Piecing together Middle East peace

by Henry on February 9, 2004

The “Washington Post”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24025-2004Feb8.html says today that the Bush administration is proposing a new multilateral plan for the Middle East, which would link progress on democracy and human rights in Middle East countries to concessions on trade, aid and security from the advanced industrial democracies. It’s not clear to me that this represents a real policy shift yet; the Post’s major sources seem to come from the State department, which is naturally more sympathetic to multilateralism than other parts of the administration. However, if the Post is correct in suggesting that Cheney has signed on, this could be interesting – it’s certainly a far cry from the intoxicated proposals to remake the Middle East by force that were floating around among neo-cons last year.

Could this plan work? According to the Post, these proposals are modeled on the Helsinki accords, which led to the creation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now “OSCE”:http://www.osce.org ). A few years ago, Greg Flynn and I wrote a “piece”:http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~farrell/Piecing_together.pdf for International Organization arguing that Helsinki and the CSCE had played a key role in securing the democratic transition in Europe.[1] It wasn’t a popular argument at the time, so it’s nice to see that others are now making the same claim. Academic self-justification aside, I’m not at all sure that the new proposal has legs, even if you disregard the differences between Cold War Europe and the Middle East today. The factors that allowed the CSCE to transform Warsaw Pact countries aren’t likely to work in the same way.

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Textile 2

by Kieran Healy on February 9, 2004

Gotta _love_ “Brad Choate”:google and his “Textile 2”:http://www.bradchoate.com/mt/docs/mtmanual_textile2.html plugin[1], which makes it a breeze to write nicely formatted XHTML for your blog.[2] Now we just need an automated _content_ generator, and *CT* will run itself. (“Some bloggers”:http://www.instapundit.com show evidence of such a system already.)

fn1. Even footnotes. So now even ephemera can be annotated. Brad developed Textile for Movable Type from “Dean Allen’s”:http://www.textism.com original implementation.

fn2. The dangers of giving footnote functionality to a blog staffed mainly by academics should immediately be obvious.

Bonoboland

by Henry on February 9, 2004

Eugene Volokh “opines”:http://volokh.com/2004_02_08_volokh_archive.html#107617848788089115 that _The Bonobos_ would be a good name for an intellectual art-rock band. Already been done. “Simon Green”:http://www.ninjatune.net/ninja/artist.php?id=38, one of the better artists on Ninja Tune, has been recording as Bonobo for several years. If you like the weird electronic music hits experimental jazz thang, he’s very much worth checking out. He’s also playing DJ sets in a number of North American cities this spring, together with the incomparable Amon Tobin, whose _Supermodified_, Permutations and _Bricolage_ albums are about the best and strangest drum’n’bass/experimental that I’ve heard in the last five years.

Books Every Educated Person Should Read

by Harry on February 9, 2004

This is a request for help. A student came to me with Will Durant’s list of 100 necessary books which he (the student) thinks needs updating. He, the student, wants to know what books the educated person should have read, that have been published since 1970. I am just about the worst person for him to come to, since unlike all my CT colleagues I am narrowly read and utterly lacking in erudition in subjects other than cricket, children’s TV, the history of the far left, and my professional interests. But you, the readers, are a different matter, and I have access to you. So, submissions, please, of the two books you think every educated person should have read, published 1970 or later. Your reward will be in heaven…

Abominable Europe

by Henry on February 9, 2004

I didn’t blog much last week because Peter Katzenstein, a famous international relations scholar, was workshopping a book manuscript over three days at the University of Toronto; it was a fun and interesting discussion, but quite time consuming. One of Peter’s observations struck me as blogworthy – he was trying to get at the reasons why many US right wingers, and especially conservative legal scholars, have a visceral dislike for the European Union and all its doings.^1^ Part of the explanation is surely power politics, and the perception of the EU as a potential rival, but surely it goes beyond this. Much American debate gives the impression that the European Union is somehow worse for American interests and world peace than Russia or China. Peter’s take on it was that much of the animus derives from the hostility of the US right wing to internationalism in all its forms, and in particular to the idea that international law should take precedence over national law under certain circumstances. If, as Peter argues, the EU’s fundamental identity involves the primacy of public international law within the jurisdiction of its member states, then it’s easy to see why strict constructionists and others who believe in the primacy of the (US) constitution, would view the EU as abhorrent. On this account, the problem that the EU poses for the US right isn’t that it’s an incipient rival, or even a spoiler like France. It’s that if you take a certain stance on the relationship between international law and domestic sovereignty, the EU appears to be an abomination, something that shouldn’t exist. It’s not a state – nor is it likely to become one anytime soon. Nor is it a simple international organization. Instead, it’s something between the two – an unnatural hybrid of sorts, in which national policy makers increasingly become entangled in a supranational legal order. It’s enough to give Robert Bork hives.

^1^ For the record, Peter also had some hard words about anti-Americanism in Europe.

SASE Conference

by Henry on February 9, 2004

The Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, or “SASE”:http://www.sase.org/aboutsase/aboutsase.html#SOHFECC is a fun crowd of people; the society’s president is Colin Crouch, who taught me most of what I know about the relationship between economy and society when I was doing my Ph.D. They’re running a “conference”:http://www.sase.org/conf2004/callforpapers/callforpapers.html this year in Washington DC, July 8-11, on the theme, “Private Powers and Public Domains: Redefining Relations Among States, Markets, and Societies.” Highly recommended for renegade economists, maverick sociologists and geographers, and political theorists with a practical bent; paper submissions are due by March 1.

Gearty on Hutton

by Chris Bertram on February 9, 2004

Human rights barrister Conor Gearty stole the show at the recent Oxford Political Thought Conference, with a brilliant, witty and well-informed speech. He has an “article on Hutton”:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v26/n04/gear01_.html in the new London Review of Books. His view doesn’t exactly coincide with my own, but it is a fascinating look at the changing public reputation of judges, their relations with the media, why this judge and not that one gets picked for an inquiry. It is hard to decide on the most quotable bit, so this will have to do:

bq. One of the more mystifying aspects of the Hutton process was the media’s treatment of Hutton himself, before the publication of his report, as an Olympian demigod, hovering above the fray, fastidious in his search for truth and justice. His appearance and extraordinary accent have helped; the media love caricature, and here was a judge who seemed to have walked into the limelight directly from the 1950s. But underpinning the blind trust that was placed in him, and which has now rebounded so badly, was a more general enthusiasm for the judiciary which is all the more remarkable for having been so recently acquired and for being (as far as the commitment to media freedom is concerned) largely without foundation.

bq. It is not so long ago that judges were the most maligned group in the entire body politic. Their naked partisanship during the miners’ strike, the Spycatcher debacle, and then the succession of miscarriage of justice cases of the late 1980s and early 1990s had established the senior judiciary in the eyes of most people (and particularly in the eyes of the media) as inclined to authoritarianism, unaccountable in their exercise of power and entirely out of touch. The refusal of judges to give any interviews, under cover of antiquated ‘rules’ which a long forgotten lord chancellor had invented, compounded the sense that they were all, or almost all, malevolent recluses.

They’re behind you!

by Chris Bertram on February 9, 2004

“Christopher Hitchens”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2095158/ in Slate (via “Norman Geras”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/ ) :

bq. I’m a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn’t prey to any doubt on the point.

Unlike many of his supporters it would seem, who think clerical barbarism would be an excellent idea…. Brian Leiter should be congratulated for his assiduous reporting of “the activities of the Texas Taliban”:http://webapp.utexas.edu/blogs/archives/bleiter/cat_texas_taliban_alerts.html . The “sayings of Pat Robertson”:http://webapp.utexas.edu/blogs/archives/bleiter/000383.html#000383 , friend of Bush’s Attorney General, are worth a special mention.

Yesterday Rules

by Ted on February 9, 2004

Below is my review for Yesterday Rules, the new album by blogger and MTX frontman Doctor Frank. It’s really very good. (The album, not the review.)

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Panopticon

by Ted on February 9, 2004

Just a few links and announcements:

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