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From Colony to Superpower: 4.2

[ 0 ] December 6, 2008 |

Reading Herring has made Erik irritable:

I think I am just more outraged by this period in American foreign policy than Rob. Rob was able to focus on a lot of important issues that I didn’t much explore–normalization of relations with Britain, probably a slightly more traditional discussion of the Monroe Doctrine than I gave, etc. Perhaps this is how you survive as a defense scholar–you have to suppress the outrage. Everything Rob says is important, but I can’t get past the revolting ideological foundations of American foreign relations (and perhaps of the nation itself), the racism and hypocrisy of our interactions with other nations, the violence we used, the self-serving justifications, the belief that we were and are expressing God’s will.

Every bad thing about U.S. foreign policy today has its roots in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I’d like to think that Bush was an aberration. But the more I read, the less I think that. Bush was expressing fundamental tenets of American ideology, at their extremes perhaps, but there’s a reason so many supported him, even in 2004. They would have still supported him, at least until the economic crisis, if he was winning in Iraq. It would have been onto Iran with significant public support. Without an unlikely rejection of national ideology and mythology, I have little reason to hope that some other president in the next 20 years will ride that J.Q. Adams-Reagan-Bush horse into power and again try to fulfill our national destiny by running roughshod over the world.

Meh. I would say that it’s academic distance that slows the boil, but I’m not sure that’s quite it. Pretty much every country has its own story of exceptionalism, and its own narrative of a relationship with God, and its own history of how these have interacted to horrible effect. And it wasn’t American exceptionalism that drove Tony Blair to join the crusade into Iraq. That isn’t to excuse the behavior of the US then or now, but simply to place it in context; I suppose maybe that is rather the academic distance talking. And so, I have trouble finding Erik’s outrage in my own reading of Herring.

I also think there’s a problem with asserting that there’s only a single narrative to America’s approach to the world; this would be the “Adams-Reagan-Bush” approach that Erik alludes to. This isn’t to question whether John Quincy Adams would have favored the war in Iraq, because such a question can’t make any sense. Rather, it’s to reinforce that many of the important foreign policy questions that have faced the United States have produced vigorous, often bitter debate. Becoming familiar with these debates (the big differences between Clay and Adams on the proper US attitude towards the Latin American republics, for example) is one of the reasons we read books like From Colony to Superpower. Even when these debates don’t structure the political landscape (as they did in 1798, 1950, or 2002) they still exist within the foreign policy elite, the general public, and the hierarchy of the political parties. It’s kind of interesting, then, to watch as Monroe and Adams give up on certain elements of the idea of American exceptionalism (the hostility to the forms of traditional diplomacy, for example), and then watch Jackson (and even more so, Polk) return to them.

To change the subject a bit, it’s also somewhat interesting to think about how the United States interacted with the Latin American republics and the states of the Far East in the absence of any information about them. Diplomats dispatched to South American capitols did not have the benefit of Wikipedia, after all; in this context, it’s probably less than surprising that Americans managed to irritate and insult their hosts. Given the number of times European diplomats managed to direly insult Americans in Herring’s narrative, I’m guessing that such gaffes were quite more common in the early diplomatic service than they are today, and perhaps also a bit more excusable as a lack of information, rather than as evidence of American bluster and parochialism.

Tomorrow, on to Polk…

From Colony to Superpower: New Neighbors

[ 0 ] December 1, 2008 |

On to chapter IV of From Colony to Superpower…

Herring clearly prefers the last of the Virginia Dynasty to the previous two. Much of the credit for Monroe’s foreign policy competence goes to John Quincy Adams, who Herring (among others) gives place of honor among US Secretaries of State. Monroe and Adams pursued a far more “realist” line than their predecessors, although it’s fair to argue about whether their form of realism deserves a capital letter. It’s also reasonable to wonder about the division of labor between Adams and Monroe. Monroe seems not to have been overly interested in foreign policy, and thus allowed Adams a reasonably free hand. This suggests that the successes of the administration belong to Adams. On the other hand, the quality of competent delegation is an under-stated Presidential virture, and Monroe deserves credit for picking the best guy and letting him do his job without too much interference. It’s not hard to argue that the interventions of Jefferson and Madison into foreign policy worked out poorly, thus putting Monroe’s hands-off approach in a good light. That said, Washington and the first Adams took a strong personal interest in foreign policy, which generally worked out to their credit.

The United States didn’t win the War of 1812, but the conflict nevertheless led to what amounted to the normalization of US relations with the rest of the world. In part, this is because the rest of the world became more normal; the end of the Napoleonic Wars led to a long period of general peace in European affairs, rendering many of the conflicts that developed in earlier periods of US foreign policy moot. The United States also became more “normal”, abandoning the revolutionary pretense that characterized the Jefferson administration and that was still present in the Madison period. Adams had little patience for revolutionary pretense, and dropped the

This is not to say that the revolutionaries all went away, or that the revolutions ceased. Weakened by the Napoleonic Wars, the Spanish Empire in America substantially crumbled on Monroe and Adams’ watch. Adams tried to maintain an arms-length relationship with the South American revolutions, fearing British intervention and using US support as a negotiating chip with Spain and Russia. Others within the government (including Adams eventual Secretary of State, Henry Clay) preferred a more activist role, seeing the revolutions as a positive good and something that ought to be encouraged by the United States. The Monroe Doctrine was the product of ambivalence as much as empire building; the United States shared with the new Latin American states a genuine fear of European intervention, but at the same time could make only clumsy efforts to act as a regional leader.

From the 1830s on, the United States would expand substantially at the expense of Mexico. For the most part, territorial imperium in the Americas ended there; while some enthusiasts envisioned further expansion to the south, American elite opinion settled, according to Herring, around the idea that Latin American was culturally antithetical to the United States. The United States was an English speaking, largely Protestant country; the Latin American states were full of Catholics with questionable ethnic origins. The idea that Catholic states posed certain key difficulties for US foreign policy persisted for quite some time, and colored US relations with France, Spain, the independent colonies, and even Russia (Orthodox was apparently worse than Catholic, although Herring discusses American enthusiasm for the Greek Revolution). The shared concern over Catholic monarchism probably smoothed over differences in Anglo-American relations during this period, in spite of the fact that the two states continued to have trade and territorial disputes.

Herring mentions, but doesn’t explore at length, the relationship between the United States and Pax Britannica. The United States was born and developed under the umbrella of British maritime dominance. This dominance was occasionally tested by the French, and was in some regions only intermittent, but nevertheless the United States could largely count, from independence until roughly 1900, on ocean transit secured by the Royal Navy. This absolved the United States of certain maritime responsibilities; although the United States Navy grew during the Monroe-Adams period, it did not approach in size or capability the important (and even not so important) navies of Europe. The US, dependent as it was on maritime trade, was in a position to uniquely benefit from this security. Had a multipolar (in the maritime sphere) system existed, the United States might not have been able to free ride on Great Britain’s provision of security, and consequently might have suffered economically.

More later, especially on the Jacksonian period.

From Colony to Superpower: Tragedy, Comedy, Farce

[ 0 ] November 24, 2008 |

Erik leads off this week’s discussion of From Colony to Superpower. Chapter 3 deals with the period between 1801 and 1815. This period saw the dominance of the Republicans, and of the Virginia planter class. George Herring is considerably less sympathetic to the Republicans than to the Federalists, at least in terms of foreign policy. Both Jefferson and Madison receive criticism, on points both practical and ideological.

On a couple of points, Herring get hilariously cruel. Noting Jefferson’s preference for the language of “natural right” in the Declaration of Independence, Herring points out other instances in which Jefferson understand American interest in terms of natural rights, such as the natural right of American commercial access to the Mississippi (in spite of the French and Spanish property right to same), and the natural right of the United States to have a border along the Gulf of Mexico. Jefferson also made a conscious distinction between the kind of natural rights possessed by native Americans and African slaves, with the former achieving the status of “noble savage” which meant a chance for assimilation and eventual inclusion within the United States. Didn’t really work out that way, but nevertheless…

It’s dangerous to attempt to derive modern parallels for the events of the early nineteenth century. On the one hand, the author most certainly wants to make the history seem relevant. On the other, there is an obvious risk to understanding the past in the context of the present, rather than on its own terms. Herring discusses two incident in particular that reminded of modern foreign policy questions. The first involved continuing violence on the frontier. Herring discusses how the Americans appeared genuinely incapable of believing that Indian violence and attacks stemmed from the behavior of settlers and the US government. Rather, British influence was blamed, virtually without evidence.

Similarly, the US treatment of Haiti seems to lay out a template for 20th century Cuba policy. Adams moderated Haiti policy substantially (partially in response to tensions with France), but Jefferson pursued a very hard initial line. He shifted somewhat when anti-French sentiment rose just prior to the Louisiana Purchase, then returned to the hard line after the completion of his transaction with Napoleon. Because of the influence of Southern slaveholders, the US would not recognize Haiti until the Lincoln administration.

Herring is extremely critical of Madison’s handling of the War of 1812, both in terms of its initiation and its execution. While recognizing that genuine policy conflicts existed between Great Britain and the United States, Herring faults Madison (and Jefferson) for inept diplomacy backed by no military force. Republican nervousness about standing military forces limited US capability, and by necessity produced an unfortunate confidence in the capacity of militia and irregular troops. Naval victories in the Great Lakes, combined with instability in Europe, managed to save the US from a more serious disaster.

Jefferson’s Embargo against France and Britain was one of the most ill-conceived projects in the history of American foreign policy. Jefferson barely bothered to explain the policy to the American people, or to build domestic support. Since many constituencies depended on trade with Britain, there was immediate resistance and efforts at circumvention. Moreover, the embargo had none of its intended effects; the French barely noticed, while the British were able to take advantage of emerging suppliers in Spanish America. As Erik notes, the Embargo depended on a radical over-inflation on Jefferson’s part of the importance of American trade to Europe.

More later…

Colony to Superpower II: Can’t Go Wrong with John Jay

[ 0 ] November 19, 2008 |

Erik writes about the harsh criticism that John Jay received upon returning from Europe on the conclusion of the Jay Treaty.

This was ridiculous. Herring states that Jay probably gave up more than he had to on these issues. Maybe. But this was the United States. And England was England. To think that we could simply state terms to Europe, as we did over and over again in these years, was totally absurd but typical of the arrogance in which the United States carried itself, even from the nation’s infancy. Herring defends Jay as well saying “The most likely alternative to the treaty was a continued state of crisis and conflict that could have led to war” and “Rarely has a treaty so bad on the face of it produced such positive results.”

Quite right. Public and elite opinion in the early Republic seemed to swing back and forth between raw terror that either Britain or France were on the verge of destroying the United States, and crazed optimism about the ability of the United States to dictate terms to and win wars against the major European powers. This isn’t terribly surprising; revolutionary regimes tend to have erratic foreign policies in their early years, and the leaders of the United States were self-conscious revolutionaries. At the same time, I wonder if the temporal proximity of the French Revolution to the American, and the very real differences between those two revolutions, didn’t serve to push US foreign policy in a more conservative direction. Interestingly enough, Herring credits Nelson’s victory at the Nile with making France amenable to negotiations with the United States.

Erik is also correct that the biggest omission from this chapter is an in-depth discussion of the Alien and Sedition Acts. Perhaps Herring considered these to be a domestic issues, but I can’t really see why. Without the pressure provided by the war between France and Britain, and the consequent division of the American political elite, I doubt that the Acts would ever have come about. Of course, it’s also kind of interesting to follow the self-immolation of the Federalist Party during Adams presidency. I had not previously knwn that Timothy Pickering is the only Secretary of State in US history to have been fired, rather than resign. In retrospect, Hamilton’s machinations against Adams really do seem foolish and short-sighted. Without the divisions in the Federalists, Adams probably would have beaten Jefferson in 1800.

I’ve heard it argued, and I think it’s correct, that the 1790s, the 1950s, and the 2000s are the only three eras in US history in which foreign policy played a genuinely critical role in American political competition. It’s too early to say whether Herring holds to this position, and I suppose further that the question depends on whether one terms relations with Native Americans as “foreign policy”. Then again, I suppose it could be argued that there was a broad consensus in the American political elite on the Native American question (kill them and take their land), and as such disputes weren’t really politically salient. It’ll be interesting to see how Herring treats this.

Finally, from the “that probably didn’t mean then what it sounds like now” file, Herring quotes an American official saying “The affairs of Europe rain riches on us, and it is as much as we can do to find dishes to catch the golden shower.” Indeed.

From Colony to Superpower: Part II

[ 0 ] November 17, 2008 |

George Washington composed his Farewell Address in cooperation with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. The process took roughly five years, as the initial text was prepared in anticipation of a 1792 retirement. In one of the drafts of the address, Washington/Madison/Hamilton look forward to a time in which the United States

shall possess the strength of a giant, and there will be none who can make us afraid.

George Herring introduces the second chapter of From Colony to Superpower with this quote, and highlights in in his introduction. Washington’s Farewell Address is a remarkably important document for the study of American foreign policy, but discussion of it tends to focus on other elements, most notably Washington’s injunctions against alliances and other entanglements with Europe. Unlike some such documents, the Farewell Address isn’t a sphinx without a secret; it lays forth a relatively straightforward and coherent vision of what American foreign policy should look like. Fans of hegemonic and liberal internationalist approaches to American foreign policy should, I think, disagree with much of what Washington argues, although they can excuse him for writing under different circumstances than hold today. In any case, the decision to highlight a quote from an unfinished draft of the Address is curious, and I have to suspect that Herring would not have done so if the book had been published prior to the September 11 attacks. Those attacks demonstrated that the strength of a giant was insufficient to protect us from being afraid.

What strikes more than anything about the quote is its naivety. It feels particularly naive in the context of the last ten years of American history, but it was naive at the time, and misunderstands the relationship between fear and power. We fear when we believe that our values are threatened; national security is about the protection of those values. The more things that we have (whether territory, freedom, economic well-being, etc.) the more likely we are to feel fear. It’s hardly accidental that the most notable moments of raw terror over foreign affairs in the United States have come as the US ascended to a new apex of power. During the McCarthyite hysteria of the 1950s and following the attacks of September 11, the United States had great capacity to protect itself than ever before, but this capacity didn’t translate into a feeling of security. The power of the United States depends on an interlocking series of relationships both domestic and international. More stuff translates into more power, but it also means more threats; whereas the United States could be utterly indifferent to the course of a Greek civil war in the 19th century, in the 1950s such a war could potentially threaten the edifice upon which American power was built. Power and fear in the international system are tightly bound together; more of the first almost invariably means more of the second.

This should not have been lost on Washington, as he certainly could see that neither Britain nor France, in spite of their great power relative to the United States, were free from fear. There is also a neoconservative interpretation of the comment; Washington could have meant that as a powerful republic, the United States would reshape the world such that there would be nothing to fear. That’s seems to be a bit of a stretch, however, especially since Washington makes direct reference to size and power, rather than ideology. The notion of a United States reaching out and transforming the world through raw power is also alien to the rest of the Farewell Address, most of which (as alluded to above) is consumed by warnings against entanglement with the Old World.

It’s also possible (perhaps likely) that Washington meant nothing of the sort when he wrote the comment:

That our Union may be as lasting as time for while we are encircled in one band we shall possess the strength of a giant and there will be none who can make us afraid Divide and we shall become weak a prey to foreign intrigues and internal discord and shall be as miserable and contemptible as we are now enviable and happy.

In context, it seems to me much more of an injunction against disunity than a dream about the rise of American power. However, because Herring uses the quote to generate interesting thoughts rather than to illustrate the political vision of Washington/Hamilton/Madison, I can forgive the out of context citation.

The second chapter of Colony to Superpower brings us from the ratification of the Constitution to the election of Thomas Jefferson. The revolutionary spirit still animated American foreign policy to an extent, but it was tempered both by the severe constraints on US capabilities and by the motivating ideology of the American Revolution. While there was some sympathy for the French Revolution, there was also deep concern about its extent. No such confusion existed in reference to the Haitian Revolution; in a pattern that would be repeated ad nauseum throughout US history, the young Republic gave military assistance to the counter-revolutionary planter class of Haiti, and accepted its refugees following the rebel victory. The Haitian revolt played some role in the deep political divide that followed the French Revolution, as the Southern planter class argued for military and financial assistance to France so that the new government could put down the rebellion. This isn’t to say that the Federalists were enthused by the Haitian Revolt, but they didn’t tend to find the idea of a bloody slave revolt as frightening as did the Republicans.

Herring capably covers the familiar story of the conflict between the Federalists and the Republicans throughout the 1790s. I’ve seen it argued that this early battle between supporters of France and Britain raised the political salience of foreign policy to a degree unmatched in American politics until the 1950s, and Herring seems general in accord with that view. Herring is generally sympathetic to the Federalists, suggesting that much criticism of the Jay treaty was unwarranted, and that Adams accomplished a difficult task in keeping the US mostly out of war with France. The Alien and Sedition Acts receive curiously little attention.

I have more, but I’ll pass it over to Erik…

Colony to Superpower I: Things Fall Apart?

[ 0 ] November 12, 2008 |

Erik’s response to my FCTS I (From Colony to Superpower: Chapter 1) post is up. A lot of the discussion we’ve been having regards counterfactuals, which is plenty entertaining but somewhat limiting. I wish Erik would expand on this point:

Also, I think westward expansion as a real reason for Revolution has probably been overhyped since 1776.

It’s not that I disagree; I’m just curious about the nature of the argument. Is Erik suggesting that the British would (eventually) have been just as comfortable with expansion as the colonists? This would seem plausible, although it’s fair to say that the gains from expansion (territory and property) would have been distributed much differently under a different relationship between the colonies and the metropol. That difference in distribution might well have produced a civil war or revolution by itself.

On a wholly different subject, Herring noted that there was a widespread expectation in Europe (particularly in Great Britain) that the United States would disintegrate, probably in five years or less. I’m not terribly surprised that there was such an expectation, but I do wonder about the details. Did the British think that the US would crack into 13 separate states, or along regional lines? Did they think that the recovery (voluntary or no) of the colonies would be possible? Individual states would have been extremely vulnerable to pressure from France or Spain, and might well have found the mother country a better option. Herring doesn’t give us any details, but I wonder whether the idea that Britain would recover the colonies anyway played a role in the debate over the wisdom of continuing the war, and in obdurate British policy following the war. Spanish and French expectations of American disintegration may also have played a role in their enthusiasm (such that it was) for American independence.

From Colony to Superpower: Part I

[ 0 ] November 10, 2008 |

Erik Loomis and I have embarked on a project to evaluate George Herring’s new book, From Colony to Superpower. Herring is a well-respected historian of the Vietnam Era, and has produced a roughly 900-page book on the history of American foreign policy. Each Sunday, Erik and I will comment on a new chapter of the book. I’ll be reading as a political scientist, focusing on how the development of US foreign policy fits into extant theories of international relations. Erik will be reading the book as a historian, with an eye toward how Herring integrates modern scholarship on American foreign policy into the overarching narrative. Perhaps more interesting than the academic element, we’ll also take the opportunity discuss interesting and worthwhile stories about American foreign affairs, in particular those that have fallen out of the public memory. The book has twenty chapters, so we expect to keep this up for twenty Sundays. We’ll be responding to each others points in posts throughout the week, and of course in the comments sections of both blogs. Anyone who wants to join in is welcome, even if you don’t plan to read the book. We’ll take care to include responses to posts and comments in our responses to one another. If you have the book and would like to participate, drop one of us a line. Erik has the first post on the first chapter; go read it now.

Herring makes what amounts to a second image reversed argument about the impact of international factors on the formation of American political institutions. A second image argument (using the terminology developed by Kenneth Waltz in Man, the State, and War) derives international outcomes from domestic factors; for example, democracies don’t go to war against other democracies. Second image reversed derives internal characteristics of states from the international system. Herring makes the case that much of the drive towards centralization in the early Republic came from the need to interact with the international system. While security was one concern (the Founders were concerned about Native Americans, the British, and the Spanish), commerce, according to Herring, was a larger consideration. Pursuit of an open commercial policy was one of the justifications for the Revolution, and expectations were that the new nation would enjoy good commercial relations with Europe. It turned out, however, that coming to agreements was difficult without a central legislative and executive authority capable of negotiating and regulating such agreements. This is a clear cut case of institutional isopomorphism on the international stage. In order to deal with the states that then existed, the United States needed to become like them. The international system creates units that mirror already existing units. There’s both a realist and a constructivist account for this, with the realist case focusing on security concerns, and the constructivist case concentrating more on social and commercial issues. Both cases find some support in Herring’s argument, although I tend to find the latter more satisfying.

As Erik points out, the introduction and first chapter of this book probably look different than they would have fifteen years ago. Herring makes clear that the Founders were, in a very important sense, genuine revolutionaries; they expected the United States to behave differently internally and externally than the nations of Europe. Moreover, the Founders believed that the United States would play a revolutionary role in world politics, eventually if not immediately. Early American efforts at diplomacy with Europe were, it’s fair to say, uneven and often a bit naive. The colonists shared the British prejudice towards continental powers, especially Catholic ones, even as they sought the military and commercial aid of France and Spain. It’s still wrong to make a leap connecting the Founders to modern-day neoconservatism; the Founders on the whole had a profoundly different conception of the relationship between democracy and force than is held by the neoconservative right. Nevertheless, the idea that the United States would play and unique and crucial role in world politics is not new to American political thought.

I’m not sure that I can agree with Erik’s argument that the Revolution was a mistake. Herring convincingly argues that the interests of the colonies and of England diverged significantly in the latter decades of the 18th century. The United States wasn’t able to achieve everything that it wanted through independence (in particular, the commercial sector didn’t grow as anticipated), but the nation was able to survive and expand without the protection of the British Empire. The expansion point is key; Britain and the colonies disagreed bitterly over proper relations with the various Indian nations. The British preferred a far more conciliatory policy than the colonists were willing to entertain. This disagreement doesn’t put the Founding generation in a particularly good light, but it nevertheless represented a serious dispute that would have proved problematic even if the various tax and autonomy issues had been solved. Also, the Revolution limited (but did not fully preclude) American participation in the world war that last from 1790 until 1815. The avoidance of such entanglements was another justification of the Revolution.

Erik further makes the case that slavery in North America would have been abolished earlier in the absence of the Revolution. I’m not sure that I can agree with this, either. To keep the colonies part of the Empire, some power-sharing arrangement would have been necessary. The population of the United States was 16.2 million in 1838, while the population of Great Britain was a touch over 25 million. Even allowing that a considerable portion of that population was enslaved, and that the population might not have grown to the same extent had the colonies remained part of the Empire, this represents a free white population of a scale dramatically different than the other elements of the Empire. The continued inclusion of the colonies within the British Empire would have necessarily transformed the character of the Empire, opening some possibilities and foreclosing others. In particular, the continued existence of a large, white, and wealthy slaveholding class in the North American colonies would have made it much more abolition in the British Empire a much more dodgy prospect than it ended up being. Moreover, the slaveholding class was willing to fight to protect slavery in 1860; there’s no reason to think that would have changed if the relationship between the Empire and the colonies had remained intact.

Finally, I think that a movie or HBO miniseries about John Jay is long overdue. He seems to have had entertaining adventures in France and Spain, and was of course both the “Forgotten Federalist”, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A quick perusal of Wikipedia and IMDB reveals not a single instance of Justice Jay appearing in film; this is surely a crime against cinematic history.

Any thoughts on casting?

Sunday Book Review: Rules of the Game

[ 27 ] October 27, 2008 |

Sometimes simple questions result in enormous projects. The question that Andrew Gordon tackles in Rules of the Game amounts to this: Why did the Grand Fleet fail to destroy the High Seas Fleet at Jutland, in spite of a massive advantage in material and a devastating tactical position? Gordon begins with a detailed account of the development and deployment of the Fifth Battle Squadron (consisting of four of the five members of the Queen Elizabeth class, most powerful battleships in the Royal Navy) at the Battle of Jutland, which is followed by a familiar account of the Run to the South, in which the British battlecruisers under the command of David Beatty encountered the Franz von Hipper’s squadron of German battlecruisers. Then, just as the battleships of the Fifth Battle Squadron turn away from the oncoming High Seas Fleet, we return to Trafalgar, a history of the Victorian Royal Navy, and a long discussion of what peacetime does to military doctrine and practice. As you might imagine, it’s a long and detailed book. The first half of this review deals with Gordon’s theoretical argument, and will be of interest to those curious about the study and practice of military doctrine. The second half focuses on Gordon’s empirical argument about the outcome of the Battle of Jutland.

Gordon argues that the nineteenth century dominance of the Royal Navy combined with the social customs of the Victorian Age to produce an officer corps hostile to and largely incapable of decisive, independent action. This hostility was reflected in the training and social institutions of the Royal Navy. The consequence was a military organization that was exceptionally effective at certain tasks, but remarkably inflexible. However, no social institutions can exist without producing resistance, and the Victorian Royal Navy produced both doctrinaire officers and “ratcatchers”, rebels who struggled with the hierarchy but who would do well in combat situations.

British command at the Battle of Jutland featured a doctrinaire officer (Admiral John Jellicoe), and a ratcatcher (Admiral David Beatty). Of course, these are ideal types that can never quite catch the complexities of particularly individuals; Jellicoe would not have risen to command if he had not himself among his fellow doctrinaire officers, and Beatty tamed his rebellious streak enough to move up the Royal Navy hierarchy. Military organizations, like any other organization, are riven by faction, although the factional breakdown doesn’t always manifest in the same manner. Carl Gemzell made this point in a not-often-enough-read study on conflict within the German Navy between 1880 and 1940, and it’s fair to say that the dispute between “conservatives” and “crusaders” in the US Army represents a modern manifestation of this tendency. Factionalization isn’t simply dichotomous, but describing it as such can be a fair way to characterize certain kinds of arguments.

Gordon’s policy/theoretical argument is that military organizations need to understand factionalization and structure themselves to manage, and even take advantage, of its manifestation. His conclusion provides twenty-four lessons on how military doctrine evolves during peacetime, and on how peacetime developments can create difficulties during war. This chapter in particular should be of tremendous interest to both scholars and practitioners of military doctrine. The lessons evaluate both how the body of knowledge itself emerges, and how that body of knowledge creates individual officers, an officer corps, and the physical structure of a military organization.

On the empirical case, Gordon aggregates and refines the mountain of evidence about the conduct and outcome of the Battle of Jutland. He is interested primarily in the command decisions of the Royal Navy, and as such doesn’t spend a lot of time considering German deccision-making. It’s not quite true to say that the evaluation comes down to a comparison of Beatty and Jellicoe, but it’s not quite untrue, either. The case against David Beatty is complex, but compelling. His audacity made him a capable commander, but he lacked a sense for detail. His evaluation of subordinates was suspect, and in any case he didn’t communicate well with his senior officers. These shortcomings may well have had an impact in the early stages of the Battle of Jutland. Had Beatty taken more care to coordinate with the Fifth Battle Squadron, more damage might have been inflicted on Hipper’s battlecruisers, and Queen Mary just might have been saved. Later, poor communications with his subordinate created a zone of vulnerability for the Fifth Battle Squadron, which could have but did not lead to the loss of one or more of the most valuable units in the Royal Navy.

All of these issues have resulted in damage to Beatty’s historical reputation. The initial reaction to Jutland in the United Kingdom was to blame Jellicoe; he had failed to destroy the Germans, and in fact the Grand Fleet ended up suffering greater losses than the High Seas Fleet. Jellicoe was “promoted” out of command of the Grand Fleet, and Beatty was promoted into command. As Gordon suggests, however, the historical record has tended to support Jellicoe over Beatty. Gordon disputes this conclusion. Beatty, in spite of all the mistakes he made, did his job; he drew the High Seas Fleet into a hopeless tactical position against a vastly superior enemy force. The loss of a battlecruiser or two would hardly be remembered if Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet had proceeded to destroy the Germans, as it clearly was capable of doing. Put differently, the loss of a battlecruiser may be attributable to Beatty’s mistakes, but the escape of the High Seas Fleet is on Jellicoe.

There was no single decisive moment at Jutland; the tactical and operational situations resulted from the accretion of a tremendous number of decisions large and small. However, some decisions deserve more attention than others, and Gordon devotes study to Jellicoe’s decision to turn the Grand Fleet away from a German destroyer attack. With the High Seas Fleet in disarray and suffering a pounding from Jellicoe’s battle line, Admiral Scheer ordered his destroyers to launch a torpedo attack against the Grand Fleet. Instead of turning into the attack (accepted doctrine was to display as little profile as possible for torpedos), Jellicoe decided to turn away, and the Grand Fleet lost contact long enough for the Germans to escape. The decision was understandable both to the extent that Jellicoe wished to preserve his fleet, and in that he expected he would be able to retain contact in spite of turning away.

I wonder if part of the problem is that Jellicoe was thinking at a level above his paygrade. I know more about Jutland than Tsushima, and a lot more about Jutland than Trafalgar, but one difference between Togo/Nelson on the one hand and Jellicoe on the other is that the former two didn’t worry overmuch about the consequences of defeat. They were given a job (destruction of the enemy), and a set of tools with which to do that job, and both of them undertook as expediently as possible to bring the enemy under their sights and destroy him. Jellicoe seems to have agonized over his position as the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon. Togo, as I suggested some time ago, could have agonized in the same fashion; the IJN held a strategic advantage, could have won the war without forcing an engagement against the Russians, and indeed could only have lost the war by allowing the Russians to win a battle of annihilation.

Still, I get the sense that Nelson, Togo, and Beatty would not have turned away from the destroyer attack, but rather would have maintained contact with the Germans. Had contact been maintained, the outcome of the battle could not have been in doubt; the British had more ships, better ships (this is a debatable point, but I’ll be happy to respond to any queries in comments), and a tactically advantageous situation. The Grand Fleet, even accepting a few torpedo hits, would have utterly destroyed the High Seas Fleet with relatively light losses. Then again, part of Gordon’s point is that while all of the decisions that were made at and before Jutland were consequential, there can be said to be no “moment of decision” in which Jellicoe could have made a certain judgment that would have destroyed the High Seas Fleet or allowed it to escape.

All that said, it’s worth noting that a Tsushima-esque battle of annihilation would likely not have shortened the war by a day, but would have killed some 20000 German (and no small number of British) sailors who, in the real world, survived the war. It’s also worth noting that Beatty, Jellicoe, and most of the other officers of the Grand Fleet successfully accomplished the tremendous number of very difficult tasks that were necessary to bring the High Seas Fleet to the point of destruction; they shifted formation and maintained station, avoided submarines, avoided collision, and in general did all of the tasks that are expected by professional naval officers. The conservative vs. crusader distinction is more one of degree than of type; all professional military officers of a particular rank are capable of a large range of tasks.

Rules of the Game is well worth reading, both for specialists in military doctrine and for those with an interest in naval combat. The book is long and detailed, so it helps to be interested in both; I would hope, though, that an interest in either would be enough to draw the reader in and keep her attention.

Cutting Deals with Horowitz

[ 39 ] October 21, 2008 |

On September 6, I opened up my e-mail and found the following:

Dear Robert Farley, I hope this email finds you well.

I am organizing a few discussions on Party of Defeat.
The book has been praised by seventeen members of Congress & Senate.

Have you read the book yet? I would like to send you a free copy and also offer you $1000 to write a critique of it for us, as we are welcoming a different perspective and debate/dialogue on this issue.

My first thought was “Have I read the book yet? Heh.” My second thought was “$1000. That sure could buy a lot of whiskey sours.” My third thought was “200. It could buy 200 whiskey sours, if I go to the right places. Maybe with a few Manhattans sprinkled in for variety.” My fourth thought was “Hey, it could even pay for whiskey sours that I’ve already bought, and that are still hanging around on my credit card balance.” It’s fair to say, then, that I found the offer appealing from the get go.

I immediately IMed Matt Duss, who told me that the offer had been floating around the DC blogging/journalism community for a while. Duss (and others) had given thought to taking the deal, but then decided that engaging with Horowitz would grant him too much legitimacy. This, I thought, was true enough; it was the reason that Horowitz was willing to pay an outrageous sum for lefties to review his book. He was trying to buy legitimacy. The point was to create the illusion that there was something in Party of Defeat that was worth engaging with, and consequently that David Horowitz was a man of ideas, rather than a thug and second rate polemicist. As such, engagement with the work as meaningful scholarship could be fundamentally dishonest, in that it accorded the book a level of respect greater than the typical bar bathroom scrawl.

Then again, I have debts no honest man can pay. There was a certain comfort in the recognition that Horowitz’ effort was transparent; taking the money to review the book was, in itself, subversive of the notion that Horowitz was a serious thinker. Of course, I would accept money to review a book that I had an interest in reading, but I would never read Horowitz were it not for the money. Indeed, had I initially been received the $500 offer that Frontpage is now making, I probably would have said “Thanks, but no thanks.” After all, such an offer would only have netted me 100 whiskey sours, which is hardly worth the effort.

However, there was another issue; Horowitz and his people are thugs. Although my interactions with the contact from FrontPage have been polite, friendly, and completely above board, I couldn’t rule out the possibility that President Lee Todd would be getting a letter at some point about my ideological unsuitability to work at the University of Kentucky. While I’m pretty low on the food chain, Horowitz (not to mention his fans) is pretty unpredictable, and while I didn’t think that he could do any real harm, I didn’t need the threat hanging over me. I discussed it with the Bossman, which reassured me somewhat, and I eventually managed to convince myself that I just wasn’t important enough for Horowitz to bother with.

After a few days (I do have other responsibilities) I sent my correspondent at Frontpage an e-mail asking a few questions about process, editing, payment, and so forth. He assured me that the review would be edited only for spelling and minor grammar errors, and that payment would be issued after the review and a response by Horowitz were published by FrontPage. A reply to the response would be appreciated, but not required. I would have preferred a guaranteed kill fee for the review, but the response was reassuring enough to convince me to go forward. I asked for the book, and received my copy several days later.

And so on a Monday evening I set out for the Mellow Mushroom with Party of Defeat and a yellow notepad. I ordered a pitcher of beer and a pepperoni, pineapple, and jalapeno pizza, and settled in, expected to read roughly a third of the book. And then, about halfway down the first page, I noticed a serious problem with my plan. The. Book. Is. Unimaginably. Terrible. You may think you can guess how bad it is, but you can’t. It’s Benji Saves the Universe Terrible. It’s notes on each of the first seventy pages terrible. It’s spitting up your valuable, valuable beer terrible. There’s just nothing there. It can’t be engaged with, any more than the homeless dude with the tinfoil hat can. It’s a disaster, and I just couldn’t understand how I could possibly come up with a thousand words that could conceivably be termed “engagement”, and still have any pretence to intellectual honesty.

As I so often do, I sought solace in alcohol. I gave some thought to bagging the project, because I didn’t think that the $1000 was worth having to do a genuinely dishonest appraisal. Then again, I’d spent some time and intellectual energy; I also really wanted the thousand dollars. Finally, I latched onto the idea of treating the book as if it were a work of historical fiction, or perhaps even the novelization of some crazy right wing movie. I came up with the following (reconstructed from barely legible scrawls on yellow legal pad):

Horowitz and Johnson have produced what could be a killer script for a political/sci-fi thriller. However, there are some issues that need to be worked out. First, the “liberals” need to have some kind of scientific/supernatural power of persuasion. No one is going to believe that a tiny, unpopular minority could seize control of the United States unless they have some nifty superpowers.

As it stands, the script is entirely devoid of sex. This just isn’t going to fly. As far as I can tell, we have four female characters; Nancy Pelosi, Cindy Sheehan, Valerie Plame, and Jeane Kirkpatrick. At least one of these characters needs to have an affair with some other character; maybe Kirkpatrick and the Shah of Iran? Plame and John Kerry? Even if we’re aiming for a PG rating, we still need some steam.

We also have to start thinking about casting. Is Tim Robbins as George McGovern asking too much? Vinnie Chase is looking for work; maybe we could put him in the role of some young war protester who eventually devours the brain of a soldier? Even better, we could have Johnny Drama as the soldier; nice little in-joke. We might also try to land Alec Baldwin for the Al Gore role; if we can get Angelina for Valerie Plame, we could try to link them together.

It went on like that. After sobering up, it occurred to me that Frontpage would, likely as not, simply reject a submission along these lines. I could complain, but wouldn’t have much of a legal leg to stand on; they were requesting a serious engagement with the book in what amounted to good faith. I’d get a good story, but not much else. So I began to think anew about how I could engage with the work. A couple days after starting the book, I talked a bit with Michael Berube about his interactions with Horowitz. I was reassured that FrontPage would play square, and that I should try to find a way to write a straight response.

After finishing the book and giving it some thought, I realized that what Horowitz was pushing amounted to a conspiracy theory. I could respond to it accordingly, with a variety of the typical tactics that one uses to respond to such claims, including a focus on mechanism, transparency, and so forth. Discussion with a couple of other correspondents convinced me that I needed to say something about Horowitz’ narrow interpretation of democracy, which gave me the opportunity to bring up my one area of mild agreement with the book, which involved the useless “war of choice, war of necessity” distinction. Finally, I decided simply to not engage at all with Horowitz’ use of evidence; factual claims in the book were designed for “truthiness” rather than for truth, and trying to start an argument about Plame or McGovern or Reagan or whatever else wouldn’t be productive. I’d highlight a few howlers, and move on. I finished up the review (about 1600 words, which was more than I’d expected), sent it along to my editors (Duss, Erik Loomis, and the wife), then sent it to FrontPage. They accepted, sent me Horowitz’ response in less than a day (I still haven’t read the whole thing), and asked me if I wanted to reply. I tactfully declined; spending time replying would cut into my profit margin. I’d like to think that I produced an honest engagement with the book, while making clear that I didn’t take it seriously as a work of scholarship.

I expected, when I began, that the effort would take about ten hours; five for reading the book, two for research, two for writing, and one for general nuisance. It ended up taking about seven (3 reading, 3 writing, one nuisance) which comes to an hourly rate of $142.86, which isn’t half bad. When I got the check, I sent $100 to Barack Obama, $50 each to Bruce Lunsford, Victoria Wulsin (running to unseat “Mean” Jean Schmidt), and Joyce Merritt (running for District Judge in Fayette County), and spent $200 on a fantastic steak dinner with the wife. The rest goes to pay for the ghosts of whiskey sours.

Sunday Book Review: World of Nations

[ 5 ] August 18, 2008 |

This is the sixth in a seven part series on the Patterson School Summer Reading List.

  1. In Spite of the Gods, Edward Luce
  2. The Utility of Force, Rupert Smith
  3. Negotiating Change, Jeremy Jones
  4. Enemies of Intelligence, Richard Betts
  5. The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier
  6. A World of Nations, William Keylor

This year at Patterson, we decided to put a book on the list that covered what we felt was a “general knowledge” gap. Patterson accepts folks from a lot of different undergraduate departments, so the knowledge base at the beginning of the program is uneven. The students tend to have a solid grasp on current events, but not so much on history, or on international relations theory (beyond the plurality of political scientists). The summer reading list is normally populated by a combination of “popular” books on international politics and accessible academic works, which gives the students a familiarity with current debates (and “trendy” books) and an in depth knowledge of a couple issue areas, but not a broad understanding of the academic field or of the general history of the international system. So this year we assigned William Keylor’s A World of Nations, in an effort to solve the latter of these problems. We also decided to beef up the theoretical content in our flagship course, which should serve to get the students to more or less the same place.

It’s impossible to write an atheoretical book on international politics, and Keylor is explicit about his Realist sympathies. This is as evident in the choice of unit of analysis as in the analysis itself. Keylor is interested in what nations have done for the past 63 years, and privileges the nation-state over international organizations, social movements, multi-national corporations, and NGOs. However, he doesn’t overly indulge in the notions that all state behavior can be explained through power politics, or that what goes on inside a state matters little for its foreign policy behavior. This leaves an account that is in many ways limited, but that’s more than satisfactory on its own terms.

Keylor lays his account out regionally, rather than chronologically. This is a bit off-putting at times; we get to the collapse of the Soviet Union before the Korean War, for example. Like a good Realist, Keylor begins with the competition between the US and the USSR, and focuses as much on events in Europe (five chapters) as on events in the rest of the world combined (five chapters). There are some good reasons to complain about this focus, but he makes his priors clear; he believes that the superpower competition in Europe mattered more for the rest of the world than the rest of the world mattered for superpower competition. This is a defensible argument, if not one that everyone will agree with.

Nothing that Keylor wrote about particular historical episodes made me scream “Wrong! Wrong! Why are we reading this?”, which, I think, speaks well of what amounts to a history textbook. Nothing really leapt out at me as new, but that’s not surprising either. One intriguing thread in the story of superpower confrontation is how well Keylor makes clear the costs of Soviet competition with the United States. The USSR, eventually, found itself competing all over the world with a nation of vastly superior financial resources. This need to compete wasn’t driven purely by security concerns; there was no reason for the USSR to send a ton of money to Angola, or to spend as much as it did on Cuba, or to engage in a dozen other projects that meant little for its ability to win wars in East Asia and in Central Europe. Nevertheless, the Soviets found themselves bound up in competition in every region of the world, and not just against the United States. France, and the United Kingdom used their own considerable resources to pursue projects that, if they weren’t directly in service of US foreign policy aims, certainly ran counter to Soviet desires. With the reinvigoration of the German and Japanese economies, and the foreign policy shift of China to the West, this eventually meant that the Soviets were competing against just about everyone. This is not to say that the United States pursued a wise policy by pouring money into Africa or Latin America, but rather that the US was much, much more capable of bearing the costs of foreign policy errors than the Soviets were. The outcome, as they say, was predictable.

Sunday Book Review: The Bottom Billion

[ 0 ] August 10, 2008 |

This is the fifth in a seven part series on the Patterson School Summer Reading List.

  1. In Spite of the Gods, Edward Luce
  2. The Utility of Force, Rupert Smith
  3. Negotiating Change, Jeremy Jones
  4. Enemies of Intelligence, Richard Betts
  5. The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier

Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion is about the developing countries that have failed to develop. Over the past twenty-five years, the greater portion of the “developed world” has developed; incredible growth rates in China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia have dramatically lowered the percentage of the world’s population that is in extreme poverty. This development has opened a new gap between developing and not-developing countries, the latter mostly in Africa. Collier wonders why these states haven’t developed, and tries to produce solutions for the most serious problems. His main culprits are a series of “traps” that prevent economic growth: The conflict trap (war and its aftermath), the resource trap (also known as the resource curse, the landlocked with bad neighbors trap, and the bad governance trap (the latter two are self-explanatory). Within this context he discusses the limits of developmental aid and of the ways in which developed countries can assist (or fail to assist) the not-developing world. Collier has engaged in substantial quantitative research, attempting to determine the links between several variables and a lack of economic growth.

Unfortunately, Collier can rarely go a page without launching a broadside salvo against “leftists” and “Marxists” who, through good intention or ill, manage to foul up every effort to provide genuine assistance to the bottom billion. That there are people on the left who have idiotic ideas about development isn’t surprising; there are people of every political stripe who have idiotic ideas on trade and development, and who once held to ideas that have since become idiotic. I find it hard to believe, however, that these “western Marxists” have had the impact on policy that Collier would impute to them. I mean, we all remember Howard Zinn’s disastrous turn as Secretary of the Treasury, and we’d all like to forget Noam Chomsky’s six years as Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, but beyond that I’m hard pressed to conceive of precisely how raving leftists have dictated US and European development policy.

A related problem is that Collier attempts to dismiss genuine policy differences with anti-leftist screeds. For example, Collier doesn’t have much patience for development efforts focusing on health and education. He’s aimed clearly at growth, but he fails to acknowledge that folks arguing for health and educational development are also pro-growth; they just think that health and education are better ways to spend money than infrastructure. This is a debate that can go back and forth, and there’s evidence on both sides (indeed, Collier scores an own goal on infrastructure projects when he mentions the corruption endemic to the construction industry), but it’s hardly the case that health and education advocates are starry eyed idealist rock star celebrity Marxists, and it ill serves Collier’s argument to treat them as such.

Advocates for health and education aid, however, get off easy compared to environmentalists. It’s fair to say that Collier sees no value whatsoever in any project, developed or developing world, which is designed to limit environmental damage. Advocates of such projects get trashed as Marxists and as indifferent to the suffering of the poor. This is, of course, a gigantic blind spot; environmental projects can indeed have negative effects on growth, especially in the short term, but they can have quite beneficial effects on long term prospects for development. They can also have a positive impact on infrastructure and health, both of which are key to development. Collier’s dismissal of such projects (and of environmental concerns more generally) is beyond silly; it’s derelict.

I do think that Collier’s approach is basically correct; the answer to extreme poverty in Africa and elsewhere lies in more, not less, contact with international markets. Such contact may have numerous negative effects, but it is remarkably difficult to produce economic growth in isolation from them, and without growth there are severe limits to what can be accomplished in terms of human development. I also think that his concept of producing international charters for resource development and post-conflict management make a lot of sense. We know from John Meyer et al that governments new to the international system most often try to duplicate the institutions they see in other states, even if those institutions don’t make sense (this is why landlocked countries have navies). The charter concept takes this a step further, suggesting the creation in the international sphere of a set of templates for how developing countries can deal with certain problems. Often, developing states simply lack the technical expertise for dealing with a sudden resource boom such as the discovery of oil; a charter would lay out a path for how the government could pursue policies that minimize risk and maximize reward. The post-conflict charter would develop guidelines for how international society would deal with states coming out of civil wars, coups, and other conflict situations. The idea is to turn the passive process of socialization into an active one, and lay out appropriate paths for governments in uncertain situations to follow. It’s fair to acknowledge that such charters have a quasi-imperialistic character to them, but such an acknowledgement doesn’t mean that they’re a bad idea.

Perhaps the most worrisome part of the book is Collier’s suggestion that the window for development may have closed. Although he doesn’t fully work it out, he suggests that East and South Asian development was capable of taking advantage of opportunities provided by the international market in the 1980s and 1990s, but that many of the opportunities are no longer available. This means that the not-developing world will have trouble following the same path as not just the developed, but the recently developing world. That a new path remains uncharted is worrisome for hopes of growth in Africa, and in other areas of extreme destitution.

Book Review: Enemies of Intelligence

[ 0 ] August 3, 2008 |

This is the fourth in a seven part series on the Patterson School Summer Reading List.

  1. In Spite of the Gods, Edward Luce
  2. The Utility of Force, Rupert Smith
  3. Negotiating Change, Jeremy Jones
  4. Enemies of Intelligence, Richard Betts

Over the years, Richard Betts has written extensively on intelligence issues. Enemies of Intelligence is a restructuring and amalgamation of many of the arguments that he’s made over the years in a variety of different outlets. While some collections of this sort prove disjointed and repetitive, collecting Betts’ various argument together and refining them makes a lot of sense; the book is, on the whole, coherent and readable.

Betts’ central argument is that the TANSTAFL principle applies to intelligence. The Intelligence Community will catch some threats to the United States, and miss others; intelligence reorganization is as much about which threats will be caught as about the final batting average. Every effort to solve one intelligence problem creates a problem somewhere else. For example, there is no a priori reason to prefer a regional to a functional division of intelligence responsibilities within an organization; both approaches do some things well and leave gaps. Adding coordinative layers can help, but can also substantially slow down analysis. Demanding clear statements of probability can lead to mistakes, while overfocusing on mistakes can produce mushy intelligence estimates. Similarly, the politicization of intelligence is bad, but intelligence product must be politically savvy in order to be of relevance to policymakers. This may all seem obvious, but in the wake of a public failure of the intelligence community, almost everyone seems to forget these lessons; every failure produces calls for a reorganization (without an evaluation of what that reorganization will do), calls for an elimination of red tape (without a recognition that red tape exists for a reason), and calls for more resources (without much attention paid to just how much added value such resources will produce). This is a particularly serious problem in intelligence, because while failures are public, successes are not; if Atta and his comrades had been identified and arrested months before 9/11, a few people would have noted it as an intelligence victory, while most wouldn’t have noted it at all.

Betts does sometimes allow a bit too much “on the one hand, on the other handism” to creep into his analysis. Given his focus, this isn’t surprising; when you argue that intelligence reorganization is a zero-sum, or possibly low positive sum game, then it’s critical to recognize that different approaches inevitably have different pluses and minuses. Similarly, Betts is not a strong partisan; although he strongly opposed the Iraq War, he’s best characterized, I think, as a Cold War Democrat most comfortable with the idea that a broad consensus on foreign security policy is both possible and desirable. As such, he’s not interested in battering the Republican party and the way that its partisans think about intelligence. This leads him to be a bit too kind to ventures like Team B, which in my view (and in the view of a lot of other people) were enormously destructive endeavours without notable redeeming qualities. Then again, he does point out that the WMD fiasco was, above all, a policy failure rather than an intelligence failure; it would have been irresponsible of the intelligence community to conclude that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and the real problem was that the presence of such weapons should not, in fact, have justified intervention. A better report would have added caveats about the circumstantial nature of the evidence and the weakness of the case, but could not have concluded that the weapons were absent, and likely would not have stopped the war.

Enemies of Intelligence doesn’t include a tremendous amount of detail about the workings of the Intelligence Community, and Betts could have illustrated his argument with more examples. The book amounts to an abstract case for an abstract caution, with some detail in order to make specific points. Nevertheless, it’s a compelling case, and a useful antidote to the entertaining-but-non-analytical arguments made in a book like See No Evil, or even Legacy of Ashes.

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