Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Referring Iran

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with wanna-be Germany, have agreed to report Iran to the Security Council in reference to its nuclear ambitions. Russia and China agreed, largely because the referral won't come until March at the earliest, leaving time for Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency demands or agree to the proposal to enrich uranium in Russia for use in Iranian power plants.

However, it is far from time to celebrate. First, a "reporting" to the Security Council is less strict than a "referral" for which the US was hoping. A "referral" brings the matter to the domain of the Security Council, while a "report" merely puts the issue on the agenda for the Security Council to consider (in essence, a referral skips one step and moves right to the consideration of punishment). Also, just because Russia and China agreed to report Iran, there is no guarantee that either would consent to sanctions or punishments. The US and the EU nations must continue to work on Russia and China, telling them that further participation in the western economic and political domains is contingent on their upholding international law and promoting international security by punishing Iran if Iran remains intransigent.

This is a positive step, but we are not yet at the endgame.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas and Funding

Hamas already seems to be worried about whether the Palestinian Authority will continue to receive funding from the EU and the US once Hamas takes effective control of the legislature. Note that Ismail Haniyeh, the top candidate on Hamas' national list, said that Hamas "needs foreign assistance to carry out its agenda, which he said would focus on fighting corruption and respecting human rights. He declined to answer questions about whether the group would recognize Israel, and if so under what terms." I don't expect, nor should anyone else, Hamas to quickly repudiate its violent past or its stated intent to destroy Israel. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. Expect to see Hamas continue to observe the cease-fire and to move towards opening diplomatic relations with Israel, the US, and the EU.

Ethics and International Security

The New York Times ran an interesting piece this weekend about a conference concerning the ethics of spying, dealing with such issues as torture, assassination, how many civilian casualties are acceptable in a strike to kill a terrorist, and domestic surveillance. The question of ethics in international security is an exceedingly interesting and complicated one; even more so when dealing with the domestic front, as in the war on terror. These are some of the more difficult problems that my students wrestle with in my courses on terrorism, foreign policy, and international security.

I find it difficult to talk of moral obligations between one state and another, or even between one state and the citizens of another. A state represents a pooling of collected sovereignty and self-interest; citizens give up rights and freedoms in order to live in a society that in turn is entrusted with pursuing the best interests of those citizens and protecting them. The laws of domestic society are what allow citizens to live together; without the protection of the rule of law, societies as we know them could not exist. But in international politics, there is no real law. Of course, international law exists, but it has no power of enforcement. States are only punished for breaking the law when it is of concern to other powerful states, and powerful states can rarely be forced to obey. This international anarchy means that international society does not represent a collected sovereignty above that of the state, and that moral obligations do not transcend state borders. Of course, domestic law must still apply, but domestic law often has little to say about the actions of a state internationally.

But, the absence of moral obligation does not mean that states should not behave morally towards one another. There are lots of reasons that states should observe rules, norms, and standards of behavior in their international dealings. First is the question of legitimacy. States that adhere to internationally accepted moral codes obtain a cloak of legitimacy, which makes other states more likely to cooperate and view an action favorably. This is one of main consequences of Bush's decision to invade Iraq without authorization from the United Nations.

Second is the question of institutional restraint. As I argue in my article Institutional Signaling and the Origins of the Cold War (the link is to the article in the journal Security Studies, RR; if you can't access it and would like to read it, email me and I'll be happy to send it to you) and as Professor G. John Ikenberry does in his book After Victory, states can signal benign intentions to other states by virtue of restraining their behavior in international institutions. In essence, institutions become a soft replacement for law; a state that is seen to adhere to institutional obligations and accepted international norms is perceived by other states to be status quo and potentially cooperative.

So, in my analysis, the question as to whether states should behave morally has less to do with a sense of moral duty or obligation and more with questions of utility. The decision of whether to behave morally must be properly understood as having impacts above and beyond the specific policy question at hand. Sometimes states will decide that pursuit of their national interest requires the violation of international law or moral codes, as when the US bombs a Pakistani village in hopes of killing high-ranking al-Qaeda members. But, when couched in the proper framework, taking into account the points mentioned above, states should often restrain themselves so as to achieve larger policy goals. Too many violations of international law and morality will make it much more difficult for the US to realize its other goals and to maintain its hegemonic control of the international system.

Friday, January 27, 2006

More on Hamas

In the wake of yesterday's sort-of-surprising (although why people are stunned that Palestinians voted against a party that steals huge amounts of international aid, allowing the leaders to live in palaces while the citizens are unemployed) electoral victory for Hamas, I was struck by another idea of why I am fairly confident that this will, ultimately, be good for the peace process.

How does a state react when its citizens are killed by the government of another state? They retaliate. Every state in the world should and would behave the same way. Hamas is no longer a non-state actor. It is now the governing party of the Palestinian quasi-state. Israel is now in a much better place to establish a deterrent relationship by stating that any "act of war" by Hamas will be met in kind. Open war may be a sufficient threat to convince Hamas to restrain itself and being the transformation into a legitimate political actor.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas and the Palestinian Elections, Part 2

So, Hamas has won a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislature. As I have previously argued, I do not believe that this is the political disaster that some make it out to be. Hamas now has legitimate and significant political power. What would Hamas stand to gain by continuing the war against Israel? What would Hamas stand to lose? It seems to me that scales are tilted towards costs.

Hamas has always shown more of an interest in the nitty-gritty of governance than has the PLO/PA, be it under Arafat or Abbas. Hamas has done much more than has Fatah to root out corruption and to improve social services, which explains the surprising, sweeping parliamentary victory. But the act of governing will transform the situation. When Hamas was a shadowy organization conducting a terrorist insurgency, Israel's options were limited. Targets were hard to find, and there was little to threaten other than the lives of the leaders and the militants. But now Hamas will look much more like a state, meaning that there will be a better chance of creating deterrence. Hamas will have to build social institutions, sit in the parliament and mayoral/gubernatorial houses, and openly campaign to win future elections. If Israel needs to retaliate, there will have much more concrete targets than before. Hamas will not likely be willing to forfeit and sacrifice the political power that it has so difficultly wrested away from Fatah.

Now, I will not be surprised if I'm wrong, but I do expect that Hamas will behave itself and restrain its violent campaign against Israel. There will be, of course, more suicide attacks against Israeli citizens. They will be carried out by Islamic Jihad, Hamas (either by the organization itself or by rogue members upset with Hamas' new course), and maybe even Fatah, which quite possibly may conclude it needs to return to violence to re-gain its political stature. Moving the peace process forward will require great patience on both sides. Israel must be willing to give Hamas the opportunity to transform itself into a real political party. And Hamas must realize, as I believe it has, that this opportunity is the road to best outcome that Hamas could actually achieve: governing an independent Palestinian state.

UPDATE: I am happy to announce that I am not alone in my optimistic outlook on the victory by Hamas. Gary Becker agrees with me. Nothing like have a Nobel laureate in your corner.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

China, Google, and Censorship

Over at Instapundit is a collection of posts relating to Google's decision to cooperate with Chinese government officials in censoring web access as a condition for launching Google's search-engine into the Sino-sphere. Naturally this decision is being met with derision and scorn from human rights activists and others dismayed by Google's decision to censor the Net.

It seems to me that these critiques may be a bit short-sighted and possibly even counter-productive. Of course, I would prefer that China was not an authoritarian country, did not censor what its citizens are allowed to read and would not have put Google in this position. But lets consider, for a moment, the nature of US foreign policy towards China which can be described in one word: engagement. The logic stems from IR theories of democratic peace and economic interdependence. In short, the argument goes that as China becomes richer and more integrated into the international community, it will necessarly become more open and free domestically (as middle-class businessmen clamor for more transparency, greater enforcement of rule of law and property rights, a more open and fair economic environment, improved access to information, etc.) and more responsible on the world stage (preferring to gain the benefits of cooperation with the US and the West [such as membership in the WTO and hosting the Olympic Games] as opposed to wages of rogue status).

This is the logic that has guided US policy towards China for decades. It is the logic that prompted the first President Bush to quickly move beyond the Tiananmen Square massacres and re-establish friendly relations with China. It is the same logic that forced President Clinton to renege on his threat to tie China's MFN status to improvements in China's human rights record. It is a long-term strategy that ignores (or at least minimizes) short-term problems and concerns in favor of a slow, evolutionary approach. Better to continue, goes the argument, the slow transition towards a liberal economy and freer society than harp on one particular and immediate human rights violation and undermine the whole process.

Now, I do not believe (although I admit I know little about business so perhaps I'm wrong) that Google is aware of its role in this strategy and that Google's executives do not see their business decisions regarding China as fitting into the bigger picture of US foreign policy. But, I also believe that criticizing Google in hopes that it will be shamed into abandoning its ventures in China is a bad, short-sighted idea. China is already a more open and freer society than it was 10 or 15 years ago, and while the trajectory may not be smooth or even, it is trending towards even more freedom. If Google can assist that long-term development, it may be worth a little short-term censorship. This, in a nutshell, is what is known as realpolitik.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The AU Has Chosen Wisely...For Now

Following up on yesterday's post, the AU has decided to select Congo to its presidency, rather than following tradition by giving the position to Sudan. However, the agreement stipulates that Sudan will assume the presidency next year. The hope in the AU is that this will give sufficient time to finalize a peace deal with Sudanese rebels in the south and Darfur, who may have backed out of talks if Sudan had become AU president.

We can only hope that this deal is an example of the classic IR tactic of kicking the can down the road. That is, when a difficult problem presents itself, accept the easiest solution for the time being, leaving the essence of the problem itself to be resolved at a later date. The problem itself is how the AU envisions itself and its role on the African continent. I really hope that it eschews the UN model and makes itself a meaningful force for democracy and human rights.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The African Union's Moral Dilemma

The African Union is currently holding its annual summit in Khartoum, Sudan. According to the traditions of the AU, the summit host becomes president of the union for the coming year. This means that Sudan, one of the world's worst violators of human rights, is supposed to take over leadership of an organization that espouses protections of human rights and democratic principles.

The AU is at a crossroads. It can allow Sudan to assume the presidency, and consign itself to the ashbin of history. The AU has not done too well as of late, with, among other problems, its peacekeepers struggling to contain regional conflicts in Ivory Coast and Ethiopia and its inability to deal with the escalating problems in Zimbabwe. These problems all stem from the same problems that cripple the UN: a blind commitment to sovereignty and an unwillingness to condemn member nations or declare their practices illegal or abhorrent. If the AU wants to matter on its own continent, let alone on the world stage, it needs to take a stand and dedicate itself to upholding and spreading democracy and human rights. Better a strong less-inclusive AU that assists with lifting its member nations out of the sea of human misery in which they swim than an egalitarian institution that accomplishes nothing.

Turkey and Freedom of Speech

Today comes the wonderful news that Turkey has dropped charges of "insulting Turkish identity" against Orhan Pamuk, author of the excellent books My Name is Red and Snow. Pamuk was accused of telling a Swiss newspaper that no one would discuss the Armenian genocide during World War I, in which Turkey killed over a million Armenians, or the deaths of 30,000 Kurds in the last few decades.

The dropping of the charges represents not just a victory for free speech, but also one of institutional suasion. It seems impossible that Turkey's decision to drop this case was entirely based on its desire to join the European Union, which has expressed serious concerns over Turkey's human rights record in general, and over Pamuk's case specifically.

There is no doubt that the EU succeeded where the UN could not have. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, the UN has nothing that anybody wants, and therefore can offer no carrots to induce compliance with international law or adherence to moral norms. The EU, however, has lots that states such as Turkey want. Thus, states are faced with a choice: Maintain old traditional customs and laws and remain outside of a valuable institution, or adopt more internationally accepted laws and standards and benefit from institutional membership. Western institutions, such as the EU, the WTO, or NATO, are sufficiently valuable and powerful to make that a difficult choice, with many countries choosing to move towards Western values and conceptions of law. The UN is not.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The UN's Moral Authority

I've argued many times that the UN's commitment to the principles of sovereign equality also inhibits the UN from serving as the moral compass of the international system, as it is incapable of creating and enforcing any kind of serious moral and legal norms. Today, we have a fine example of this in action, as the UN barred Pakistani rape victim Mukhtaran Mai from giving interviews at the UN to several US news agencies. You may recall that Mai, "a 33-year old peasant, was gang-raped in 2002 on orders of a local council for an offense committed by her brother and forced to walk home nearly naked before a jeering crowd. She prosecuted her attackers and became a women's rights leader."

So, why would the UN prevent this woman from giving interviews? Because the prime minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz, was visiting the UN, and, in the words of Shashi Tharoor, the U.N. undersecretary-general for public information, as a "general principle" the United Nations had to take account of the views of a member state. Heaven forbid the UN offend a member nation that allows its domestic courts to sentence a woman to be gang-raped for the crimes of her brother!! Mind you that this is the same Shashi Tharoor who wrote in Foreign Affairs that the UN provides international legitimacy as it "helps establish the norms that many countries -- including the United States -- would like to live by." Tharoor writes, paraphrasing Dag Hammarskold, that "the UN was not created to take humanity to heaven but to save it from hell." Did the UN do anything to help Mukhtaran Mai? The 800,000 hacked-to-death casualties of the Rwandan genocide? The Bosnians in Srebrenica? The Kosovars? The Cambodians? I know there is much the UN does well, like peacekeeping, but it simply cannot deal with problems that involve political entities.

The UN has to choose. Either it can continue to uphold the principles of sovereignty, or it can decide to pursue real law that makes distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong. Now, given the institutional structure of the UN, in particular the veto power of the five permanent members, such a change will never occur. So, pursuit of real international law will have to occur elsewhere. The UN is useless for such activity.

DoJ's Justification of the NSA Domestic Spying

The Justice Department has released its analysis of the NSA spying program (pdf), claiming that the president has, under the Authorization to Use Military Force passed by Congress in the wake of 9/11, sufficient inherent authority to order domestic wiretaps without warrants, and that the NSA program did not violate either the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 or the 4th Amendment (full disclosure: I haven't yet read the actual text of DoJ's report; I'm basing this post on the analysis in today's New York Times article about the report).

As I wrote on Opinio Juris back when this story first broke, I believe that an AUMF differs from a declaration of war in one manner that is critical to understanding executive power in cases like this: the ceding of domestic legislative activity to the president by Congress. Where the formal declarations of war for WWI and WWII specifically pledged "all of the resources of the country" to the president in pursuit of the war, the AUMF does not use such language, only giving the president authorization to use "all necessary and appropriate force against those national, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

As Julian Ku points out over at Opinio Juris, this whole argument really hinges on whether or not "warrantless wiretapping of foreign-domestic phone calls is a plausible 'fundamental incident of war powers.'" But, in this case, the president does not and did not have "war powers." There was no declaration of war. The AUMF does not contain the critical language that indicates congressional intention to give the president to ability to take action in the domestic arena that would normally require a legislative act. This is not merely a semantic distinction. Giving the president the ability to act without legislative authorization is a huge step that cannot be taken lightly. In a war with no end in sight and in which there are few yardsticks with which to judge progress, giving the president unchecked and indefinite authority to eavesdrop or imprison is unacceptable. This is why we have checks and balances (or as my doctoral advisor Bruce Jentleson likes to say: separate branches sharing powers) on the use of power.

I am no fan of limiting the power of the president to use force without formal authorization from Congress. As I wrote in the Detroit News on 8/28/02, the Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, and congressional precedent clearly give the president wide latitude in deploying troops and using force without any legislative check. But where that power stops is on the homefront, where and when a president may need to appropriate legislative powers, as in the steel seizure case or this NSA surveillance operation. It may have been necessary and critical for the president to conduct such surveillance. But in this country the process is more important than the ends. We make sacrifices all the time in which our principles to civil liberties and individual freedoms trump desirable policy outcomes. Unless we are facing a truly existential threat to the nation, which I do not believe, in the absence of a nuclear attack, the US faces from al-Qaeda, policy must flow from process. This is why President Truman was not allowed to seize steel mills and why President Bush should not be allowed to conduct domestic spying without explicit Congressional approval. It is both dangerous and disingenuous to justify such legal violations for political expediency.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Laden Strikes Back?

On the same day we learn that the US bombing raid on villages in northeastern Pakistan killed several top al-Qaeda leaders -- including Abu Khabab al-Masri, al-Qaeda's top bomb-maker and chemical/biological weapons scientist, Abu Ubayda al-Misri, the chief of operations in southern Afghanistan, and Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, the chief of propaganda in northern Pakistan and the son-in-law of al-Qaeda's #2 al-Zawahri -- Osama bin Laden himself resurfaces, issuing a message (now believed to be authentic) warning the US of more attacks and claiming that the absence of attacks is not attributable to US defenses but rather extended planning by al-Qaeda. Interesting, bin Laden also made reference to the possibility of a truce between the US and al-Qaeda, in order to allow Iraq and Afghanistan to rebuild themselves. Concidence? I think not.

This message from bin Laden smacks of desperation and signals that al-Qaeda is in serious disarry as an international terrorist organization. Since 9/11, al-Qaeda's targets have been soft ones: discos in Indonesia, buses in London, and exposed US soldiers in Iraq. Of course, these attacks are horrendous, but they are certainly not the sort of targets that al-Qaeda would like to be striking. Al-Qaeda has been seriously damaged by the loss of Afghanistan as well as the arrest or killing of many senior leaders. And while it may be preferable that the US arrest or kill bin Laden too, one can only imagine how difficult it is to run an international terrorist organization while constantly on the run, fearful that any and all methods of communication may be tapped.

Why would bin Laden issue this message now, after more than a year of silence (most experts believe the message was taped in December)? Al-Qaeda is in trouble. Bin Laden may very well be facing a leadership crisis, as hiding in caves and keeping silent does not inspire insurgencies. He may need to reassure the troops that he is indeed alive and (more or less) well, especially after so many top leaders will killed last week. However, the message itself sounds desperate. "Yes, we still mean to kill you, and though we haven't, it's only because we haven't been trying. But now, we're going to try. Seriously." That's not a message that rings true. And if al-Qaeda is preparing a significant onslaught against US and Western targets, why offer a truce? Only one thing can demonstrate to the al-Qaeda faithful and Western infidels that al-Qaeda is still a potent international threat, and that is another large-scale attack. And with Iraq and Afghanistan monopolizing al-Qaeda's attention -- both of which are wars they cannot afford to lose -- it's not likely al-Qaeda has the capability to conduct such an attack. That does not mean it is not a threat. Certainly al-Qaeda can still carry out attacks on soft targets, and they can of course continue to cause chaos and kill civilians and soliders alike in Iraq. But, I would wager that al-Qaeda is no longer capable of attacks like those it carried in the 1990s up through September 11.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dan Rather and North Korea

I happened to catch a few minutes of 60 Minutes on Sunday, which featured Dan Rather in North Korea (transcript is here). I have to say what I saw was so disgusting that after several minutes of yelling at the TV, I had to turn it off. No, it wasn't the oppressive barbaric regime of Kim Jong Il that I found so repellent; it was Dan Rather's despicable reporting.

Now, while I'm no fan of big-name journalists, I've never really watched the major networks and never really cared one way or the other about Rather. But his reporting on North Korea refused to portray the "Hermit Kingdom" for the murderous, human rights violating, torturous, monstrosity that it is. I was reminded of the revelations that CNN had intentionally covered up reports of atrocities within Saddam Hussein's Iraq in order to maintain its access in that country.

Here are some of the best (worst?) parts of Rather's report:

"Somehow North Korea, which is the size of Mississippi, manages to afford the third largest army in the world." Somehow? How does Rather think North Korea affords such a large army? Maybe by denying its people such basic luxuries as food? Maybe by conscripting every able-bodies male for almost 4 years? Does Rather wonder how North Korea can afford such an army when it can't even afford 24 hour a day electricity for its capital city? No. Rather such poses this question as if it is an unanswerable puzzle.

"When Kim Il Sung died, his son, Kim Jong Il, took control. He's not as popular as his father, but we noted the crowd's adulation when he showed up to review the troops. Whether because of fear or true devotion, North Koreans can't seem to get enough of him." Seriously? In a country where people, even babies, are sent into reeducation camps for the smallest of "dissent" (three generations of families can be jailed on a mere denunciation) and starved into submission, Rather wonders whether the people's "love" for this monster is genuine?

"There were no tours available at any price to areas where mass starvation has been reported. We were allowed to go into the countryside, but not to the jails that have been called gulags for political prisoners." There are only reports of starvation? The US Institute of Peace estimates that 2-3 million people died of famine between 1994 and 1998. The average daily food ration during the famine was estimated to be 600 calories, or 1/4 what is needed. People are often reduced to eating grass and bark. Entire generations of children have had their development stunted. And Rather tells us that there are "reports" of starvation? And that the jails are "called gulags?" No mention of the forced abortions, the testing of biological and chemical agents on prisoners, the 20-25% death rates, the arrest and imprisonment of entire families for the "crimes" of one member, or any other of the barbaric conditions mentioned here in a NBC special report, here in The Aquariums of Pyongyang, here in a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, on in any other of the innumerable reports on North Korean gulags. No, Rather only mentioned reports of mass starvation and that some people call these prisons gulags.

The entire report is nothing more than a whitewash of North Korea's crimes against its own citizens. Rather does deign to tell us that people can't afford cars or bikes, that one can be arrested for allowing strangers into one's home, that Pyongyang has so little electricity that it can't even run traffic lights, and that the government controls "many aspects of life here: where you live, where you work, where you get medical treatment, where you go to school." But this is about the extent of the evil that Rather reveals.

Rather concludes his report by asking "Where does [Kim Jong Il] want to take his country? To the future or the past? To peace or to war?" Is this even a serious question? Can any sane person really wonder if Kim Jong Il wants to do anything but profit off of the blood of his people?

I find it very difficult to understand how Rather can call this report serious journalism. I wouldn't have thought he was some kind of Stalinist sympathizer, but this report makes one wonder. If CBS and 60 Minutes are producing a whitewashed report so that, a la CNN, they can maintain access to North Korea, they should be ashamed of themselves and be boycotted by any and all. If Rather seriously believes that his report accurately portrays North Korea, then he is more deluded than his critics have made him out to be. Either way, I now find Rather to be reprehensible and to have lost any credibility he may have ever possessed.

Even More on Iran

It's looking more and more like the situation with Iran is going to be a giant mess. Experts are predicting that Russia and China will veto any serious sanctions in the Security Council, the US and France are insisting that the time for talk is over unless Iran unilaterally suspends its nuclear activities, Charles Krauthammer is slamming the Europeans for dragging their feet for two years in futile negotiations, some pundits are arguing that only negotiations can lead to an acceptable resolutions, while others claim that its time for airstrikes to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities (although Simon Heffer in the Telegraph hopes that any strikes will be approved by the UN, which seems unlikely).

As I said earlier, the only viable solution to this mess seems, to me at least, to move forward on the Russian proposal to enrich uranium in Russia and ship it to Iran. Neither military strikes nor economic sanctions seem to have much chance of a successful outcome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Inevitability of Terrorists Using WMD

In today's Daily Telegraph is an interview with Henry Crumpton, the newly-appointed head of counter-terrorism at the Department of State. In the interview, Crumpton says that he "rate[s] the probability of terror groups using WMD [to attack Western targets] as very high. It is simply a question of time." He supports this belief by noting the al-Qaeda program to develop weaponized anthrax and the connections between Iran and Hezbollah.

I go back and forth as to whether I agree with Crumpton on this. On the one hand, there's the sense of technological teleology; that is, that the more WMD exist, the more likely it is that they'll be used. As counter-terrorism efforts get better, terrorists are forced into more spectacular attacks that get more "bang for the buck." The possibility of inflicting massive casualties and fear on a society by unleashing a virulent biological agent or detonating a nuke may just be too good for a terrorist group to ignore, especially when one considers the relatively low cost of such an action.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely convinced that these are good weapons for terrorists to use. While it's true that al-Qaeda doesn't play, or need, the PR game quite like old school terrorist groups (the PLO/PA, the IRA, etc.) do, al-Qaeda also isn't quite as unique as they're often made out to be. Al-Qaeda still needs public opinion, even if it's only to attract new recruits. We're also seeing first hand what happens when al-Qaeda alienates its potential domestic constituency, as Iraqi Sunnis, even those involved in the insurgency against the US occupation, turn against the group. Al-Qaeda also still needs to support of states, even when that support is much weaker than it received from Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda needs Pakistan to not try too hard to clean out the mountain regions. It needs Syria to allow its militants into Iraq, and it needs Iran and other countries for political and economic support. Unleashing a WMD such as anthrax, smallpox, or plague could very well bring all such support to a halt. I have argued that if al-Qaeda had known that it would lose its base of operations in Afghanistan, it would not have carried out 9/11. Now that it knows what the price of such high-scale attacks may be, would al-Qaeda really raise the bar even higher? I do not believe that the US is the real target of al-Qaeda's wrath, so why would it poke the bear even more?

As I said, I'm conflicted. It's certainly possible that a terrorist group will, at some point in the near future, use a WMD against the US or another western country. But, I don't think it's inevitable. A lot of it will depend on how well the US can deter the use of such weapons. The invasion of Afghanistan and even the invasion of Iraq have done a lot to create that deterrence.

More on Iran and Nukes

So, unsurprisingly, Russia and China are resisting referring Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program, arguing instead that more negotiations are needed. People are also starting to worry that in any attempt to impose sanctions or other punishments on Iran, Iran may choose to cease or restrict oil exports in an effort to damage the punishers and get the sanctions lifted. I'm not so worried about the latter problem. It may be true that the West is highly dependent on foreign oil, and that Iran is awash in petrodollars and can afford to curtail its oil sales for a bit. But, oil is pretty much the only thing that Iran exports and no country can survive for long without its primary source of income. Any such attempt would turn into a battle of wills: Who can hold out longer, Iran or the West? My money would be on the West. Let's not forget that in the 1973 oil crisis, the OPEC nations were forced to resume selling oil to the US as they could not afford to maintain the embargo. Furthermore, the crisis resulted in a huge jump in energy efficiency in the US. Everything from cars to dishwashers became more fuel efficient. While it may be painful for a while, I don't the embargo of Iranian oil as that dangerous (in fact, the threat of the cut-off may be more painful to the US and the West than a cut-off itself).

So, if the threat of an oil cut-off is overblown, and if Russia and China continue to block a referral of Iran to the UNSC (and would likely block any sanctions if the case ever got there anyway), what is going to happen? If Iran continues its intransigence, military strikes will most likely occur. Word over this past weekend is that Republican and Democratic senators alike are starting to get behind using force to destroy Iran's nuclear program. While any attack may be a ways away and depends on Iran continuing to stonewall, it's certainly possible.

The other alternative is that Iran will accept the proposal of Russia that any and all nuclear fuel be enriched in Russian nuclear plants and then shipped to Iran for use in the peaceful nuclear energy program. While this seems like a workable solution, if Iran has secret and functional nuclear weapons plants, they would be able to used the enriched uranium to build a weapon. However, despite that risk, this seems like the best option. There doesn't seem to be much stomach for taking Iran on, either militarily or diplomatically, and military force is a less than palatable option as well. This seems to be a situation akin to the Israel-Palestine peace process: Everyone knows what the end will be, but no one knows how to get there.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The UN's Monopoly on Legitimacy

In this week's issue of The Week (which, if you don't know, is by far the best of the US news magazines, as it doesn't do any reporting of its own, but rather distills arguments and analysis from a wide and truly balanced range of sources -- right and left, US and international, mainstream and blog-ish -- and presents what others think about the issues and events) is a synopsis of an op-ed by Andres Ortega of Spain's El Pais, in which Ortega criticizes US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton claiming that Bolton has “brought the world body [the UN] to the verge of paralysis” by demanding reform and suggesting that the world would be better served by shifting some of the UN's more important tasks to other bodies, like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe or NATO. As I have mentioned in many earlier posts, both here and on Opinio Juris, the UN is torn between two fundamentally incompatible ideas: law and equality. The UN tries to do both, and therefore it does both poorly.

It is a sort of unwritten rule of international institutions that the more inclusive the institution, the less effective it will be. This is because in order to satisfy all members, an instituiton will have to either be so wishy-washy that it refuses to judge or discriminate, or it will contain so little enforcement power that, either way, it will be ineffective. So, perhaps it is time to build a less inclusive and more effective international order. What's the point in calling the UN the protector and promoter of international human rights if countries like North Korea and Sudan are allowed to be members without any punishment? What seems more effective, as with China, is to build a strong order of which other countries will wish to be a part. Then, if those countries that do not meet accepted standards wish to join, they will have to make changes. This is, in essence, the logic of the US strategy towards China, and can be seen in action during the negotiations surround China's accession to the WTO. The UN cannot offer rogue proliferators, human rights violators, or other bad states any incentives to make them change their behavior. But the West, and the US in particular, can. Security guarantees, economic aid, market access. These are things that states want, and are often willing to change their behavior to get. And if they won't change, then what good is it to pretend that sitting with them in the UN General Assembly will accomplish anything?

True, the UN does do good works, but not in issues like this. It's time to stop pretending that the UN can or will ever be an effective institution. If the UN wants to continue to be an all-inclusive body that respects sovereignty, fine and well. But then it should not also claim to be the protector of international law. Now is the time, under US hegemony and through the institutions of the liberal west, to break the UN's monopoly on international legitimacy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sport as a Political Lever

A British politician has called on FIFA to expel Iran from this summer's World Cup in punishment for Iran's decision to resume its nuclear program. Using sport as a political tool is nothing new. The US boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest the invasion of Afghanistan, the Soviets protested by skipping the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Iran athletes, especially wrestlers, frequently forfeit their matches rather than wrestle Israelis. The US recently announced that Cuba will not be allowed to travel to the US to play in the World Baseball Classic. Sport can be used in the opposite direction as well...who can forget Olga Korbut or Nadia Comaneci changing our opinions of Communists or the role of ping-pong in easing US-Sino tensions?

A part of me would very much like to keep sports out of the political arena. I like the idea (though I fully realize it will never happen) of the Olympic truce, and there's something noble about political enemies competing in the ring, letting the better athlete win, and then shaking hands.

On the other hand, there's no question that for many countries, participation in -- and especially hosting -- the Olympics, the World Cup, or other international games is an important source of national pride. Proponents of the US strategy of engagement, for example, point to the carrot of hosting the 2008 Olympics as an important determinant of Chinese restraint and reform. If states want to play with the others, then they have to behave according to international norms.

So, should Iran be permitted to play in the World Cup? It seems a small price to pay if there's any way that ostracising the country could lead it to restrain itself. As Dan Drezner points out, "there's a scholarly literature out there that argues the apartheid regime in South Africa lost its base of support once they were banned from various sporting events, including the Olympics." So since Iran seems to be garnering near-universal condemnation and doesn't seem to want to follow their legal obligations or the will of the international community, why not keep them out of the Cup?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Nuclear Proliferation and Moral Hazard

There's been a lot of goings-on concerning nuclear proliferation lately, and today is no exception. John Kerry backed a controversial deal by which the United States will allow India access to critical nuclear technology in exchange for India separating its civilian and military programs and placing the former under the watchful eye and controls of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India has been something of a pariah in the international nuclear community since its rejection of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1974 and its nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998. The deal struck by the Bush Administration, and now supported by Kerry, will bring India's civilian nuclear program into the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, meaning it will be subject to export controls, technology transfer agreements, and other controls designed to limit the spread of nuclear technology. In exchange, India will be granted access to other technologies, including fuel. Critics assert that this will enable India to increase its nuclear arsenal, as it will have a greater supply of nuclear fuel and will be able to divert more fissile material to its military program.

This deal is a classic example of a moral hazard, which is a situation in which dangerous behavior is encouraged when actors do not bear the full costs of their actions. The global non-proliferation regime was designed to provide peaceful nuclear technology to states that agreed not to develop nuclear weapons and to punish those states that would not cooperate. India did not, and has not cooperated. Why now should India be allowed access to the benefits that law-abiding states receive? According to Kerry, because "it is better to have India as a participant in the IAEA procedures and standards with respect to its civilian program than not to have it." So, India proliferates and still gets the benefits as if it hadn't. Why then should other countries not proliferate, knowing that they will likely be allowed IAEA benefits anyway (true, India was excluded from IAEA assets for three decades...but obviously that wasn't a sufficient deterrent)?

The answer as to whether this is a good idea or not hangs on the assessment of which other states are likely to respond to this incentive and proliferate. I don't believe that this is a big problem. "Rogue" states like Iran and North Korea are going to try to proliferate based on their assessments of national interest, and are not likely to respond to IAEA incentives, as evidenced by the current crises. Most status-quo states are not likely to want nuclear weapons anyway. They're expensive, dangerous, and not worth the time and effort. The lure of proliferating and still gaining access to IAEA assets will not likely convince these states to develop nuclear weapons.

That leaves us with states like India, Pakistan, and Israel, which, while not rogues, choose to exclude themselves from the non-proliferation regime and develop nuclear weapons to ensure their national security. While its true that perhaps other such states could be deterred by credible threats of exclusion and punishments, would the price of having nuclear programs existing outside of IAEA controls be worth it? How many other states are in situations such as Israel, India, and Pakistan, having legitimate security needs that can be responsibly met through nuclear proliferations. In this case, the Bush Administration, and now John Kerry, have made the right decision, acting to bring the Indian nuclear program under international controls at the (small) price of possibly encouraging a bit more proliferation in the future.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Iran, Dr. Strangelove, and Nuclear Deterrence

There are many articles today discussing how difficult it is for the US and the EU-3 to develop strategies for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, including editorials in the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times, all of which offer few effective options other than hoping that sanctions can have some impact. I argued in an earlier post that I am skeptical of the efficacy of sanctions, and that I see few, if any, military solutions. I also received an email from a reader (OK...so it was my father) asking why the US doesn't, in effect, apply nuclear deterrence to the situation and threaten to nuke Iran if it develops nuclear weapons. If nuclear deterrence succeeded in keeping the Cold War cold, might it not be useful in preventing a third-rate country from developing nuclear weapons?

The answer is: not likely. Deterrence is predicated on three components: communication (the target must be aware of what action is being deterred and what the penalty for acting will be; this is what the Soviets got so hilariously wrong in Dr. Strangelove by not telling the US about their Doomsday Device), capability (the deterrer must have sufficient means to carry out the threat), and credibility (the target must believe that the deterrer will, in fact, carry out the threatened punishment). In most instances, establishing the credibility of the deterrent threat is the most difficult part. Deterrence is fundamentally an irrational act, as it requires taking an ex post action and paying attention to sunk costs. If deterrence failed and the Soviets had invaded, say, West Berlin and stopped, what would be the point in nuking? Carrying out the action might be useful for establishing future credibility, but that's not strong enough to build a deterrence strategy upon. Actors try to solve this problem by "hand tying" or creating unbreakable commitments that remove the decision from their hands and make the deterrent response automatic. This was the whole point of the Doomsday Device in Strangelove, and also a primary reason that the US based so many troops in Germany. Those soldiers couldn't have stopped a Soviet assault; rather they served as a tripwire to ensure that American soldiers would die in a Soviet attack on Western Europe, making it more likely that the US would fulfill its commitment to protect Europe, thereby enhancing its deterrent credibility.

What does all of this have to do with Iran? Deterrence is really REALLY hard to develop. When the stakes were as high as they were during the Cold War, with allies as important as West Germany, the US was still afraid that its credibility wasn't high enough. Credibility will be an even larger problem in deterring Iran. When I worked for the Strategic Assessment Center of SAIC, one of the last projects I worked on before returning to grad school was a series of wargames on the future role of nuclear weapons, examining what would be the effect of a country like Iran or Iraq developing a nuclear weapon. The analysis was that it would be very bad for US foreign policy, precisely because it would undermine US deterrent credibility. Would the US really destroy a city like Tehran, killing millions of innocent people, to prevent Iran from developing a nuke? Unlikely. If Iran did succeed in proliferating, would the US risk losing a city of a major ally, like Israel or Turkey if deterrence failed? Unlikely. Ironically, the lower the stakes become, the more difficult it becomes for a great power to deter a smaller one.

I don't see nuclear deterrence as a strong option in this case. Conventional deterrence is a little better, as the costs and implications of use are lower. In that case, the US could: A) Carry out or assist a limited air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities; B) Conduct a small-scale operation to seize the facilities, or; C) Invade Iran. A is the most likely, but it's hard to believe Iran hasn't hardened its facilities against such a possibility. B and C are much more likely to work, but are much less desirable options for a myriad of reasons. So, as I see it, the best options are either a limited air strike against Iranian nuclear sites or trusting in sanctions, either through the UN, or in the case of a Russian or Chinese veto, through a western organization like NATO. I'm still undecided as to which I think would be best. I do know that this is an exceedingly difficult problem that will likely have a very unsatisfying resolution.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hamas and the Palestinian Elections

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced today that Israel may allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections, but that "terror organizations and representatives of them will not be able to participate in elections in Jerusalem." Of course, Hamas qualifies as a terror organization, and Israel is naturally hesitant to allow such a group to participate in electoral politics with the possibility of assuming real power.

However, this seems to me to be a mistake. Despite Hamas' choice of tactics, they have behaved themselves over the years as a rational political actor. During the second intifada, there were numerous times when one more suicide bomb would have completely derailed the peace process, and yet Hamas always restrained itself. Hamas has, more or less, observed the recent truce, despite the possibility of totally ending negotiations between Israel and Fatah.

What are Hamas' motivations? While they claim to be pledged to the destruction of Israel, they cannot believe that this can be accomplished (at least not the leadership). So, short of that, Hamas most likely wants to rule whatever land they can. And the best way to do that is through the burgeoning political process, with a bit of violence thrown in here and there to keep the pressure on both Israel and Fatah.

What would a political role for Hamas mean? Forcing Hamas to campaign for votes could help moderate the party's platform. While Hamas is an Islamic group (as opposed to the secular nationalism of Fatah), it does not promote Islam with the fanatacism of, for example, the Taliban. As the New York Times noted in an article from last November, Hamas currently governs the West Bank town of Qalqilya (Lexis-Nexis, RR), and the responsibilty of governance is heavy. While Hamas has been reasonable successful at mundane issues (e.g., balancing the budget, modernizing the infrastructure, fighting corruption), their religious practices have created opposition from Palestinians who do not want to see their land become Afghanistan under the Taliban. So long as Hamas isn't the only viable party in Palestinian lands and has to compete with Fatah and other groups, it will have to restrain itself to win votes and govern effectively. Besides, whether or not the Palestinians want their lives to be governed by sharia isn't really a concern of Israel or the US, is it? Furthermore, it's not like Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are much better. Abbas has shown little more spine than Arafat ever does, refusing to root out corruption or challenge the militants. So, ignore the rhetoric and let Hamas compete for office.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bad News for Nuclear Proliferation

Bad news on two fronts in the fight against nuclear proliferation. Iran has declared that it is ready to resume research on uranium enrichment, while North Korea has announced that it sees no reason to return to the six-nation talks in light of US sanctions on businessed believed to be participating in money laundering, counterfeiting, and helping fund the nuclear program. While both situations are troubling for a variety of reasons, it seems to me that Iran is a much greater threat to international security than is North Korea. North Korea has few, if any, documented ties to international terrorist groups, the US has a much greater forward-based military presence in Asia to provide deterrence, and China exerts a fair amount of control over North Korea and certainly does not want to see the DPRK "unleashed." Certainly, it would be better if North Korea does not have nukes, but I see Iran as the more pressing problem.

Not that I know what to do about Iran. It's possible that Russia will support Security Council sanctions, but it's hard to know what Russia will do, and I'm skeptical of the ability of sanctions to be effective. There's been talk of Israel conducing an airstrike a la Osiraq, but I can't believe that Iran hasn't hardened its facilities or even buried them. Even though the EU is talking tough right now, they probably wouldn't support military action, and the US is in no shape to take on a third theater of operations. I'm hopeful that, in the long term, demographic and political pressures within Iran will end the rule of the mullahs, but that's off in the future, and doesn't resolve the current problem. Any ideas on how the international community can deal with Iran's nuclear program?

US Soldiers and the ICC

Yesterday, the Jordanian parliament passed a law requiring the kingdom to refuse to hand over to the International Criminal Court any US citizens or non-nationals working for the US government that may be accused of war crimes. The decision has drawn the ire and condemnation of many human rights groups, accusing Jordan of violating its commitments under the Rome Statute (the treaty that created the ICC). The US has refused to join the ICC, claiming that it fears politically motivated charges (a belief that was made stronger by the issuing of arrest warrants for US troops by a Spanish judge). US law requires the cessation of military and economic aid to any country party to the ICC that does not sign a similar agreement to the one Jordan signed.

As I wrote about in an earlier blog on Opinio Juris, any attempt to build strong international law that does not take into account US power and hegemony is doomed to fail. The US serves a valuable function as the guardian of international peace and security, and fear of prosecution could certainly curtail the abiity and willingness to fulfill that role. For example, the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, carried out without legal authorization from the UN Security Council, could very well have prompted war crimes charges, and did in Belgium, until that state did away with its universal jurisdiction laws in 2003. A world that restrains US power without creating commensurate protections of the rights and liberties of all is a world of genocide and massive human rights violations. Rather than moaning about US intransigence, the international community would be better off building as strong of an ICC as possible among those willing states, and allowing the US to continue to provide security for the international community as a whole.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Response to the "Exploring International Law" Blog

Over at the Georgetown University blog Exploring International Law is a post about my earlier post on US hegemony and human rights. The post disagrees with my argument, stating that "Unfortunately, I don't think US hegenomy-- at least in the ways in which is has been exercised recently-- has created 'space in which countries are left free to determine what works best.' Moreover, I don't believe that recent claims by U.S. officials about the definitions of torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment have advanced the expansion of human rights."

Let me respond: In which era were human rights advanced more: the bi-polar Cold War or the post-Cold War world of US hegemony? When states are concerned for their own safety and survival, concern for human rights slide down the agenda as traditional security issues dominate. This is not to argue that the US is the exemplar or paragon of human rights. So, even though the US is refusing to join the International Criminal Court, could the court even have existed during Cold War? Would the Kosovars have been protected from Serb aggression -- and even more to the point, would Milosevic be in the dock to answer for his crimes? -- if Russia was still a major player on the world stage? Only in a world of a relative level of international peace could these things occur. We are currently in such a stage and we have US hegemony to thank. In the current issue of Foreign Policy, Michael Mandelbaum argues this same point, writing:

The United States makes other positive contributions, albeit often unseen and even unknown, to the well-being of people around the world. In fact, America performs for the community of sovereign states many, though not all, of the tasks that national governments carry out within them.

U.S. military power helps to keep order in the world. The American military presence in Europe and East Asia, which now includes approximately 185,000 personnel, reassures the governments of these regions that their neighbors cannot threaten them, helping to allay suspicions, forestall arms races, and make the chances of armed conflict remote. U.S. forces in Europe, for instance, reassure Western Europeans that they do not have to increase their own troop strength to protect themselves against the possibility of a resurgent Russia, while at the same time reassuring Russia that its great adversary of the last century, Germany, will not adopt aggressive policies. Similarly, the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which protects Japan, simultaneously reassures Japan’s neighbors that it will remain peaceful. This reassurance is vital yet invisible, and it is all but taken for granted.

It is functions such as these and others that "creates the space" needed for the world to focus on other non-military issues, such as human rights. Despite polemical claims to the contrary, a shift to a bi- or multi-polar would not advance the cause of global liberalism, but would likely herald a return of suspicion and arms races.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Does al-Qaeda Want?

James Glassman has an article at Tech Central Station Daily arguing that the absence of terrorist attacks against the US is a product of aggressive and offensive US actions "at home, in Iraq and in places we know little about." I agree to a point -- it seems clear that al Qaeda was emboldened by the failure of the US under the Clinton Administration to retaliate for the first WTC bombing, the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the bombing of the USS Cole -- but I disagree with his fundamental assessment of al Qaeda's motives. So long as the cost of striking the US was cheap, as it was when deterrence collapsed under Clinton, al Qaeda was happy to attack the US. But when the price rose, the US became a much less attractive target. It's not that the US has prevented attacks, or that al Qaeda is bogged down attacking US forces in Iraq, but rather that the US doesn't really fit into al Qaeda's grand strategy. True, to some degree, al Qaeda wants the US out of the Middle East and to end US support for Israel. But its real goal is to to end the rule of the corrupt secular regimes governing and to establish sharia over Arab and Islamic countries. And its not clear to me how or why attacking the US fits in to this strategy, unless al Qaeda believes that it could really and truly defeat the US, and its hard to imagine any of the leadership buying that argument (although perhaps the rank and file al Qaeda member does).

This is a very fine point: clearly US aggressive actions have changed the calculus of al Qaeda's actions. However, the point is one of marginal utility. All that was likely needed to establish sufficient deterrence against al Qaeda was the invasion of Afghanistan and, perhaps, a policy of targeted killings (assassination) against the leadership. If, as I believe, attacking the US is not really part of al Qaeda's strategy, these two actions were probably sufficient to deter further strikes against the US.

A Stroke of Bad Luck

The massive stroke that has debilitated Israeli President Ariel Sharon is more than a medical tragedy; it could be a death blow (at least a temporary one) to the peace process. If Sharon dies, or is just incapable of resuming his position and the leadership of his new Kadima party, it is very unclear what will follow. As Dan Drezner points out, without Sharon, Kadima is in a heap of trouble, especially if it believes Shimon Peres can fill the leadership void. Israelis just don't like Peres, and they certainly don't trust him to run the country. Even worse, Kadima stood a decent chance of getting decent plurality of Knesset seats. Without Sharon, that seems unlikely. Neither Labor, with its new neo-socialist leader Amir Peretz, nor Likud, led by paleo-rightist Binyamin Netanyahu, can motivate Israeli voters as both lack any vision. What seems most likely is that Israeli politics will return to the days where no major party can get enough seats to rule without being slaves to the tiny one-issue parties. Since those tend to be religious parties who are generally opposed to the peace process, things could be in for a long slog. And seeing as Mahmoud Abbas seems incapable of enforcing order in Gaza, there will be little stomach for any engagement. The best hope is that some (Ehud Olmert, perhaps?) can move up within Kadima to provide a viable leader in place of Peres.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

International Law and Human Rights

I've just ended a month-long stint as a guest blogger over at Opinio Juris. One of my final posts was this one on human rights and international law, in which I argued that while it may be preferable and good to move towards universal standards of human rights, there are few, if any, international mechanisms that can advance such a convergence. Rather, as one person mentioned in the comments, any process that moves countries towards globally-accepted standards will be slow and very likely market driven. My post was then greeted with a response from Professor Bernard Jacobs who writes "local customs may, in fact, be necessarily local and, more than that, they may be a better social solution than the one that seems, due to your local customs, more reasonable. This is not a relativistic argument, but one that grows out of the contestedness of morality. Believe me, our local customs are constantly – even here in the backward U.S. – under great and continuing pressure from our striving with other rules and ways of doing things. I am amazed, not so much of different ways of living, but from my sense that so many of them may be right, but inaccessible or wrong, but all too accessible."

Perhaps, but I'm not so sure. As Immanuel Kant wrote in the excellent Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose, "the will's manifestation in the world of phenomena, i.e. human actions, are determined in accordance with natural laws, as is every other natural event. If [one] examines the free exercise of the human will on a large scale, it will be able to discover a regular progression of freely willed actions. In the same way, we may hope that what strikes us in the actions of individuals as confused and fortuitous may be recognized, in the history of the entire species, as a steadily advancing but slow development of man's original capacities." That is, human history, over time, can be seen as going somewhere. Our development, on a macro scale, is not random or haphazard, but represents improvement. It is teleological.

The Universal History serves as a intellectual prelude to Perpetual Peace in which Kant argues that international society is moving toward world government. While Kant gives this move moral force, one need not do so. Human rights, as we understand them can also be the result of politics and utility. As societies develop, those that have "better" and more efficient conceptions of rights thrive, while those societies that do not, fail. This is not to argue that any one society has it all correct. But, what does seem clear to me, and as I argued in a seemingly unrelated post, is that US hegemony creates space in which countries are left free to determine what works best. Thus, the Kantian progression coincides with the expansion of global human rights, both of which are simultaneously enabled and constrained by American power.


Howdy all!!

I'd like to welcome you to Security Dilemmas, a new blog dedicated to examining issues of international and national security. My name is Seth Weinberger, and I am an assistant professor of Politics and Government at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, where I teach international relations (US foreign policy, international security, terrorism) and political philosophy. Before becoming an academic, I used to work for the Strategic Assessment Center of Science Applications International Corporation, where I did strategic wargaming for the Army, the Air Force, and the Office of Net Assessment in the Department of Defense. I hold a BA from the University of Chicago in political philosophy, an MA from Georgetown University in National Security Studies, and an MA and PhD from Duke University in political science.

I look forward to engaging with everyone out there in cyberspace on international politics.