how the Bush Administration plans to fight the war over the next two years than the budget requests.
The spiraling war spending _ up from $120 billion approved by Congress for 2006 _ is largely to replace equipment destroyed in combat or worn out in harsh conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lesson #2-- War's expensive. Very expensive.

$245 Billion. Wow, that's some serious cash....

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