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March 11, 2005


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And a big shout-out to our readers coming to us from De Standaard Online! (I'm their wacky n/e/i/g/h/b/o/r/ co-blogger friend in New York City, Carlos. I do recipes and obscure facts.)

Doug, Claudia, I think the blog needs more photos of the kindern. And happy birthday, Alan!

Bernard Guerrero

Aye, happy B-day to the wee lad!


Well, this has become a daily stop. Where else would lay bare for me in a few lines why I could never tolerate Poul Anderson?

Happy birthday to the young heir. I'd like to see a cake-covered-face photo, if possible.

Keep on doing what you're doing. More popes, more sullen Russian generals.




It's all pretty good stuff. If I told you what I wanted, then I wouldn't be surprised. If I'm never surprised, then I'd rarely learn. If I didn't learn, then I'd never change my opinions. And if I didn't change my opinions, then I'd be ... you know who.

So keep doing what you're doing, which is pretty effing random, and completely great.

Bernard Guerrero

Ok, Doug, here's a random bomb for you to chew on, grand-strategy wise. Digest and comment, please. (If you'll forgive the massive mixing of metaphors.) And it involves Brad Delong citing Niall Ferguson! (Bernard ducks and runs.)



I like both Brad and Niall, at least personally, but I fail to understand why this is interesting.

Bernard Guerrero

You fail to understand why a discussion of the flashpoint with the greatest potential for causing a serious war in the 21st century is interesting? I'm surprised. As to why the particular link is interesting, I find the idea of Brad citing Niall really amusing. Odd bedfellows and all. Sue me.

(PS. I'll be back to your post on SS on alt-hist shortly, maybe after midterms. And you were right about one thing, at least. But it probably means we'll never be able to meet physically again, if you're serious.)


I've taken most of my reply to email, but some of it belongs here.

The topic of Taiwan is interesting. Brad's response to Niall, however, borders on inane. The substantive argument is simply that Taiwan is not guaranteed to blow up. The implicit argument is that Taiwan is unlikely to blow up.

Niall's original article, I might add, merely points out the obvious. The substance of his argument is simply that Taiwan indeed might blow up.

Neither contradicts the other and neither says anything new. They barely even disagree on the details.

I would also say that what you call "odd bedfellows" I find it simply a sign of intellectual honesty.

In other words, you call your link a "random bomb" and ask Doug to "digest and comment." I would suggest that there is nothing remotely bomb-like either in Niall's article or Brad's reply. Nor is there anything new to digest in either piece. I stand by my confusion as to why this interchange is more interesting than any other writing about the Taiwan issue.

I am uncertain how to "sue you" in this context.

Ironically, the same issue of Foreign Affairs in which Niall's article appeared (of which, I should add, Taiwan plays a small role) there is a rather meatier piece by Kenneth Lieberthal entitled "Preventing a War Over Taiwan." A second serious look at the issue can be found at:


I also recently read an interesting description of what a naval war between the U.S. and China over Taiwan would actually look like, but I have been unable to find it. Apologies.


Hi, Happy Birthday to all members of your family. I had an opportunity to visit the Danube last year and learned that it was blue in Vienna, but not in Budapest. I was wondering what color it was in Romania? I do not know much about your country but as an American look forward to learning more. Happy Good Friday.

Bernard Guerrero

Most of my reply is also via e-mail, but following your lead I'll post the appropriate parts here.

a) I find Brad citing Niall on this topic _interesting_ because I found Niall's article itself interesting. While pointing out the obvious point that Taiwan might be a flashpoint, he goes further, citing historical parallels to other flashpoints that did ignite in an effort to show how serious the matter is. Taken in conjunction with Brad's recent efforts to revive Norman Angell (http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2005-3_archives/000497.html), I think it raises interesting points, at least ones worth talking about.

b) I find Brad citing Niall on this or any other topic _amusing_, precisely for the reason you surmise. Whether it speaks to Brad's open-mindedness or intellectual honesty is quite beside the point. It's funny because they're very different. I'd find a quote of Pat Robertson citing Darwin favorably equally amusing, whether or not it was an honestly felt sentiment on Robertson's part. If you don't find it amusing, this is unfortunate for you but in no way impacts my feelings on what is essentially a matter of taste.

"I am uncertain how to "sue you" in this context."

I'm sorry if your extended time abroad weakened your grasp of idiomatic colloquialisms. I'll try to write more plainly. I meant that _I_ found it amusing and that your recourse if you didn't was limited. Hence the reference to legal action.

Many thanks for the additional "Foreign Affairs" link.


Bernard, Noel: peace.

Jennifer, Bucharest's small, non-Danube river was channeled into a concrete drainage ditch by Ceaucescu. You sometimes see people try to fish in it; like Johnson said about remarriage, it must be a triumph of hope over experience. However, Bucharest has many lovely lakes in and around the city; I was pleasantly reminded of Minneapolis.

I've never been to the Danube that far down its course, something I'd like to rectify in the future. I know the delta has become a major bird refuge.


After a long search, I finally found your site.
My granny used to say, that you must never give up to reach a certain aim.
So keep on going like I did it recently.

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