Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘John Lewis Gaddis

“Action Alerts” analysis, all wrong, from Political Scientists?

It’s an open secret: in terms of accurate political predictions (the field’s benchmark for what counts as science), Political Scientists have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money.

The most obvious example may be political scientists’ insistence, during the cold war, that the Soviet Union would persist as a nuclear threat to the United States.

In 1993, in the journal International Security, for example, the cold war historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote that the demise of the Soviet Union was “of such importance that no approach to the study of international relations claiming both foresight and competence should have failed to see it coming.  And None actually did so.”

Careers were made, prizes awarded and millions of research dollars distributed to international relations experts, even though Nancy Reagan’s astrologer may have had superior forecasting skills.

Political scientists are defensive these days: in May, the House passed an amendment to a bill eliminating National Science Foundation grants for political scientists.

Soon the Senate may vote on similar legislation. Political Scientists, especially those who have received N.S.F. grants, will loathe JACQUELINE STEVENS for saying this:  just this once she is sympathetic with the anti-intellectual Republicans behind this amendment. Why?

The bill incited a national conversation about a subject that has troubled her for decades: the government — disproportionately — supports research that is amenable to statistical analyses and models, even though everyone knows the clean equations mask messy realities that contrived data sets and assumptions don’t, and can’t, capture.

JACQUELINE STEVENS Published on June 23, 2012 in the NYT Sunday Review “Political Scientists Are Lousy Forecasters”

DESPERATE “Action Alerts” land in my in-box. They’re from the American Political Science Association and colleagues, many of whom fear grave “threats” to our discipline.

As a defense, they’ve supplied “talking points” we can use to tell Congressional representatives that political science is a “critical part of our national science agenda.”

Katia Fouquet
Political prognosticators fare just as poorly on domestic politics.

In a peer-reviewed journal, the political scientist Morris P. Fiorina wrote that “we seem to have settled into a persistent pattern of divided government” — of Republican presidents and Democratic Congresses.

Professor Fiorina’s ideas, which synced nicely with the conventional wisdom at the time, appeared in an article in 1992 — just before the Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidential victory and the Republican 1994 takeover of the House.

Alas, little has changed.

Did any prominent N.S.F.-financed researchers predict that an organization like Al Qaeda would change global and domestic politics for at least a generation? Nope.

Or that the Arab Spring would overthrow leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia? No, again.

What about proposals for research into questions that might favor Democratic politics and that political scientists seeking N.S.F. financing do not ask — perhaps, one colleague suggests, because N.S.F. program officers discourage them?

Why are my colleagues kowtowing to Congress for research money that comes with ideological strings attached?

The political scientist Ted Hopf wrote in a 1993 article that experts failed to anticipate the Soviet Union’s collapse largely because the military establishment played such a big role in setting the government’s financing priorities.

“Directed by this logic of the cold war, research dollars flowed from private foundations, government agencies and military individual bureaucracies.”

Now, nearly 20 years later, the A.P.S.A. Web site trumpets my colleagues’ collaboration with the government, “most notably in the area of defense,” as a reason to retain political science N.S.F. financing.

Many of today’s peer-reviewed studies offer trivial confirmations of the obvious and policy documents filled with egregious, dangerous errors.

My colleagues now point to research by the political scientists and N.S.F. grant recipients James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin that claims that civil wars result from weak states, and are not caused by ethnic grievances.

Numerous scholars have, however, convincingly criticized Professors Fearon and Laitin’s work.

In 2011 Lars-Erik Cederman, Nils B. Weidmann and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch wrote in the American Political Science Review that “rejecting ‘messy’ factors, like grievances and inequalities,” which are hard to quantify, “may lead to more elegant models that can be more easily tested, but the fact remains that some of the most intractable and damaging conflict processes in the contemporary world, including Sudan and the former Yugoslavia, are largely about political and economic injustice,” an observation that policy makers could glean from a subscription to this newspaper and that nonetheless is more astute than the insights offered by Professors Fearon and Laitin.

Note: Can any grievances and inequalities be remedied under weak government? Obviously not. Strong central government with a strong force to back its legitimacy can reform, if it set its mind to change a political condition. A weak government is unable to change anything in a statu quo….

Cold War effectively started in 1917 and not in 1945:  Similar reasons for dominating Third-World countries

The US historian John Lewis Gaddis analyzed declassified documents in the 70’s and recounted the causes of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union.  Gaddis confirmed, and Chomsky didn’t contradict, that the Cold War indeed started in 1917 and not during the Korean War in the early 50’s.

So far, no historian refuted the date of the origin of the Cold War or even the causes stated by Gaddis.

In 1917,  Tsarist Russia was considered by the western European nations and the USA as the first among the backward third world nations.  Russia was meant to export raw materials, to extend cheap workforce to industries and businesses invested in Russia, and to be an open vast market for the western colonial products.

After the revolution ended the reign of the Tsar in 1917, the Bolshevik communist party, headed by Lenin, managed to take over the revolution and uprooted the absolute Imperial regime in Russia and started reforming the society.

The “communist” revolution main goal was for Russia to become self-sufficient in all kinds of production and transforming Russia from a third country regime reserved to supplement the capitalist nations with raw materials and cheap work force into a productive socialist community, with fair and equitable laws regulating capital and workers/Capitalists relationship.

The Capitalist nations of USA and England quickly financed and armed an army called the “White Russian army” and launched the counter offensive against the Bolshevik revolution in 1918.

It was a very serious war that lasted four years with the disintegration of the “White Russian army”:  Poisonous gas used by the British in WWI were heavily abused on the “Red Army”.

The soldiers of the White Russian army fled to Turkey, Italy, France, USA, and mostly to Germany.

During this Russian civil war, the Bolshevik revolution countered by disseminating its success stories around the world, demonstrating the feasibility of moving forward toward a productive and socialist society.

Italy, Germany, France, and England were basically weakened after WWI and plagued by social unrest.   Germany was on its knees and the Freikorp soldiers were returning to Germany from the Russian front.

The communist parties in the western States were on the ascendance and fast becoming the main well-organized movement with an ideology that responded to the need of the impoverished populations.

Italy and Germany were ripe to fall into communism, and the US was next ripe after the financial crash of 1923.

Trotsky’s political line was to disseminate communism everywhere and encourage western communist parties to take power.

Pragmatic Stalin reasoned as follows: “If any communist party take over in one of these performing western nations, then capital and expert “know-how” will no longer be converging into Russia, a State still very much in need of everything, because the communists in the western nations will invest in improving their own people”.

The consequence would be that the center of gravity will shift to the west and Stalin will no longer be the main representative of communist movement.

The Stalin league forced Trotsky and his supporters to exile and sacrificed the western communist movement for juicy deals. 

The communists in Germany and Italy were decapitated by the fascist Mussolini and the Nazi in Germany.  The communists in Spain were ordered to split the socialist and left Republican alliance and then sold out to Franco.

As Germany was suffering from the heavy constraints imposed by the Versailles “Peace Treaty”, Germany found Russia of Stalin welcoming them in open arms.  Even before the advent of Nazism, Germany was training its army in Russia, operating military production industries, inventing new war planes and tanks, and conducting joint military training with the Russian army…

After 1950, the US strategy was “either you are with us or with the Soviet Union”.

The third world countries that backed the US were submitted to the same demands that Russia suffered before the fall of the Tsar monarchy:  Mainly, open liberal market, cheap manpower, and exploitation of raw materials for the benefit of the capitalist enterprises…  It is the same capitalist colonial way of doing business.

Note:  I read of the idea that the Cold War started in 1917 from the “Reflection on the university” by Noam Chomsky. The remaining of the reasoning in this article is mine.




December 2022

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