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January 27, 2009


But now, more locations from which to take a shot.

so many fortresses and ways to attack.

well played mssr cleek.

Watch what rights the contract asks you to sign away; if you're not knowledgeable about publishing contracts, you might miss that you've surrendered rights no professional writer would dream of letting go, and come to eventually regret it, no matter how unlikely that seems now.

You should continue to own your own words, and license only short-term, non-exclusive, re-use of them.

I'm just tired of the word "realist", and "realism". Infinitely usable, infinitely misusable, very often effectively meaning "I have a hole in my pattern of careful evaluation in that I feel like I'm being a realist." "Being a realist" can mean "bypassing things you wouldn't or shouldn't bypass otherwise or not as quickly, on no other grounds, and thinking of doing so as being responsible." It can mean something else, maybe. But can you find a different word that doesn't so dangerously "sound like it means something"?

Alex: it is actually a foreign policy term of art in that it describes a particular doctrine.

Gary: Thanks for looking out - you're a mensch - but in my legal practice I deal with such issues regularly, and know how to parse the applicable contract clauses.


This might help to clarify matters:

"... but in my legal practice I deal with such issues regularly, and know how to parse the applicable contract clauses."

Good. I'm just used to running into a lot of naiveness amongst bloggers about this, and always want to make sure no one signs anything they'll regret.

(Past example.)

"You should continue to own your own words . . ."

Gary's comment made me think of this TIME article I read the other day -- thanks to some clever headline writer whose "Books Gone Wild" tag got me to read it.

Regarding the Robert Wright NYT piece you linked to, I have a couple of thoughts. Here’s the first one (hopefully there will be time later for others). Right out of the gate we have this sentence, more or less in the definition of terms:

Not for them the ruthlessly narrow focus on national self-interest of the “realist” foreign policy school. That school’s most famous practitioner, Henry Kissinger

Now I may be idiosyncratic, but it has long struck me that Kissinger was not nearly as much of a realist as he gets credit for. Specifically I think his fascination with Metternich led him to try to adopt and adapt Metternich’s methods from the world of early to mid-19th Cen. monarchist continental Europe to a new domain (late 20th Cen. democratic US) to which they were spectacularly ill-adapted (his morbid fascination with and demand for total secrecy in order to maintain the element of surprise and misdirection in negotiations for example), ignoring the extent to which Metternich’s successes were due to the close fit between his methods and the prevailing ethos of his era, and the glaring differences between that era and the one in which Kissinger and Nixon were operating.

Many of Kissinger’s crimes and failures can be traced back to this fundamental failure to understand his contemporary world. Kissinger never understood the deep connections between international diplomacy and domestic politics (or at least the domestic politics of a large and at least nominally democractic nation). That doesn’t strike me as very realistic; in fact I’d say it was the opposite – a romantic fallacy committed by an idealist.

All of which is by way of saying that if "realist policy" = "Kissingerian policy", then not just NO, but HELL NO, and I think I can conjure up realist arguments for making that admonition.


I get what your saying. I think that it would at least be fair to grant Wright's point that realism is associated with Kissinger, even if Kissinger was a deviant.

Yeah, I've read enough I.R. literature to know that it is standard practice to describe Dr.K. as a "realist" - I'm taking the opportunity to push back against an Orwellian corruption of language that is implicit in that convention. If "realist" means somebody who accurately perceives the world as it actually is rather than as they wish it would be, Dr.K. was no realist, IMHO.

I don't disagree with that. One could also argue with his pursuit of our "interests."

Have I mentioned Kissinger, Ford, and East Timor enough lately?

nice - adding to reader right now

I'm sure you guys have thought this through, but it seems like reposting other people's posts in full would put you in a bad odor from a business/legal perspective, unless you're going out and getting a bunch of consents.

southpaw: We obtain consents from each author beforehand. And, as per Gary, we claim no right in and to the work other than to post it on the site for as long as the author gives us permission. Entirely voluntary, revocable at any time.

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