A Realist’s Guide to Grand Strategy

International relations scholar William Ruger has a nice review of Barry Posen's book Restraint in The American Conservative that is well worth checking out. Posen's book is an attempt to sketch out a hard-nosed, moderately noninterventionist grand strategy for the United States. Excerpts: Restraint, Posen’s alternative to liberal hegemony, is developed in the second chapter. … Continue reading A Realist’s Guide to Grand Strategy

In Search of the Libertarian Moment

On August 7, Robert Draper (New York Times) asked: “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?” One excerpt: Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it. For decades their ideas have had serious backing financially (most prominently … Continue reading In Search of the Libertarian Moment

Don’t Lay Down Your Arms, Aceh Edition

As part of a new paper, I've been doing research on decentralization in Aceh, Indonesia. Bringing to a conclusion an approximately 20-year insurgency, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesian government came together in a spirit of comity following the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami and signed a peace deal giving the region ample new autonomy. … Continue reading Don’t Lay Down Your Arms, Aceh Edition

Of Cupcakes and Progressivism’s Ratchet

George Will (Washington Post) has an interesting essay on “progressivism’s ratchet.” His “Cupcake Postulate” illustrates the dynamic: federal school lunch subsidies lead to regulation of food content,which justifies the regulation of competing foods from vending machines, and—finally—whether cupcakes sold at bake sales meet federal standards. Government authority spreads—“the cupcake-policing government” finds “unending excuses for flexing its … Continue reading Of Cupcakes and Progressivism’s Ratchet

Charting Regulation

Much of the work I do is in the area of regulation. It is always a challenge to convey how much the regulatory state has grown (yes, I know, we can count the pages in the Federal Register). Two scholars as the Mercatus Center (Patrick McLaughlin and Omar Al-Ubaydli) have developed RegData, a wonderful tool … Continue reading Charting Regulation

The War at Home

Images of warfare abound these days, from Syria, Gaza, northern Iraq...and Ferguson, MO. As Dylan Scott (TPM) notes, the images out of Ferguson have been “harrowing.” “American law enforcement decked out in military fatigues, patrolling the streets in armored vehicles that look like they were plucked out of Afghanistan or Iraq.” I have blogged in the … Continue reading The War at Home

Hunting Unicorns

Michael Munger has a fun essay (at FEE) on what he calls “the unicorn problem” (i.e., when people make the argument for statism based on a state they can imagine—benevolent, efficient, omniscient—rather than the state that actually exists). Munger’s solution: Go ahead, make your argument for what you want the State to do, and what you … Continue reading Hunting Unicorns