Next Nostradamus

by on 2008-12-01- Leave a reply

What are you watching?I'm tuned to the History Channel's "Next Nostradamus":Two men sharing startling visions of the future possess distinctly different backgrounds: Michel de Nostradamus was a French apothecary and healer in the 16th century; he would become the most famous seer in history. His 21st century counterpart is Dr. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a renowned political scientist who teaches game theory at New York University and Stanford. While Nostradamus looked to the stars and mysticism to divine his apocalyptic revelations, Dr. Bueno de Mesquita relies on the most omnipotent tool ever designed by man to predict future events: the
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The Best Chicken EVER!

by on 2008-12-01- Leave a reply

El Pollo Rico is back!!! Let the rejoicing commence!I just ate the best chicken one can buy in the Washington DC metro area. After a weekend of excellent food, this was perhaps the best thing I ate (with the possible exception of my pumpkin pies, those were quite nice and I do love pumpkin pie). If it weren't raining, I'd consider shouting from the rooftop.El Pollo Rico makes rotisserie chicken--that's it--and its the best around. It was a special type of restaurant in its previous incarnation, a hole in the wall in a strip of otherwise forgettable stores in Wheaton.
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Krugman goes constructionist

by on 2008-11-29- Leave a reply

Many years ago, I attended a talk by Michael Shapiro. He was doing something on memory and place, and showed a clip from some Steve Martin movie--Father of the Bride, maybe II--and a colleague of mine, ever the concerned young scholar, said Yes, but Professor Shapiro, over in Bosnia (which was going on at the time), people are dying, and here you are showing movies. What does this tell us that we should do to stop that?And he replied: Who is this "we"?In his current column, Paul Krugman channels his inner pomo and opens with a similar story:A few months
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An Alternative to Gibbeting

by on 2008-11-29- Leave a reply

In a Reuters op-ed yesterday, Bernd Debusmann makes "the business case for high seas piracy":As far as illicit businesses with low risk and high rewards go, it doesn't get much better than piracy on the high seas. The profit margins can easily surpass those of the cocaine trade. The risks? "There is no reason not to be a pirate," according to U.S. Vice Admiral William Gortney, who commands the U.S. navy's Fifth Fleet. "The vessel I'm trying to pirate, they won't shoot at me. I'm going to get my money." Even pirates who are intercepted have little to fear. "They
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Will Afghanistan be Obama’s Iraq?

by on 2008-11-28- Leave a reply

Last night, at a couple of gatherings with family and friends, some people were speculating that Afghanistan could become Barack Obama's Vietnam -- or Iraq. A blogger at the socialist Monthly Review made this precise charge last summer. Should we reasonably fear this possibility?First, events since election day seem to assure that Obama's campaign promise about Iraq withdrawal will be fulfilled.Since I posted about "Obama's exit strategy?" just 10 days ago, Iraq's Parliament has approved a Status of Forces Agreement with the US establishing a formal timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. American troops must be out of Iraq
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Instead of Heading to the Mall Today, What Say We Nudge the EU to Protect Congolese Civilians?

by on 2008-11-28- Leave a reply

If you're like me (or Dan) and you live in the U.S., you spent much of yesterday's holiday feeling lucky to be living in America and not in Goma (or Mumbai. Or Darfur.) Well, in the spirit of Dan's suggestion in his last post, note this appeal from Avaaz.org.The brutal war in Congo is escalating, as a terrified Congolese people plead for Europe to send peacekeepers to protect them. European leaders are wavering as their council meeting approaches - we have just one week to persuade them to act.We know how to do it -- last week, Avaaz ran a
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Thanksgiving

by on 2008-11-27- Leave a reply

Rob Farley Scott Lemieux (sorry, Scott):Somehow, this doesn't seem like the right time for a chipper Thanksgiving greeting...The terror attack on Mumbai certainly sucks the cheer out of Thanksgiving.In fact, almost every Thanksgiving something terrible is happening somewhere in the world, whether headline grabbing or not. For over ten years, to take but two examples, it has been a pretty good bet that unspeakably awful (and probably non-headline grabbing) events are taking place in the Congo or the Sudan.This is probably an inevitable consequence of a globalized world. It isn't so much that death, terror, pain, and misery aren't part
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Happy Thanksgiving!

by on 2008-11-27- Leave a reply

Its Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. I'm in Ohio, visiting family in Cleveland and Canton. Driving out here Tuesday night was quite the adventure, there's nothing like a minor snow storm on the Pennsylvania turn pike. When we finally did arrive at 1:30am, the driveway was slick and my car couldn't make it up! There's nothing like shoveling a driveway at 1:30am. There's snow on the ground here--something that is a fact of life in Cleveland but inconceivable back in DC. Yesterday I baked pies. Two plus a small mini-pie. Pumpkin. Used the recipe on the side of the
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Why It May Be Good To Think Twice Before Opening Fire On Pirates

by on 2008-11-27- Leave a reply

Daniel Sekulitch provides an update on the pirate "mothership" sunk by India last week in a much-trumpeted police action on the high seas:"It has now been confirmed by the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre that the vessel sunk last week by an Indian warship was not a pirate mothership but, rather, a fishing boat that had been hijacked by pirates. The Thai-owned fishing boat, Ekawat Nava 5, had been commandeered early on November 18 and the crew had been tied up by their captors, according to the shipowner. Later that same day, the Indian Navy Ship Tabar encountered the Ekawat Nava
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Erosi Kitsmarishvili points the finger at Tbilisi

by on 2008-11-26- Leave a reply

The New York Times reports:A parliamentary hearing on the origins of the war between Georgia and Russia in August ended in a furor on Tuesday after a former Georgian diplomat testified that Georgian authorities were responsible for starting the conflict.Erosi Kitsmarishvili, Tbilisi’s former ambassador to Moscow, testified for three hours before he was shouted down by members of Parliament.A former confidant of President Mikheil Saakashvili, Mr. Kitsmarishvili said Georgian officials told him in April that they planned to start a war in Abkhazia, one of two breakaway regions at issue in the war, and had received a green light from
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Teaching IR Theory Through LOTR

by on 2008-11-22- Leave a reply

Picked up my copy of International Studies Perspectives yesterday to discover Abigail Ruane and Patrick James' article "The International Relations of Middle Earth: Learning from The Lord of the Rings" leading the "Pedagogy and the Discipline" Section. Just another example of why ISP is my favorite IR journal. I read the article with gusto. The piece "overviews how J.R.R. Tolkien's acclaimed triology is relevant to learing about IR and then presents a number of 'cuts' into using LOTR to inform IR teaching of both problem solving and critical theory." These include relating IR's three "Great Debates" and what the authors
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The Problems we face facing the Pirate Problem

by on 2008-11-22- Leave a reply

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10cThe Buccaneer Stops HereBarack Obama InterviewJohn McCain InterviewSarah Palin VideoFunny Election VideoWhy is it so hard to deal with the Pirate problem? The Daily Show is onto something here....
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Pirates and Sovereigns

by on 2008-11-20- 1 Comment

This post began as a response to the comments on Peter's recent post on pirates, but they got to be so long, and required hyperlinks, I decided to start a new thread. In his comment to that post, T. Greer asks what the pirates who hijacked the oiltanker Sirius Star were thinking, since they can't deal with the logistics involved in selling the cargo and were certainly likely to provoke the great powers (further) by targeting such a prize. Somali pirates want two things, as far as I can tell: 1) Money, which is why their strategies have been based
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Obama’s exit strategy?

by on 2008-11-18- Leave a reply

Today, Jesse Singal has an excellent post challenging the role of conventional wisdom in making national security policy. All-too-often, he suggests, the terms of political debate and the potential policy options are locked in by a national security elite that infrequently finds its ideas contested, however dubious they might be.For example, what are we to make of the forthcoming increased attention devoted to Afghanistan and Pakistan -- even though many security analysts don't see much of a threat from the Taliban and al Qaeda forces located there? Singal references a provocative article by Juan Cole in today's Salon, which strongly
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The CCP in a bind

by on 2008-11-18- Leave a reply

The Chinese Communist Party has sunk all of its legitimacy, understandably, into the continued growth of the Chinese economy and a steady increase in their citizens' standard of living. One of the "nightmare" scenarios for China watchers is that, faced with an inability to generate enough jobs to satisfy domestic needs, the party turns to aggressive nationalism as an alternative means of staying in power. But with thawing relations between Taiwan and China, the party's targets are more limited than they once were. So what to do? How about force companies to continue employing workers?Companies in two Chinese provinces, Shandong
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Pirates get ambitious

by on 2008-11-18- Leave a reply

Just when you thought that the Pirates couldn't get any more ambitious than seizing a freighter full of Ukrainian weapons...Somali Pirates seized a Saudi supertanker Tuesday. The tanker, one of the largest ships on the ocean, is the size of a US Aircraft carrier and three times a heavy when full. It has a crew of 25 (by comparison, an air craft carrier has a crew of over 5000). It carries over a quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily crude output.It is, perhaps, one of the most valuable targets that the Pirates could have seized. Its contents are estimated to be
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Are we doomed?

by on 2008-11-18- Leave a reply

I discuss, at Culture11, Obama's foreign-policy challenges.
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Hell hath no fury

by on 2008-11-18- Leave a reply

Rob Farley points our attention to the latest from Iceland:Foreign diplomats hardly believed what they heard when the Icelandic president said that his country needs “new friends” and that Russia should be invited to take use of the old U.S. airbase of Keflavik.In the lunch which took place in Reykjavik last Friday, Mr. Grimsson accused neighboring countries of failing to support the crisis-ridden Iceland, newspaper Dagbladet reports with reference to Klassekampen.An internal memo from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, obtained by the newspaper, describes the diplomats present in the event as “shocked” by the speech.But Rob doesn't quote the most salient
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Celebrities: Blowback or Blow-off?

by on 2008-11-13- Leave a reply

Among the insights of New Yorker's analysis of Obama's campaign" is this interesting discussion of "celebrity blowback": "In July... a McCain ad compared Obama to Paris Hilton. What seemed to outsiders like a trivial, even ridiculous attack had an enormous impact inside Obama's headquarters.The campaign kept Obama away from celebrities as much as possible. A Hollywood fund-raiser with Barbra Streisand became a source of deep anxiety and torturous discussions. In Denver, celebrities who in past Presidential campaigns would have had major speaking roles were shielded from public view. "We spent hours trying to celebrity-down the Democratic National Convention," the aide
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The Undiscovered Country

by on 2008-11-13- Leave a reply

Toward the end of the Cold War, Georgi Arbatov, the top America analyst in the Soviet Union, told his American interlocutors that the USSR was doing a terrible thing to the US, it was depriving it of its enemy. In a letter to the NY Times in 1987, he wrote:And here we have a ''secret weapon'' that will work almost regardless of the American response - we would deprive America of The Enemy. And how would you justify without it the military expenditures that bleed the American economy white, a policy that draws America into dangerous adventures overseas and drives
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