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[ 8 ] December 26, 2014 |

The Indian Ocean tsunami started ten years ago today, resulting in ~230000 dead. I barely remember the first day, although I suspect that I was traveling. I also don’t remember much about US news coverage at the beginning; seems that we didn’t start sharing the videos of the tides until a bit later (and this was before the sharing economy of the internet really ramped up, in any case).

For anyone interested in the small-but-important role that the USN played in relief efforts, I can still recommend Bruce Elleman’s Waves of Hope.


Merry Christmas!

[ 9 ] December 25, 2014 |

Best of luck with efforts to survive any encounters with family.

Screenshot 2014-12-24 09.26.27

Winning the War on Christmas

[ 4 ] December 23, 2014 |

In these trying times, I feel compelled to re-up the Foreign Entanglements discussion of our prospects in the War on Christmas:


[ 23 ] December 23, 2014 |


The good people at SunAnt have helped us update to WordPress 4.1. Let this serve as an open thread for emerging problems or issues; from my point of view, site seems to be loading faster this morning. We did lose the Super Simple Quotes plugin (rotating quotes at the top of the page), which was not compatible with this update, so I’ll be looking to replace over the next few days.

The Management

…anyone having trouble logging in (freeze, not password) issues, please let us know over e-mail.


[ 9 ] December 21, 2014 |

Two recent Diplomat columns.  First, the results of the Brasilia conference on the future of war:

What will the future of war look like in East Asia? A recent conference at the Pandia Calogeras Institute, a think tank associated with the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, examined potential developments in warfare with an eye toward 2045. Here are several trends the group identified, with implications for thinking about how conflict may develop in East Asia.

Then some thoughts on Cuba:

The direct legacies of the Cold War are dwindling, with the cross-straits relationship and the Korean divide remaining as the most prominent reminders. Unfortunately, neither of those conflicts are as easily resolved as the U.S.-Cuba dispute.

With respect to the ongoing technical problems, we’re hoping that an upgrade to WordPress 4.1, which should happen early this week, will resolve the issue.


Bowl! Miasma?

[ 7 ] December 19, 2014 |

Last day to register for the LGM Bowl Mania league…

League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Password: zevon

Still Working…

[ 54 ] December 18, 2014 |


We’re trying some things with respect to getting rid of the interloping Zales ad.  IT is having some trouble replicating, so if anyone with an engineers eye is suffering the problem and can explain, please don’t hesitate to use e-mail on far right sidebar.


Foreign Entanglements: Havana!

[ 0 ] December 17, 2014 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Greg Weeks and I talk through some of the implications of today’s Cuba announcement:


[ 182 ] December 17, 2014 |

Possibly biggest FP achievement of Obama’s Presidency:

Also biggest blow in favor of Cuban democracy since 1963.


[ 33 ] December 15, 2014 |

Hey, if anyone can get a screen grab of the “Zales” pop-up that irregularly marches across our page, I’d deeply appreciate.  Please send to the blog e-mail address on the far right sidebar.



…. thanks very much, have what we need.  Working on it!

Mythology and the Iraq War Debate

[ 171 ] December 15, 2014 |

On the development of mythology:

Consider this: When Colbert first launched his new show as a spinoff from “The Daily Show” our nation was awash in the culture of fear that followed the attacks of 9/11. In those pre-torture report days anyone who criticized the Bush administration was immediately accused of treason. Those who thought the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were ill-conceived and immoral, who staunchly opposed torture, and who believed our nation depended on an active, inquisitive and critical citizenry were silenced. In those days it was common to hear of journalists and professors losing their jobs because they had dared to question the administration and ask more of the media.

That was the atmosphere when Colbert took the stage in 2006 to roast President Bush to his face at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Standing only a few feet away from the president, Colbert dealt a scathing blow to the hubris of the administration and the docile media that covered it. The moment was a real watershed in our nation’s history, because it was the only time in the entire eight years of the Bush administration that anyone had directly critiqued Bush in such detail to his face.

Eh…. I don’t remember it that way.

I’ll grant that things played out differently in Seattle than in other parts of the country, and that the conversation was different in the academy than in other sectors. But by 2004, much less 2006, American public debate had space for some bitingly savage critiques of the Bush administration, and especially of its war performance.  The 2004 Democratic primary was won by someone who, while he nominally favored the war, was exceedingly critical of the manner in which it was being conducted.

Even in 2003, voices in opposition to the war weren’t cries from the wilderness.  Many major newspapers, including the New York Times, either outright opposed the war or believed that the administration had botched the diplomacy. Anti-war protests in 2003 were, by an large, not met by truncheon-wielding thugs.  Instead, they were either completely ignored or used by the right to feed narratives of out-of-touch pacifists who couldn’t protect America. 

With respect to journalists and professors losing their jobs, there surely were cases, but by mid-2004 (if not earlier) opposition to the war in the academy was so ingrained that it was almost certainly more dangerous to be strongly in favor of the war than strongly opposed. For example, I can say without qualification that while the founders of LGM may have worried about how blogging would affect their professional prospects, we were not at all concerned about how potential employers would view our opinions on the war.  In 2005, for example, I was hired to teach national security by a program with a conservative reputation in a southern state. And of course there was a robust internet debate (back when blogging was still a thing) in which anti-war voices were welcome; by 2005, arguing that the United States should withdraw gradually rather than immediately was enough to get a writer lambasted.

We’ve become increasingly fond of saying that there was no debate in 2003. But there was a debate, and our side lost.  It wasn’t fair and square, but such debates rarely are.  We were right at the time, and we were decisively proved right by the course of the war. War supporters have not suffered the public opprobrium they deserve, especially given how solid the consensus now is that the conflict was a mistake. The other side lied relentlessly, although I still doubt whether it really needed to. But we should be hesitant about mythologizing how hard it was to be right at the time, and we shouldn’t paint ourselves as martyrs of latter-day McCarthyism.

Foreign Entanglements: Killer Robots Redux

[ 1 ] December 14, 2014 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Kelsey Atherton and I jabber about killer robots, Tolkien, and Star Wars:

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