Friday, November 27, 2009

we lied

This site isn't really about "giddy minds."

The views of the American people that should matter when crafting national security policy are not the ephemeral reactions available through quick surveys but rather the steady conclusions that should constrain democratically responsive policymakers. It's useful to keep in mind a distinction by Daniel Yankelovich almost three decades ago between opinion and judgment. Opinions are reactions to events and questions, and the responses to pollsters can vary widely over time and depending on variations in the wording of questions. Judgments come after fuller consideration of the issue, and the responses there tend to be quite stable, regardless of particular wording.

In this regard the Council on Foreign Relations has compiled a multi-national look at public opinion on a wide range of international issues.

Among the findings:
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, the digest suggests substantial consistency in the views of Americans and their counterparts abroad regarding the importance of international law, international institutions, and multilateral cooperation to address global challenges. Far from being insular or obsessed with sovereignty, Americans convey support for internationalist principles and a willingness to compromise for effective multilateral cooperation."
Take a look.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Test question: where does this blog's title come from?
Answer: Shakespeare, Henry IV, part 2.

The dying King Henry IV tells his son "Be it thy course to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels."

I don't recommend that as wise policy for the U.S. government, but history is full of examples of leaders who used foreign policy problems to distract public attention from domestic issues.

Shakespeare's insight, which I share, is that there are linkages between domestic politics and international policies. Political calculations always hover, at least in the background, when foreign policy decisions are being made. Sometimes those concerns greatly influence decisions, sometimes not.

When, how, why, and with what consequences are the questions I want to examine as we study U.S. policy.

fresh woods and pastures new

Why? How does one justify using electrons and a slice of bandwidth when so many others are already doing a fine job?

1. Because it's there.
2. Because it's the 21st Century.
3. Because the rest of my family is already doing it.
4. Because I might occasionally have something worth sharing.
5. Because I want to join the debate on some important policy issues.

My professional interests focus on U.S. national security policy and the processes by which it is formulated and executed in both the executive and legislative branches of government. I am also keenly interested in the domestic political factors that shape policy. I also have personal interests -- in books, movies, food, and family, especially the grandchildren -- that may provoke postings.

I have been reluctant until now to launch a blog because I only want to do one like those I most enjoy reading, and I fear that that requires more time, effort, and resources than I can spare.

What I like is informed commentary and links to information I might otherwise miss. That's what I hope to provide.