June 28, 2007 § Leave a comment
Here are some difficult and important articles
William Easterly lays out the idea that the theory of development is as equally difficult and dangerous as the theories of fascism and communism. This article from foreign affairs in summary can be found in total at
An article proposes that Robert Zoellick could use the bank’s influence to help revive dead capital in developing countries by appointing Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto as chief economist for the World Bank. De Soto zero is that four people have a long document of land which, if they own to it and had title, they could get bank loans on. What he fails to recognize or maybe actually understands, is that four people would sell the land to richer people how it then get the benefit of its future development. The marketization of everything is not good for most people.
And we have, From Foreign Affairs, Azar Gat (Tel Aviv): The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers.
THE END OF THE END OF HISTORY
Today’s global liberal democratic order faces two challenges. The first is radical Islam — and it is the lesser of the two challenges. Although the proponents of radical Islam find liberal democracy repugnant, and the movement is often described as the new fascist threat, the societies from which it arises are generally poor and stagnant. They represent no viable alternative to modernity and pose no significant military threat to the developed world. It is mainly the potential use of weapons of mass destruction — particularly by nonstate actors — that makes militant Islam a menace.
The second, and more significant, challenge emanates from the rise of nondemocratic great powers: the West’s old Cold War rivals China and Russia, now operating under authoritarian capitalist, rather than communist, regimes. Authoritarian capitalist great powers played a leading role in the international system up until 1945. They have been absent since then. But today, they seem poised for a comeback.
June 24, 2007 § Leave a comment
The power of a coherent story across names, events and episodes. these stories on Cheney and Justice in Alabama (Rove) show the way.
‘A Different Understanding With the President’
Just past the Oval Office, in the private dining room overlooking the South Lawn, Vice President Cheney joined President Bush at a round parquet table they shared once a week. Cheney brought a four-page text, written in strict secrecy by his lawyer. He carried it back out with him after lunch.
In less than an hour, the document traversed a West Wing circuit that gave its words the power of command. It changed hands four times, according to witnesses, with emphatic instructions to bypass staff review. When it returned to the Oval Office, in a blue portfolio embossed with the presidential seal, Bush pulled a felt-tip pen from his pocket and signed without sitting down. Almost no one else had seen the text.
Cheney’s proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court — civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed “military commissions.”
“What the hell just happened?” Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.
and Scott Horton’s column online for Harper’s
Was the name Atticus coincidental? It is a Latin name, of course. Later in life, I studied classics and I came across the name of Titus Pomponius Atticus, the dearest friend of Cicero, the man to whom De amicitia is dedicated. The man to whom partisan politics was an abomination: the corruptor of society, the subverter of justice. Rather than become involved in the fratricidal squabbles that marked the last days of the Roman Republic, Atticus withdrew from public life. He believed in a reserved judgment, always carefully detached from any bonds of personal friendship, family or partisan alignment. His character has been taken through history, thanks to the glowing portrait of Cicero, as the essence of what is judicious. And then it struck me. This is why Harper Lee took the name “Atticus.” Atticus Finch is the best-named character in the whole of American literature. His character is defined by a love of justice.
And where today is the spirit of Atticus?
“We have a Justice Department that has substantially been turned into a political arm of the White House,” Bruce Fein told the McClatchy Newspapers earlier this week. He went on to say that the public could have no confidence that federal prosecutions of Democrats by the Justice Department were fair. Mr. Fein is a conservative Republican lawyer and legal scholar of some note–the former senior legal analyst at the Heritage Foundation. As the Deputy Attorney General, he was responsible for the operational management of the Justice Department under President Ronald Reagan. Bruce Fein would not make such a charge lightly. He is speaking from knowledge, not conjecture.
June 23, 2007 § Leave a comment
A few excerpts. I am not knowledgeable abot the details, but the general tone of cutting through the fog and the human realities of “enemies” feels right. Worth a reading, this first of a five part article.
With President George W Bush’s choice of ex-Central Intelligence Agency director Robert Gates to take over the Pentagon, this most uninformed of presidents unwittingly gave us back vital pages of our recent history. If Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the neo-conservative claque in the second echelon of the administration are all complicit in today’s misrule, Gates personifies older, equally serious, if less recognized, less remembered abuses. His laden resume offers needed evidence that Washington’s tortuous, torturing foreign policies did not begin with the Bush administration – and will not end with it.
In the late summer of 1918, US troops landed in north Russia and in Siberia, part of a joint military intervention with the French, British and Japanese to aid the monarchists and turn the tide against the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war; meanwhile, across America, an accompanying Great Red Scare loosed mass arrests, persecutions and deportations of foreign radicals of every stripe. It was “a moment of political repression”, wrote noted historian Howard Zinn, “unparalleled in United States history”. In a sweeping onslaught of reaction, all-American Wichita would, by 1919, imprison and try hundreds of its citizens, assumed seditious, if not terrorist, simply for having joined, or worked for, a union.
And what about Goldberg’s contention that charter schools also perform better? Well, Bush’s Education Department found that charter schools nationwide under-perform, with test scores showing “charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools.” (The Bush administration responded to the report by announcing it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.)
What America’s analysts and policymakers lost in their stunted worldview was the sheer complexity, contradiction and paradox of the Soviet Union, all relevant to informed policy. Missing between myopia and phobia was the authentic alternative to the Baltic syndrome’s policy by caricature: an intellectual openness and seriousness, honesty and sensibility, that might have led to genuine insight, to actual “intelligence” that could have saved lives and fortunes, even moderated the Kremlin tyranny and hastened its end.
The postwar Soviet leaders were creatures of their preconceptions and preoccupations, and of their odious politics, as much as any ruling class in history. Yet to relegate them to caricature, to ignore the touchstones of their lives, was ultimate folly. What American specialists saw were not fearful, compromised “human beings like ourselves”, but monstrous, implacable, mythically evil enemies in ill-fitting suits, to be opposed at all costs, with the end – the “defeat” of Russia one way or another – justifying the means.
June 21, 2007 § Leave a comment
Looking at efforts to reach a “centrist” politics. I’ve argued (GardenWorld draft) that there is majority view , but it is not the average or a compromise between the two party positions. the real majority view lies off to the side so to speak, because both parties are in agreement about maintaining the centrality of current power and profit.
Bloomberg and Schwartznegger from the two sides of the country are making an effort to break through. Dan Wood is looking at the effort.
First up was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, delivering a scathing admonition: “The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses have paralyzed decisionmaking,” he told a group of some 200 national politicos and guests. We can turn around … our wrongheaded course, if we start basing our actions on ideas [and] shared values … without regard to party.”
The next day, his partner in taking to task the political climate, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), echoed: “There really is no more urgent issue facing America today than … bridging the political divide.”
Others, such as Mayor Bloomberg – the former Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent – call it simply “nonpartisan leadership.” The emphasis is on ideas over ideology, building trust instead of enmity with opposing politicians, embracing innovation with more regard to citizens than to which party thought of it first – or who gets credit. The idea also plays into the yearning of an increasingly frustrated voting public for another principle: Get it done.
Bloomberg, too, has reversed a dreadful job-approval rating, below 20 percent. After a series of get-it-done initiatives – from a crackdown on illegal guns to bans on smoking and trans-fats to affordable housing initiatives – his rating is now in the 70s.
The New York mayor and the California governor are hammering a note that resonates with the public. Seventy-five percent like leaders who are willing to compromise, and 60 percent like leaders whose positions are a mix of liberal and conservative, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington.
The best records of reach-across-the-aisle politicians have been at state and local levels, many experts say. Schwarzenegger has been leading the pack. After several stumbles in his first two years, he appointed a Democrat as his chief of staff last year. He has since made headlines with global warming and healthcare initiatives, prison reform, and a state infrastructure overhaul.
One reason postpartisan ideas have a harder time gaining currency nationally is that those who vote in nominating primaries are more liberal or conservative than the general voting public. Eventual nominees feel beholden to those who get them to office.
“I would argue that many of the likely party nominees for president – especially Hillary Clinton – are almost certain to continue the deep partisan divide that has characterized America through the Clinton and Bush terms,” says Larry Sabato, political scientist at the University of Virginia.
“But when these unifying governors run for president (like the cases of Clinton and Bush), they have to take stands in the culture wars and on matters of war and peace.”
What strikes me is the lack of content. It really is compromise politics around the most pubic issues, but not dealing with the problems the public is most concerned about: jobs, the American position in the world, or the nature of financial capitalism. the future of the economy and the distribution of profit and pain will be central, but not centrally dealt with.
One can see that the Bloomberg – Schwartenegger kind of bipartisanship is the attempt t hold together this economy in the face of mounting failure and criticism – not to change the rules or outcomes significantly.
June 11, 2007 § Leave a comment
linking security and world povery.
Today, the ONE Campaign launched ONE Vote ‘08, which will push presidential candidates to “make the fight against global poverty a key foreign policy and security issue.” ONE Vote ‘08 plans to spend at least $30 million to educate voters on the fight against global poverty. Watch the campaign video featuring U2’s Bono, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, actor Matt Damon, and others:
Today, ThinkProgress attended a briefing with the ONE Vote ‘08 co-chairs, former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Bill Frist (R-TN), along with advisers Michael Gerson and John Podesta. All participants stressed that the fight against global poverty is necessary to ensure America’s national security. Daschle stated that the “new paradigm” of national security extends beyond military power:
[W]e really can’t simply respond to suicide bombers and think somehow that alone will be the investment in national security that we need for the future. That a new paradigm with a realization that there is a direct impact between our success on the ground in Uganda and our safety and security in the United States can be drawn.
Sample Chapter for Rowe, D.E. and Schulmann, R., eds.: Einstein on Politics: His Private Thoughts and Public Stands on Nationalism, Zionism, War, Peace, and the Bomb.
June 5, 2007 § Leave a comment
Due to military victory in 1870 and successes in the fields of commerce and industry, this country has arrived at a kind of religion of power, which has found fitting and by no means exaggerated expression in Treitschke. This religion holds almost all intellectuals in its sway; it has eradicated almost completely the ideals of Goethe and Schiller’s time. I know people in Germany whose private lives are guided by virtually unbounded altruism, but who were awaiting the declaration of unlimited submarine warfare with the greatest impatience. I am firmly convinced that this aberration can only be curbed by hard facts. These people must be shown that it is necessary to have consideration for non-Germans as worthy equals, that it is essential to earn the trust of foreign countries, in order to be able to exist, that the goals that one sets for oneself cannot be achieved through force and treachery. Even combating the goal with intellectual weapons seems hopeless to me; people like Nicolai are characterized with genuine conviction as “utopians.” Only facts can dissuade the majority of the misled from their delusion that we live for the state, and that its intrinsic purpose is to accumulate at any price the greatest power possible. . . .