Friday, January 27, 2006

Hammas is not good for the region

Yesterday we discussed how complicated the situation can be if Hammas does not control the suicide attacks and the situation in the region will get out of control and the U.S will cut aid to the Palestinian authority which can further complicate the situation. It appears to be a surprise that Hammas won, however I am not surprised that Hammas has won the election in the Palestinian authority, after all Hammas was giving hope to majority of the Palestinian people by doing charity work and by carrying out suicide attacks against Israel. Most of the Palestinian people do not like Israel and would like it gone. What many people forget is that the Palestinians do not like the United States either and that Palestinians burned American flags after 9/11, our tragedy was a big celebration for them and I do not understand why we thought that the Palestinian people would elect a leader that would move the region forward. While democracy is United State's approach in many instances and speard of democracy is important, however in this particular instance it would have been better to nominate a leader in the Palestinian authority that would move the peace process further between the Palestinians and Israelis and somebody that can make progress in the region. I do not believe that Hammas organization is capable of moving the region forward and it will be interesting to see how the situation will develop in the next few years and only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

An interesting argument

I have to admit I've had trouble assessing the Iraq war. Part of me sympathizes with the idea preempting what was at least then a perceived threat. On the other hand, I see how this has turned many countries even more against us and redirected resources that could have been better used against greater threats. Now that we're there, though, I think it's important to be successful in reaching our goals so we don't face the same kind of humiliation we've experienced before.

Well, the article we read for Monday by R.D.Hooker posed one of the most convincing arguments to me against this kind of war. He says that military misadventure like Iraq is dangerous because it declines the credibility of the military in citizens' eyes. According to him, this is a serious problem because America needs to commit to the idea of war in order to preserve our freedoms and institutions against the coming onslaught (Clash of Civilizations-esque).

I think this is a good point. Now that we've gotten ourselves into so much political correctness trouble by going to war with Iraq, and there's so much criticism at home and abroad, it will probably be difficult to sustain a military commitment that we need to defend ourselves in the future. It will be hard to reestablish the credibility of our military missions in the eyes of the American and international publics. That is, unless another 9/11 brings the threat back to our attention.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Presentation Schedule

Here we go:

Week 4: John Drury

Week 5: Reggie Gibbs

Week 6: Cody Ryan

Week 7: Chris Pullela

Week 8: Abby Crawford, Catherine Caldwell

Week 9: Jennifer Griffin

Week 10: Arijan Kevric

Week 11: Vladimir Gomelsky, Michael McKee

Week 12: Marie Moser

Week 13: George

Week 14: Ryan Quarles

The Relevance of Thucydides (or the lack thereof)

So we discussed Thucydides today. We heard the argument that the Spartans were more honorable, and some apparently believe that is why they won. After all, if you've got to side with a major power, it might as well be one that keeps its word. Thus, it could be argued that Thucydides's writings contain a lesson in morality for great powers. With all due respect, I must disagree with this interpretation. History is never this clear-cut.

Another interpretation of Thucydides is a comparison of the Athenian and Spartan governments. Athens was a prosperous democracy; Sparta was an militaristic aristocracy. In Athens, ideas were freely discussed, and any citizen (citizenship being far more narrowly defined then) could hold office. Spartan society virtually centered on maintaining control of the helots, the slave caste. I would think that parallels between the US and Athens would be obvious, while parallels between Sparta and various authoritarian governments would be equally plain. Athens lost. I have no doubt that militaristic societies such as Nazi Germany used Thucydides to support their wars. "Athens lost. The US will, too. Why? Because democracies are weak." I don't agree with this interpretation. I'm just using it as an example of a potential lesson in Thucydides.

There are a lot of lessons in Thucydides; many of them are still relevant. Thucydides is like virtually any historian; what get out of his writings depends on how you approach them.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Check out this awesome New York Times article on the watermelon shaped rock in Russia.

"The Power of Nightmares"

I've learned through an academic colleague that the BBC has aired the first
of a three-part documentary on the rise of violent Islamic extremism. My
colleague says that the documentary, "The Power of Nightmares," is "a
must-see." I just got thru watching them, while the first episode was interesting, the rest just used very selective information (during the trials of suspected terrorists, they only interviewed defense lawyers!) to try to prove there is no real terrorism threat, and that we are making too much of a deal about it - of course it was made in 2004, before the bombings in London and sort of ignored the fact that 9/11 was real. Perhaps if we ignore it, it will go
away? I thought I would just put this up if anyone was intrested, plus it helped me test this blog. He provides the following links for anyone interested in this

For some online reviews, see here.

For the documentaries themselves, see here, here, and here.

Schedule Change


Note that Schelling has been switched to Week 4, and Waltz et al have been switched to Week 3.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Peach Schnapps, it's disgusting...

After class, I made my way over the gym, where War of the Worlds was playing in its most recent incarnation, and I thought it was particularly appropriate considering our discussion earlier today about values as shaping our approach to security. If you decide to call the world in the film the "state", you can draw some interesting parallels to the earlier discussion. The entire world faces a fairly crushing defeat, even total annihilation at the hands of the invading force, the Tripods. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) and his son Robby Ferrier have very different values in terms of security. Ray is interested in survival, which is why he opposes Robby's desire to join the army fighting the Tripods. Robby places more value on both fighting the Tripods to "get back at them", while his father places more value on survival. Because Robby places more emphasis on fighting the Tripods, he seems to be more community-minded, which prompts him to scale the raised gangplank on the Hudson ferry to save the men and women who are dangling off of it. Ray, by contrast, actually ends the life of another person (Tim Robbins) in order to protect his daughter's life, and to a lesser extent his own.

While this is a particularly broad parallel, it is interesting to watch the interplay between values, even of characters placed in a similar situation by the invading force. Ray is willing to sacrifice a bit of his own integrity, even his moral beliefs, in order to ensure his survival and that of his family. Robby, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice his own life strugglign against the invasionary force because he has different values. Frankly the struggle between father and son reminded me a bit of the struggle between surrendering to ensure the survival of France in some form and the resistance during Vichy France, if only in the most generic terms.

I think it equally interesting that Ray's values shift during his flight from the Tripods. He finds himself forced to defend a group of people when his daughter is taken up into one of the Tripods and he follows her. Afterward, he reaches out to the soldiers to point out that they can destroy the ailing Tripod in Boston, which is not really the sort of action he would have done in the first half of the film. This line of analysis is perhaps a bit thinner, but I do think it's an interesting idea, that even during a conflict values will shift, necessitating a different cost/benefit analysis with regard to what one is willing to accept in terms of security.

Okay, that's it for my treadmill deconstruction of the film.