From the monthly archives:

May 2005

The sheer gaul of them

by Maria on May 31, 2005

Why I’m a little irritated with France:
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Talking Turkey over welfare

by Henry Farrell on May 31, 2005

Reading some of the responses to “Chris’s”: and “my”: posts on Turkey and the future evolution of the European Union, reminds me of Tyler Cowen’s “aside”: a couple of weeks ago, that:

bq. The modern liberal vice is to think that everyone can be taken care of, and/or to rule out foreigners from the relevant moral universe.

The latter bit is the relevant one here, of course, and it’s a tough question for European leftwingers. Is some dilution of the traditional European welfare state acceptable, if it substantially increases the wellbeing of current outsiders (i.e. for example, by bringing Turkey into the club). My answer is yes, if European leftwingers are to stick to their core principles on justice, fairness, egalitarianism etc. Of course, this is a somewhat broader variant of the more general theoretical questions surrounding the relationship between nationality and cosmopolitanism. So far, I haven’t seen any very convincing counter-arguments that suggest that lefties should privilege fellow-Europeans or fellow nationals over those from elsewhere. Below the fold, I set out some of the arguments that I’ve seen or can think of, but that don’t seem to me to be convincing. Others may disagree – or have other, better arguments that I haven’t thought of.

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Memorial Day

by Kieran Healy on May 30, 2005

For those of us in the U.S., today is “Memorial Day”: America has a fine tradition of military service and sacrifice. The best way to respect and honor it is to reflect on what it means to serve and perhaps die for your country, and to think about the value of the cause, the power of the reasons, and the strength of the evidence you would need before asking someone — someone like your brother, or friend, or neighbor — to take on that burden. That so many are willing to serve is a testament to the character of ordinary people in the United States. That these people have, in recent years, shouldered the burden of service for the sake of a badly planned war begun in the name of an ill-defined cause, on the thinnest of pretexts, and with the most flimsy sort of evidence, is an indictment of the country’s political class.

_Update_: I’ve added a little more below the fold. _Update 2_: And a little more.

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Via my eagle-eyed (make that obsessive) little sister Nelly, here is the fantastic news that George R. R. Martin has finally finished the long-awaited 4th book in his Ice and Fire series. Kind of.

Feast is now too long to publish in one book, so it’s being cut in half. But instead of going half way through the story with the full cast of characters, Martin is taking half of the characters (the Westeros based ones) through the whole story and then publishing the other half’s (Dany & co. and probably Tyrion’s) stories in the next book. This should make things even more interesting, I think, and even a tad more post-modern.

Much of the fun in this series has been in re-reading and discussing the books to piece together the real story from what’s unsaid or only hinted at in each narrative. The key elements of the plot-driving back story are either assumed by all and never stated, or known only to dead characters. This time round, the wait for the other half of the same story will be madly tantalising and great speculative fun as we are frog-marched half-blind through the book, wondering what is happening in the other camps. Martin is still only half-way through the second installation, which gives the opportunity for some nice play between the storylines. No better man for it.

Waddling at dusk

by Henry Farrell on May 30, 2005

Welcome to the blogosphere to “Duck of Minerva”:, a new group blog featuring two international relations professors (Dan Nexon and Patrick Jackson) and a grad student (Bill Petti). The IR-academic corner of the blogosphere has been relatively underpopulated up until very recently. With this new blog, and the forthcoming contribution from John Ikenberry, Anne-Marie Slaughter (an international lawyer, but we can stretch a point) and friends, it’s experiencing a bit of a population boom. Nice to see.

No regrets

by Henry Farrell on May 30, 2005

A few thoughts in response to the (not exactly unexpected) outcome in France.

(1) The old way of pushing European integration – agreements among political elites, followed by the odd referendum here and there – is dead. My best-guess prediction – a lot more emphasis in the future on ‘informal’ integration processes such as the Lisbon agenda. I also predict that some of the key issues _will_ be revisited in a future quasi-constitutional text, which will attempt to lay down the law for once and for all. There are a number of dry-as-dust issues regarding the balance between different institutions, between member states on the Council etc which aren’t attracting much attention outside the specialist community now, but which are likely to provoke interesting political crises down the line. Hence, I think there will be another effort to push through Treaty change a few years from now – but unlike previous efforts, it will be proceeded by a widespread and vociferous public debate. The last Constitutional Convention tried very hard to create political buzz and debate, and failed miserably. Their successors won’t have much difficulty in getting attention, for better or for worse.

(2) The Turkish accession process is likely to be a lot more robust than people are giving it credit for being at the moment. The major political decision was taken last year, to open up negotiations with Turkey. The next major political decision comes at least a decade from now, when the member states and Parliament decide whether or not to accept Turkey as a member state. In the meantime, the political running will be made by the European Commission, which is the only body involved in direct negotiations. It’s going to be hard for grumpy member states to disrupt this, even if they want to. Frank Schimmelfennig had a great “article”: in _International Organization_ a few years ago, talking about how the states of Central and Eastern Europe became members of the EU – despite the unwavering opposition of key member states such as France. The processes that he identifies aren’t as powerful in the Turkish case as in the East European one – but they will make it harder to reverse negotiations than one might imagine. The only situation in which I can see Turkey’s accession being seriously endangered is if renewed opposition from the Christian Democratic right (and parts of the left) coincide with reluctance on Turkey’s part to make the necessary concessions in terms of human rights, the role of the military etc etc.

(3) The above said, I do suspect that we are going to see more overt opposition within the European Union to Turkey, e.g. the election of a significant number of candidates on an anti-Turkey platform in the next round of elections to the European Parliament. More generally, depending on how the Christian Democrats finesse this, the extreme right may be able to make hay with this. Contrary to the usual implications in the blogosphere, West European neo-Nazis rely less on anti-Semitism than on ‘Little Green Footballs’ style xenophobia to drum up popular appeal; Turkey is potentially a winning issue for them.

(4) Finally, I suspect that there are tough decisions ahead for the European left. While the “Glyn Morgan piece”: that Chris “links to”: is correct in arguing that some leftists are reaching for the security blanket of nationalism, they clearly will find it far more awkward to make that grab than do their competitors on the right. “Herbert Kitschelt”: (link to Google Scholar page) made an argument a decade ago that still holds. European social democrats are in a sticky position, in that they need to appeal to two, very different electorates in order to win elections. On the one hand, their traditional base is in the working class (which is economically left-wing but often socially conservative). On the other, they’ve often succeeded in appealing to a new set of ‘postmaterialist’ voters, who are usually more centrist on economic issues, but a lot more left wing on cultural ones). If they want to win, they need both – but the two adhere to very different ideas of what the left is (one is on the economic left, the other is on the cultural left). It seems to me that European social democrats can move in one of two directions. Either they can rework the economic cleavage so as to attract middle class voters as well as the working class, by stressing how the middle class too is subject to economic instability and insecurity. Or they can try to remake the cultural cleavage, by seeking to persuade voters that stronger border controls, opposition to Turkish membership etc aren’t xenophobic, and that Islam is ‘different,’ fundamentally anti-liberal etc etc. My hope is that they go for the former rather than the latter, but I’d hesitate to lay any bets on whether this hope is likely to be confirmed by reality.

Why do Law Professors Write?

by Kieran Healy on May 29, 2005

Especially the ones with tenure. I mean, why bother? A variety of answers from “Paul Horwitz”:, “Eric Muller”:, “Orin Kerr”:, “Michael Froomkin”: and “Michael Madison”: I feel the question is missing a few words at the end. It should of course read “Why do Law Professors write 50,000 word articles?”

Non (provisoire)

by Chris Bertram on May 29, 2005

The exit polls say “that the French electorate have rejected the European Constitution”: , with 55% voting “no”.

The moth-eaten security blanket of nationalism

by Chris Bertram on May 29, 2005

As the French prepare to vote “non”, my friend Glyn Morgan has “a piece in the Independent about the constitution”: , the conservative nationalism of its opponents on both left and right, and the importance of enlargement. Unfortunately, he argues, faced with problems of demographic transition, immigration, international competition from India and China, and the unilateralism of the only global superpower, much of the left would prefer not to face facts:

bq. Befuddled by these challenges, many Europeans, particularly in France, have slipped their moorings from reality. Both the Eurosceptic left and the Eurosceptic right have reached for the security blanket – moth-holed and threadbare, though it is – of nationalism. The Eurosceptic left’s embrace of nationalism is particularly insidious, because it hides behind the language of social justice. Time was when the European left was outward-looking, internationalist, and concerned with the least well-off, no matter where they lived. In Europe today, the least well-off are to be found primarily in central and eastern Europe. European enlargement, one of the greatest achievements of post-war Europe, offers these victims of history a life-line into the modern democratic world. That’s the reason for admitting Turkey.

Regexps Rule

by Kieran Healy on May 29, 2005

Regular readers will “know”: that my list of “indispensable applications”: includes the “Emacs”: text editor, the “TeX/LaTeX”: typesetting system,and a whole “array”: of “ancillary”: “utilities”: that make the two play nice together. The goal is to produce “beautiful”: and “maintainable”: documents. Also it gives Dan further opportunity to defend “Microsoft Office”: I am happy to admit that a love of getting the text to come out just so can lead to long-run irrationalities. The more complex the underlying document gets, the harder it is to convert it to some other format. And we all know “which format”: we mean.

Well, yesterday morning the long run arrived: I finished the revisions to my book manuscript and it was now ready to send to the publisher for copyediting. Except for one thing. The University of Chicago Press is not interested in parsing complex LaTeX files. They are “quite clear”: about what they want, and it isn’t unreasonable. I had a horrible vision of spending weeks manually futzing with a book’s worth of formatted text. But thanks largely to the awesome power of “regular expressions”:, or regexps, and the availability of free tools that implement them, the whole thing was pretty painless.
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EJ Dionne at the Washington Post discovers right-wing postmodernism, something Australian bloggers have been banging on about for years.

The more this point gets hammered, the better, particularly as there are still some conservatives out there who actually care about old-fashioned things like objective truth.

Via Tim Dunlop and Pandagon. See also Mark Bahnisch

Schapelle Corby and the war on drugs

by John Q on May 28, 2005

The big news in Australia has been the trial, in Indonesia, of Schapelle Corby, a 27-year old beauty student accused of smuggling marijuana into Bali[1]. In the middle of the trial, in which Corby vigorously asserted her innocence, nine young Australians were caught trying to smuggle heroin out, and now face the death penalty. Corby’s conviction and twenty year sentence has caused major problems in the often fraught relationship between Australia and Indonesia, which had improved in the wake of the tsunami disaster.

Like lots of others, I’m not too happy about the Corby case. But I think most of the complaints from Australia have been misdirected. The problem is not with the trial which, while not as procedurally tight as the Australian equivalent, seemed basically fair[2] to me. The real problem is with the sentence. The likely imposition of the death penalty on the Bali heroin smugglers is even worse.

The reason that attention hasn’t been focused on this issue is that, as a society, we’re fairly hypocritical about the war on drugs. At one level, we recognise that it’s essentially pointless and unwinnable, like most wars. So we’ve gradually backed away from lengthy prison sentences for bit players, and even abandoned the idea that the capture of a few “Mr Big Enoughs” would make any real difference. But it’s still convenient for us that our neighbours should have draconian laws, the burden of which falls mainly on their own citizens. It’s only when a sympathetic figure like Corby gets 20 years for an offence that might have drawn a good behavior bond in Australia, or when some stupid young people end up facing a firing squad that the contradictions are exposed.

fn1. This isn’t as unlikely as it might sound. There’s a big demand among European and Australian tourists in Bali for the type of marijuana in question, and buying from local suppliers is very risky.

fn2. That is, as fair as other drugs trials. The nature of the war on drugs is that normal legal principles have to be suspended if the law is going to be made to work at all. The routine use of procedures bordering on entrapment, and the effective reversal of the onus of proof, once possession is established, are examples of this, in Australia just as much as in Indonesia.

Interdisciplinary Query

by Kieran Healy on May 27, 2005

We’ve been talking a bit about interdisciplinary work at CT recently. My favorite observation about this comes from my colleague Ron Breiger, who said to me in passing once that the trouble with interdisciplinarity is that you need disciplines in order for it to happen. There are no borders without heartlands, so to speak. Anyway, I got an email this afternoon from a friend of mine who is searching for a speaker:

bq. We are trying to think of a keynote speaker who represents the idea of learning and scholarship across institutions. Someone who crosses borders and who combines disciplinary perspectives. It could be a novelist who writes about science; or someone like Stanley Fish or William Buckley Jr, or … Can you think of any compelling polymaths (famous or otherwise) that could represent the notion of cross-domain writing/thinking?

Well, CT smarties? Can you?

Faith and Works

by Henry Farrell on May 27, 2005

What PNH says on self-identified “‘liberal hawks'”:

bq. The reason so many in the Democratic “base” are infuriated over being lectured by the likes of Peter Beinart and Joe Biden about the need to “get serious about national security” is that the people delivering the lectures are precisely those who were wrong about one of the most important national security questions of our time. As a result we’ve spent $172 billion and 1600 American lives, damaged our military immeasurably, trashed America’s global reputation for justice and fair play, and given the bin Ladens of the world a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come. The entire enterprise has made us profoundly less secure. … The fact of the matter is that the supposed distance between self-identified “national security Democrats” and the allegedly dovish party “base” is based on a self-serving slur promulgated by people with something to hide. … Liberal Democrats like Atrios, or me, aren’t remotely opposed to “national security.” We’re strongly in favor of it. Getting killed because I’m an American, at home or overseas: bad. Spending money and resources to protect me from getting killed: good. Maintaining a strong military, at least until planetary utopia breaks out and there are free Jill Johnston posters for everyone: really good. Making all of that far harder, and increasing my likelihood of getting killed, because some politicians and pundits needed to “look tough”: really, really bad. … At times it all seems like some sort of Bizarro World faith-versus-works argument. Liberals wind up being the ones pointing out, endlessly, that national security is provided by actual practices, not just by holding your face right.

Tumultuous combinations

by Henry Farrell on May 27, 2005

“Nathan Newman”: writes about union-busting cartels.

bq. For folks who remember the southern California grocery chain strike last year, a key to the grocers breaking the strike was a revenue sharing deal between the big chains– thereby preventing the unions from easily reaching settlement with any of the firms individually.

The L.A. Times “story”:,0,6124770.story?coll=la-home-business that he links to has more.

bq. The chains initially refused to disclose the pact’s details and sought to have them sealed after Lockyer sued. But King unsealed the documents in February. They showed that the companies used a formula based on their sales, before and during the dispute, and their regional market shares to figure out what Kroger should pay the others. Kroger later revealed in securities filings that it paid a combined $148 million to Safeway and Albertsons, and Albertsons said it received $63 million of that. That would have left $85 million for Safeway.

Those who have read Adam Smith will remember “his observations”: on the tendency of business owners to gang up together against workers.

bq. We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people.

(Funnily enough, Smith’s self-appointed intellectual heirs at the Adam Smith Institute don’t seem all that interested in his ideas on combinations of masters, despite their eagerness to “smash trade unions”: An oversight that I’m sure they’ll be rushing to rectify.)