Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Orlando Cepeda, 76

We do need some good stuff, don't we:

1. Dan Drezner on credibility. I don't keep up on what's happening in IR at all (well, not beyond the bloggers, I suppose), but I'll add that most Americanists think less of the importance of "personal credibility...inside the corridors of power" than Neustadt did. On the other hand, if politicians think it's a big deal, then it is, even if it doesn't actually buy them anything in negotiations. And as long as the value in negotiations is positive, even if it's small? Well, rather have it than not, no?

2. I really do have to watch the Discovery Channel thing on presidential Chiefs of Staff. But I'm not sure I buy Ken Duberstein's claim that they have become celebrities. He wasn't, but Hamilton Jordan was surely more of a celebrity than all but one of Obama's CoS, no? Lucia Graves has the story.

3. Good Josh Barro point on how Obamacare will change things.

4. Interesting reporting from Amelia Thomson-Deveaux on the battle over abortion in New Mexico.

5. And I don't agree with everything Stan Collender says about the budget negotiations, but I always recommend reading him.

1 comment:

  1. Credibility was a central part of deterrence theory, but for decades most deterrence theory was based on a priori reasoning with little or no evidence based on actual experience. In large part this was due to the priority given to nuclear deterrence; people didn't really mind the lack of direct experience for the most part. The lessons deduced were then carried over from time to time to nonnuclear situations, but usually with provisos that the lesser consequences might reduce the effect. (Now, that I'm saying this, I recall that there were a few exceptions, starting in the 1970s. Alexander George and Richard Smoke, for instance, tried to test deterrence theory in real-life case studies and found less effect than expected.) In more recent years there have been some more case studies, and the centrality of credibility--or more precisely the centrality of a reputation for credibility based on past behavior--hasn't held up so well. Daryl Press, for instance, looks at the way Khrushchev in the late 1950s was constantly invoking dire consequences if he didn't get his way on Berlin and never followed through on it. Yet, when the Cuban Missile Crisis came along, no one involved raised the question of Khrushchev's lack of credibility. The revised versions tend to put more stress on situational factors rather than past behavior as indicators of a country's degree of commitment.


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