Matt Duss converses with Meir Javedanfar on the latest edition of Foreign Entanglements:
Matt Duss takes on James Fly in this week’s installment of Foreign Entanglements:
Yeah, good luck with that. Telling that Fly can’t offer any examples of successful regime change through the air, or really very much in terms of what a target set would look like. Excerpt time, wielding James Scott in the service of whacking strategic bombing!
Theories of strategic bombing, conditioned by the belief that the fog of war can be pierced, represent the essence of high modernist thinking. They posit an essentially intelligible target population or organization, and propose a relatively programmatic series of steps for influencing and reorganizing that population. The most sophisticated theories of strategic bombing delineate the social, economic, and organizational impact of the destruction of particular targets. Destroy this police station and criminality will ensue. Destroy worker’s homes and industrial production will slow. Destroy this factory and the German economy will collapse for lack of ball bearings. Destroy this communication facility and Saddam Hussein will lose control over his military and security services. Sufficiently damage North Vietnamese industry, and Hanoi will conclude that further war is too expensive. All of these theories presuppose a social system that is both highly legible and highly susceptible to outside influence.
However, the state can only see certain things. Many social structures and human relationships are essentially invisible to the state, beyond the ability of bureaucracies to catalogue and organize. In active and passive ways, these structures resist high modernist efforts in such areas as urban planning, agricultural reform, and social revolution. Experience in the twentieth century, not just in the case of strategic bombing but across the universe of state activity, has demonstrated that states tend to have a vastly over-optimistic sense of both the legibility and malleability of social institutions. In this context, it is hardly surprising that strategic bombing campaigns have failed in particularly destructive ways. Even strategic bombing campaigns that do not depend on deep insight into a target population do demand a very sophisticated understanding of how the enemy thinks about costs and benefits. Strategic bombing campaigns fail because they cannot meet the huge informational demands for success. The campaigns run up against concrete limitations on the reach of the state, and the ability of nations to force the world into their preferred shape.
Matt Duss vs. Daveed Gartentstein-Ross. Here they discuss the SOTU:
Matt talks with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross about foreign policy in the State of the Union. Will America miss the boat on the Arab Spring? Is Obama’s triumphalism over Al Qaeda premature? Also, the simmering crisis in the Strait of Hormuz and Daveed’s foreign policy trends to watch over the next decade.
The Powers That Be over at Bloggingheads have decided to hand Matt Duss and myself the keys to a new, weekly foreign policy show which we’ve decided to call Foreign Entanglements. Announcement and discussion here:
My relationship with Bloggingheads began, of course, with this vicious anti-bloggingheads screed. Let it never be said that the squeaky wheel does not get the grease. This is a very interesting opportunity, and Matt and I hope to make the most of it by continuing to include many of the contributors who have long been involved in Bloggingheads, as well as new contributors who speak on different subjects and to different interests. Feedback regarding potential contributors (or favorite past contributors) is very welcome.
With regards to the alternative names for the program, the following were considered and rejected:
The Next Objective
Present at the Summation
Statesmen and Scoundrels
Worse than Immoral, it’s a Mistake
Diplomacy by Other Means
All Foreign Intrigues
Alliances, Attachments, and Intrigues
A Clash of Wonks
The Foreign Policy Faction
The Undiplomatic Corps
People’s Front for the Liberation of Bloggingheads
Last Wednesday I blogged heads with Daniel Larison about Syria and Libya:
I would like to note that the diavlog was recorded on Wednesday, prior to the most devastating tornado strikes. We were under tornado warning in Lexington that morning, but fortunately there were no touch downs.
Had I seen this earlier today, I’m sure I would have addressed the issue at great length during my own diavlog with Spencer Ackerman.
Regarding consumption during a Bloggingheads diavlog, I would like to affirm that I’m usually mostly not drunk at the beginning of any given session. Here I share a nice Manhattan with James Poulous:
And some grog with Matt Duss:
And this really freaks me out:
Of course, my wife’s name is Davida.