The 19th Century A-Z Ruleset for Building an Empire

A nifty post on the way Russia is building her empire:

Foreign Policy: Russia’s Recipe for Empire
Empires like the one Moscow has embarked on creating in this century proved an abject failure in the last. In fact, the colonial and imperial project has been recognized as folly for so long by so many that few today even recall how to go about building an empire. So for those who have forgotten, allow me to offer the recipe.

An empire requires three key ingredients.

First, find a neighboring national minority that can be used as a pretext for intervention. The character of the national minority—be it racial, linguistic, or religious—is less important than that it reside within a state which is relatively defenseless as compared with one’s own. The Ossetians and the Abkhaz have always been friends of Moscow, so absorbing them is far less perilous than, say, incorporating nationalistic Georgians or Ukrainians. Empires understand this, which is why they invariably settle their own populations in the region to not only administer the territory, but serve as a ready cadre of loyalists (à la French pied-noirs in Algeria).

Which nicely complements mine on how Russia aborted the attempt to move her from being an imperialist power to being a normal country.

Feeling Pretty l33t

So for multivariate analysis a lot of the examples are designed for SPSS, a common statistical package. Sadly, I no longer have a valid license to use SPSS, and PSPP (the open source version) is missing the functionality that I need. (PSPP doesn’t work on windows without cygwin, or well at all unless under linux, hence my use of Sun’s VirtualBox.) Luckily, I was able to download R (the opensource version of S+), and do the work in that. Meanwhile, the Google Chrome browser is pretty good (I’m using it for most tasks now, but won’t be switching anyone else over) and I’m listening to Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog while doing it all

Waiting for Presidents to die

I’ve said before that Biden’s best benefit is foreign policy experience and Palin’s is her hotness, so I don’t substantively disagree with Tom:

Easy to imagine McCain as president (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog)
And I have a real problem with that, when you’re talking a 72-year-old man with significant health issues. To me, it was simply a disrespectful choice, hard to square with putting country-before-self thinking. She simply isn’t the best the GOP has when it comes to accomplished, experienced, maverick women. Snowe? No discussion. Hutchinson? No discussion. But Palin strikes me as a very partisan, non-mainstream, poorly equipped choice for the most important job in the world. McCain dies his first year in office: does Palin strike you as the best we could do as his replacement? I just can’t see doing that to America.

The angle about the death of Presidents and inexperience is interesting.  Tom points out that in a McCain-Palin administration, we’d be waiting for a stress-induced stroke to give the office to someone with only a few years of executive experience.  Likewise, in an Obama-Biden administration, we’d be waiting for a sniper’s bullet to give the office to someone who has more than a few years of legislative experience.