Discover the network

by Ted on February 22, 2005


(This is probably unfair; as Dead Parrots notes, USA Next cares as little for copyright as they do for their own dignity. It is funny, though.)

Living up to conservative principles

by Ted on February 22, 2005

Good point from Mark Schmitt:

Back when the Medicare bill was on the floor and I was just starting this blog, I argued that the Democrats, rather than proposing a $1 trillion prescription drug benefit, should have proposed something that cost less and did much more, such as the Clinton bill of 2000, which at the time cost $253 billion and even three years later would certainly not have cost more than the $400 billion claimed cost of the Bush bill, while doing much more. Such an alternative would have put the handful of real conservatives, who were being told by their leaders that if they didn’t vote for the Republican bill, the Democrats would sweep in with something even bigger, in a very awkward position. But now that the real cost of the Bush bill is $1.2 trillion, I realize that I was wrong: the Democrats were perfectly responsible, and did propose a bill that cost less and did more than the Bush bill. And because it contained some real cost controls, its cost was not likely to escalate much beyond that.

(Background on the $253 billion bill here.) And I haven’t excerpted any of the David Brooks-bashing! Come on, you’ve got to click over for that!

UN Dispatch

by Henry Farrell on February 22, 2005

As Dan Drezner and I noted in our “Foreign Policy article”:, the blogosphere is surprisingly bad at providing information on politics outside the US. Ethan Zuckerman’s “research”: provides evidence that the blogosphere’s interests track those of traditional media, and that in some ways it does a worse job than traditional media in covering world politics. Some argue that right wing blogs do a better job than left wing ones in taking account of international politics – I doubt that it’s true. With a few prominent exceptions (such as Greg Djerejian’s “Belgravia Dispatch”:, right wing blogs, like most of their left wing equivalents, tend to focus almost exclusively on prominent stories that support their domestic political preferences.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that blogs like the newly created “UN Dispatch”: can fill an unmet need, giving us a take on the UN that isn’t limited to cheap gotchas about corruption and sex scandals. It’s being run by Peter Daou, whose “Daou report”: has just moved to Salon, and it looks to be a very interesting and useful resource. _UN Dispatch_ is run out of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, so it can be expected to take a broadly pro-UN line – but on first glance, it appears to be rather stronger on actual factual information about the strengths and weaknesses of the UN than any of the other blogs opining on UN-related issues. One that I’ll be reading.

New Europe/Old Europe

by Henry Farrell on February 22, 2005

Two interesting articles in the _Financial Times_ about how changes in internal EU politics are likely to affect the transatlantic relationship. First, “Wolfgang Munchau”: (sub required) talks about how US policy towards Europe can’t just consist of “picking your favourite partner for your favourite mission, and playing one country off against another” as it used to. As Munchau says, there’s a real sense in the capitals of Europe that the EU is becoming a more coherent foreign policy actor – and that the US needs to wake up to this. Stefan Wagstyl’s “article”: on how the countries of central and eastern Europe are adapting to EU membership should be of even greater concern to the divide and conquer school of US policy towards Europe. As Wagstyl says, not only do mass publics in former Warsaw Pact countries seem much keener on EU membership than anyone would have anticipated a year ago – membership is substantially affecting these countries’ foreign policy outlook. Countries like Poland, which many expected to act as an advocate for US interests within the EU, are going native.

bq. The best defence is closer integration with the EU, including on foreign policy and security issues, central Europeans are concluding. Officials say Nato, as a military alliance with an increasingly global responsibility, may be less useful than the EU in confronting non-military threats in Europe. That could imply less reliance on the US as a security partner and more on EU states – even in Poland, often seen as Washington’s strongest central European ally.

bq. Polish officials consider the country received little in return for its support of America in the Iraq war. Warsaw is to bring its peacekeeping unit home from Iraq this year. Marcin Zaborowski, a Polish foreign policy expert, recently published a paper for the EU’s Institute for Security Studies, arguing that “Poland’s Atlanticism is likely to be toned down in future”.

This can also be traced back to the EU’s successful role in supporting democracy in the Ukraine – and the realization by countries like Poland that their membership of the EU is a valuable foreign policy resource.

bq. the Ukrainian crisis was a lesson in the EU’s political clout, as national leaders from the newly expanded club persuaded Mr Kuchma’s side to accept defeat. Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Valdas Adamkus, his Lithuanian counterpart, worked with Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, to secure that outcome. But Polish and Lithuanian officials are the first to acknowledge that their presidents’ influence was based primarily on their roles not as local national leaders but as representatives of the whole EU.

None of this is exactly surprising to scholars of the EU, who are acutely aware that it’s more than a traditional international organization, if less than a state. But the ways in which member states become socialized into the “EU club” are poorly understood in the US, where foreign policy experts usually see the EU as just another multilateral institution like NATO. This may have interesting long term consequences. Part of the reason that the US has advocated Turkish membership of the EU is its hope that Turkey will help pull the EU in a more Atlanticist direction. If Poland’s example is anything to go by, the pull may well go the other way – as Turkey becomes more enmeshed in the EU, it’s likely to start identifying more with the European project than with its trans-Atlantic ties.

Livingstone, Campbell, Galbraith

by Daniel on February 22, 2005

Just to note that the Ken Livingstone Nazi comparison apology scandal has now reached day fourteen and is therefore across the Campbell Threshold (Alastair Campbell’s rule of thumb that a story which stays in the headlines for more than thirteen days will begin to have some effect on the voters; usually used for deciding to sack Labour ministers). However, Red Ken currently has a Galbraith score (based on JK Galbraith’s observation that anyone who says four times that he will not resign, will) of zero. His Galbraith score with respect to refusing to apologise is four by my count, however, so I’m guessing that in the next couple of days he will do so.

Followup on Tal Afar

by Kieran Healy on February 22, 2005

More correspondence, this time from a soldier stationed in Iraq who saw my “recent post”: about the terrible shooting in Tal Afar. I reproduce the post below the fold. I should say that I can’t verify the identify of my correspondent, but I have no reason to doubt what he says about himself.

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