May 01, 2005


That is EXTREMELY interesting, and someone who studied IR as an undergrad, more than a bit worrisome, as I'm sure some of these people are going to be directly involved in foreign policy fairly soon.

Posted by: Dave J at May 1, 2005 01:56 PM

Not sure to what extent this reflects the characteristics of IR people vs just humanity in general....I was trying to think about how a similar experiement could be done with biz students, but can't think of a good scenario right off. Maybe a question about whether a CEO should be more of a leader and coach, or whether he should be more directly involved in product design...with the conclusions to be presented either to "The Jack Welch Institute for Management" or "The Steve Jobs Institute for Management." But there need to be more cues than just that, without skewing the scenarios...

Posted by: David Foster at May 1, 2005 05:52 PM

That is very interesting. Thanks, Sheila.

My kid is studying Vietnam in U.S. History right now. We've had some discussion about protest songs and such. She just happily reread Bury Him Among Kings, which is a novel about WWI, for a book report for English. In the novel, a British recruitment poster is described wherein a stern-looking mama points her finger and says, "Go! It's your duty, lad!" In the book, soldiers make reference to this poster and wonder why British parents seem to be so anxious to send their kids off to die. Of course they didn't want their kids to die, but war fever had taken over and people were being really stupid until reality set in. So when she started talking to me about the Vietnam protests I found for her the lyrics of Country Joe and the Fish's "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" which includes the lines "Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box!" and I said, "Does that remind you of anything?"

The point is, I guess, that reasons for and against war recycle over and over with successive generations. Vietnam seemed very different but it wasn't really, except that the pro-war propaganda didn't seem as effective as in years past. You can take a stand, I told my daughter, but that doesn't mean that the other side doesn't have some very good points that you have to pay attention to and try to reconcile somehow. Bury Him Among Kings starts out with a mob scene with people in the streets celebrating the beginning of WWI, and it ends with mobs celebrating the end of it. Human nature embraces all of that and more. It's not very easy to grasp all of that but when you do maybe you can see past the superficial likenesses and come to some meaningful conclusions about what you believe constitutes a just war and why.

OK, I just showed the post about the study to my daughter and she found it very interesting too. She wonders if the president being from Texas made some of the kids think about the Iraq war too.

Posted by: Laura (southernxyl) at May 1, 2005 07:55 PM

All of this is interesting - the initial post & the comments. Although from the outside (Canada) looking in, the analogy loses it a bit with both WWI & WWII wherein Britain was directly threatened vs. the US with Vietnam & Iraq is more of an ideological threat [don't hate me, it was our politicians that chose to not support the US in Iraq, not the Canadian public to a large degree - I think the % are the same here as south of the border overall, & I for one sent a blistering email to our PM (the jerk had SAID we would be supportive, and "support" doesn't necessarily mean send soldiers to fight, we could have upped our Afghan support to free US troops, we could have done any number of things, the twit, NO let's piss off our biggest trading partner and oh, yeah, the country that supplies pretty much 99% protection of our continent, MUCH better plan), then was somewhat embarassed because perhaps he was right (no evidence of WMD), then felt justified all over again because the Iraqi people now have a democracy, and continue to be totally confused by the issue itself & my reactions to same].

But I digress.

Perhaps the immediate vs. potential threat was somehow picked up by the students/subjects of the study? I'll have to go read that & figure it out; fascinating.

Posted by: Candace at May 2, 2005 04:13 AM


hahaha You know, one of my dearest friends lives in Winnipeg and she says pretty much the same thing that you do about Canada.

It is indeed interesting to contemplate the immediate vs. ideological threat - it seems to me there is much to be learned there.

Posted by: red at May 2, 2005 11:12 AM

Candace...I'm not sure how "immediate" the threat to Britain was in 1914. As I understand it, the British policy had long been to ensure that no potentially-hostile power could have a lodgment on the Channel coast, and the German invasion of Belgium and France contracted that. But short or medium-term, it seems very unlikely that the Germans could have mounted a cross-channel invasion in the face of the Royal Navy. The British declaration of war on Germany was a function of (a)long-term strategic positioning, (b)adherence to treaties, and (c)ideology (ie, defending 'Little Belgium' against the invader)

Things were much more "immediate" in 1939-40 given the developments in airpower since the first war.

Posted by: David Foster at May 2, 2005 03:50 PM

Lead & Gold
is dubious about this study...he thinks that using students ("the fruit flies of social science research"), as opposed to real decision makers, may bias the outcome. He also suggests that the students may be sucking up to what they think the professors expect.

Posted by: David Foster at May 2, 2005 06:16 PM