Some barely collected thoughts on student activism, presented in bullet form. The italics represent sub-bullets, because apparently our bulleting doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped:
18-22 year olds are, as a rule, stupid; they do stupid things, both individually and collectively. They have not been trained in the various ways that effective political actors develop, publicize, and enforce claims; they are exceedingly prone to over-reaction, in-group thinking, and a variety of other tactical and strategic errors
You’ll never find me saying that I “unconditionally” support a student activist movement.
The particular movements that have arisen at Missouri, Yale, Amherst, et al display some distinctly anti-liberal tendencies that, while almost certainly positive for in-group cohesion and concerted political action, will make it difficult to formulate long-term goals and build long-term alliances with relevant stakeholders in the university reform process.
It is quite likely that positive answers to student claims will come in the form of “administrative bloat,” the expansion of administrative authority over faculty and student life, and that this administrative bloat will have some negative effects on campus life. In particular, the establishment of broader support and monitoring networks within the university system will likely erode faculty authority and faculty governance.
Headlines notwithstanding, almost all of manifestations of this most recent wave of student activism arise from *some* foundation of genuine, reasonable grievances about how their institutions are operating, how these institutions relate to the past, and how these institutions are managing (or failing to manage) technological change. While some of the demands are expansive, others are specific and on point; the change of particular administrators or administrative policies, and the expansion of particular administrative support capacities.
Jeffrey Amherst and John C. Calhoun are not humans who should be memorialized on an American university campus.
The expansion of services and support designed to reduce attrition rates for minority students should be utterly uncontroversial.
A liberal society can (and indeed, must) tolerate the existence of a wide variety of illiberal spaces. The internal functioning of organizations and communities within liberal society necessarily requires illiberal, hierarchical, and authoritarian measures. This is true whether we’re talking about a fraternity, a corporation, a political party, or a university. This has always been the case, and is so obvious to me that it hardly seems worthy of bearing mention. Consequently, simply noting the illiberalism of activist demands in neither here nor there; the question is whether these particular illiberal manifestations are uniquely harmful to the organizational (university) mission, or the liberal project more broadly.
It seems abjectly silly for a blog that actively moderates its comment threads to claim that it is inherently wrong for universities, as well as specific groups within universities, to call for and establish both form and substance limitations on speech.
Faculty governance ain’t all its cracked up to be. There are big downsides to administrative bloat, but the process has come about through a recognition that the 4-7 years of undergraduate education represent a personal transformation that involves something far more important that the collections of grades and classes that constitute a transcript. As the American university system has expanded beyond its pre-war base of young, middle- and upper- class white men, it has become clear that the university community requires a degree of support, management, and administration that goes well beyond what was available fifty or sixty years ago. Much of this fight is about the precise contours and responsibilities of that administrative bureaucracy.
The faculty aren’t the only stakeholders in this process, and it’s not even obvious to me that they’re the most important stakeholders.
It should be painfully obvious to anyone who has ever darkened the halls of an academic department that faculty are not selected for administrative talent or vision, and that a significant portion of faculty only grudgingly acquiesce to regular administrative responsibilities.
The biggest problem for the future of this particular wave of student activism isn’t Jonathan Chait; it’s the vengeful state legislatures that have been salivating about ways to break the public university system. Freddie is utterly correct about this, and I am far less hopeful than he that there’s any positive outcome to be found in that arena.
As we would expect of any country, not all of America’s wars have been wisely fought, and not all of them were wise to fight. Here are five wars that the United States could have, and should have, stayed out of.
The problem goes to the core of how the United States procures weapons. The LRS-B (we all pray for the day we can simply write “B-3”) fulfills joint requirements, but will operate within the United States Air Force. While reforms such as Goldwater-Nichols have improved “jointness” by creating connections between the services, and emphasizing the combatant commands, budgeting has remained tied to service priorities.
And so we have an aircraft that the Air Force believes will play a central role in the joint projection of American power for the rest of the century, but that must come out of the Air Force budget. The Navy, for its part, continues to jealously defend its own procurement priorities, including the CVN-78 aircraft carriers that remain the centerpieces of the future fleet. The potential conflict is particularly relevant to the U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific, which requires close collaboration between the Air Force’s long range strike assets and the Navy’s surface and subsurface assets in order to crack China’s robust A2/AD system.
“Davy Crockett bomb” by U.S. federal government – Immediate source: Chuck Hansen, The Swords of Armageddon: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Development Since 1945 (Sunnyvale, CA: Chukelea Publications, 1995).. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
It reports that as defense secretary for the elder Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney commissioned a study of how many tactical nuclear weapons would be needed to take out an Iraqi Republican Guard division, if necessary. (The answer: 17.)
Before we get excited, two things:
Commissioning a study is a necessary but not nearly sufficient step toward preparing to use such weapons. DoD commissions all kinds of studies that fundamentally amount to intellectual exercises, rather than practical preparations.
US warfighting doctrine for most of the Cold War envisioned using tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Soviet conventional formations as they invaded Central Europe.
The most interesting story here may be about how tactical nukes find their way out of US warfighting plans. In retrospect, the idea of using tactical nukes to wipe out forward Iraqi Army formations sounds absurd. At the time, US Army planners had included tactical nukes as a default assumption for defeating just that kind of formation. The circumstances were much different, of course; we knew that the Soviets had nukes (and the Iraqis did not), we expected that the Soviets would use tactical nukes (which the Iraqis didn’t have), and we assessed Soviet forces as vastly more formidable than Iraqi. But it’s not obvious that these differences should have weighed so heavily against the use of such weapons against the Iraqis.
It’s also worth noting that the United States could have used tactical nuclear weapons against Iraqi forces under circumstances that were, more or less, compatible with the demands of the Law of Armed Conflict. Go ahead and drop 17 150 kt weapons on Iraq, along the border where elite Iraqi formations were deployed during the Gulf War, and you’ll find that it’s very easy to avoid killing any civilians, or causing significant damage to any civilian property of infrastructure. The question of whether using such weapons is disproportionate to the military advantage gained depends, at least to some extent, on an evaluation of the likely effectiveness of both US and Iraqi armored formations, which was open to some debate in early 1991.
To my mind, the fact that the US rejected the use of tactical nukes in warfighting in the early post-Cold War is the best evidence we have for the existence of the “nuclear taboo.” We refrained from using nukes against deployed Iraqi forces in 1991 not because they wouldn’t have been useful, and not because they were inconceivable within existing US doctrine, but because of some combination of a) concerns over international response, and b) the idea that nuclear weapons were transgressive in a way that other extraordinarily advanced and lethal weapons systems were not. That Cheney appears to have led the way on conceptualizing the use of such weapons within the USG is probably a point in favor of this “transgressive” interpretation.
In “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey Of George Herbert Walker Bush,” author Jon Meacham quotes Bush as saying that Cheney and Rumsfeld were too hawkish and that their harsh stance damaged the reputation of the United States, the cable news network said.
Speaking of Cheney, who was vice president under President George W. Bush, the senior Bush said: “I don’t know, he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” according to the report.
Cheney served as defense secretary during George H.W. Bush’s 1989-1993 presidency.[ed. emphasis]
“The reaction (to Sept. 11), what to do about the Middle East. Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East,” Bush told Meacham in the book to be published next Tuesday.
Bush believes Cheney acted too independently of his son by creating a national security team in his own office, and may have been influenced to become more conservative by his wife and daughter, Lynne and Liz Cheney, the report cites the biography as saying.
On Rumsfeld, secretary of defense for most of the two terms served by his son, Bush is even more critical. He is quoted as saying: “I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the President,” referring to his son.
“I’ve never been that close to him anyway. There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that. Rumsfeld was an arrogant fellow,” he was quoted as saying in the biography.
Rummy did not serve in the GHWB administration, so that part, at least, makes sense. You would have hoped, though, that the Elder Bush would have communicated some of these reservations to his son, in a timely manner. Perhaps he can have a word with Jeb without pushing him into a months-long spiral of despair?
The articles, inspired by a report from the intelligence firm Blue Heron on IBM’s dealings with China, highlight the tensions between maintaining security over American dual-use technological innovations and staying abreast of the global technology market. While the report does not indicate that IBM has violated the U.S. system of export control, it does imply that the system lacks capacity to properly monitor interactions between U.S. and Chinese companies.
“Jin (Type 094) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine” by CSR Report RL33153 China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress by Ronald O’Rourke dated February 28, 2014 – United States Naval Institute News Blog. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
No one thinks attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left is likely to turn the most liberal Democrats into Republican voters. But Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, said the goal was simply to erode what should be her natural core of support.
“It can diminish enthusiasm for Hillary among the base over time,” he said. “And if you diminish enthusiasm, lukewarm support can translate into lackluster fund-raising and perhaps diminished turnout down the road.”
This year, Zac Moffatt, a co-founder of Targeted Victory, a right-leaning political technology firm, who handled Mr. Romney’s digital operation and has worked with groups like America Rising and American Crossroads, laid out the strategy in a memo to several clients. “There was a hole to fill in the market,” he said, and if Democrats were not willing to challenge Mrs. Clinton, Republicans could do it themselves.
“We were seeing people on the left who were interested in content about Hillary Clinton, and that there would be opportunities for groups to share this information with Democrats on the left,” Mr. Moffatt said.
To reach these groups, Mr. Moffatt had a plan: using micro-targeted advertising units on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
You’d love to think that this kind of thing won’t work. But… y’know.
…to clarify a touch; Henwood et al are clearly independent of the GOP, but they’re directing their efforts at the same audience that the GOP is trying to reach. And I’d love to think that this kind of thing won’t work, but we have in living memory examples of folks who thought heightening the contradictions would be a good idea.
Northrop Grumman Corp., maker of the B-2 stealth bomber, landed the long-awaited contract to develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation bomber.
The Falls Church, Virginia-based contractor led a team that beat out another headed by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. Watch for the losing bidder to immediately protest the award and delay the program by at least three months.
The $21.4 billion initial contract calls for Northrop to develop the first 21 production aircraft, along with related engineering and manufacturing work. The planes are scheduled to be ready for operational flights in 2025.
The service has said it wants to buy between 80 and 100 new bombers at no more than $550 million apiece to replace its aging fleet of B-52 Stratofortresses made by Boeing Co. and a least a portion of its B-1 fleet.
The $550 million price tag is a joke, of course. It’s probably for the best that Northrup Grumman won the competition; means that not everything is in the Lockheed basket, saves some jobs in the aviation industry long-run, etc. As I suggested earlier, the real key to success avoiding particularly catastrophic failure will be to limit the ambition of the program; the USAF is going to want everything, which will undoubtedly lead to bloat, etc.
Also, everyone seems convinced that no one in the US government is sensible enough just to call the damn thing the B-3.