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Obama’s international relations theory December 12, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : International relations, United States, World politics , add a comment

Dan Drezner’s blog at Foreign Policy has a nice blog post about the international relations theory of Obama’s Nobel speech. As a treasure trove for IR lecturers, he claims to have seen clear traces of both Realism, Neoliberal institutionalism, Social construcivism, Democratic peace theory, Feminist IR theory and Human security theory. Personally, I can spot a few of those, but my knowledge of IR theory isn’t quite sufficient to cover them all.

But what is the moral of the story of Obama’s theory mixing? Logical inconsistency? No, that the real world is significantly more complex than what either of those theories portrays it as, and that any government drawing on just one way of analyzing the world has a much smaller toolbox to choose from when trying to understand what’s going on and what to do about it.

Just having an American president that has relaxed the hardcore neo-Conservative thinking of the White House seems to me to be important enough for world peace to justify a Nobel Peace Prize all on its own, regardless of the greatness of his future achievements.

On Fox and Obama October 15, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : United States , add a comment

The Daily beast brings a very interesting editorial piece about the struggle between Obama’s administration and Fox News. John Bathcelor points out that Fox isn’t primarily a news network, it’s an entertainment network that makes money from advertising. And they’re doing that very well right now:

None of what goes on in the evening has anything to do with government. The president and the Congress are discussed as omnipresent villains in a fairytale that begins with a happy kingdom of worthies, introduces an ogre, a witch, and a curse, and then interviews champions to come forward to rescue the frightened children and save the USA. All the while, Ming the Merciless, aka Rupert Murdoch, rakes up the ratings and the bucks.

The worst mistake Axelrod and Emanuel are making by confusing Fox News with the Republican Party is that they are confusing campaigning with entertaining and then letting this mistake blind them to the fact that the White House is for governing, not just staging.

Fox News is not in the news business; it’s in show business. The Republican Party, like its blood kin the Democratic Party, is in the campaign business. The White House is in the government business, though, from the evidence so far, it doesn’t know how to break out of the campaign business.

It all sounds rather logical to me. I’ve never been thought “taking on the media” was a particularly good idea. The winner in this struggle is surely Rupert Murdoch, who gets richer by the hour.

Nobel Peace Prize to Obama October 9, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : International relations, United States, World politics , add a comment

nobelprize

Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama is certainly an unexpected and interesting choice by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. On the one hand, awarding it to a person with a nine month history of involvement on the scene of international diplomacy may seem odd. On the other hand, awarding the prize based on work towards international diplomacy and multilateralism must be considered a return to the original intent expressed by Alfred Nobel in his will.

Some critics claim that awarding it to the man that advocated stepping up the military effort in Afghanistan is outrageous. Awarding the prize to someone who has shown himself willing to use military force is however nothing new. Theodore Roosevelt (1917), Henry Kissinger (1973) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) are examples of statesmen who aren’t remembered as always being soft when it came to the application of power. (more…)

How does Obama spend his time? September 30, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Methods in political science, United States , 1 comment so far

POTUS_trackerJust came across POTUS Tracker, an interesting little tool from The Washington Post that lets you track what Obama emphasizes by how he spends his time in meetings. Apparently foreign policy and the economy are what he spends most of his time on, with health care only clocking in at place no. 5.

(Hat tip to Pravda for finding this).

Norwegian media loves Obama September 20, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election, World politics , add a comment

With an estimated 23.000 eligible American voters, it isn’t likely the American presidential election will be decided in Norway. Still, there is a great interest in it. USA’s decisions, especially with regards to the economy and foreign policy affect the entire world. This year I’ve started my own little informal and quasi-scientific research project to see how Norwegian media covers the American election.

My hypothesis is that Norwegian media would favor any Democratic candidate very strongly over his or her Republican counterpart. I assume this to be a representation of the general opinion of the Norwegian public. I further assume that in this election, this favoritism will benefit Barack Obama greatly.

Obama McCain
# of articles 96 50
Bias points 28 4
Data extracted on: 20. september 2008

As the table above shows, the data so far supports this hypothesis quite clearly. With about 130 articles entered, the Obama campaign appears to have had about twice the coverage the McCain campaign has as counted in the number of articles. Furthermore, the amount of of positive coverage outweighs the negative coverage for both candidates, but much more so for Obama than McCain.
(more…)

The awesome power of Oprah August 5, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election , add a comment

The Monkey Cage blogBarack and Oprah

brought my attention to an interesting and slightly disturbing paper by Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore of Maryland University. They have analyzed the effect Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama has had on his campaign. And it appears Mrs. Winfrey really deserves her places on Forbes’ lists of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Firstly, their research method is quite ingenious. Among other things they’ve looked at the sales of books recommended in Oprah’s bookclub to measure the level of influence she holds over consumer attitudes in different areas. This is interesting enough on its own when they report that the sale of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina increased from nearly 12,000 copies before her endorsement to 650,000 copies afterwards!

The authors, both economists, present a formal (aka. mathematical) model for calculating the effect of the endorsement based on models about the effect of endorsements by interest groups.

Comparing this measure and others with election results from the primaries gives a good indication about where and how much Oprah’s endorsement was worth for Obama. And quite disturbingly they estimate that it gained him between 400,000 and 1,6 million votes(!).

Furthermore, the lower bound of that estimate is higher than the number of votes Obama beat Clinton by in the states that were included in the sample. The data thus might be interpreted to indicate that Oprah’s endorsement was the deciding factor in Obama’s victory over Clinton….

This is an economists’ approach to the subject, but the very well documented paper is at least food for thought…

Read the entire paper here: http://www.econ.umd.edu/~garthwaite/celebrityendorsements_garthwaitemoore.pdf