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Notes from APSA
annual meeting:
Washington, 2005

NOTE: These transcribed notes from the 2005 American Political Science Association meeting are bound to contain one or more unintentional misrepresentations of the various speakers' comments and should NOT be used for attribution. Titles of the panel can be found at the APSA Web site. Some panels I attended are omitted, and for some panels not all of the speakers are included. Asterisks (*) denote highly prominent scholars.

Sept. 1:
The Bush Second Term

Michael Barone *: Bush presented himself as more policy oriented than the other GOP candidates in 2000, hence his ambitious domestic agenda. His aims have been frustrated (Soc. Sec.), and some achievements could be reversed if Dems regain majority status. Turnout boost could signify partisan realignment in GOP's favor, but Dems have some advantages.

Jonathan Rauch *: Bush is an "accidental radical" and "dilettante scion" pushing demand-side conservatisim: using govt. to reform society so as to force long-term drop in demand for govt. services. SHREWD! But, Bush approval is abysmal and independents lean toward Dems on most issues, except for terrorism. GOP is further from its goal of a permament majority and radical policy reform than before. Without Monica Lewinsky, Gore would have won in 2000 and Dems would have benefitted from 9/11.

Ron Brownstein *: Contrary to Rauch, leaders in Washington see very few swing voters in our polarized society, so the key to winning is to mobilize your own base, even at risk of antagonizing moderates. Some outreach to blacks and hispanics, but overall, it's "deepen, not broaden" support. Downside: small margin for error, small reservoir of public goodwill. Dems need to reverse their erosion in red states, but are likely to choose a liberal polarizing candidate in 2008. Attention to swing voters will continue to decline.

Amy Walter (Cook Political Report): Most GOP in Congress are new and have never been in the legislative minority, and are in a "bubble" insulated from public, not having to run in competitive races. Tenfold increase is earmarked appropriations (pork barrel) has kept parliamentary discipline. To win in 2006, candidates must pose as "outsiders," keeping distance from Bush except on terrorism. Dems have not taken advantage of GOP poll declines.

Barry Jackson (White House): As others said, the strong executive-legislative coordination IS "parliamentary," though Bush has his own vision and agenda. Too much attention to polls, which are often agenda-driven these days, not objective barometers. People like GOP ideas and proposals, but less so when Bush's name is attached. GOP needs to "get right" with its past failure to communicate with public.

Present in audience: David Broder, Thomas Mann, Charlie Cook

Offensive Neorealism, Global Jihad, Preemption

Robert Jervis *: Both realist AND liberal theories of IR are explanatory as well as prescriptive, creating a discord. Terrorist threat is overblown. Considering theories seldom work well, realism has done well in explaining terrorism; e.g., emulation of tactics, disproportional response. Iraq policy is self-defeating. Expanded power leads to expanded perceived interests. Preventive military action is consistent with realism, but not spreading democracy. Bush wouldn't have emphasized that if we had found WMDs in Iraq.

Stephen Van Evera *: I'm skeptical of preventive war, which risks break down of great power cooperation by eliciting counter-balancing behavior. WMD terror threat is very real and big. Counter-insurgency is a grisly and degrading task, undermining our world image. Why does Bush admin. persist? They reject academic consensus that Age of Empire is over, and they think bandwagoning is more common than balancing, and they underestimated terror threat. Dirty secret: conservatives are soft on terror!... (Q & A) Pol. sci. profession has failed to analyze the conservative movement, which is like a cult!

John Mersheimer *: Since 1990, U.S. has been in FIVE wars, for 10 of 16 years! I assume rational actors, so I grant that Iraq war is an anomaly that will be punished by the intl. system. Preventive war can be good or bad, depending on circumstances. Containment of Iraq wasn't perfect, but was better than current mess. Invading Iraq created terrorists by unleashing nationalism. ... (Q & A) Bush attempt to intimidate N. Korea and Iran backfired, as they accelerated nuclear programs. I'll bet conservatives would admit behind closed doors that Iraq is a failure; there was NO NeoCon theory of IR behind their plans.

Case Studies & Theory Development in Soc. Sci.
(roundtable on new book by Alexander George and Andrew Bennett)

Chris Achen: Pol. sci. researchers doing case studies used to disparage methodology, but no longer. The IR subfield takes it most seriously. Quant. analysts disparage explanations based on typologies. Aquinas was right: Truth IS unitary, "but contrary to KKV [Keohane, King, and Verbena], it's not totalitarian!" Pol. sci. blends abstract explanations of economists with rich, detailed explanations of historians.

John Odell: Book is useful, but emphasis on process tracing goes overboard, downplaying standard comparative analysis. Methods of F. Bacon, J.S. Mill, Karl Popper, I. Lakatos, et al. were superseded in turn, but the old methods are still useful for certain kinds of problems.

Daniel Drezner: The book by Alexander George (my mentor, wise and kind) and is very good. Contrary to page 35, I do apply all three methodologies it outlines. The book emphasizes proximate causes, not fundamental ones. I switched from economics because formal modelers and quantitative researchers stopped talking to each other.

Jack Levy *: George and Bennett share KKV's epistemology, but not their methodology. Some in pol. sci. wrongly used case studies as a weapon against rational choice. Unanswered question: When do you give up? What criteria tell the researcher if his theory is wrong?

Sept. 2:
Resisting executive assaults in Latin America

William Brandt: In Ecuador, 18 cases of "executive assault" from 1980-2003. In each case, I identified positions of relevant political actor groups. Necessary condition for success: Support by security forces. Necessary condition for failure: lack of support by security forces AND business. Inconsistent? Using process tracing, we find that when security forces don't support them, presidents fear that business groups will invest in rallying opposition.

Diana Kapiszewski: In Argentina, 11 cases of "executive assault" from 1999-2005. Supreme Court ruled dollarization unconstitutional in 2001, then reversed itself 18 months later, saying the "overall package" of emergency econ. measures was reasonable, and that public good had to preval. I find that justices had consistent sets of priorities, and the contrary rulings were sincere given changing conditions. Strategic motivations: goal of supporting president declined after the 1990s. Change in composition of Court accounts for some of the zig-zagging, but chaotic case scheduling process does too. Informal mechanisms.

Peter Siavelis: Chilean puzzle: With exaggerated presidentialism, strong majoritarianism, and multiple parties, Chile's good record in governability confounds expectations. Its accommodative informal mechanisms make things work. Fear of regression into militarism. 1) "Cuoteo": Distrib. of cabinet portfolios based on party coalition; 2)"Transversal" party: Informal supra-party network; 3)"Democracy of Accords": including social groups in policy formation. Those three informal institutions have explicit sanctions and are thus NOT just "ways of doing things." They arise when crises result from inability of formal institutions to solve problems, and widespread consensus on negative consequences of inaction.

Adam Brinegar: Presid. meddling in anti-corruption agencies shows validity of agent-principal framework for studying corruption. Parties that rely heavily on bribery to get things done expect to pay the price eventually. Even though formal anti-corruption agencies in Argentina are often underfunded, they are now more often led by officials that are part of an informal network, enhancing their effectiveness.

Valeria Palazza: Executives are not required to respond to written inquiries from congress in Argentina, but they do 2/3 of the time. Presidents tend to delay response when such acts of legislative oversight contain threats of sanctions. Indiv. rationality leads to collective suboptimality in outcomes.

Bush Foreign Policy: Is the revolution over?

Francis Fukuyama *: Gideon Rose recently wrote that 2nd Bush admin. is shifting from messianism to realism in for. pol., which is exactly backwards. The rationale for preventive war, that irrational terrorists with WMDs cannot be deterred or contained, is valid, but Iraq experience shows that future can never be predicted. Unilateral policy emerged from failure of Europe to handle collapse of Yugoslavia: "only the U.S. can do it!" But roots of anti-Americanism are deep. Benevolent hegemons must show good judgment, and not finding WMDs undermined that. Future U.S. policy toolkit is not likely to include coercive regime change.

John Ikenberry *: Bush's revol. for. pol. has largely failed. He will be judged by how Iraq turns out. Bush has tried to loosen post-WWII dipl. bonds and renegotiate terms, while showing willingness to use force to transform reality. Result: collapse of U.S. power. Post-WWII U.S. for. pol. was a synthesis of realist and liberal grand strategies. Bush speech in 2002 foresaw end of great power competition except in trade, assuming U.S. hegemonic world order. Extreme Wilsonian attempt to overthrow Westphalian order. Contradiction: You can't promote universal values while insisting on American uniqueness.

Jeff Legro * (U.Va.!): I agree with the others' conclusions, but have different reasons. Phil Zelikow ghost-wrote much of the Bush nat. sec. strategy, which frankly states that changing world order is the U.S. goal. Shift in U.S. world view toward interventionism came in 1942, preceding Cold War. Writings by scholars on need for a new U.S. grand strategy came to nothing under Bush. Unlike post-Pearl Harbor (no more isolationism!), there were no calls for a new approach after 9/11. [???] Bush's Wilsonian push will end up as a speed bump in the course of U.S. history.

Joseph Grieco *: None of the speakers mentioned oil! I favored forcible removal of Saddam Hussein to maintain West's free access to oil. We are in Iraq, basically, to avoid paying risk premium for oil.

I.R. theory in the era of global terrorism

Kenneth Waltz *: If intl. politics had indeed been transformed by end of Cold War, existing theories would no longer apply. Neither democracy nor interdependenc explained end of Cold War; disappearance of USSR did so. Valid soc. sci. theories can predict what will happen, but not when. Terrorists didn't change internat. politics; they use the weapon of the weak. 9/11 simply enabled Bush admin. to do what it wanted to do anyway. Terrorism elicits a strengthening of states, which remain the main actors. Anarchy! Realism!

Robert Keohane *: World IS unipolar and hegemonic, but not imperial. Disjuncture between military and political power. Ideas ARE important. Terrorism is distinguished by the way they target one thing with violence, while the real target is something else. Disconnect between war and public sacrifice in U.S., hence lack of support. On some issues, convergence of interests yields cooperation, on others, discord. New Orleans hurricane and global warming! "Grand theory" is pompous.

Alexander Wendt *: Waltz, Keohane, and I have been brought together for the first time by a common threat: irrelevance!? "Grand theory" pertains to whole system. Waltz implicitly acknowledged emergence when he distinguished intl. politics from for. policy. Reductionism fails! Thus, IR theory (systems) does not explain particular events like 9/11 or guide foreign poliy. There are at least ten onoging IR theory research programs. (#7 - complexity & emergence, by Lars Erik Cederman!) Decline of systems theory "hegemony" is a good thing. Alternative pol. sci. "hegemon": social theory, rationalist, & constructivist.

Paul Viotti *: Waltz's post-1990 theory preditions differed from his personal preferences. Ideas DO matter in shaping policy. Structure of world system matters, but so does intl. economy, and those two interact constantly. I doubt these basic disputes will be resolved, or we'll lose our jobs!

Barry Posen: I didn't think much about terrorism before 9/11. Afterwards, I predicted Bush would respond in a moderate way aimed at keeping friends, to get anti-terror cooperation. NOT! The argument was functional, not true to my neorealist understanding of unipolarity. In 2002 I asked Steven Hadley about the risk of eliciting a counter-balancing response from our friends, and he said it wouldn't happen to us. Persistence of nationalism means war on terrorism will drag on for a long time.

Sept. 3:
Elections in Afghanistan and Iraq

Larry Diamond *: As in East Europe, there was no experience or knowledge of democracy in Iraq before 2003. Original U.S. plan for legislature was not to have direct popular elections, favoring an illiberal transition for stability's sake. (Chalabi, Allawi) Coalition Prov. Authority had a "Rube Goldberg" plan for indirect elections based on local caucuses. After Feb. 2004 Brahimi mission, this shifted to merging constit. assembly and parliament. Various proposals, but SMD would not work in a deeply dividied society, and there wasn't enough demographic data. So, they opted to use existing provinces with some extra seats to compensate for disproportionality. Closed party lists were adopted. In Iraq, ironically, a threshold parliamentary vote % barrier against small parties would NOT keep out extremist parties, as in Germany, but would exclude moderates! In response to my question: A rapid scheduling of municipal elections soon after liberation was considered, but Paul Bremer vetoed it. The idea of giving each Iraqi citizen an equity certificate in nation's oil wealth was never seriously considered; it would be too costly to carry out.

Andrew Reynolds: Iraq's elections have been more transparent than those in Afghanistan, which historically has had a weak center. Hamid Karzai's Oct. 2004 victory (55%) was a clear expression of popular will, but the campaign was NOT free and open. He only made two campaign trips, and was shot at once. Candidates appealed only to their own tribal groups, so voting is in regional blocs, like our electoral college. Heavy influence on voters by election officials. Only 12% of parliament is affiliated with parties, which have a bad reputation in Aghanistan. Hence single member transferable vote (SMTV) system was adopted rather than proportional representation (PR). Not good! Elections took place before infrastructure was ready for them. Constitutions are not enough; deals must be made with warlords, who in some cases have adapted well to civilian government.

Intl. pol. economy and environmental policy

Randall Stone: Vladimir Putin's posturing that he couldn't get Kyoto Protocol ratified was dubious, but the tactic paid off. Our findings: 1) Expectation of ratification does not affect bargaining; 2) Bargaining outcomes do not affect ratification; 3) Dom. pol. constraints DO affect ratification. Countries that were approved for EU membership in 1997 rushed to ratify Kyoto, whereas those approved in 1999 and future candidates took their time. In Poland, dom. politics didn't seem to matter. In Russia, EU dropped objection to it joining WTO as a side payment to ensure ratification. Few countries have the luxury of playing two-level games. Kyoto was a good example of hegemonic leadership, in this case by the EU!

Liliana Botcheva-Andonova: In 1999 most pol. scientists predicted collapse of Kyoto -- WRONG! For Russia, global warming is GOOD! Kyoto was expected to raise demand for Russian natural gas exports. WTO concession by EU was precipitating factor in ratification. The key was the change in Russian dom. politics. What drives the "ratcheting up" of internat. regimes to stronger levels?

Jana von Stein: Consensus among most scientists on global warming, but difference on causes. U.S. failure to ratify: "tragedy of the commons." Some countries ratified Kyoto to institutionalize pollution cleanups they had already done. Even before Kyoto was ratified in 1997 there were growing differences in CO2 emissions between ratifying countries and non-ratifiers.

Sept. 4:
U.S.-Canada-Mexico security cooperation

Philippe Lagasse: What's needed are both "suspenders" (defense of North American perimter) AND a "belt": better policing of U.S.-Canada border. Canada agrees with U.S. on that, but wants to avoid conflating its border problem with the U.S.-Mexico border problem. Canadian troops in Afghanistan since late 2001; similar views on homeland security, but Canada insists on security and rights for its own citizens, including a Syrian-born man detained in U.S. "Kingston Dispensation": P.M. McKenzie King assume obligation to prevent attack on North America. NORAD, 1958. Canadians fear U.S. Northern Command would take control of Can. military, abolishing bilingualism and excluding gays. Nightmare scenario: WMD attack on U.S. from Canadian staging base. Border must be closeable for security in emergencies.

Abelardo Rodriguez: Language and history impede U.S.-Mexico sec. cooperation. In Colegio Nacional de Defensa ther's a wall map showing pre-1848 borders. Because of authoritarian past, Mexican Congress lacks experience in security issues. I interviewed Fox's security adviser Adolfo Aguilar last year before he died, and he stressed need for enhanced state capacity for security, in cabinet and other institutions. President alone is responsible for coordinating elements of security policy. Current Interior Min. is a businessman who lacks a broad conception of security. Another problem is Mexico's nationalistic sentiment, esp. in PRI and Left. There's little awareness in Mexico of need for North American perimeter defense.

John Cope: Our southern neighbor is not nearly as cooperative on security as Canada, because of political and defense culture. There is a major lack of imagination on how to improve cooperation with Mexico, like lack of pre-9/11 continental defense. Status quo complacency! I suggest "Caribbean Basic Surveillance System" based in Mexico. U.S. sees security in global terms, but Mexico and Central American see it in local terms. Hence problems on Mexico-Guatemala border. Honduras is regaining control of Mosquito Coast, but Nicaragua is lagging. Plan Colombia: fight drugs at their source! Defense in depth on southern border will require a long-term effort to acheive common vision.

Richard Downie: Bush-Fox March 2005 Waco agreement was good, but HOW do we promote cooperation on security? Each country will have to make concessions on sovereignty for sake of security, weighing costs and benefits. Abelardo rightly highlighted Fox's missed historical opportunity to reform security policy and institutions, but he was too harsh. Democracy is a messy business. Victory by Fox surprised everyone. John rightly focused on Mexico as the linchpin, but a big catalyst would be required for major change.

My observation: I'm taken back by the lack of any mention of NAFTA! European Coal & Steel Community (later EEC, EU) showed how economic integration can work hand in hand with regional security insitutions (NATO).

Response by Joel Sokolsky: There's a growing antipathy to NATO in Canada, which prefers bilateralism. U.S. refusal to abide by softwood lumber ruling makes Canadians anti-NAFTA. Security trumps trade, and NAFTA is the weak spot.