Capital Mobility

by Kieran Healy on September 15, 2003

Daniel’s post on the Cancun trade talks explains that their failure was rooted in disagreement about restrictions on foreign investment and capital controls. This reminds me that it’s time you all re-read Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas and Olivier Jeanne’s paper “The Elusive Benefits from International Financial Integration,” which I blogged about a few months ago.

You’ve probably seen the quote from Dick Cheney that Sept. 11 is “over with now, it’s done, it’s history and we can put it behind us.” In context, it’s obvious that he doesn’t mean that we should forget 9/11. Obviously, the White House observed a memorial, as is appropriate.

No, it’s much worse than that. In context, what he’s doing is arguing that any public investigation of September 11th will hurt the war on terror. Specifically, he’s responding to a question about the abundant evidence of Saudi involvement in 9/11. If we let that evidence influence our approach to terrorism, it would be bad, for some reason.

Except for that misleading quotation, I’ve got to give credit to Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus for this report. They do what Tim Russert repeatedly failed to do during his interview of the Vice-President: when Cheney said something false or misleading, they provide the correct information. It’s astounding. I hope that Milbank is writing a book.

UPDATE: For the record, here are some of the misleading statements that Cheney used to defend the Bush administration’s conduct re: Iraq. These are all from Sunday’s interview:

– We still have reason to believe that Mohammed Atta, one of the September 11th hijackers, met with Iraqi intelligence agencies in Prague months before the attack. (The FBI concluded that Atta was in Florida at the time of the alleged meeting. The meeting is not supported by the CIA, Czech intelligence, or the actual Iraqi intelligence officer in question.)

– Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s government had an ongoing relationship throughout the 90s. (They had eight meetings, primarily in the early 90s.)

– Cheney was correct to dismiss the views of Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, who said we will need, quote, ‘several hundred thousand for several years.’ (Shinseki did not mention “several years” in his testimony.)

– David Kay used to run UNSCOM. (David Kay did not run UNSCOM; he spent one year the chief inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency.)

– Before the war, Saddam posessed “500 tons of uranium.” (Highly misleading; it was the waste product of a nuclear reaction that Saddam wouldn’t have been able to refine.)

– “A gentleman” had come forward “with full designs for a process centrifuge system to enrich uranium and the key parts that you need to build such a system.” (Iraqi scientist Mahdi Obeidi, had denied that the nuclear program had been reconstituted after 1991. I’m pretty sure that Cheney is overstating when he talks about “full designs” and “key parts”, but I don’t know enough to swear to it.)

– Two trucks found in northern Iraq were mobile biological weapons labs. (The government had previously backed down on this claim after Pentagon investigators couldn’t back it up.)

– British intelligence has revalidated the statement in Bush’s SOTU address that Saddam was trying to acquire uranium in Africa. (British intelligence is re-investigating that claim. They haven’t revalidated it, although they say that the judgement that it had occurred was “reasonable”.)

– Iraq was the “geographic base” for the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (The report doesn’t say it, but I’m pretty sure that we attacked Afghanistan because it was the geographic base of the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks. (NOTE: Cleaned up because of sloppy proofreading.))

Philosophy, horses and quill pens

by Chris Bertram on September 15, 2003

Larry Solum “adds his thoughts to the philosophical immortality discussion”: His has lots of interest to say, and some extra thoughts on which legal theorists will survive, but I feel a bit sceptical about this:

bq. The twentieth-century was the first time in human history that literally tens of thousands of very smart people worked on philosophical problems for most of their waking hours–with all of the advantages of modern technology– _try writing a really big book with a quill pen or traveling four hundred miles by horse to consult a library_ . In the twentieth century, there was a lot of low hanging philosophical fruit. Much of it was plucked. History will remember.

Does technology really help? Sure, there’s been some philosophical progress but I’m not convinced it has much to do with the availability of typewriters, computers and motor vehicles. Philosophy is a funny business, sort of stuck half way between scientific research and creative writing or music. To the extent to which it is like scientific research then the good thoughts are dissociable from the person having them. But we can also think of a style of writing and thinking as being characteristic of a creative individual and not easily pulled apart from them. Some philosophers are closer to one pole than the other. It is at least arguable that music and literature did a lot better with the horse and the quill pen than they have in the electronic age. Maybe in 100 years we’ll think philosophy did too. Technology might help, but it might just get in the way.

High Noon in Cancun

by Daniel on September 15, 2003

Apparently the Cancun ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation has got to such an appalling standstill that they all decided to pack up and go home. And the interesting thing is that what killed it wasn’t EU intransigence on agricultural subsidies, but rather something called the “Singapore issues”; a set of proposals about foreign investment on which the developed world is more or less united. Which is really rather a scandal., but as I argue below, the good thing about the Cancun collapse is that it allows us to get the measure of the character of the WTO as an organisation.

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Is piracy killing music?

by Chris Bertram on September 15, 2003

The music industry claims the download pirates are killing music. So how bad would things be if the music industry died? “John Holbo paints a plausible picture”:

Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings has the best post I’ve seen in the highly competitive field of flypaper-theory-debunking.

I can’t improve on it. But I’m going to make a prediction that I feel pretty good about: a year from now, no one will be very proud of the flypaper theory.

The street finds its own use for things

by Henry on September 15, 2003

Today I came across “John Palfrey’s”: blog for a class that he’s teaching in Harvard Law School on the Internet and the global economy. Interesting stuff; all the more so for those of us who are beginning to take the first, wobbly steps towards using blogs in the classroom. “Dan Drezner”: used Blogger to put together his syllabus last semester; John Holbo runs a “couple”: of “class”: blogs, and I’ve recently installed Movable Type on the university server so that I can do so myself. Palfrey is pushing his students to start their own blogs as part of the classroom experience – I haven’t had the courage to do this myself. But it seems to me that there are a variety of different ways that you can use blogs in the classroom, each with their own pros and cons. Discussing them in order of increasing ambition …

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