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Category: Robert Farley

Foreign Entanglements: Russia, Syria, and R2P

[ 1 ] August 23, 2012 |

Dmitry Gorenburg and I chat about Russian foreign policy on the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements:

Unfortunately we lost the last forty minutes of the video, which included discussions of Sino-Russian relations, Sino-Indian relations, Russian views of the US election, and Russian rearmament.

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Go Ducks! Go Huskies!

[ 19 ] August 22, 2012 |

While it’s good to see Oregon and Washington on this list, I recall argument in the early part of the decade that the UW campus was regarded as a less safe LGBT space than the rest of Seattle. This was in large part because of the influx of students from Eastern Washington, whose social attitudes diverged significantly from the Seattle norm. Dunno if any of that has change over the past eight years or so.

Tony Scott

[ 21 ] August 20, 2012 |

Tony Scott RIP. Not a great director, but I certainly enjoyed some of his movies.

“Alcohol May Have Played a Role”

[ 75 ] August 19, 2012 |

There is no way in which this is not awesome:

The FBI probed a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee that involved drinking, numerous GOP freshmen lawmakers, top leadership staff – and one nude member of Congress, according to more than a dozen sources, including eyewitnesses.

During a fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land last summer, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took off his clothes and jumped into the sea, joining a number of members, their families and GOP staff during a night out in Israel, the sources told POLITICO. Other participants, including the daughter of another congressman, swam fully clothed while some lawmakers partially disrobed. More than 20 people took part in the late-night dip in the sea, according to sources who took part in the trip…

…These GOP sources confirmed the following freshmen lawmakers also went swimming that night: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the ocean said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in.

Obviously a nonsense story, except that if reports emerged of similar behavior on a Democratic junket Jennifer Rubin would have an online heart attack…

Midrats Today

[ 3 ] August 19, 2012 |

This afternoon I’ll be on Midrats with EagleOne and CDR Sal.  We’ll talk politics, strategy, AirSea Battle, what not, and so forth.  Coincidentally, I just read this excellent Harold Winton article on Army-Air Force collaboration 1973-1990.  Key points:

The relative cohesion and strength of the Army-Air Force partnership from 1973 to 1990 can be attributed in rough priority to:

  • the unifying effect of the NATO defense mission;
  • the close cooperation of personalities at or near the top of each service;
  • a leadership shift in the Air Force that put fighter rather than bomber pilots in the majority of influential positions; and
  • the clarity of the Army’s vision of how it intended to fight a future war that tended to pull the Air Force in its wake.

…There was, however, also a set of forces that tended to pull the services in opposite directions. These included:

  • the operational differences between the media in which they fight;
  • the cultural implications these differences engender;
  • varying institutional structures for doctrinal formulation; and
  • the capabilities of emerging technology.

Worth thinking about in context of USN-USAF cooperation in the Pacific.

“You mean this morning, or generally?”

[ 43 ] August 19, 2012 |

When judges stop being polite and start getting real:

Judge Lucy Koh couldn’t take it anymore after seeing a 75-page rebuttal witness list from Apple in court Thursday, saying that Apple lawyer Bill Lee must be “smoking crack” to offer such a lengthy list for the what remains of the 25 hours each side has to make their case to the court.

As CNET reported, Koh’s outburst ran as follows: “I mean, come on. Seventy-five pages! Seventy-five pages! You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours.”

In response, Lee said he was not, in fact, smoking crack.

Via Lawspider.

Foreign Entanglements: The Meaning of Paul Ryan

[ 0 ] August 16, 2012 |

On this week’s Foreign Entanglements, Matt and I jabber about Paul Ryan’s foreign policy, among other things:

Social Facts

[ 131 ] August 16, 2012 |

Greenwald, in the midst of an angry screed:

In a book critiquing the “terrorism expert” field, Jackson argued that “most of what is accepted as well-founded ’knowledge’ in terrorism studies is, in fact, highly debatable and unstable.“ He therefore scorns almost four decades of so-called Terrorism scholarship as ”based on a series of ‘virulent myths’, ’half-truths’ and contested claims” that are plainly “biased towards Western state priorities.” To Jackson, terrorism is “a social fact rather than a brute fact” and “does not exist outside of the definitions and practices which seek to enclose it, including those of the terrorism studies field.” In sum, it means whatever the wielder of the term wants it to mean: something that cannot be the subject of legitimate “expertise.”

I’ll let you decide whether Glenn is fairly characterizing the book Contemporary Debates on Terrorism.”Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda,” (my error). Here’s a brief summary of John Searle on social facts:

Searle maintains that brute facts are objective, and that social facts may be both subjective and objective. Brute facts are objective, in that they do not depend on our attitude about them. For example, mountains and valleys are physical facts, no matter what attitude we take toward them. On the other hand, social facts depend on the attitudes which we take toward them. For example, the value of a five-dollar bill is a social fact which depends on our agreement that a five-dollar bill is worth something.

However, social facts may be objective when they are commonly accepted, and when they are not a matter of individual preference or opinion. For example, the duty of a policeman to enforce the law may be classified as an objective social fact. According to Searle, social facts may be epistemically objective (in that they are not a matter of individual preference or opinion) but may be ontologically subjective (in that they depend for their existence on being agreed upon as facts).

And so no, “social fact” does not mean either a) something that cannot be the subject of legitimate expertise, or b) something that means whatever the wielder wants it to mean. Beyond “terrorism” here is a list of social facts:

Imperialism
Latin America
Taiwan
Generation X
International Law
College Football
The Great Plains
Racism
Suicide

Indeed, the notion that social facts were beyond the realm of legitimate study (even “expertise,” itself a socially constructed term), and that they mean whatever the wielder wants them to mean would be extremely surprising to Emile Durkheim.

None of this is to say that the field of terrorism studies has been particularly productive, or that specialists have done enough to separate themselves from amateurs, or that profound ideological biases affect even the best work etc. etc.  Focusing the critique on those points would be helpful and productive; willfully misunderstanding the basic building blocks of human social inquiry in order to pursue a half-baked, nonsensical vendetta is neither.

Lazy Thursday Linkage

[ 14 ] August 16, 2012 |

Stuff that I didn’t get a chance to blog:

Gettin’ Drunk in Kentucky Just Got Easier

[ 43 ] August 14, 2012 |

Get big government out of my grocery store liquor aisle!

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Kentucky law prohibiting grocery and convenience stores from selling wine and distilled spirits is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II of Louisville said the state law “violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause in that it prohibits certain grocery stores, gas stations and others … from obtaining a license to sell package liquor and wine.”

In Kentucky locations where alcohol sales are allowed, beer — but not wine or spirits — may be sold in grocery stores. Grocery stores, however, may get a license to sell wine and liquor if they provide a separate entrance to that part of the store, where minors are not allowed to work. A store employee of legal age is required to conduct beer sales.

Such requirements do not apply to drugstores.

Thank goodness somebody finally found a use for the Constitution. This change will make it approximately 2.3% easier to acquire wine and liquor in Lexington by effectively making every single business establishment a liquor store. Now if we could only do away with the “no liquor sales on Election Day” rule, and the “can’t mail booze into Kentucky” rule, which is a genuine inconvenience.

The Imaginary Paul Ryan

[ 22 ] August 14, 2012 |

It’s not hard to derive an Imaginary Foreign Policy Paul Ryan. I suspect that David Brooks is already hard at work creating the Paul Ryan that He Wishes, rather than paying any attention to the Paul Ryan that Is, but it’s worthwhile to get ahead of the game and do some pre-bunking:

The Imaginary Paul Ryan isn’t completely a figment;  Ryan’s actual record on the final point was decent until a few years ago, and I suspect there seems to be evidence that Ryan is a touch more skeptical of the DoD and the defense-industrial complex than your typical Republican. This will likely provide sufficient grist for Brooks and his ilk to craft a Paul Ryan that seems to herald a return to the Republican foreign policy elite of James Baker’s day. But this is a ship that has sailed; Bill Kristol has claimed Ryan for his team, and Kristol holds all the best cards. Ryan has already abandoned whatever skepticism he maintained about the defense establishment (he appears to have evinced no skepticism whatsoever about the foreign adventurism bit), and it’s not difficult to understand why. It is impossible for a member of a modern GOP Presidential ticket to hold what amount to “realist” views on foreign policy.  Indeed, it appears to be virtually impossible for members of the campaign team to hold such views. This is less because of the popularity of defense hawkery (even the GOP base is more skeptical of hawkishness than the tickets would reveal), but rather because neoconservatives have won what amounts to a virtual battle of annihilation at the elite level. The influence of the constellation of right wing think tanks over Republican foreign policy is especially pronounced with figures like Romney and Ryan, neither of whom have any foreign policy experience or appear to have thought very much about foreign affairs.

But on the same terms that someone can pretend that Paul Ryan favors deficit reduction, someone will undoubtedly imagine a defense skeptical Paul Ryan.  It just ain’t there.

Irrelevant Datum of the Day

[ 29 ] August 13, 2012 |

Between 1952 and 2004, the major party Presidential tickets included at least one Southerner between them. In 1992, three of the four candidates hailed from the old Confederacy; from 1980 until 2004, every election but one included at least two Southerners. From 1952 until 1976, one candidate in every election came from the South. Before 2008, the last election not to include a Southerner was 1948, which included candidates from Kentucky and Missouri. Note that this includes George H.W. Bush as a Southerner by virtue of his Texas residency.

Now you know.

UPDATE: Spiro Agnew was, of course, from Maryland; that relieves ’68 of its Southerner.

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