Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Countdown Begins

In one month (the last Thursday of June), we will be unpacking and awaiting the technicians to connect the internet and the satellite dish.  So, my long march out of town is near an end.  Ordinarily, this process is far shorter, as academics usually get job offers in the winter or early spring, bargain and then decide, with only a few months to get the wagon packed.  But I have known about this since, well, August. 

This has given me much time to reflect on the place that I lived the longest since high school.  I spent more than I should this morning on a future blog post--one slated for the day the movers come to pack things up.  Despite all my complaining about the roads and Quebec corruption and despite some unfortunate obstacles along the way in my time at McGill (I will not link to the relevant posts but they are not that hard to find), I know that I had it mighty good here.  I had a Canada Research Chair which gave me a fancy title, course reductions, and seed money for research.  I helped in hiring a great batch of folks, including several who became lifelong friends (whether they know it or not!), and teaching here has been a blast.  I had a great batch of grad students who will be employed next fall.  While here, I got enough grant money to fund the travel for my second book (xenophobia rocks!?) and even more travel for my third book.  I got to live in a town with the most vibrant ultimate frisbee community I have experienced (apparently, Ottawa has a great one as well).  The skiing has been great, except this year. 

What got me thinking about all of this today?  Well, my wife has started a countdown on her FB page, but it was the news that I reached the top of the waiting list at the parking garage across the street from my office.  Not only is there a spot waiting for me, but the folks at the parking office were most friendly in letting me wait until July to start paying.  Thus far, everyone at Carleton has been most friendly and helpful.  Of course, it took about three years at McGill before the bureaucracy tried to fire me ....


I am shocked that there is an impasse between the Quebec government and the students who have been protesting the proposed tuition hike.  Ok, not shocked. Why not shocked? 

Well, if the government really makes a significant compromise, it will look like its surrendering to violent tactics.  Also, the government has gotten whatever standing in the polls by rebuffing the students. 

I am not surprised to see the students keep on keeping on.  First, there are three groups having representatives at the meeting, so that fact by itself suggests impasse.  The more people who can say no (can veto the agreement), the harder it is to come to an agreement.  It does not take a sharp game theorist/scholar of comparative politics to figure this out, but it does not hurt.  Further, the student leaders have been getting heaps of attention from the media so why would they want this to end.  Yes, I am suggesting that the interests of the leaders and the interests of the students might not be identical!  Shocking?  Of course not.  The "costs" of not compromising are currently non-existent for the students since the threat of classes being cancelled is no longer operative (they got pushed to August).  So, why give in?  It would mean less media attention, less ego-stroking, and, also, why give in when only the other side seems to be pressured?

The student proposal seems to be a two year freeze where the lost tuition would be replaced by reductions in tax credits
 She and her fellow student leaders said their proposal would have avoided fee hikes for two years by instead reducing the income-tax credit on post-secondary tuitions — a move that would have been cost-neutral for the government, which was one of its parameters during bargaining.
So, this would mean that the kids would not be paying more but parents might be?  Now we have some generational conflict!  Oh, and why would Charest do this?  He would be giving a group that will not vote him, the students, what they want, and alienating a group that might vote for him (the parents).  So, this really is a non-starter.  Plus, would the agreement be: two year freeze and then the planned increase in tuition? If so, it is hard to see CLASSE supporting that.

Thus, we are left with continued unrest.  Less violent than before, noisier, and little chance for progress.  I really don't see how this ends.  The government could submit to mediation, but will not submit to arbitration unless it games the results.  The government simply cannot freeze tuition after all of this.

That's my take.  What is yours?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long Relationships and Shorter Ones

I am inspired by Bill Simmon's latest tweets about how long he has been with Thinkpads and how that would be his longest relationship--longer than his current job, longer than his marriage and so on:

Well, with less than a month before my move to Ottawa, I have been thinking about similar comparisons.  Leaving out my wife and daughter (who skew all results for being in my life for 26 and 16 years respectively):
  • Tenure, baby: 11 plus years and counting.  I got tenure at Texas Tech, had my first real tenured year in the Pentagon, was asked if I minded dropping it when I got the McGill job (I said, nope, I like my tenure just fine), and have thoroughly embraced tenure ever since. 
  • Summer camp: 11 years.  Eight as a camper, three as a counselor.  When I look back, my nostalgia for high school is entirely unearned but my nostalgia for camp is entirely earned.
  • McGill, Montreal and Thinkpad X-series: 10 years.  The only one to continue will be the X-series.
  • Lower Moreland (3rd grade to graduation): 10 years.  So, Montreal matched but did not exceed where I spent most of my life growing up.  However, given that I spent most of my summers elsewhere (see the aforementioned summer camp), I spent more time in Montreal although it flew by much faster.
  • Facebook:  7 years.  Really.  I got on it initially to see if students were sharing an exam question inappropriately.
  • TTU and Lubbock: 6 years.
  • Grad school and San Diego: 5 years.
  • Current book project: 5 years? Inspired by the Pentagon, I started it around the time the previous book was in production, but only got serious in 2009 as I started wandering the planet to study interesting cases.
  • Bitterness and resentment.  4 years.  I plan to leave these companions behind as I move on.
  • Blogging: Three years ago.  I started in April 2009.   I forgot to mark the anniversary. Does that mean I am becoming less of a narcissist?  No, just busy with the move.
  • Twitter: Three years ago.  I started in July 2009
  • Pentagon and Virginia: 1 year.  Shortest of all these spans of time, but the most indelible.  Partly because it was one year, partly because the experiences were so different from ordinary academic life, and partly because the stuff was so interesting.
The funny thing is that what comes to mind are places, schools, and technology, mostly.  I could have listed Ultimate (27 years), but does one have a relationship with sports?  I guess so.  I might have listed my current sunday team, General Admission, but I forget when I started with them.   Anyhow, as I approach my last month in Montreal, I do appreciate that this has been the place I have been the longest since high school, especially after signing mortgage documents in Ottawa that really commit me to five years at minimum.

Of the places I have spent significant time, Montreal ranks behind San Diego and summer camp but ahead of every place else.  It has been a great decade, but I do look forward to moving on.  Not quite yet to thank everyone for all of the fish, but getting closer.

Chicago Pie Crust Promises

I am actually a fan of NATO, but an informed fan, I guess.  The CIC piece of the week indicates much skepticism about the bounty produced at the Chicago summit.  I do highlight the big non-promise that maintains NATO's credibility in the short-term--not letting Georgia in yet.

Student Protests and the Academic Job Market

I guess I am surprised it took this long for people to start to speculate about the impact of the student protests on the ability of Quebec's universities to recruit faculty
Alex Usher, president of the Toronto-based consultancy Higher Education Strategy Associates, thinks it’s a distinct possibility.
“If I were a Quebec university president right now, I’d be terrified about what’s going on,” he said on Tuesday. “If you’re trying to lure a professor to Quebec, it’s going to be a problem. If you have a choice between an offer in Quebec or elsewhere, you’d go elsewhere.” And he thinks the damage could last five or six years. “Who’s going to want to go to Montreal?” he asked. “For McGill, Concordia and U de M (Université de Montréal), it’s a disaster. The damage is done.”
I wouldn't worry so much if I were he for a couple of reasons:
  • on the positive side, the academic job market is still pretty weak.  Indeed, the numbers are quite clear that there are simply fewer tenure track positions than in the past.  So, people are still post-doc-ing and looking for tenure track jobs or took jobs that they want to escape (as I did after the weak job markets and my weak record in the early 1990's).  So, there will still be plenty of applications for tenure-track positions at McGill, Concordia and UdeM.  
  • on the negative side, it has always been challenging to attract professors to Quebec schools.  The taxes are very high and yet wages are lower than in the rest of Canada. Language politics complicates not just the education of a potential's prof's kids (discussed at the Spew ad nauseam) but also employment for the "trailing" spouse.  These are very significant barriers, they are not new and they are not temporary.  
Will potential professors be turned off of Quebec employment opportunities by this spring's events? A few here and there, but those are probably folks who would have already been deterred from applying due to the obstacles mentioned above or would have turned down a job offer after they learned about the complexities involved with moving to Quebec.  We moved to Quebec with our eyes mostly shut: we were so eager to get out of Lubbock that we were willing to take a paycut, that we didn't notice that Quebec was about to close the loophole for the rules governing the education of immigrants, and because the opportunity presented by McGill was so good.

We are not leaving in a month because of the student protests.  No, we made this decision last fall partly due to the long-term and structural challenges of Quebec--less resources for universities (including lower pay), infrastructure that is falling apart, high taxes, language politics and its implications (including very little accountability for good governance).  To be clear, the move is more about pull than push--Ottawa and Carleton are attractive for a variety of reasons including both professional and personal opportunities.  The spring political mess makes it easier to justify the move, but the reality is that I and academics like me respond not to temporary events (few, if any, moved north with Bush's election despite the claims otherwise) but to the long-term realities.  McGill continues to present excellent opportunities, but it will also be frustrated in many job searches where non-McG factors kick in to prevent people from taking the job.  And those non-McG factors are often tied up with the long-term dysfunctions of Quebec, which are partly manifested in these protests.

Writing Too Much?

Perhaps my problem is not writer's block, but just too many outlets ;)

Here is my latest post at Current Intelligence, which is now, thankfully, a quarterly.  It is on NATO in the aftermath of the Chicago Summit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Era of Ignorance

Are we living in a unique era?  Much is being made lately of Donald Trump's stance on Obama's birthplace.  Who the hell died to make Donald Trump seemingly relevant?  Bad hair and a played out reality TV show really should not earn someone any air time.  Why do the media give such folks platforms?

I guess the answer is the cable revolution--heaps and heaps of channels with 24 hours to fill with programming every day.  So, I guess this leads to the fundamental question: the proliferation of the networks have given us Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Justified, the Shield, and so much other TV-goodness but it also allows the dreck to get recycled so that the news programs are stuck with displaying people who have been discredited multiple times (Eliot Spitzer!), so is it worth it?  Does the great TV offset the damage these folks are doing to the world?

What say you?

Writer's Block

How does one deal with writer's block?

Ok, that's one way to go.  My current case is not research related as I am in the revision phase for the Dave and Steve, "Everything You Wanted to Know About NATO and Afghanistan But Were Afraid to Ask" book.  Nope, my block is social--I seem to be blocked in terms of writing blog entries, facebook status comments, and tweets.  Strange but true.  Sure, there is plenty to talk about, but I find myself starting tweets and fb comments and then erasing.  I find myself having to post beer videos due to the lack of inspiration.  I am sure this phase will not last long.  But there is the explanation for the past few slow blogging days.

Graphically Confusing

This pic suggests that one should not bother with prostate screening:

I am not sure I believe it entirely.  But the idea that lots of folks get false alarms and then have to have biopsies is pretty alarming.  I am not that kind of doctor, but suddenly I feel less pressure to get screened as I approach the big 50 in a few years.  How about you?

Update: This editorial suggests that the graphic above is not so random.  The Preventative Services Task Force has concluded that seeking to attack prostate cancer early does more harm than good. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hardly Academic? Hardly!

A very good piece in the NYT today about the debate within West Point about the future of counter-insurgency and the US military.  The article covers the views of both COIN-istas and COIN haters.  This is progress.  Why? Because ten years ago, there was little debate about COIN at all.  Now, you have two sides engaged in an argument, which is one of the best things that can happen to the folks going through West Point--to be exposed to this argument.  They don't have be a COIN fan or foe, but to see that sharp minds can disagree is a valuable thing.  When these cadets some day get placed into harm's way or are in the chain of command, they will perhaps be more open to different points of view.

One of the critical problems in the US military has been the desire to forget unfortunate pasts and avoid skill sets that might end up being used.  After Vietnam, COIN was put away and not really considered except by some mavericks like Petraeus.  My hope is that this history is not repeated.  The reality is that politicians will put troops into situations that require many of the skills and tactics that the Army learned at great cost the past ten years, whether the military wants to do such stuff or not.  Better to remember these lessons with a slightly higher risk of having to use them than to forget and then have to re-learn while under fire.

War, as Clausewitz said, is politics by other means.  COIN doctrine takes that to heart.  US grand strategy may be better served by avoiding fighting any insurgents, but as long as the US remains the predominant conventional power, the opponents of the US will mostly try to fight via insurgency.  Well, the smart ones, anyway.  Shouldn't we be prepared for that reality?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day With Some Perspective Sauce

Joe Biden is often viewed as a joke, especially when he goes off script.  Not here:

Re-thinking Bill 78

When it was first announced, I was pretty horrified by Bill 78.  It seemed to be an overreaction, self-defeating and oppressive.  Well, two out of three ain't good, but not as horrible as I originally thought.  As others have argued, the really objectionable part of this are the fines that can be levied against people and organizations that may not have any real ties to the particular crime du jour.  Notification of protests is not an onerous requirement. Keeping protesters a bit further away from schools is not very problematic. 

Yes, Quebec continues to push me to the right wing, I suppose.  But I am joining the majority of Quebec and the majority of Canada in that.  Surveys show that Quebeckers support most of the elements of Bill 78, but the entire package is not supported.  Why?  Partly the fines and partly the spin.

All I know is that I am not a big fan of the movement's smallest or grandest concerns.  I support tuition increases, not just because of my own pocket (well, not that either since I am leaving) but due to my concerns about the funding of Quebec universities.  I certainly am not a fan of the folks who seek to overthrow capitalism and neo-liberalism (whatever that is). 

So, my objections to Bill 78 are not moral ones but political ones--that Charest's moves here were done so badly that they created far more support for groups that had been alienating nearly everyone, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Bill 78 did more to unify a bunch of folks with disparate motivates.  Divide and conquer would have been my choice of strategy.  The government tried that earlier with the negotiations.  Submitting to a mediator would have been an even better step in that direction--as long as a tuition freeze was off the table.  Now, at least one of the student groups is talking about the pace and magnitude of increases, rather  than seeking a freeze and then cuts.  Bring it on--the negotiations that is.  This should split the movement, which is a good thing since CLASSE, the more extreme student group, is most ironically titled--they lack class and seem not to be interested in classes.

I would spend more time researching and linking for this post, but I have work to do.  But for some really thoughtful stuff, check out this post by Jacob Levy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Do Not Underestimate the Power of the Dark Side

Do not underestimate the power of the dark side.  Which dark side?  Political theory.  Well, specifically political theorists.  I have long teased my soon to be ex-colleague Jacob Levy about his field's apparent fact-less-ness.  Why need grant money to do research when it mostly involves sitting in a comfy chair and thinking deep thoughts?  Why need RAs?  Of course, most of this came out of a deep jealousy: that Jacob was able to build McGill's political theory program over the course of actually a few short years (about half my time at McGill), that it has its own space, and, more importantly, a deep reality of community.  Not my subfield, which has stagnated via spin-cycle.  Theory has accumulated positions while IR has stood still (well, backwards next year after I leave and the place only begins the replacement process).

Anyhow, I always knew Jacob to be very, very bright, and was always amazed with his ability to speak eloquently in paragraphs at the drop of a hat.  Well, he marshaled his intellect to ponder the Quebec higher educational system.  Check it out here.  The combination of high taxes and cheap tuition for Quebeckers (and higher tuition for those coming from outside QC) leads to this:
 even if some number of high-earning francophones leave (and therefore never "pay back" the cheap university educations they receive) the system broadly tends toward making francophone Quebec a more self-contained economic world in which people do spend their whole life cycles, while simultaneously subtly encouraging anglophone out-migration and discouraging anglophone in-migration.
Jacob goes on to note his sympathy with this system in that it is a less coercive strategy to "sustain the French fact" even if it probably "depress the overall prosperity of Quebec."  This is quite a tradeoff.  A second significant set of costs would be alienating the Anglophones within Quebec and alienating those beyond as well.  A less diverse Quebec is, well, a less diverse Quebec.  While I remain deeply skeptical in debates about ethnic conflict about diversity as independent variable (that more diverse populations might have more ethnic strife), I do think that more diversity is better than less.  Pushing Anglophones and allophones (immigrants who speak three or more languages) to leave Quebec is damaging to Quebec's future because it will not have the necessary population to sustain the social programs without significant help.  Aye, there is the rub.

The Quebec distinct society currently depends on huge subsidies from Canada (that would be Alberta mostly these days and Ontario in the recent past).  The question then becomes: does sending out alienated Anglos to populate the political systems of the rest of Canada [ROC] build glue between Quebec and ROC so that folks out there remain willing to fund Quebec (guess who pays for the low tuition ultimately--Canadians elsewhere to a significant degree) or does it just give those outside more facts, more attitude that decrease tolerance of paying for the "French fact"?

The only thing that is really clear to me is if you spot a sharp political theorist with a few facts, they will blow your mind.

Friday, May 25, 2012

In a Valley A Long Time Ago

Great use of two movies to illustrate a bombing campaign during WWII:

And happy 35th anniversary to you and yours (and thanks to Starbuck).

Protest is a Many Splendored Thing

I think the ongoing strife in Quebec is quite the Rorschach test.  People can find something in the past 14 weeks of events whatever they want to find: entitled students, oppressive government, corruption, the power of unions, the divide between Quebec and the rest of Canada, a battle against capitalism and neo-liberalism, whatever.

Bill 78 did not create an unholy alliance between student protesters, unions and the Parti Quebecois.  That existed before, as the PQ was supporting any effort to attack the Liberals as good governance has never been its mission.  Unions supported the students because they are not thrilled with the Charest government.  There were already folks involved in the movement spouting off the usual rhetoric about capitalism and neo-liberalism.  But Bill 78 did cause folks who believe in civil liberties, such as this McGill Poli Sci student, among others to oppose the government.

I understand that Occupy movements have been complaining about capitalism and that neo-liberalism is a nice thing to blast.  I do ponder what the hell would be the alternative.  Socialism?  Where is that working out?  I do believe in well-regulated capitalism, so I wish the focus of mobilization in Quebec would be good governance rather than tuition avoidance and whatever is now being demanded with the expanded coalition of the mobilized.  Indeed, this thing was never has coherent as advertised, but seemed to be since the two non-CLASSE groups tied themselves to CLASSE which sought a rollback in tuition and then some.  Negotiations were already hard since CLASSE was never interested in any kind of compromise, but now that the "movement" has grown to include folks seeking the end of capitalism, well, good luck bargaining on that.

Given the union funding behind the students and given the principal-agent problems on both sides, I am skeptical that this will end soon.  So, expect a summer of protests with occasional outbursts of violence.  I guess I picked the right summer not to attend the Just for Laughs festival.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Mounting Costs of the Quebec Mess

The costs to Montreal and to Quebec are mounting.  Check out this piece.  Obviously, people should not stop dissenting simply because it imposes costs upon the society.  Indeed, imposing costs is a logical way to get heard and force a bargain (since bargaining is often about the power to hurt the other).  But what this does point towards is the dis-proportionality of the entire situation. 

The student protests over tuition increases never really seemed proportionate to the change in tuition.  Yes, tuition was going up, but mostly to offset past freezes.  Yes, to double from the lowest in Canada to, well, the lowest in Canada, but not beyond that.  Sure, one could be concerned about the future beyond that, but the level of rhetoric and mobilization and threats to property went quickly beyond what a $1/day increase seemed to warrant.

The government has acted disproportionately as well.  Bill 78 is a hammer, not a surgical tool, so it has unified much of the folks who might otherwise have competing concerns.  I do think the initial alterations were proportionate--extend the tuition increases two more years so the growth is slower, provide more assistance.  But the reactions since and the rhetoric--less than helpful.

Of course, my posts here have not always been exactly proportionate either.  I mean, I said the students don't understand math or their interests.  That may be true.  Well, it is true.  But there are legitimate grievances.  Lots of education money has been wasted on excess construction (UQAM), new satellite campuses (several), the costs of changing administrations with buyouts (Concordia), and other stuff (McGill has some $$ offices, more admin).  Corruption in Quebec does have an impact on the quality of construction at the universities.  But the real source of the new tuition increase is really the old tuition freeze--something like thirteen or more years followed by very token increases ($50/year).  The basic idea here is that the students pay a share, something like 20%, of the costs of their education, with the province (taxpayers) picking up the rest. 

Some of the groups (all?) may want zero tuition as that is what they perceive to be their right under some old documents, but that would require significantly more money to be spent by the province at a time where taxes are quite high and debt is higher still. 

So, the government cannot bargain much more since it cannot agree to a freeze without, well, surrendering entirely.  The students have no unity but have tended to tie themselves to the more extreme demands, which means that they have little accountability, little responsibility and every reason to keep on keeping on, especially now that the threat of cancelled or postponed classes has taken place. 

The costs, like casualties in a war, will simply continue to increase, unless somebody finds a way to profit off of this.  Hmmmm.... maybe red-patch dolls? Charest pinatas? 

Harper and Afghanistan: Slip Sliding Away

Am I surprised that PM Harper is saying non to another Afghan mission?  No.  Can he change his mind on a random weekend like he did with the training mission?  Absolument. But Harper has had enough of expending political capital for efforts that he does not control very well. He is very fond of repeating that the Afghanistan war of 2001 to present has lasted longer than the two World Wars combined. 

And I am very fond of pointing out that that comparison is damned near meaningless since (a) Canada did not have troops in harm's way for all of that time--just 2002 and 2005-2011--so the math does not work; and (b) having nearly 3k soldiers deployed and reaching 160 KIA is nothing compared to Vimy, Dieppe, the average day on the Italian front in 1943-44, Market Garden, and so on. 

Yes, the war in Afghanistan has been long, but it has only been intense for the small number of folks who went and are now back, facing a variety of challenges (PTSD, post concussion issues, loss of limbs, etc).  For the country, just as is the case for the rest of NATO, the war really did not touch the populace in any way like WWI and WWII did. 

The point about the clock is that this is a domestic concern--how long can a democratic public tolerate a war?  That depends on a variety of factors--the perceived stakes, the pace of costs (casualties, money), the economy at the time, and ... leadership.  Harper rarely stood in front of the mission and stopped doing that in 2008.  So, he can blame the clock and he can blame the duration of the war, but he knows that he chose not to try to shape public opinion because it seemed to hard and because it got in the way of his dreams for a majority government.

I just find the whole "longer than World Wars" line to be deceptive and evasive.  There are good reasons to pull out, there are better ways to express what the country's contributions have been. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

McG Smooth Move of the Year

I have been pretty critical of McGill's handling of dissent this year, so I must take my bandana hat off to the folks running the place.  They sent out a memo today addressing the question of what happens to those students who have been admitted to McGill but will not have completed their requirements (no certification of completion of credits at CEGEPs closed by the shenanigans). 
As the situation unfolded, we anticipated that a number of those admitted would in fact have difficulty in finishing on time. Accordingly, we have designed special provisions to ensure that most of the affected CEGEP students – presently estimated to be about 330 individuals – should be able to begin our fall term on time.
Wow!  What a smart way to go.  Rather than being stuck by past rules and fear of future precedents, the administrators decided that being caught up in the turmoil should not hinder a student's educational journey.  Sure, one can look at this as a raised middle finger at protesters and/or the Quebec government since it is saying that McGill is beyond and above the petty problems and that efforts to derail things will fail, at least at McGill.  But I think this is the right thing.  Sure, some of the students who have not completed are being given a reward for the dissent they supported.  But others, who did not vote or voted against strikes, will not see their lives disrupted by the poor choices of the organizations and the government.

So, on this, woohoo, McGill!

Making Money Off Of Dissent

It was perhaps inevitable that a sports book online would start taking bets on the Quebec strife.  Specifically, there is over/under for the strike is September 1st.  They have also set bets on:
  • what the tuition increase will be (2.25:1 on my best guess $200-$300);
  • provincial referendum of 4:1 by end of the year on fees;
  • will the new Quebec Minister of Education lose her job by the end of the year: 9-2;
  • Even money that Loi 78 that was supposed to quell the protests but had the reverse effect would be amended by the end of the year (I would bet that it will be).
  • Martial law: 11-2.  Really?  I think the odds would be much longer.  I would bet no martial law--if I had spare cash (moving makes wagering right now difficult), I would bet as much as I could on no martial law, even if it means betting $5.50 to win one.  It is a sure bet--martial law?  Please.
  • Fines on CLASSE, the most extreme of the groups--with a sweetspot of 2.4 to 1 that the group will be fined $100k-$500k.  
  • Next is various celebrities--who would be the first to wear the red patch, indicating support for the students with Michael Moore a very tempting 7 to 1.  The problem is verifying who is first among those listed.  I would kind of like to bet on Youppi.  Of course, I would then buy a Youppi costume and make it happen.....
What prop bets would I add to this?
  • Odds that student protesters will fall into a sinkhole: 1 to 2.  That is, I think is more likely that this will happen.
  • The students will do something that will undercut public support--it is their turn to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory  Let's say: 3 to 1.  
  • Pauline Marois of the Parti Quebecois will stop wearing the red square before the strike ends: 10 to 1. Odds that she will stop wearing the red square if some government official (including police officers) is harmed seriously during a protest: 10 to 1.
  • That the protesters will focus exclusively on corruption as that is the most severe problem facing Quebec: 100 to 1.  
  • That Jean Charest will call an election before the end of June: 25 to 1. Entirely motivated by my moving schedule.
  • Odds that I will be in downtown Montreal in the next month after 6pm: 1000 to 1.  No thanks.  My rules for ultimate subbing--not going to cross a bridge or go into or past downtown for ultimate have been reinforced by the past 14 weeks of this mess.

Montreal News: Squirrel Again

I have been harping and harping on the idea that perhaps we are not so focused on the important stuff in Montreal.  Here is a tale of two pictures and then a third story:

This is from the big protest yesterday to mark the 100th day of the student protests of tuition (which has morphed into many issues with the current government, especially its response to the protests).

Montreal Gazette
This is a sinkhole that formed right outside McGill an hour or so after the protesters marched by.  My tweet last night was essentially that I have long compared the roads of Montreal/Quebec to World War I battlefields, but I will have to stop because it is an insult to the battlefields.

Ah, but why, other than the path of the protest, are these two pics related?  Because of a story buried in the paper: Quebec Justice Charbonneau is starting her commission to look into corruption in Montreal's construction industry.  Yes, the students have complained about corruption a bit, but that is not really the focus of their effort, and their efforts have taken the spotlight (as seen by the headlines and frontpages [the commission's opening is not even linked to the Gazette's front page on its website this morning]) off of the corruption problem.

That Montreal's infrastructure is literally collapsing should be the top story as it is a threat to people's lives, as opposed to the symbolic threat of an increase in tuition to access to education (symbolic because the crafting of the increase means that less than wealthy folks are not going to see any increase).

I get that the students are frustrated, I get that the rest of the province is frustrated with Jean Charest's mishandling of the crisis.  But the reality is that these protests are not going to empower real political change that might lead to less corruption, less waste and better construction.  It is no accident that the big unions are supporting the students--they are part of the corruption racket.  A new government led by the Parti Quebecois would not be focused on fighting corruption but on justifying secession.  Their focus is explicitly not on good governance (except when an occasional third party pushes them in that direction) but on more distraction sauce.  Would independence solve or ameliorate corruption and bad governance?  Hell no!  Would a separatist campaign that falls short make the roads better and the universities less expensive?  No.  So, consider me frustrated, too, as all of the attention is on issues that are not the fundamental ones.

Again, I get it that the demands of the students and their allies have accumulated so that corruption is now a bit more visible as a claim, but if only that were the central focus, then I might be supportive.  Instead, as the newspapers demonstrate, SQUIRREL!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Selective Reading Illustrated

 I have blogged before about how selective people's readings are of the Bible and other other totemic text, like ... Clausewitz.  This picture does the best job of illustrating this.  Ye olde text says many things, so let's just pick the one thing that supports one's attitudes (homophobia) and ignore the rest (tattoos as taboo, legitimating slavery, yada, yada, yada). 

I will shall rely on a selective reading of a different text: equal protection (I tend not to consider gun ownership sacrosanct nor am I all that focused on quartering of soldiers these days).  I think that one pretty much trumps everything else that might suggest it would be ok to discriminate against people due to their sexuality.

But folks who want to use the Bible to justify being intolerant--go ahead.  I am sure that is consistent with the rest of one's beliefs.  And, yes, consistency is the hobgoblin!

All Politics is Relative

In my wanderings around North America, I have always been struck by my movement along the political spectrum.  Or actually, my standing still but the political spectrum moving around me, more or less.  Sure, my views have changed, but not so radically that moving from place to place alters my political views.  I ponder this as my move approaches:
  • In high school, we had little awareness of politics.  I knew I was a Liberal (American spectrum) but not so much where everyone else was.
  • At Oberlin, I was not very left-wing.  Indeed, I still had the same values except that I gained better appreciation for them.  That is, I always believed that men and women should be treated equally, but Oberlin helped provide the logical glue between my starting point and the positions.  As I mentioned early, I became less homophobic at Oberlin, but I never bought into political discrimination--I just understood my position better.  Still, I joined an organization that was trying to foster less knee-jerkiness and more discussion--the Moderate Caucus.  Sure, we had some token Republicans but mostly liberals that were disaffected with the hard left.  So, I was seen as being right-wing, as my views did not conform to socialism (real socialism, not the fake accusation levied these days).  Oberlin's distinct tilt (tilt as in leaning so far over the tower fell) meant that I actually thought Mondale had a chance.
  • In San Diego, I was back to being a liberal, as the town was fairly conservative as a military town and what southern California used to be.  But as a grad student, my nose's proximity to the grindstone meant I didn't pay as much attention as to where I stood relative to the area.
  • In Vermont, well, I was somewhere in the middle between the Oberlin-esque granola-ness of Burlington and the gun rights folks of the hills.  No accident that Jerry of Ben & Jerry's was an Obie and then helped to establish the quintessentially Oberin-esque lefty company not far away.  Vermont had a nice balance at the time: socialist representative, establishment Democratic Senator with a giant head (Leahy), and a moderate Republican (Jeffords).
  • Then Texas.  Ah, Texas.  Where I went from being centrist or slightly right compared to the locals to hard, hard left, perhaps commie, as Lubbock was viewed as the most conservative district in the country.  Fun teaching American and Texas Public Policy to students who thought that government had no role in doing much public policy.  Of all the places I lived, including French-speaking Montreal, Lubbock was the worst fit especially when it came to politics.
  • A quick year in Virginia.  My self-perception was more driven by my time in the five-sided building than in the suburbs because I was spending 12 hours or more per day in the building.  I was the shaggy leftie academic, raising questions about God in the Pledge of Allegiance (oops!). But I was not the only Democratic in the room, but perhaps the only one who was not a closet Democrat.  
  • In Montreal, I came to be known as the go-to guy for the media if they wanted a pro-war position.  Not that I am a big fan of war, but that I did think that the Canadian participation in Afghanistan had some justification.  It was hard to explain my ambivalence which has varied about that.  Of course, these days, my opposition to the student protests about tuition make me a right-winger even as I am not thrilled with how the provincial government has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with its latest moves.  I am still opposed to the student movements' main goals--tuition should go up--but I am also opposed to the government's handling of the crisis.  Which makes me what?  Confused
So is all politics relative?  No, not at all really.  I have mostly been
  • economically moderate:free trade, progressive but not insane taxes, programs to help the poor, reform of social security (progressive taxation), etc.
  • liberal on social policy: 1st amendment >>> 2nd amendment, equal protection, smart solutions for redressing segregation and discrimination [magnet schools), etc.
  • realistic (small r), pragmatic on foreign policy:  the use of force as an instrument of foreign policy but not the only tool in the box, skeptical about the power of norms, and so on.  
Folks on the left are annoyed by my free trade stance and by my takes on foreign policy where I don't always see the US as evil and where I am not a pacifist.
Folks on the right are annoyed by my social stances and my non-hate for taxes.

In my classes, I try to make fun of everyone although Bush was a far easier and amusing target than Obama, and his administration a far more hated target because of its awful, awful, awful blunders.

The fun part is trying to imagine voting in Canada (easy to pick in the US, with the ruthless elimination of moderate Republicans) where the Conservatives are crappy on social policy, not so great on economic policy, and not entirely sketchy on foreign policy (although not great), compared to the NDP, which are crappy on economic policy, good on social (except for Quebec if that counts as social), and lousy on foreign policy, and the Liberals are what?  Oh yeah, exactly.

Anyhow, this journey into my political attitudes is probably only of interest to Lil Steve, but there you have it.  For me, the question is--where will Ottawa position me?  My guess is that I will feel pretty middle of the road there, but only time will tell.

How is a NATO Summit Like an Academic Conference

How is a NATO Summit like an academic conference?  A summit is like a conference in that it sets an artificial deadline so that the various actors can try to complete their products whether it is a communique or approval of a policy document by NATO or a conference paper for an academic.  We can possibly have these outputs without summits/conferences but these events create incentives to make progress. In the lead up to a major meeting, talking points and documents are vetted thoroughly by each country's inter-agency process (bureaucracy).  Once at a summit/conference, there is lots of schmoozing/networking/business conducted but not on the major planned outputs.

So, no one should be surprised that nothing concrete was settled about the French departure from Afghanistan or changing the timing of transition nor any progress on Pakistan and the supply route problem.  All progress on contentious issues is made ahead of time, just like all research and writing for a conference paper is prior to the conference.  Sure, this means that sometimes papers are incomplete or quite flawed, and sometimes summits have less to show than expected and contentious issues are kicked down the road.  But we should also realize that just as the informal networking at the conference hotel bar actually is quite important for setting agendas, opening up new possibilities down the road, and so on (here I am rationalizing my own behavior), the various meetings and exchanges among NATO and partners are also productive even if they do not lead to a new agreement/treaty/policy documents.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Obviously Not in Tennessee

As there is hugging and other gateway stuff in this video.  But I post this as I am a sappy sentimentalist and always wonder why people usually criticize TV shows and movies that are sentimental (with Parks and Rec being a noted exception to this rule.

My second reaction--damn, it is hard to ask folks out to prom in the 21st century.

H/t to CNNSI's Hot Clicks (where I get a fair amount of stuff I would not find in my twitter stream).

My Ultimate Strategy Revealed

Ok, this is a Pepsi ad, but it reveals my ultimate strategy--look old, play old, and then surprise:

Sure, Kyrie Irving has far more talent and speed, but all I need is that first step.  Ok, a few steps....

Academic Geek Question of the Day

Which do I find cooler?  That the President has decent form throwing a long pass or that the NATO symbol is cut/painted on the football field?

The latter, given how much time I have spent on researching NATO and living la vida NATO.  But I am sure my wife would say the former.

UPDATE: On the Obama campaign site, they wisely and amusingly entitle this: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts.  This invokes Friday Night Lights without sounding too cocky with the "Can't Lose" finish.  Nicely played.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Political Will? Will Not!

One of the most annoying and empty phrases in the IR biz, especially when it comes to intervention, is "political will."  X didn't happen because there was no political will.  What does that mean?  Well, I guess it means that x didn't happen because people/countries/whovians didn't want something to happen or did not want it enough to make it happen, right?  Why no intervention in Syria yet?  No political will. 

But the problem with this is that it really does not answer any question at all.  If the problem is that countries didn't want to do it, this raises two questions: why not? and if you want something, does it always happen?

Ok, first: if countries are not sufficiently motivated to overcome the various obstacles to cooperate to do something of significance (which is probably costly and/or risky), then saying so really sheds no light.  To shed some light, one ought to focus on the motivations and their absence/competing interests AND the obstacles, as motivations, competing interests, AND the possible costs all may vary systematically (or not).  Those are the things we need to understand: why intervention?  Because of oil, because of ethnic affinity (see my first book), because of fears of immigration (see my second book), because of security concerns, because of the interconnections between commitment in place A and commitment in more important place B (that last one not only covers Vietnam/West Europe but also Bosnia/Europe.  If intervention does not occur, the answer is not the lack of political will, but perhaps the economic costs, the likely response of public opinion, the fear of using up scarce resources, the difficult of the task, because of the consequences of uneven burden-sharing (see my next book when it exists)and so on. 

Second, I invoke the Rolling Stones rule of International Cooperation: You Can't Always Get What You Want.  There have been many efforts made in human history to cooperate, but these efforts sometimes fail because the tasks are really hard or because the solution was not the right one.  Piracy still exists, right?  Somalia is still a failed state.  Afghanistan is still a mess.  The idea that if you work really hard, you get what you want reminds me of the students who insist that they worked really hard, but didn't get an A.  Well, sometimes trying really hard is simply not enough.  Sometimes you need the right idea with perfect oversight over well-designed execution.  How is that Egyptian democracy working out?  Containment of the Soviet Union required more than just political will--it required creativity, it required insight, it required patience, it required tolerance of failure and of overreaction, and so on. 

Not only you can't always get what you want, you don't always get what you need.  But sometimes, if you try real hard (and get lucky), you get what you need.  To conclude, political will is not the end of an answer or explanation--it is, at best, a start, but mostly it is the step two in the underwear gnomes' plan--a shoulder shrug.

NATO This!

As NATO folks arrive and start chatting in Chicago, I am struck by the wonderful ambivalence that always occurs when the topic NATO appears.  Some folks say we should expand NATO or replicate NATO while others ponder why NATO endures and whether its time is at an end.  Today, I want to focus on the former--NATO is so good, let's create NATO's elsewhere.

For instance, we have Robert Haddick saying "The Persian Gulf Needs Its Own NATO."  What does that mean?  How does the concept translate without breaking?  Well, that depends on what we mean by NATO: a thorough institutionalization of multilateral military cooperation?  An agreement that an attack upon one is equal to an attack upon all?  What makes NATO NATO?  What is its essence that is so desirable?  NATO is definitely not built to keep down rebellions, which seems to be the Persian version's raison d'etre, yes?  Indeed, one of the rules for NATO membership, which is violated only rarely (Greece and Turkey before, Hungary now) is democracy.  Democracy tends to have far less need for and use of repression, so NATO has never been imagined to be used to put down dissent in any member.  NATO members also have much more state capacity than the average victim of the oil curse (whether the curse exists or not, state capacity in Gulf is pretty limited). 

If the idea is to cement the American commitment to the area, a P-ATO is both unnecessary and about to become obsolete.  That is, the US will defend countries in the Gulf now because it has strong interests there, so a multilateral treaty is unnecessary; and the US will not be interested in defending folks in the region in perpetuity because with the rise of other sources of oil and with other energy sources besides oil, the Gulf will eventually decline in relevance in a way that Europe will not so much.

Fundamentally, there is a reason why various regions do not have X-ATO's and the North Atlantic does: folks have tried and failed.  Remember SEATO?  ANZUS is just the three and cannot be expanded, because the members, the US, Australia and New Zealand, cannot agree to the defense of some other country or countries.  The US has an interest in developing a multilateral security organization that commits the US to its defense in one place--Europe.  It has an interest in something similar in Asia, but that is not going to happen because the Asian countries have not gotten over their histories as well as the Europeans.  South Korea will not commit to the defense of Japan and vice versa.  We can think of all of the other possibilities, but one of the things that makes NATO special is the generic language in Article V--an attack on any one is an attack on all.  Of course, countries can and have disagreed about what that response should be, but name me a spot on the earth where all of the folks there can credibly agree to mutual defense

One could argue that failures to form enduring alliances are failures of political will. But that means nothing since we would need to explain the presence or absence of this will thing.

Update: For another set of criticisms of Haddick's piece from a different angle, see Caitlin FitzGerald's piece at Gunpower and Lead.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Festivities and Fun: Chainsaw Edition

We'd Be Bogus, Too

The key quote from Fast Times at Ridgemont High comes to mind today.  Why? Because the Quebec government's response to the tuition protests, well, are bogus, too.

As I have made clear here repeatedly, I am no fan of the tuition protests or the tactics of the various groups.  The key challenge of late has been the willingness of protestors to ignore injunctions and the lack of willingness of the police to enforce the injunctions.

But the new law seems to suck on multiple grounds.  First, it suspends the school year, which is pretty much what the protestors have been doing themselves.  Is this giving them what they want?  I think just cancelling the semester might have been more powerful--it would have imposed a financial cost.  Still, any response needs to take quite seriously that there are plenty of students who would prefer to get an education this spring but have been denied.  Maybe they voted for the non-strike/non-boycott (I really need a term to cover a situation where folks buy a service and then refuse to consume it) because they believed in it, but have changed their minds now that the costs have increased; maybe some felt coerced since many of the votes were by shows of hands (not secret ballots); maybe some didn't show up to vote because they were not mobilized/radicalized or just lacked the imagination to see what was going to take place this spring.

Second, the law overreaches.  You do not need to deny various basic rights to address this problem.  Just enforce the damn injunctions. Maybe increase the penalties for blocking access to schools, roads, etc, but put the onus on the protestors--let them protest anywhere but in places that disrupt life too much--roads, schools.  Free speech in parks should be fine.  The law also ignores one of the basic problems in this particular outbreak of dissent and in most of them--there is no unity of command.  No one is really responsible, unlike, say Charest is for the government.  So, how do you hold an organization responsible when individuals throw smoke bombs into the metro?  Unless you can prove it is an organized event (and there are probably laws on the books on this, right), you cannot punish an organization for crazy stuff in the streets.

While we can expect the student leaders to be immature and ignorant of what their responsibilities are (with some power comes some responsibility), we should expect more of the government.  But I have lived in Quebec too long to have much in the way of expectations for good governance in Quebec.

Update: Jacob Levy addresses the law and the events of the past 14 weeks here.   It may be the longest paragraph he has ever written.  Perhaps even spoken!

NATO Question Du Jour, Pre Summit Edition

Why?  Oh why are folks obsessed with getting Georgia into NATO?  This morning, Senator Sheehan was quoted as saying this:

Shoot me now!  Why this rush to get Georgia in?  Could someone explain to me the domestic politics, the political imperatives, that causes Senators and others to ask to admit a country into NATO that would erode Article V?

What I mean by that is the challenge posed by this combination: (a) a country willing to provoke conflict with Russia (even if Russia is very much a bad guy in all of this; (b) a country so far away from the rest of NATO that it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that NATO would come to its defense.   In Georgia, you get an ally that is most likely to trigger a crisis that will most likely reveal that the promises made to it are empty, undermining NATO credibility.  Oh, and by making these incredible promises, NATO might actually encourage Georgia to provoke more conflict. 

So, what is the urgency here with Georgian membership in NATO?  I can understand that no Senator has read anything in Alliance Politics, but perhaps one of their aides might have bumped into someone who has read such stuff.  Or perhaps just have some common freakin' sense!

Yes, I get why someone from Ohio or other part of the US with a significant Ukrainian diaspora population would want Ukraine to get membership, but is there a Georgian diaspora of note that I am simply overlooking?

I would much rather buy into the hopes and dreams of Smart Defense than consider membership for Georgia (or Ukraine).

écureuil, part deux

Squirrel!!  Yes, it is time for that game-y flavored distraction sauce.  Yesterday, two major news events occurred in Montreal/Quebec: Jean Charest tabled an emergency law that will suspend the classes for those colleges and programs where students have been not attending,* levying new penalties for disrupting classes, requiring more notice for protests and so on;** and several people close to Montreal Mayor Tremblay were arrested for corruption charges.
*  I have decided not to use "strike" or "boycott" to describe what the student groups are doing.  They are not refusing to work nor are they refusing to buy something.  They have already paid for a service--an education--and are refusing to partake.  I don't know of a word that describes that well.
** Folks on twitter this morning say that the law overreaches, especially as the problem in Montreal is mostly an "enforcement" problem.
I am not saying that the mayor's office has been helping the student protests along.  No, not at all, but I am saying that the corruption problem in Montreal and Quebec has often been a side show, overlooked as we focus on issues that are actually less significant in terms of costs, in terms of the quality of service--in terms of good governance.  Yes, the students are upset that they have to pay more for their education, but we forget that that they are also upset because they have witnessed heaps of money wasted on things like construction at UQAM that goes on forever (hmm, any corrupt contractors involved?), new satellite campuses for schools not based in Montreal, new campuses for schools based in Montreal (UdeM with a billion dollar project in Outremont), schools blowing heaps of money on firing elite officials and giving them big severance packages (Concordia), and schools spending more money than appears warranted on the travel of their boss (McGill).

To be clear, these spending scandals are, in total (with the exception of UQAM and UdeM) are pretty small compared to the other rising costs of education and to the costs to the university system of the tuition freeze.  Moreover, the costs to the city and province of corruption is much, much greater than the costs of the student protests.  Construction in Quebec costs something like 30% more than in other Canadian provinces even though wages are lower here, yet the construction projects almost always seem to produce crappy work.  Indeed, we are now going to be paying millions and billions to replace infrastructure (roads and bridges) that were built not that long ago.

But the corruption scandal, clearly touching the mayor, is going to be pushed out of the news by the student protests and the reactions of the Charest government.  I can only guess that Mayor Tremblay, who was complaining of the protests earlier in the week, is now secretly thrilled that these events have come so close together, even if it means that Montreal is a battlezone for police and students.  I guess it is a good thing that the roads resemble World War I trenches.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Star Trek in the Rear View Mirror

I am a fan of both Stars Trek and Wars, but I do really enjoy this take:

Apparently, no creativity in the future as all of the holodeck sequences are pre-1940?
Oh no, the ST fan just broke out the Prime Directive (which I never thought about in the same context as Spidey!).  A losing argument, of course, since it is violated far more than it is respected even by Picard.
Best line makes one thing of Apple stores and North Korea in same context!

Equal time for Star Trek fans who mock Star Wars:

Oh, what the hell, a third thanks to Charli Carpenter:

Quick Hits on Quebec's Prolonged Agony

I am hitting the road this morning to get my daughter registered for classes next fall in Ottawa, so I don't have a heap of time to ponder Quebec's ongoing trauma.  So, just a few hits and runs:
  • the Quebec Premier, Jean Charest, has a package to pass in the National Assembly (province's legislature).  We don't know all the pieces, but he is suspending the semester for those schools and program that have been boycotted.  The idea is then to finish the terms in August.  
    • Can I repeat that I am glad that McGill students did not join in this mess?  
    • What about the profs and students who want to go to class and had plans for August?
    • Will this really cool things off?
  • No compromise ahead.  Well, how do you compromise with disparate groups that not only are relatively unwilling to bargain but claim to have no control (but tend to condone) the folks using unacceptable means (throwing smoke bombs in the subway system, confronting students in class, etc)?
    • A key challenge here is that there are multiple groups claiming to represent the boycotting students.  One is more extreme than the other two.  The other two have tied their fortunes to the extreme one, which might make sense if there was something to bargain over.  But the boycotters want a tuition freeze and the government clearly cannot give them that or else we would be going through this again when tuition is unfrozen.
    • Other elements, whether is the PQ, other unions, or random anarchist types are using this for political gain/desire to cause trouble for the incumbent party.  So, there is no one actor controlling or even leading the dissent effort.  Who does the government negotiate with?  If it was just the two "moderate" movements, it would be hard enough?  Oh, and the moderates are not so moderate anymore (if they ever were), as they are saying that things will escalate, that it is the government's fault, even though I am pretty sure it was not the government that sent students through UQAM yesterday yelling at students and profs trying to learn/teach.
    • If one side ignores all the injunctions and says that only their rights matter, how do you negotiate?  How do you know they will respect whatever bargain that is struck?  Not a heap of credibility there.
  •  Speaking of injunctions, one of the most disturbing parts of all of this is the combination of a willingness to ignore the court rulings by students and their allies with an unwillingness to enforce the injunctions by the government and police.  Perhaps Quebec really is turning me into a right-winger, but if one violates a court ruling, they should go to jail, right? Break a law, go to jail?  Why is this so radical?  And if the students are so righteous, they should be happy about being arrested.  Civil disobedience is always far more powerful and credible if one is willing to do some time.  
  •  Heaps of admiration for the reporters covering this.  They have faced threats from the students and pepper spray from the police.  Not an easy job, but I am glad someone is doing it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NATO Survey

I got to take part in this survey of experts on NATO.  Given all of the experience of the others surveyed, I guess my effort to tweet my way towards perceived expertise has paid off.  That and four years of wandering around national capitals to ponder caveats and other means by which countries manage their participation in NATO's missions in Afghanistan and Libya.

Anyhow, the survey produced a heap of common sense, such as:
  • Should NATO exist?  Duh. I finished the conclusion of the Dave and Steve book (not to worry, we still have other holes to fill with desired end-state probably not reached until end of May), and our argument about the limits of NATO was crucially conditioned by the reality that any substitute or alternative would have the same problems but worse.
  • Purpose--collective defense of Europe (and the Canadians would add--the North Atlantic).  Not so much focus on "keeping Russia in check" but deterring Russia might be in the former category.  Heaps of other on this one.
  • Should NATO go out of area?  Yes 56- No 3.  Too many problems near Europe and beyond perhaps.
  • Unanimity that US should not leave NATO.  Of course not, as NATO manages, if not solves, heaps of European security issues and beyond--and the US still cares about Europe.
  • NATO is essential to national security 50-8, 24-5 among North Americans and 26-3 among European respondents.  
  • Safer now than in 1001?   41-13-4.  Lots of uncertainty about Weimar Russia back then.  Good thing Russia is such a stable democracy now ;)
  • NATO's missions ranging in success: Bosnia > Kosovo > Libya >Anti Piracy > Iraq training mission (yes, but not in Iraq) > Afghanistan.  No brainers, really. 
  • Would European members be able to do a Libyan type op in three years? 34 No, 11 yes, 4 DK.  Hard to see how Britain could do the same with the massive defense cuts.  Same for much of Europe. 
  • Should NATO intervene in Syria?  11 Yes, 36 No, 10 maybe. 
  • Do folks agree with former SecDef Gates that NATO's future is dismal if countries do not devote enough to defense?  40 Agree, 12 disagree, 5 not sure.
  • Should NATO have both offensive and defensive Cyber capabilities: 52 yes, 6 no.  I am pretty sure that most of us experts have the least amount of knowledge to apply to the Cyber questions.
  • France still in integrated command in five years?  Yes 54, 2 unsure, 2 false.