Political Animal

Music Request

MUSIC REQUEST….This is the longest of longshots, but for several years I’ve been looking for a recording of Johann Hasse’s Concerto for Mandolin in G Major, but I’ve had no luck finding it. I don’t suppose anyone out there has heard of this piece and knows of anyone who has recorded it recently?

URL Update

URL UPDATE….The Farrell siblings ? Henry and Maria ? have moved to a new address:


They also have a new name for their blog: Gallowglass, which is explained here.

Oops, actually it isn’t, since permalinks don’t seem to be working yet ? probably a real annoyance for the Farrells since working archives are one of the main reasons for moving off blogger.

Adjust your bookmarks anyway. I’m sure the archives will be working soon.

UPDATE: Archives now working!


AFGHANISTAN….A few days ago Dan Drezner and I were wondering how strong our commitment to Afgahnistan really was, and today we seem to be getting the beginnings of an answer:

The departing commander of U.S.-led military forces in Afghanistan says those troops’ success fighting terrorist holdouts, combined with improved recruiting by the new Afghan army, means that Americans stationed here could start going home as early as summer 2004.

….The general said Friday that 9,000 Afghan soldiers should be trained and on duty by the summer of next year, which would permit a gradual reduction of allied forces. The latter currently number 11,500, of whom 8,500 are U.S. soldiers, Marines and airmen.

….The general said he is optimistic that a United Nations-backed and Japanese-financed plan to disarm thousands of Afghan militiamen will be successful ? as long as an ongoing effort to reform and reconstitute the leadership of the Afghan Ministry of Defense is successful.

I realize that we can’t be expected to keep a huge occupation force in Afghanistan forever, but we have less than 10,000 troops there right now, we’re planning to pull out within a year, and our financial commitment isn’t very impressive either. It doesn’t bode well.

And am I the only one who finds it peculiar that we’re “optimistic” about the UN doing a sterling job in Afghanistan, but convinced that they would bring nothing but infighting and corruption to nation building in Iraq? What exactly is the difference here?

President Bush keeps saying that we’ll be in Iraq “for as long as it takes,” but our increasingly weak commitment to Afghanistan makes that increasingly hard to believe. We should be watching closely to see if Bush’s famed resoluteness extends beyond dramatic gestures to the hard, messy work of actually seeing things through to the end.

North Korea

NORTH KOREA….Matt Yglesias sums up the latest moves in the North Korea game, and his post got me thinking about something. I keep hearing that one of our fears is that North Korea will build nuclear bombs and sell them to terrorists in order to raise badly needed hard currency. Now I happen to think that North Korea building nuclear bombs for any reason is a very bad thing indeed, but would they really sell them to terrorists? How much would a terrorist pay for a nuclear bomb?

I mean, al-Qaeda is the richest terrorist group around, right? But even they couldn’t afford to pay more than ? at a stretch ? a few tens of millions of dollars. And in the great scheme of things, that’s chump change. Better relations with China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States would be worth at least a hundred times that much.

Yes, yes, I know that Kim Jong-il is a peculiar person and all that, but he can’t have taken leave of his senses so completely as to think that selling nuclear bombs actually makes sense as a trading strategy, can he?

Building nuclear bombs may be a good way of getting people to pay attention to you, but it’s a lousy way of addressing your current accounts deficit. So my question is: are we worried about this because it’s a real possibility, or are we worred about it simply because every foreign policy problem these days has to be related to the war on terrorism?