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in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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10/21/10 10:43 AM

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Grasping Reality with Both Hands The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist J. Bradford DeLong: Fair, Balanced, RealityBased, and Even-Handed Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley #3880, Berkeley, CA 94720-3880; 925 708 0467; delong@econ.berkeley.edu.

Economics 210a Weblog Archives DeLong Hot on Google DeLong Hot on Google Blogsearch October 10, 2010

in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... A question I did not ask Condi Rice from the audience last night: I am thinking about the post-Cold War foreign policy of the GHW Bush administration... It was that the U.S. would bind itself to use its military to execute the will of the U.N. Security Council, so that no other potential power would think it cost-effective to build a military, and no smaller power would think nukes necessary to protect itself from the U.S. its highest priority. The hope was that that would preserve the U.S.'s status as the world's hyperpower for another generation or so. We broke that. You broke that. Now all of the BRIC powers think that a weaker, distracted, and more troubled America is in their interest. And people like George Shultz are very pessimistic about the non-proliferation outlook. Is there a way to get back from where we are now to the foreign policy world we hoped to live in back in 1992? Brad DeLong on October 10, 2010 at 02:07 PM in Politics: Bushisms, Strategy: Grand Strategy, Strategy: Terrorism | Permalink

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in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

10/21/10 10:43 AM

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Comments postescript said... It happens to the best of us. Reply October 10, 2010 at 02:43 PM Bob Athay said... We can only wonder how Condi might have danced her way out of answering that one. At the same time, I don't blame you for losing your nerve: sometimes the indirect fallout from a fair question isn't worthwhile. Having worked in defense for quite a few years before the first Gulf War, I thought GHW Bush handled it very well. Both from a strategic / diplomatic perspective and as a military operation. By rest-of-world standards, Iraq's air defenses and ground forces *should* have inflicted significant losses at first. Instead, the lethality of the openingday airstrikes and the ground assault was scary as **** to someone who knows what to look for. I certainly thought so, and apparently plenty of Russian analysts did too. One can only wonder how much better off we'd be now if we had taken the opportunity to reassure the world that we would not do that kind of thing unilaterally. Reply October 10, 2010 at 03:45 PM SKy said... "Now all of the BRIC powers think that a weaker, distracted, and more troubled America is in their interest. And people like George Shultz are very pessimistic about the non-proliferation outlook." Totally disagree. Show me one policy paper, news article from a mainstream Indian strategist or think tank that would say "...a weaker, distracted, and more troubled America is in their interest." Reply October 10, 2010 at 04:26 PM dilbert dogbert said... "Show me one policy paper, news article from a mainstream Indian strategist or think tank that would say "...a weaker, distracted, and more troubled America is in their interest." Do the Indians or Chinese talk openly about their foreign policy preferences? I somewhat agree with Sky because I don't see how a weak US is in their best interests if it means they have a smaller market to export to.

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in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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Reply October 10, 2010 at 05:41 PM Kevin Egan said... Brad, with respect, this is why you have tenure: you should have asked the question. The garden party that is our ruling class needs a ton more skunks spoiling their murderous ease. Do you remember the press conference just before we sent troops to Iraq in 2003? Tens of thousands of lives in the balance, and not one tough question: deathless shame to those who held back. Your situation was much less critical, of course; but still, I hope you'll step up the next time you have a chance. And thanks for being brave enough to admit your failure of nerve; we all have those, but few are so honest about it when they don't have to be. Reply October 10, 2010 at 06:13 PM Spinoza said... >It was that the U.S. would bind itself to use its military to execute the will of the U.N. Security Council, so that no other >potential power would think it cost-effective to build a military That would mean trusting the UN Security Council to handle all your security needs. Somehow, I can't see India doing that in a conflict with China (who is a permanent UNSC member) or Pakistan (see Bangladesh war, 1971). Neither can I see Pakistan doing that given their fears about an Indian invasion and the fact that the UN hasn't resolved Kashmir. Neither can I see Israel doing that given the UN's perceived hostile stance towards them. So, which potential powers were you thinking of? Reply October 10, 2010 at 09:30 PM r.d. said... What Spinoza said. Prof DeLong, how would "binding" ourselves in this way lead to the outcomes that you mention? Please flesh out this argument a little. I don't see the logic. A bit too handwavy or something. Reply October 11, 2010 at 05:17 AM Charrua said... "It was that the U.S. would bind itself to use its military to execute the will of the U.N. Security Council, so that no other >potential power would think it cost-effective to build a military" But how likely was that a hyperpower would really bind itself? It was a nice idea but unrealistic. People aren't really that self restrained. Reply October 11, 2010 at 07:14 AM Bob Athay said in reply to r.d.... The logic is basically that Desert Storm was, by rest-of-world standards, a genuinely terrifying display of America's conventional military power. Iraq's air defenses were supposed to be pretty good at the beginning of the bombing campaign, but they were destroyed in minutes with no significant American losses. The ground offensive was equally impressive. For example one Iraqi company commander stated that at the beginning of the bombing campaign he had 39 tanks. After 30 days of aerial bombardment he had 32. After 20 minutes of ground combat he had none. For countries like Russia and China, a hedge against American military power would require a huge, qualitative improvement over what they were then capable of. A long

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in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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and costly effort that would not foster democratic reforms. Further, to maintain its qualitative advantage, America would have to spend substantially more on defense; not an attractive use of resources in a post-Cold War world. For smaller countries, e.g. Iran, the only realistic hedge against American power would be acquiring nuclear weapons-- a bad outcome for many reasons. There are good arguments against unilaterally limiting our use of military power without UN Security Council approval. But the question Brad posed is a good one, in my opinion, and really deserved serious debate. And for the record, I'm quite hawkish by nature. It's just that I've been in the defense business long enough to know that there are limits. Reply October 11, 2010 at 03:59 PM Nathanael said... Nice comment, Bob. At the moment, we know that smaller countries *will* acquire nuclear weapons -- W has guaranteed that they have no incentive not to, and every incentive to do so. Meanwhile, there is an alternative for countries like Russia and China which you have not considered: an *alliance*. Allied with Europe, and with South America, and with India, Russia and China would not need to do nearly so much to hedge against US military power. The US under W showed all the diplomatic talents of Kaiser Wilhelm before World War I, and the underpinnings for a world anti-US alliance are now ready. That can't possibly be in the US interest, although intelligent US policy (including major military cuts) could still defuse that and give us the "multipolar world" instead. Reply October 12, 2010 at 02:00 AM TheFFACTS.com said in reply to Bob Athay... All of these articles and comments miss the most important point. That is, America has a government-spending problem caused by BOTH Republicans and Democrats. Both of these guilty parties have enjoyed the luxury of blaming each other for over-spending, while the duped American public picks up the tab. Think about it, our economy is in the tank for one primary reason; government spending. Take away just the interest we pay on the debt and we would put thousands of Americans to work. Every dollar that the government spends could be a dollar in an American worker’s pocket. The sad part is that the money they spend now comes from our children. It’s sad but true, get the FFACTS at http://theffacts.com/ Reply October 18, 2010 at 12:50 PM Comment below or sign in with TypePad

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Economists Debate The Philosophy Behind British Budget Cuts

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NPR (blog) - 3 hours ago Brad de Long, an economist at UC Berkeley, and a prolific blogger, is quoted in the Times as mourning the dismissal of Keynes. ... Related Articles » « Previous Next »

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in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

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in Which Brad DeLong Loses His Nerve... - Grasping Reality with Both Hands  

Economics 210a Weblog Archives DeLong Hot on Google DeLong Hot on Google Blogsearch October 10, 2010 The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist J....