Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Presentation Schedule

Here is the presentation schedule that I have for the semester:

Week 3: Mike
Week 4: Trebelhorn
Week 5: Douglas
Week 6: Windus
Week 7: Pantano
Week 8: Bellamy
Week 9: Riley
Week 10: Burnette
Week 11: Puglisi
Week 12: Boafo
Week 13: Patrick
Week 14: Sauer

If I've forgotten anyone, or if anyone can't understand why they've been assigned to a particular week, let me know.

Recruitment Ads

Seaman Ship

This is pretty bad, but I wonder how normal it is in the world for military ads to be this bad (from a Westerner's POV)? What specific countries could replicate "Seamen Ship"? I think it would have to be a country that is a crossroads for bad pop music, voluntary military culture, and moderate to high per capita GDP. Something tells me that Italy and Libya would qualify.

Here's a Czech military ad, an Irish military ad, and a Phillipino military ad. All of which are more like American productions.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On Careful Writing

The difference between international politics as it actually is and a rational theory derived from it is like the difference between a photograph and a painted portrait. The photograph shows everything that can be seen by the naked eye; the painted portrait does not show everything that can be seen by the naked eye, but it shows, or at least seeks to show, one thing that the naked eye cannot see: the human essence of the person portrayed.
Morgenthau, Six Principles of Political Realism

It is self evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident…
Adorno, Aesthetic Theory

It struck me in the first couple of pages that Morgenthau seemed a little sloppy in his writing -- nothing that struck me as awful, but a bit vague. And then this one hit me between the eyes. Using art as an analogy presumes that art is simpler, more easily understood, than the thing you seek to explain by that analogy.

Without going into the whole art-historical argument about photography and painting, I’ll just say that for Morgenthau, his theory derives from actual politics. Photographs and paintings exist on the same level of abstraction – both are, or can be, representations; one is not derived from the other.

Morgenthau’s theory and reality do not in any way compete with each other – it’s nonsensical to imagine such a thing; how would essays about the nature of Power replace relations between states? On the other hand, photography and painting serve similar ends, fulfill similar functions, occupy the same literal and figurative spaces.

Adorno and Morgenthau were contemporaries; yet Morgenthau’s aesthetics would have been conservative a century earlier, when Baudelaire attacked the mere descriptive nature of photography, “a servant-girl to the sciences.”

It’s just so careless, ignorant, and haphazard.

Speaking of bad writing, one of our professors – in a blurb on the cover of a book he assigned for his class – gives us the following:
“This is the best book in terms of its organization, writing, and quality of ideas as well as a superb framing of the problems and issues in this field.”

The structure of the sentence implies that:
1. This is the best-written, best-organized book. Ever. And it has the best ideas ever put in a book.
2. Also, it’s superb in its coverage of the field of study.

Even attempted praise for quality writing is poorly written. Are the standards of writing just that sloppy in this profession?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Iraq & Lebanon Through the Lens of Fearon

After reading the Fearon article for this week, I started to think about how rationalists would explain the Iraq and Lebanon wars. Here's how I see it:

Benefits Outweigh the Costs
This seems pretty obvious to me. The administration thought that Iraq wouldn't turn out the way that it has. Rumsfield said that we could draw down to 30,000 troops after a year, Wolfowitz said that oil revenue would pay for reconstruction, etc.

This applies to both Lebanon and Iraq because neither Israel or the US feel there is an international hegemonic power (i.e. United Nations) that exists to credibly threaten states with punishment when they step out of line. Saddam broke UN sanctions for over a decade, and Lebanon never disarmed Hezbollah after Resolution 1441.

Preventative War
This is Iraq from the standpoint that in the future Saddam could have nukes, and it was believed that he already possessed CB weapons. He had to be stopped before he gained too much power, and threatened the stability of the region.

Miscalculation Due to Lack of Info
This seems to be a stretch, but it could also be Iraq from the standpoint that we thought our European allies would join us in Iraq to prevent future threats. Hey, don't laugh. I said it was a stretch.

Miscalcuation About Relative Power
This is definitely postwar Iraq. The insurgents were seen as "dead-enders", and the insurgency was suppose to be in "its last throes" over a year ago. The biggest historical mistake of this war will be not planning for the strength of a postwar insurgency. The Israel-Lebanon war also fits this category. Israel was in no way prepared for how well armed and how well trained Hezbollah would be.